On warm summer days, she calls to me, her face shining out across the miles that separate us, coaxing me to back to her loving embrace.
Her spirit is kind and gentle, no longer prone to the outbursts of her youth when lava flowed down her robes and ash flew from her crown. Now she sits quiet and serene upon her throne of Cascades, her regal face shimmering with crystalline light, benevolent and welcoming to all.
I am drawn to her as a chick runs to an outstretched wing, and she draws me in, safe and sound. Despite the fierce forces of nature I see all around me, I'm not afraid. I know she will protect me.
Her lap is spread with flowered meadows, and she watches us explore them, smiling as we discover secret treasures: tiny alpine firs, icy blue lakes, dancing butterflies, and a saucy brown marmot who rests his hands on his furry little belly and watches us walk by.
As the afternoon passes and shadows lengthen, I see her expression change to concern. It's time, she says. Darkness is gathering. She patiently guides us back to our car and watches as we buckle into our seats.
Drive safely! Come back soon! She calls as we leave. I watch in my rear view mirror to see her waving us off, smiling contentedly as we drive away.
She knows that I'll always come back to her.
Because she is my mother.
* * * * *
Native tribes knew this mountain mother as Tahoma which means mother of all waters. Only when white European explorers arrived was she renamed Rainier. Today, regional tribes are leading an effort to re-establish her original name, and I am purely delighted.