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Thursday, March 12, 2009


It had now been absent for nearly half a year after leading the birds south last autumn for their annual hiatus.

I hadn’t noticed it was coming back because the clouds conspired to hide it – tried to create an impenetrable gray blanket of depression – tried to cover the earth in a glaze of freezing rain and sleet, like a giant black slug.

But nearly two weeks ago, I stepped out of a soul-killing windowless concrete-slab work-box to wash off the stink of my own nervous sweat in the face of a bracing wind that I remembered from the morning and which I knew carried stinging rain in a horizontal fashion.

Instead, the world of gray was vanquished - the gloomy cover shattered –rays of golden sunshine, like rescue searchlights actively seeking abandoned children – warmly touched my face – dried my clammy skin – whispered promises of summer.

I went back inside to tell the others. It’s come back! Winter is over! (The sun - It told me! I felt it!)

By the time they went to look, it was already dark again. Vengeful thunderheads stormed back across the sky dropping sleet and hail to chill the steaming ground and erase all evidence of any heavenly visit.

They ridiculed me in my role as harbinger of spring.

And so it went like that. Tantalizing sun breaks in the middle of the week bracketed by weekends that hearkened back to an ice age or some Russian gulag on the remote Siberian tundra.

Last Sunday, I hoped I might find it again. Once again taking a hint from the Portland Hiker’s Field Guide,

I left a rain shrouded Portland behind and headed east up the gorge, looking for …spring I guess

On my way to Cascade Locks, I had to pull up short somewhere around Warrendale, to watch the clouds and sun engage in minor battles, the scattered skirmishes of a greater war.

Finally back on track, I started climbing gently up hill from the winter trailhead, doing what I do best – sweating – soaking my shirt – fulfilling my role as hypothermia’s poster child.

Snow fell randomly – here and there– in the still air – only minutes at a time. I always stopped to watch in silence and listen to the flakes landing – like muted whispers – like carbonated bubbles popping at the surface of a stale drink.

"…the woods are lovely, dark and deep…”

I always thought they were made in China, but the abundant fruit of this shoe tree made me reconsider.

Dry Creek Falls.

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