Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chasing Away the Blues

On Monday I had a delightful treat given by my daughter Amanda.  She knew that I had had a challenging and discouraging week previously, so she planned an outing to cheer me up.  She called and set a mystery date.

On Monday she came by and picked me up with a touch of mischief and secrecy in her eyes.  We drove out the Gorge which is a refreshing experience in any weather as you are caught between the Columbia  River on one side and the cliffs it carved through the years on the other.  With all the rain we've been having and the milder temperatures melting the snow, waterfalls were pouring where we'd never seen them before.  Multnomah Falls was thick and full and spraying white water into the air as it dropped down the cliff face.

At Cascade Locks we crossed into Washington at the Bridge of the Gods (named after an Indian Legend.)  The bridge is silver and high over the river, narrow, and has a toll booth.  It seems hung from the forested hills on either side.

Across the bridge we wound our way through a modest little community to Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and Spa.  The resort was surprisingly modern and beautiful (the hot springs I've been to in the past have been stuff for pioneers in the Old West).  This was decorated with warm woods and river rock, leather and carpets in earth tones.  A fire place in the lounge rose two stories to the open ceiling and comfy chairs faced it on all sides.  Amanda and I agreed we could come some other day just to sit and read in front of the fire.

Down the hall to the spa we went.  Once checked in, we were led to a locker room and given slippers and toweling robes to put on.  Silence was requested.  We were led into a room of four tubs, each surrounded by a room divider.  Steamy mineral water was already pouring from the spouts and candles lit the dim atmosphere.  The attendant hung the robe, brought me lemon water and a bowl of cold grapes and a carafe of mineral water to drink at will.  As I sunk below the water line and nibbled on grapes I wondered if this was what ancient Rome felt like to Caesar.

I sunk low enough so just my eyes, nose and mouth were exposed to air.  With my ears under the water I could hear the ping of individual drops hitting the surface of the water as counterpoint to the deep plucking and thrumming of the faucet pressure.  In the background music played softly but I heard the water music and saw the candler flicker.  I was sequestered in a tile corner with nothing but my immediate senses.

After the grapes and mineral water were consumed, after floating in my thoughts for a while, the attendant came and robed me and led me silently to another darkened, candlelit long room.  I was slightly alarmed to see that it contained many bodies on slabs wrapped like mummies and silent as a tomb.  Where had all these bodies come from?  There'd only been me and Amanda in our tub room.  The attendant whispered that she would tuck me in a wrap so I disrobed again (after whispering to her "Are these all women?" because you never know who might be peeking from under their eye patch. Yes, they were.)

So I lay on the cushions while she bound me --"tucked" me-- on one side and then the other.  She whispered that she used to be a Nanny and this was swaddling.  I believe it: I felt just like a baby.  Then she put an aromatic warm cloth over my eyes--chamomile--and whispered what I thought was "Do you want an egg roll?"  No, I replied, wondering how someone whose arms were tied down could eat an egg roll.  Food seemed to be intrusive on this plane.  Then I realized she was holding a towel and offering it for a pillow.  Oh.  Did I want a neck roll.  Yes, I will have one of those!   Whispered snickers from my right indicated Amanda was nearby.

I lay in this mausoleum-like state for an indeterminate amount of time, just listening to the faint flute and harmonic chords and breathing in the scent of chamomile and candlelight.  Thoughts fluttered but none stayed long enough to demand my attention.  I just floated and breathed.

Later, someone rubbed my legs to bring me to attention.  The warm toweling weight pushing against me felt wonderful.  I didn't want to get up, but as I opened my eyes I was surprised to be the only one in the room.  I had been awake the whole time but hadn't heard anyone leave.  It was as though the Rapture had occurred and left me behind!  The terrycloth bedclothes lay in heaps at the foot of the beds.

The next stop was a lovely warm shower and then we were done.  Amanda's plan included dinner in the resort and we were so relaxed we considered just getting a room and staying the night.  Going home seemed so far away...and leaving the fireplace was hard....But we will go back another day.


Connie said...

Oh my lands! What a wonderful treat. You wrote about it so well I could feel myself slipping into the warm water. I could smell the chamomile and see the candle flicker. I would have gone to sleep.

Gilly said...

Oh, that sounds absolutely wonderful! What a lovely daughter you have! I just cannot imagine anything so relaxing as a Spa like you describe.

Jujst one thing - did you have wet hair all this time?

Steven said...

Sitting by that fireplace with a good book sounds delightful. Better do it this winter, while the weather encourages one to be inside and snuggy inside. I have wanted to go up to Timberline Lodge and do the same thing - sit by the huge rock fireplace, surrounded by the wood surfaces and huge beams, protected and comforted from the harsh weather outside. But there, I am afraid I would be too distracted by the interesting kaleidoscope of people passing by to do much reading.

Hollace said...

That's a good question, Gilly! Funny that you should mention it! Amanda and the other women I saw either had their hair done up in a turban towel, or just let it get wet in the water.

But I have an odd circumstance: a few years ago I suddenly lost all my hair within about 4 days' time, and soon after I lost my eyebrows and even eyelashes, too. It's called alopecia areata. It is caused by an overactive immune system, so it tends to happen to people who are pretty healthy. We were totally surprised because we'd never encountered it in our family tree.

Anyway, one of the delightful blessings I discovered was how fabulous a shower feels on your bare head, and how nice it is to shower and get dressed in the morning without having to stand in front of the mirror drying and styling my hair--I just pop it on! And I can sink under the water in a tub without having wet hair! That was a good question!