Joanna Davis checking out the view at Clara Lake

New Traditions
by Keri Davis

In the fall, I typically head for the high country to see the larches at peak color. There are few things better than the combination of blue sky, white snow, red underbrush, and granite rocks contrasting with the bright yellow of larches. Seeking all of this has been an obsession since I moved here in 2008. Someday I hope to pursue such trips again with my daughter, Joanna, but in the meantime, I found that we could start our own larch-hunting traditions closer to our back door.

Last year while on maternity leave with a newborn that would not take a bottle, I had larchfever something awful. The only cure was an up-close-and-personal trip. Clara Lake is a hike that I have done in all seasons more times than I can count and, often, take for granted. So in desperation, my friend, Erin, and I packed up the kids for an impromptu trip one evening. That afternoon as I walked up the familiar trail to the lake, I felt a new appreciation for the place.

That trip was Joanna’s first trip to Clara Lake and her first time seeing larches up close. This fall, even after a weekend in the Chiwaukums, my larch fever could not be quenched. So my husband, a friend, and I loaded up Joanna and the dog for another pilgrimage to Clara Lake.

The Davis Family at Clara Lake

Unlike last year where Joanna stayed in my pack, this year she walked along the path, picked up rocks, fell down in the mud, and tried to go swimming. One of my favorite things about being a new mother is seeing life from a fresh perspective.

For an autobiography project in seventh grade, my own father wrote a letter to me saying that I made him slow down and appreciate the little things. This was the sound of wind sweeping through pine trees, the tiny snail on a stump, the pattern of veins on a leaf, or the little tails on the cone of a Douglas fir. Now I understand what he was telling me and I expect there will be more enlightenment to come. Everything is new to Joanna and I have the opportunity to experience the joy of discovery through her.

I hope to continue to cultivate an appreciation of the outdoors in Joanna.  And while the pumpkin patch is one great autumn tradition, I think a walk to Clara Lake needs to be another.

 Joanna taking in the mud, and the larches, at Clara Lake

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