A Forever Memory
At dusk long, low moisture-filled clouds moved slowly over the peaks, slid down the steep slopes and pulled their sagging bellies over the narrow valley floor. They hid most of the pockets of mountaintop snow that have escaped the sun and veiled the rocky heights with mystery and wonder. The descending sun colored the bottoms of the clouds with pink and yellow light that flowed down the cloudy streamers into the valley and turned to varieties of purples and oranges. To the north the clouds were soft pinks that quickly shifted to shades of blues and deep rich grays among the thick billows of the eastern sky. It was the type of sky that inspires and frustrates artists and photographers who try vainly to capture the momentary beauty before darkness robs it of its treasure of colors. We watched the pageant and hoped for rain. In a few moments the color was gone and the sky became gray on its journey to black.
Not long after, a faint sound announced the rain. It was the percussion of the first small healthy drops on a metal roof. We rushed to get outside in case it was a fleeting tease of only a few drops that would vanish quickly. The cold drops on my head and shoulders promised a memorable contrast to the hot waters of the spring. In the darkness we made our way down the path to the pool. The waters are slightly over 100 degrees and flow out of a large wooden pipe to drop into a pool that is 50 feet in diameter. We cautiously felt our way down the slick stones hidden in the black water and found an open spot on the fine gravel floor. Around the pool were about ten other people in groups of two and three. As if in a large cathedral waiting for a service to begin, everyone was silent and still or moved slowly and spoke with hushed voices. In between the clouds were bright stars that seemed to race across the sky while the clouds seemed fixed in place.
We moved to the far side of the pool and found smooth flat stones that allowed us to sit with our shoulders out of the water. Looking up I watched the sky and thrilled at the contrast between the warm water on my lower body, the rain drops hitting my face and the slight breeze that flowed over my upper torso.
A cloud to the east took on an unusual appearance. The bottom was dark but the top glowed bright white with long tongues of silver white reminiscent of wind driven snow curling off the top of a pinnacle in winter. The light continued to concentrate in one spot much like a headlight cutting through heavy fog. A few moments later and the top of the moon peered over the cloud, reflected off the water and turned silhouettes into vaguely recognizable faces. The silvery steam rising into the air danced on the pond as the flowers and trees shimmered in the breeze. It was a feast for the senses.
Just before midnight we returned to the spring. Flashes on the northern horizon told of a distant storm but our clouds were high and fluffy. The night was silent except for the sound of the water dropping into the pond. I chose a stone that allowed me to sit shoulder deep in the water and Julie chose a float to recline. As I held on to her to keep her near me while she lay back and watched the moon and stars play hide-and-seek behind the clouds she said "I don't think I've ever been so relaxed."