June 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
Creeks draw me in. What is it about following the margin of a lake or stream. It must be some latent genetically coded response to shoreline and riverbank. I just can’t help myself. I see the mouth of a stream and I want to trace the topography of its cascades with my feet. You too?
Well, I suppose you do because one many a riverbank I’ve found shoe prints or worn trails too large for deer or other locals. And it’s not just the terrestrially-tied sorts that abide here, the avian ilk flock here as well. No doubt the water, the riparian edge, and the lush growth rich with invertebrates and other fruits, attracts them.
Solitude-seeking humans are at first captivated by the sight and sound of the clear rushing water but if you can, strain your ears to hear past the sound of the stream, and the chirping tones of the Western Tanager arise. The tanager’s bright yellow and orange plumage make it easy to spot amid the myriad greens of the canopy. They’re here hunting insects, flying over the water, catching prey in mid-air, then gently landing on that branch just out of reach, above your head. Before you can blink, they’re off again, settling on a branch on the other bank, then back again. Your jaw drops ajar as you try to comprehend the color of the bird contrasting with the foliage.
Like you, they’ve come here instinctively. Like you, this place feeds them: body and soul, respectively.
June 8, 2013 § 3 Comments
Plop me down here for a while. Obscure my view with clouds and make me wonder what peaks lay hidden. Fill the air with cottonwood seed and bring up a breeze so those seeds sail over the water; or let the water be flat and calm like a mirror. I’ll just drink of the view and do a bit of thinking. I may think about my problems, the world’s problems, or the problem of how a bird’s feather can be iridescent green one moment, and purple the next. Maybe I’ll think about nothing at all. Maybe I will be in the moment, here, now.
Whatever I do, I’ll be content with my place in the world and happy to be away from a roof and walls and tarmac and advertising. The marmots and mallards will be the only aggressively consumptive animals present: driven by survival, not greed. They’ll teach me to put on some fat, store some wood for winter, or perhaps if I’m lucky, to learn about migrating to warmer shores.
And, if I’m really lucky I’ll stay long enough to have the essence of this place permeate my cells. It will be a part of me and I’ll carry it with me when I go.
June 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I went back. Back to that ranch in the hills above the Columbia River Gorge. This time, I was just passing through at the end of the day. This time, as with the other visits this spring, it was well worth the detour and pause. The balsam arrowroot blooms have expired: graduated to seed heads. The grass has just a bit more brown, mixed in with the sweet spring sprigs. Still, warm spring days are beginning to suck the life from the stalks and it won’t be long before the vista is golden as far as the eye can see. We can also expect the spring storms to abate and with them sunsets such as this, with Oregon, off in the distance, blushing under the cloud cover. This vast expanse of grass will become an oven soon enough and even the Columbia River, hidden here in the folds of the land, may not be big enough to quench your thirst if you chose to visit in the next quarter. But on this eve, the view satisfies my hunger and my thirst for being in an open and wild place.
May 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
When you get up early and stroll through the rain-soaked grass on a spring morning, you might get your shoes wet. In fact, expect to get your socks wet too. But then you can expect the unexpected, like stumbling upon a native columbine (Aquilegia formosa) blooming, nestled and tangled into the tall damp stalks of grass. Its bright red and contrasting yellow attract native pollinators, no doubt, and this is the view an approaching bee might see. Symmetry of sepal and petal draw the eye and the bee to the prized nectar of one, then the next flower; and pollination occurs. Smart plant.