Monday, November 4, 2019

A Worry of Noes

Yesterday, when I walked the upper canyon road most of the deciduous trees had turned to muted colors or their leaves had fallen away.  The remaining bright spots were a scattering of snowberries, the purple hanging clumps of elderberries, and the feathery yellow larches.  Devoid of some of its bright fall foliage, the canyon’s signs proclaiming “NO…” were more evident than usual. 

An eclipse of late season moths flew over my head and a loveliness of ladybugs gathered along the roadside. 

The unusual names for groups of wildlife made me consider a name for the quite prevalent "No..." signs. I decided that the name a worry of noes would work. 

Before this land was divided into plots, deeded to individuals, and built upon with cabins, there weren’t so many fears related to “this is mine alone and not yours.”  Our democracy depends on a culture of written words with a legal history in the use of boundaries and rights.  Signs in a literate society keep conflicts to a minimum and accurately reflect our concerns.

The determination to protect ones space from intruders was particularly evident in the extent to which one property owner made his own sign (above), poked holes in the metal, and stitched it to a gate with wire. Over a period of time something or someone had bent the sign and its effect was diminished.  I had never even noticed it before. 

What I found most fascinating were the signs that had faded.  The sun, the wind, and rain were slowly erasing this sign’s warnings.  It made me wonder if the person who had originally posted it – as he or she aged – worried less about their property.  Had they become more open to having company in the lonely canyon?  More generous about sharing something that they could not take with them to the next world?  

And this sign.  What did it once say?  Was it among the canyon’s worry of noes or was it an anomaly, saying, "Welcome, Come In, Stay Awhile?"  I think that I would name a group of signs like that a generosity of welcomes

Monday, October 7, 2019

Yellowstone National Park – Black, White, and in Color

Yellowstone National Park was gorgeous in sharp black and white prints taken back in the 1920s.  My Uncle Ted was on his honeymoon at Old Faithful Inn when he captured the highlights of the park.  Having loved those photos, I was almost surprised to drive into Yellowstone and have it in vivid color.  To ease the transition, I’m presenting my first photos in black and white.

The bison passed us in the on-coming traffic lane a short distance into the park from the northern entrance near Mammoth Lodge.  He gave me the once over as he passed.  Cars normal to him; bison not normal to me.

Yellowstone is home to wolves, foxes, bears, antelope, elk, deer, and bison.  We saw herds of the antelopes in meadows and a gathering of elk on the front lawn of Mammoth Lodge. There is a certain shock and pleasure to see so many large mammals in the wild.  I have already promised myself to return one year in the winter for more likely sightings of wolves and foxes.

For our first stop we circled formations made by the deposits of geysers.  

At the foot of one of the humps, the colors were black and white and appropriately, also, a tinge of yellow.  Yellow stone!

The colors of the various hot pools and the stained mud or rock formations depend to some extent on the microbes and bacteria found living in the range of extreme temperatures.  The colors are disconcerting and memorable.  Early photographers could not capture their essence, but I could.

Yellowstone Park encompasses what is described as a cauldron.  Where there were once mountains – long since blown to smithereens in an enormous explosion – there is now a basin simmering with geysers, and hot pools, and waterspouts.  I was surprised to see something every few miles. 

And, of course, we saw Old Faithful.

And tourists.

We arrived just before most of the Park facilities will be closed for the winter.  We saw the last of the buses filled with tourists from Japan, China, and Europe stopping at every major site.  The delight of the guests evident in their joyful chatter.  Many of the shops were empty of summer college staff and were therefore manned by some Chinese on temporary work visas!  They lent a worldly aura to this treasure of a place. 

On equal footing with the spectacular natural world was the Park’s literature and signage emphasizing its concern about and their effort to avert the effects of climate change.  An entire page in an introductory booklet described what they have begun seeing as consequences to shifting seasons and temperatures and what they have been able to change in their practices as a result.  I failed to photograph the recycling bins placed everywhere or the requests to alert the maids when they could avoid doing laundry, but each impressed me as much as Old Faithful. 

I’ll end this post with a photo of the old cabins at Yellowstone Lake Lodge.  They haven’t been torn down, but they have been updated to be more energy efficient – a worthy step towards the preservation of this wonderous cauldron of surprises.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Lunch at Les Schwab's

Lizzie and I ate out at Les Schwab’s in Enterprise.  A bacon blue cheeseburger with chips for me and Science Diet Dental dog food for her.  Afterward, Lizzie circled once and lay on the cool linoleum floor. 

As a restaurant, Les Schwab’s decor resembles that of a White Castle burger joint – white and spotless clean.  The smell was of freshly made tires.  The service was gracious, quick, and friendly. I don’t often eat at Les Schwab’s (unless it’s their heavily salted and buttered popcorn), but when I had a flat up Lostine Canyon in the Eagle Cap Wilderness area in Oregon, I didn’t have a choice.

I have camped in Lostine for almost twenty-five years and this was only the second time that there was a snafu.  I was due for another.  
The very first time that I camped in the canyon, I forgot the cooler.  My daughter and I had to make do with peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  The error was rectified when a neighbor offered unlimited quantities of smores to supplement our slim diet.  It was a wonderful and memorable trip.  

On this year’s trip, the flat tire was complicated by having recently gotten new wheels and the Subaru lug wrench did not fit the new lug bolts.  I could not even put the spare on.  Lizzie and I wandered the dirt road outside the campground while waiting for the Les Schwab tire repair guy to rescue us.  I took a few photos of Russian thistle with my clip-on phone lens.

  I had intended to spend the morning hiking with friends who were going to be camping in the mountains.  I was sorry to miss the opportunity.  But just like the first year, there was a compensation.  First, I got to eat a relaxed lunch of that left-over burger purchased the evening before from Terminal Gravity in Enterprise.  Second, I had plenty of time to pick huckleberries on the way home off Balloon Tree Road in the Blue Mountains. 

               The Science Daily had a recent article about how people who are optimistic live longer.  “Optimism refers to a general expectation that good things will happen or believing that the future will be favorable because we can control important outcomes.”  I have gotten increasing good at looking at the bright side of unfortunate happenings.  Having a flat way up a rough canyon road, gave me one more opportunity to be optimistic, cheerful in the face of adversity. 

               And maybe even contribute to my living a little longer!