Our last day in the woods…
Sunday came bright and early for us. I was up early because I couldn’t sleep, but also because Kathryn and I wanted to catch the early morning Arati ceremony at the Hanuman Temple at the center.
Photo courtesy of the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple at Mount Madonna
The ceremony was at 6:30 am so we were up and ready to go by 6:15. One of our classmates was already there, completely bundled in blankets. That morning, it was so very foggy and it was so wet, that water drops were falling off the trees as if it were really raining. The temple, while covered, was open to the elements, and so even with being wrapped in blankets ourselves, our socks were wet and we were chilled to the bone. In spite of that, I thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony. The priest (I think it’s okay to call him a priest) sang songs in another language and rang bells and blessed us with the red dot on our foreheads (wish I knew what to call it properly). I managed to wipe the blessing off my forehead within 10 minutes. Again, I am that kind of girl.
But, again, it was a beautiful way to start the morning.
After the ceremony, we went down to the center’s garden and harvested some plants. I picked rosemary, lavender and rose geranium. While picking lavender, I came across this little guy:
I didn’t know that bees slept outside and wasn’t sure if I should continue to harvest. (My teacher mentioned he basically got “locked out” for the night.) I felt really bad waking the little guy up, and I didn’t want to get stung. In the end, he did wake up a little bit, and hung out with Kathryn before I brushed him off and we left the garden to have breakfast.
After breakfast, we met with the rest of our class and went walking in the woods. Our teacher pointed out different things to look at and told stories about the redwood forest. The area where Mount Madonna is located had been heavily logged just 100 years ago and many of the trees we were looking at were on average about 60 – 70 years old. You could see evidence of where man had decimated the forest, with chopped down stumps, burned bark and patches of empty land. It made me sad to think that people took from the forest without any thought of replanting what they took.
Even with sad feelings, it was still a mystical place. The fog and mist crept through the trees and I was filled with a sense of wonder. It was so peaceful, yet so alive, and I felt almost an electrical current running through my body the longer we walked in the woods. I almost expected to see faeries and spirits and any other mythical forest creatures.
Eventually we made our way out of the forest and back to civilization. Kathryn and I made our way back to our cars, said our goodbyes and headed home. It was a wonderful weekend and I really cannot wait to do it again. I miss the woods already.