Monday, September 17, 2007


The remnants of yesterday’s rain are drifting in cottony tufts around the mountains. I head east, toward Rainy Pass, hoping for a drier day. The views at Diablo Lake are stunning. Wisps of clouds pass in front of and behind the mountains, emphasizing the layers of space. The sun feels extra-strong, punching through the sky holes.

At Rainy Pass, the air is nippy. I pile on all my coats, a scarf, and a fuzzy hat, and hike in all that gear to the lake without even getting hot. At the lake, clouds come and go across the sun, leaving me mostly in shade. At first the lake is full of reflections from the light rock slides and dark trees. Gradually, the wind picks up, and the blue-green of the water takes over. Marmots whistle from at least three spots around the lake, picas squeek from six or seven.

I wonder what makes a rock pile suitable for pica or marmot, and why both would live in the same area. I meet some visitors from Holland, and we talk about their travels in Washington and Oregon. They liked Mt. Hood, where they could so easily walk on the snow. We talk about the picas and marmots, which someone tells me make good pets in Holland. Perhaps a bit of confusion with rabbits, but I have no photos to clear up the language.

An alarming rap comes from behind me. Investigating quietly, I expect to find someone chopping at a log. It is a woodpecker, probably a hairy woodpecker (one I’ve met in these woods before.) He pounds at a tree’s bark in full view, not just pecking a hole, but chipping away bits of bark with twists of his head. It must take considerable force to create so loud a noise. I would have to hit the tree with a professional batter’s swing to match his volume. He is braced against the tree, not just with his feet, but with the lower part of his legs and his tail as well.

I am growing colder and colder. My cadmium yellow is thick as refrigerated peanut butter. I finish the painting, and head back west, where the afternoon sun is shining. Go figure.

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