Instability in the Field

Today I drove the 85 miles to Breitenbush Hot Springs, where I relaxed in the beautifully-crafted pools as cold rain and snow pelted down. I rather like the feeling of soaking in hot water in cold rain or snow – something I first discovered in Wyoming. To be fair, the soaking is almost as pleasant at non-commercial springs that cost much less or are free. So why go to Breitenbush?

1. Food! Amazing vegetarian meals served buffet-style every day. Not exactly cheap at $11 each, but delicious! I nearly bought a Breitenbush cookbook, but I found a book I wanted more and good recipes just weren’t worth 20 bucks for me today.

2. Serenity. Other hot springs have all sorts of folks, from day-trippers in bathing suits to heavy smokers to creepy old men, and the atmosphere is that of a campground – diverse outdoorsy folks having fun. At Breitenbush, everyone is naked in the springs, conversation is limited, and serenity is encouraged (silence is even mandatory at the hot “sacred pool”). This may have been magnified today since most folks were there for a weekend yoga workshop.

3. Sustainability. The springs is entirely off the grid. Geothermal wells provide heat to all of the buildings and cabins, and a small on-site hydroelectric plant takes water from the Breitenbush River to provide all of the necessary electricity.

4. Community. A 60-member intentional community is based across the river and owns and operates the springs. It is a fully autonomous small town with engineers to operate the physical plant, kitchen staff, healing/massage practitioners, administrators, etc. The community remains somewhat isolated from the visitors, and I wish that I had a friend there as I do at Lost Valley so that I might have a chance to see more of the community and meet its members.

The effect of these things, and perhaps some conscious energy work, is to create a bubble within which fears, external instabilities, anxieties, etc. simply do not exist. This bubble was particularly apparent today, since it felt like a day in which instability and uncertainty ruled the larger field.

My drive to Breitenbush was entirely in heavy rain, and as I climbed to 2500 feet it began to change to snow. I arrived in a heavy fall of snow, but it quickly changed back to rain. The rain continued steadily until the front arrived, at which point the wind picked up and the rain briefly stopped to be replaced by frequent heavy rain/snow showers. When I left, the snow had made a small coating of slush, and the wind was blowing needles, twigs, small branches, and other debris from the trees. I drove the first ten miles beneath a shower of tree debris, dodging the larger pieces, until I reached the highway. From there the road was clear, but with occasional snow squalls accompanied by high winds that changed to heavy rain showers as I dropped lower. As I reached the valley floor, the rain and wind stopped, and the instability seemed to have ended.

I speak of the instability because it extended beyond the weather. At 5:30, just as the high winds were hitting, a bomb detonated at a bank south of Portland, killing a police officer and injuring the chief of police. It seemed like a day on which disruption was likely, except perhaps at Breitenbush. I sense a disturbance in the Force…

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