Thursday, January 25, 2007

Let it rain...

"A human being is part of the whole, called by us 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty."

- Albert Einstein

(One of the nice things I've found about writing? The cool people I get to hang out with... I mean Albert Einstein? Gidouttahere!)

Jawbone Flats is an old town. The buildings are all built from wood harvested from the forest that surrounds this humble burg. Douglas fir and hemlock specifically. The lumber rots eventually, giving in to the demands of heat and moisture and suffers the appetites of fungus and carpenter ant. The cabins, sheds and storage buildings all need fairly consistent upkeep, occasional repair. Except for the trim around doors and windows the wood remains unpainted.

I like to say that Oregon has 3 official state colors, green, grey and brown. I suspect that it was my time in Jawbone that convinced me of that bit of trivia. An average of 100 inches of rain falls here every year and it is green at Opal Creek. I mean a million shades, tints and hues of green that constantly transform in the play of a day's light and through the changes of season.

And the grey... the grey of rain, the clouds that deliver the rain, the bark of trees, the stones... muted shadings from near white to just shy of black. When the rain falls steady, falls hard and lasts for days, the grey wins. All colors are tinged in grey when the rain comes. And the rain... here is where the rain counts.

The rain is responsible for this place. The rain is the blood of this forest, cycling through, falling from sky and soaking the ground, driving the growth of the trees, wearing down the rocks and coursing its way back to the sea. (Or... it rises from the plants and returns to the atmosphere through transpiration.)

The rain fills the stream which flows through the flume-line and drives the Pelton wheel which powers the lights, the refrigerators... in this rainforest, rain is King.

And its here I learn the #1 rule of working outdoors in Oregon: if you don't work in the rain... you don't work. The counter to that of course: wood stoves. Dry heat.

Just don't hang your wet socks too close to the stove...

"Don't threaten me with love, baby. Let's just go walking in the rain."

- Billie Holiday
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