I even heard roosters

I spent this weekend out of town at a dance retreat in the middle of the woods with some friends. It was just what I needed, and only my second time out on the Olympic peninsula.

The house we stayed in was near Lake Cushman and the Hood Canal. The area surprised me. We drove down to the lake, and the part of it that I could see was surrounded by evergreens, many of them coming right up to the water. It looked wild and undeveloped, even though I’m told this particular lake is an artificial reservoir. My friends said that most of Washington’s mountain lakes are this way. It was stunning.

The house we stayed in was near a swampy pond, and I saw several great blue herons out on the water. Other wildlife came much closer to the house. Families of raccoons came up to our deck and we fed them graham crackers through the sliding window. I’ve never seen them so closely before. I particularly liked their little black feet, but I was very careful not to get too close to their paws as I distributed the treats. Apparently they cannot retract their claws.

We were also visited by chipmunks and many different varieties of birds. One particularly glorious specimen was a relative of the blue jay. I really enjoyed the chance to see the wildlife, as I live in a brick apartment building surrounded by sidewalks. I like that, too, but there’s nothing like the sound of a herd of trees in the breeze. I use the word herd consciously, as I experience the trees as joyful living beings.

Of course, I also loved the dancing. Our small group of friends took the time to practice steps we wanted to improve, and to enjoy the music. Best of all, we had fun amongst ourselves. We’ve all met on the dance floor, and it was great to laugh, play cards, and find out how much more we all had in common than two-step and the Boot Scoot Boogie. I returned from Labor Day weekend feeling I’d truly taken a break from my daily grind, and that’s what the holiday is all about.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

174. When was the last time you had a real change of scenery? If you’re a city mouse, plan a day trip out into the country. If you’re a country mouse, brave the wilds of the urban jungle. How was it?

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