Thursday, April 24, 2008

Opal Creek, again...


“See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...we need silence to be able to touch souls.”

~ Mother Teresa

Sometimes there just isn't enough time...

So much to say, so many photos to take. Anyone need a full time writer/photographer? Willing to pay about $50K a year? Let me know, ok? heh... I won't hold my breath.

So many things going on its impossible these days to keep up. So I don't. An old anachronism am I. I use to laugh at the older generation when I was young. My dad and I often had some... intense... discussions when I was a young adult. But as I got older and our philosophies began to track closer we had some great talks. Pablo got to meet my folks and enjoyed their company and they got to really like him. In fact they thought most of my adult male friends were pretty good guys. A little different than when I was a teenager.

Back then I was open to most folks and had friends who got into more than their share of trouble. I never shared that trouble but I've always been able to appreciate the good parts of people while being forgiving of their negative traits. Of course nowadays I can't say the same because rare is the politician with negative tendencies that I can stomach...

Robin's eerie short story drew some quality praise. Tuesday night because she had a choir concert she missed a chance to meet Ursula K Le Guin, one of my favorite female authors who was in Portland at Powell's Books downtown signing her new book Lavinia. As the daughter of Dr Alfred and Theodora Kroeber, the good folks who brought us the story of Ishi, a California Yahi Indian who was the last (or one of the last) people of his tribe, Le Guin grew up surrounded by academia and anthropologists and has a has a great sensibility to humans and their cultures. She is a truly gifted author. And, as I often mention, if you want to learn about some of the saddest parts of American (US) history, the treatment of indigenous tribal folks in California is pretty dismal, from the coming of the Spaniards with their mission system and its use of native slaves through to the Gold Rush and Captain Jack and the Modoc War, the last of the Indian battles of California and Oregon.

But today I'm getting back to Opal Creek and Pablo and all that that entails... which, if you've been a regular reader, you know how wide the connections are in my continuing tale of Tincup.

When I first visited Opal Creek that autumn of '89 I was housed in Cabin 4:

and it was there I fell in love with Opal Creek. Falling asleep every night reading, listening to the Little North Fork of the Santiam flowing by... sigh... it was truly a connection of fate and karma, good luck and proof of the old adage, "its not what you know, but who you know." Because it was the connection I made with Hoos and Pablo while I was in Santa Maria flinging lumber with Marty that I met them both. And they were the ones who got me hired as one of the last miners.

I remember that first visit... driving almost a thousand miles up I-5, making the right turn onto the Santiam Highway (Hwy 22) and heading east into the Cascades towards Mehama. Making a left turn onto North Fork Rd and driving until I came to the locked gate at the end of the road. That was the only time that road seemed long. Not knowing where I was going really, the drive followed the twisty two lane road deeper into the Little North Fork canyon, past small farms and catching glimpses of the Little North Fork of the Santiam River as the trees grew closer and the canopy grew thicker, hanging over the road in many places until the blacktop ran out and I hit the gravel road. Then it was another 6 miles of driving on gravel, bucking the washboard and dodging pot holes... and then coming to the crest of the road where you can see across the deep and forested canyon to Elkhorn Mountain and the cut of Cedar Creek with its rocky knobs to the right (south) and Henline Mountain rising steeply to the left. All unlogged and free of clearcuts... and then... a couple of miles further up rounding a curve in the road to the left and there straight ahead is the view up canyon of the the Little North Fork's headwaters and somewhere down in there, Jawbone Flats and my friends:

Back then Opal Creek was just getting media attention as a pivotal player in the old-growth versus logging debate, a subject I knew literally nothing about, other of course than that I liked big trees and pristine forests, clean water and lots of quiet (see Mother Theresa's quote at the top of this page).

And like I've also said before, Opal Creek began my adventurous return to the Pacific Northwest, seeming very much like I was a character in a story that could have been a part of writer Tom Robbins' psychedelic Another Roadside Attraction. But with my own personal twist...

And, because the connections are very much braided together (the great song "Braided Hair" by Speech, from the very, very wonderful album, One Giant Leap, hits this nail squarely on the head for me) it just had to be that Grampa Semu came to Opal Creek for a stay with us, with his wife Aneke Alish and his wonderful friend Amuah:

and of course we had to do a group photo (taken by Pablo, with my camera) -- probably the only pic I'll post with Hoosnahil visible -- with Jawbone's residents and the teenagers Grampa brought along:

Its funny, because when I was living there and taking my photographs I never figured they would become historic documents... So there is a word of wisdom to the photographers out there, especially you young ones, you never know when a situation or a series of photos you may deem as ordinary or insignificant (especially of people and events) can take on more importance than you give them at the time of their being taken.

I have to head to work in a bit... so I will continue this next time. Until then...

Kay sh'nuk sh'mah.

“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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