Saturday, September 28, 2013
Autumn is coming to my little cottage. Evening falls earlier; the sun has set by 6:30 and the light is completely gone an hour later. Geese that have summered in the north are returning to the pond to feed and rest and discuss amongst themselves the next leg of their journey. The song birds have all but disappeared save for the few species that winter over. The mornings belong now to the crow and the jay, both raucous birds, strident and bossy.
Sweater weather, my mother called the cool mornings and equally chilly evenings. Mid-day finds me in shirt sleeves still, but I've changed out the bulk of my summer clothes for warmer ones and there are socks on my feet for the first time since May.
I am often melancholy at this time of year - not sad, really, just reflective, remembering with poignancy the excitement of spring and the warmth and lengthening light of summer days. It's true that my melancholia is always tempered with memories of days so hot I could not move and nights so warm that sleep was impossible. Still, there isn't a season I don't like which is why I remain a New England girl. It's just that fall brings with it an end of the growing season; an end to the roses and phlox, the plethora of garden vegetables, the long, lazy evenings bright with stars and cricket music. It brings, too, a hint of winter, of long, cold nights, of snow and ice and freezing rain.
Now, when the leaves of deciduous trees are great splashes of color against faded blue, when the air at noon is still mild and hazy, when a few small birds still search the roadsides for seeds and great swirls of starlings paint designs in the evening sky, now is the moment to admire and hold close. Too soon it will all change.
From WWW's site come ten questions and from me a break in the trip posts.
"My 10 Questions for you:"
1. Who wrote the last email you responded to.
2. The first line of your favourite song or poem.
3. Your favourite meal in the whole wide world.
4. Describe in 10 words the view from the window in the room/location where you are right now.
5. Your last holiday - where to and who with.
6. Your best time of the day.
7. Your favourite toy as a child.
8. Your greatest fear.
9. The last snail mail you sent and to whom, card, letter or note.
10.Describe what you're wearing right now.
1. A friend from Australia. We've been exchanging near daily emails for thirteen years.
2. "Whose woods these are I think I know..." Robert Frost. It was one of the first poems I memorized as a child.
3. Steak (rare), fresh asparagus, and mashed potatoes. As children we were allowed to choose our birthday dinner. In our family of six, steak was a twice a year treat. I've eaten that same meal on my birthday for as long as I can remember.
4. Maples wearing autumn shades, sunflowers nodding, sunshine lying across grass.
5. To Oregon to visit my eldest son and my two sisters with journeys to the Pacific coast and three separate central Oregon eco-systems.
6. Morning and evening, dawn and dusk.
7. My wood-framed chalkboard. I drew whole worlds on it.
8. That I might have to endure a long, wretched death.
9. A note to my son with my favorite photo of our trip together.
10. Blue jeans and a fleece. Haven't fit into these jeans in 14 months but they buttoned today! All that hiking :)
Sunday, September 22, 2013
|35 million years in the making.|
B was trying to explain the nature of the Painted Hills as we jolted along a gravel road. We had come down out of the fir forests and lakes to an arid stretch of land bordered by the ever-present volcanic peaks when we came round a corner and I saw this:
|My first glimpse of the painted hills.|
"Stop!" I yelled and he laughed, bringing the van to a halt. I jumped out and snapped a photo. "That's fabulous," I said, climbing back into the van.
"This is just the beginning," he promised.
And it was. Every turn we took showed more of the huge mounds formed over the last 35 million years by volcanic eruptions and a subsequently changing climate. At one time this land was a vast river floodplain populated with prehistoric animals - horses, elephants, saber-toothed tigers, and camels (!), and lush with tropical plants and trees. The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument occupies a part of the area where, in 1864, amateur geologist Thomas Condon unearthed the first fossils. Since then paleontologists have been mining the region for them. The oldest plant and mammal fossils date back 44 million years. Others have been dated to about 7 million years ago. The river basin was once home to the Sahaptin, hunter/gatherer peoples who occupied the land long before the arrival of the first Europeans.
The sun was omnipresent and hot. I carried an umbrella for protection and shade. We stirred dust with every footstep.
The first trail took us to a visitor's shelter where we could sit and look out over the vast expanse of valley that led to the toes of the giant clay hills, each with its own striped bands of color - the black of lignite formed by decaying vegetation, red and orange from mineral deposits, gray from stone deposits.
Below is one of the signs posted along the interpretive trails we walked. It's impossible to imagine this land as a tropical forest as the bottom picture illustrates.
Friday, September 20, 2013
|The Dodge Prospector, our wilderness home for seven days.|
A forest path leads to the place where water tumbles headlong off a basalt cliff, plunging 226 feet to a stream below. It looks more like bridal veiling than water and its thunder is in distinct variance to the quiet of the surrounding forest. The creek that feeds it has its start on a shoulder of North Sister, one of the Three Sisters (North, Middle and South) Volcanic Peaks that make up part of Oregon's Cascade Range. Eldest son, B, and I were exploring this part of the country just 65 miles from Eugene where he makes his home.
|Just above the current highway is part of the original wagon road.|
Shortly before sunset we reached the Dee Wright Observatory, a small stone enclosure built during the Great Depression by the CCC and named for the crew's foreman who'd been a forest ranger for 24 years. From this vantage point we could see Mt. Jefferson, two of the three Sisters (North and Middle), Belnap Crater, and Mt. Washington.
|From the windows you can see various volcanic peaks.|
|Another view of the Dee Wright Observatory built of lava rock.|
|Like a scene from the Hobbit.|
|Following the interpretive trail through giant walls of lava.|
|Campsite at Ochoco Lake.|
Here's a teaser... http://www.nps.gov/joda/planyourvisit/painted_hills_unit.htm