The rain keeps falling, lightly, mistily, a perfect foil for this spirit meeting,
as I reach the other side of the mountains and enter the rainshadow. Yes, still gray
above, but warm, and at least no water is falling on my head as I amble through the
meadows of Sisyrincium douglasii, for hours, their satiny purple heads drooping with
the heaviness of moisture, but perfect nonetheless. There are hundreds of thousands
of sisyrinchiums - on every ridge, in every wet hollow. I stay until it is almost
dark. It is my favorite time of day - I love the changes in the air, the birds
singing their evening songs - I can feel the turning of the earth. I don’t want to
leave, there are so many sisyrinchiums yet to see, but I need to start back while
I can still see the mountains.
The meeting is still in progress. Some of the participants have gone - they have
dissipated their misty forms and have returned to another dimension. But some have
merged and are now dancing in one large illusive mass over the waters of the great
Columbia, connecting one side with the other, as darkness falls - it is quite the
sight. I am indeed privileged to be witness to this great spectacle. Do others
see it as I do? Can they see through the masquerade?
And the last hour, in the dark, I drive in pure pleasure, almost alone on this narrow
winding road that I know so well, with the strange and wrenching music of Tom Waits
as my cassette companion. A perfect afternoon. An exceptional solitary experience.
Now just a memory.
(March 17, 1997)
As the Cascade Mountains cross the mighty Columbia River, they bow to let me pass
through this most glorious of gorges. And, as it happens, on this day, it is also
host to a meeting of spirits from far and wide. Taking the shape of mists, masquerading
as clouds, they settle themselves into every conceivable dip and hollow of these
imposing peaks that surround me, for 20 miles or more. All seats are taken in this
grand open air auditorium, and as I drive, I am keenly aware - do they know that
I know, as they curl phantomlike around the towering trees and the jutting rocks,
the humans below them just a blink in time, mere ants, skittering around, getting
the job done? Do they notice? Do they care?