Sunday, February 27, 2011

In the Alive of Winter photo essay

I slog up the moraine, my snowshoes biting deep into the powder snow. Generations ago a glacier churned its way out of the mountains, carving out the bowl of Wallowa Lake and leaving this high lonesome plateau in its wake.

 It's about five degrees above zero and the snow is a carpet of diamonds winking in the sun.
The trees are heavy with unshed snow.
The deep canyons, grooves in the bedrock left from the glacier's passage, are shrouded in clouds. Back there, frozen lakes dream under the weight of the ice.

The lake is sandwiched between two moraines running north and south. They stretch the lake between them, remnants of the rock and soil picked up and bulldozed by the glacier as it travelled slowly through the landscape. You can see the history of how it moved, a moment frozen in time.

 I should turn back but the moraine beckons me forward.
 I stop and take stock of my surroundings. Nothing moves but the wind. The world is a heavy cloak of snow.
 The lake is a narrow ribbon. Blue water, white snow. The contrast is almost too much to take in.
 The water flows out to the Wallowa River, which flows to the Grande Ronde, which in turn flows into the Snake River, which flows into the Columbia, which ends up in the sea. Here, I am seeing the beginning of a journey.
I wonder for a time how I ended up here, from high desert to coastal rainforest, from southern swamp to Rocky Mountain. What bends in my life, like bends of a river, conspired to bring me here after years of wandering? Each eddy, each backwater, added up to me standing here, right now, on the back of what was carried here by a glacier. Forces stronger than I can imagine shaped this place. I am growing to see its story.


5 comments:

  1. Poetry.
    Thank you for sharing that with us.

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  2. Wonderful winter photo-essay. Having only seen the lake, moraine and glaciered land in summer, it was eye-opening to see it--and you-- in deep winter

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  3. thanks everyone. I LOVE COMMENTS. I don't feel like I am writing in a void....

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