October 14th & 15th
October 14, 2005
Our last day at Dutch Henry Homestead and the gods were as unhappy about it as Gussie and I; it was a violent, blustery day, with the worst winds I’ve seen in the six months we’ve been here. At one point this morning I looked out the window and there was a blizzard of orange needles falling in the yard. I’d been loading gear and had the car doors and the Thule box open. Fir needles everywhere. Later, on our final walk to the pond, debris blew into both my eyes. There were limbs crashing in the woods around us, twigs and branches falling in the road. I had to get the bow saw and cut one fir tree that had fallen across the road above the lower gate. The surface of the pond was covered with needles and leaves, but it didn’t stop Gus from having his last few plunges fetching sticks. After the car was all but loaded, after printing out a note for Steve, a note for Bradley, a new story I wrote, and a cover for my printed version of the blog, we made our last hike down to the river to go fishing. Again big limbs were crashing all through the forest, the wind whipping. Our trail was littered with green fir branches freshly fallen. In the open, down at the river, where the canyon is like a wind tunnel, I felt the full force of the gales leading the low front coming in from the Pacific. I could see dark clouds moving in. But I wanted to catch a fish to bring to Bradley and so in spite of the crazy wind and impending rain, I fished from the creek to the back eddy and back again to our beach. And struck out. I had one fish rise and turn, but it didn’t bite down on the fly. The river was full of leaves and debris. A real mess. Bad action. About two hundred yards from the cabin on the walk back up, the rain started.
Since yesterday Gus has known that something’s up. He’s been watching me pack stuff up. He saw me break down his crate, and gave me an anxious look. This morning while I was loading the car, he jumped in the front seat and wouldn’t budge. I think he was afraid I was going to take off without him. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight all day. And later, down at the river, he looked sad, even amid all the excitement of the front moving in. Here he is saying goodbye to the river:
And here’s the two of us lying one last time on our beach:
The poison oak is a beautiful red right now:
I liked the colors in the composition of this mossy tree on the walk back up to the cabin:
This week I made a collage to take home with me, a reminder of this coniferous forest. Aptly, it’s made of torn paper (newspapers, file folders, covers of poetry journals). A touch of pastels and green marker, too.
On the drive to town yesterday the fog over the river compelled me to pull over on the Whiskey Creek Road and take this shot:
I had a final burst of writing in my last three days here: a new fishing story. I’m going to send it to Fly Rod & Reel in the hopes of winning the Robert Traver Fly-fishing Fiction Award again (I won it in 1997 when I knew almost nothing about fly-fishing). Recently they more than doubled the prize money. I have a few edits to make after I get online again and do some research. I’ll post it when it’s complete.
Gussie and I have indeed had a great go of it here. It’s been one of the deepest experiences of my forty years on this planet, and I’d do it again without thinking twice. Some day, maybe when I’m retired or if my life circumstances change, I’d like to do what Margery suggested—come here for a winter stay. It must be magical here in winter. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to the Boydens (and Bradley in particular), to PEN Northwest (John Daniel in particular), and to the Tenafly Board of Education and administrators for making my stay here possible.
October 15, 2005
It was a sad and soggy departure from the cabin this morning in a light drizzle and before sunrise, followed by a long day of driving. I stopped by Bradley’s to give him the keys and say goodbye to him and his family, and then pushed on, stopping at Bonneville Dam to see the salmon climbing the fish ladder. It was pretty neat to see big salmon swimming by the glass. They actually pay someone to sit there and count and log species of every one of the fish that passes through. Amazing. I’m in Spokane, WA. We made over 600 miles today. I’m pooped; thus, the brief posting. More later.