In my first winter we had a memorable series of storms in December, including back-to-back ones during rohatsu - I spent the last afternoon of the sesshin with the rest of the shop crew driving up the road to clear rocks and fallen trees. Blanche was leading her last practice period as Abbess, and as I recall, we did a shosan where we used microphones to be heard above Cabarga Creek, which was roaring alongside the zendo, but then for the shuso ceremony a few days later, when it was raining so hard we had to take the traditional practice period group photo in the zendo, we were encouraged simply to pitch our voices above the noise of the water.
I was, however, particularly thinking of what I call the tangaryo storm of January 2008, where we had about ten inches of rain in thirty six hours. The day that most of the rain fell, I drove myself up the road to check for damage, and worried that I would be blown off the ridge by the force of the wind. I thought I might have also taken a video of the creek at its highest and noisiest, but a trawl through my hard drive revealed nothing in the realm of moving pictures, so here are some stills. The blurriness is more due to the lack of light at the end of a winter afternoon than the speed of the water:
|Cabarga Creek joining Tassajara Creek beside the dining room, taken from the bridge|
|At the bathhouse|
|From the bridge to the old bathhouse|
I made a practice of going in the creek every day I was at Tassajara. In the winter it was much easier to do so having got thoroughly warmed up in the steam room first, and then heading down the steps as quickly as possible for a brief immersion, followed by a reheating in the indoor hot plunge. When the creek was really running high, and you could hear the boulders rumbling along the bed, like on the day of the tangaryo storm, I would hold onto the handrail and just dip myself in from the steps. The swollen creek could push you around easily, and occasionally Bryan and I would get swept off our feet as we crossed it on our runs.
|The creek at the men's side of the bathhouse in winter|
Further up and down the creek, there are lovely places to be found: