WILT #24, in which we have a mountain

Milwaukee is home to a thick glob of my maternal family history. My grandparents rooted themselves in the lakeside Wisconsin city and proceeded to raise their family with corn tortillas warmed on the stovetop and floss tied through the girls’ earring holes in case fights broke out in school.

My first memories of my grandparents happen in Milwaukee. My grandfather’s boat, El Miguelín, bobbed along on Lake Michigan. I remember the smell: industrial, cold, navy blue, pipe smoke. Lake Michigan was Grampa’s Lake. I think I even referred to it as such in conversation with my
little elementary schoolmates once or twice, and then had to explain myself to my teacher.

Out here, Mount Hood is everybody’s mountain. A significant factor in real estate-related decisions is the view–a foreign concept to this girl from the flat Midwest. But I’m starting to understand. Jesse and I went up to Timberline earlier this week and skied and took a snowboarding lesson and
spent a night at the lodge. Driving up, the mountain was pink and snow-covered. From our room at the lodge, clear weather from a crisp cold front brought us unlimited visibility and a wide-angle view of the Cascades. Mount Jefferson stood strong as we made our way down runs called JoJaMi and Jeff Flood Express.

When it’s clear, Cheryl looks out the dining room window and observes, “The
mountain’s out!” I snort every time. This October, we saw the steel gray stony mountain and then slodged through a week of fog. It lifted several days later to reveal a bleach-white snowy peak. Magic mood-ring mountain. Winter!

On sunny days, I can see Mount Saint Helens when I drive to work. I come around the bend in 205 northbound by the Johnson Creek exit and occasionally feel the need to scream “VOLCANO!!!!!” There it stands with its blunt top, the unmistakable result of irrepressible forces working beneath our feet.

The mountain provides a sense of unconditional grandfatherly approval. Look up and it’s there, steady, watching you while you drive home from an afternoon fishing or getting your tires rotated or something. I can’t fathom the emotional boom that must have followed the bursting of Mount Saint Helens–if all of a sudden Hood opened up and shot off its peak, I think my sense of place, my groundedness, might go with for a while.

Tadasana, mountain pose, is practiced standing strong with feet flexed and legs activated, muscles wrapped up long and tight and tall. Quadriceps become the red stripe travelling up your barber pole spine. It’s a confident pose, intentional–but it’s okay to fake it til you make it. Mountain don’t judge.

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