Always time to smell the flowers on Big Steep.

Yesterday my shoulder surgeon told me I was “stiff, but nice.” I struggled to figure out what nice meant in terms of healing, but then he added, “Most people aren’t very happy with me when their shoulder is still stiff at 12 weeks.” Ugh.

The way to become un-stiff is to tear apart the scar tissue. I do daily exercises and stretches with ski poles and yoga straps to get my shoulder un-stuck. My physical therapist measures my angles of rotation every visit, before pushing and stretching and tearing on my behalf. No one can quite believe my adherence to the protocol. Taking it easy, riding the stationary bike, not lifting or carrying anything over 5 pounds, no trail running.

Time passes, and I won’t remember how long, drawn-out, and uncomfortable this process has been… probably. But I suspect there will be a mental scar, too. In the future, if you mention you are having shoulder surgery I will tell you that it was much worse than I thought it would be, even though it went just like the surgeon said. That recovery was slightly but constantly agonizing.

This morning I woke up and basically thought, "fuck it." I took the dogs for a hike up Big Steep, an old fave, and ran the flat-ish parts in between. The sky was gray with rain clouds, the hills covered in vivid green grass and yellow balsamroot flowers and glacier lilies. As I ran my first mile on dirt in 3 months, Emma ran as fast as I have ever seen her run, speeding around the meadow so fast I had to wait for her to stop so she could see we were heading up the ridge. Stoked!

Emma running fast and free
Emma is so stoked!

We are preparing to move further west. Leaving a state packed with more beauty than can be described in one sitting, leaving a city that has never felt like home. I am personally adept at leaving, love the excitement of change and fresh adventures, but there will be some tearing apart as we dig out roots and leave good friends behind.

I’m hoping the root pulling will feel like the giant dandelion I hoisted out of the backyard recently, right after a rainstorm that melted the last of the snow. Fully saturated soil allowed the entire root to release into my hand. Bundles of dandelion buds and 8” of root got chucked into the compost bin. Adios dandelion! Except that we are the dandelion and Utah is the soil that never quite wants to let us go.

How deep do roots grow in 12 years? We have added two dogs to our family, traveled countless miles, explored canyons, deserts, trails, ridges, rivers, and mountains. We have bought and sold two houses, lived in 5 homes in two cities. Our life here has been full.

Where we are going the mountains are volcanoes. Our new pivot point will put us within a half-day of the ocean, family, old friends, new trails, rivers, views, and fresh air. It will be, in many ways, much more wild.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA