In the morning the street lamps are still on past 6 with their long, dinosaur necks and pink/peach, lit-up heads. I set my alarm for 3 AM but got up before it went off, sailed past Tacoma and Olympia around 4, and it never was so easy on the 5. Got to the ranger station an hour before they opened, went over the route, drew maps and notes, but never wound up needing them. Was always too tired or distracted to get them out, trying to make good time. And time was like a wild horse bucking me forward or back, I never could sit still.
Bear scat on the trail climbing up the Hoh river to the source, the glacier. Some of the scat still glistening for the first flies (the iridescent, pink/blue/green kind). And all these trees so big, you can’t fit them into your frame. Standing on the bridge looking down, the river’s reduced to a green braid: it’s the scale of nature you can’t relay in photos. Those who can are thieves who dangle stolen jewels.
And the trees are quiet but aware of me, some fallen or long ago dead, but with more life growing out. Others, acting as a nurse to protect the slow-growing ones. They’ve got roots anchored like ropes around the rock and one’s giving birth, it seems.
It’s the anti-intellectuals who make our world small, they press the life out of it. I never identified with intellectuals, but I like the anti-intellects even less: they try to force things to fit into their frame. And their view is always smaller, has no room for the world’s possibilities, no humility for our size, the scale of things. They think we’re bigger than we are; they should spend more time outdoors.
The photos of the trees don’t do them justice because they have a presence that runs from the flash. The same with paintings on the internet, it’s not the same as seeing them live, they’re living things — portraits made to resemble someone who really existed, and the artists are thieves and liars working in the name of truth.
On my rest day, I pulled into the town of Forks at noon, just passing through. Lost a good hour in the grocery store wandering the aisles, looking for something to help my chapped private parts. “I’m Not in Love,” on the radio. And I thought about the town Port Angeles further up the 101, where Raymond Carver lived: you can feel the Pacific Northwest sorrow in that place, it feels gutted, and how much did the writer take on the same feelings of his place? Can you separate the two?
I retrace my route south on the 101 to the Hoh river: Hoh means whitewater in their native language, and there’s some connection with the name “Hoh” and the symbol for water on the periodic elements chart I’ll never understand. And the same with the fact the highway is called “101,” like the name Hoh.
It’s not harvest time yet, but there’s a feeling of abundance to our lives where there’s more than we can consume, the trees are heavy with late summer fruit and it’s coming down, we can’t save it, we’re running out of time, and some will just have to go unused. You can’t preserve it all, it’s not worth saving.
Now the light is different, the tops of the tall trees coming down our road get the morning gold, and the gulls passing overhead pick up the same pink from the morning sun that’s red from all our sins and what we put into it, so pretty to look upon for such a short time.