Earlier in the week on a local walk, I paused by Bide a Wee Farm to admire the adorable newborn lambs and their friendly caretaker llama with a class 3 underbite. Smiles for everyone in an Oregon spring!
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings last week (on top of everything else going on in this country) I needed a big hug from nature.
Off I went with 3 other women friends to walk in the Opal Creek Wilderness Area. This place has been a refuge for me for years. It is tucked up in the Cascade Mountains about 30 miles due east of Salem, Oregon.
This is one of the largest old growth forests left in the United States and the largest in the Western Cascade Mountains in a watershed virtually untouched by loggers saw. As a result, stunning Opal Creek runs sparkling clear through its rocky course through this forest wonderland of giant Douglas fir, W. Hemlock, & W. Red Cedar.
The Shiny Rock Mining company operated in the midst of this forest in the 1930s from the “town” of Jawbone Flat. In its heyday, about 50 souls lived & worked there. The relics of the town still remain.
By the 1980s, timber companies were eager to log the area. Friends of Opal Creek, an activist organization dedicated to preserving the watershed to a wilderness area, was formed. I joined up. For the next few years, I made many 4-hour roundtrip drives to lead educational hikes to the public along with other docents in an effort to expose and educate the public about why we should preserve this gem of an area.
The strategy worked. Eventually, with public pressure, Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon pushed legislation through Congress in 1996 before he retired forming the Opal Creek Wilderness Area. The Shiny Rock Mining Company deeded over their holdings to the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center whose mission it is to educate children and others on the value of old growth forests.
Today it is a sanctuary for many including myself and a myriad of flora and fauna. Walking through this forest cathedral, the four of us absorbed the healing power of nature and our souls were washed clean, at least for a while, from the cascades of Opal Creek.
It was good to know, there is still beauty in this world.
There is Still beauty in this World
Seek it in the wild forests
Where the only news you will hear
Are the songs of birds
And the shatter of chipmunks
Let the music of cascading waters
Soothe your soul
As you tread in a green world
Lined with lush moss, rocks, and ferns
A winding trail beneath your feet
When you look up through
The cathedral of conifer branches
And the stained glass window of the vine maples in their sunset hues
Know that nature will endure
Beyond the world of man
It used to be my favorite season until the last couple of summers. We here in Oregon have suffered unusually high sustained temperatures with our wildlands burning. It’s been tough on the psyche on many levels. Autumn is my new best friend.
Oregon Summer 2017
The summer left Oregon in haste
Like an old friend that paid a visit
Then had a falling out
The rains of autumn quickly came to take her place
Quenching the land’s thirst with violent downpours
The summer had betrayed us
Bringing unrelenting heat and drought
Thousands of acres of parched forests burned with such intensity
It filled the hot air for days with acrid smoke
Staining the sky, stinging our eyes, making us cough
We longed for the familiar temperate comfort of the season
In a gentle land
Safe from extremes, full of verdant beauty
But now our ramparts have been breached and we are unsure
As we wade through this occupation of climate extremes
The summer left in a hurry
Maybe to gather strength for next year?
Whatever the reason
As the leaves tinge with orange and yellow
Our relief is palpable as we wake with the morning’s new chill
We welcome the prelude to winter’s coming
No matter how much the terrorists, the despots, (& our president) try to steal the show, nature wins hands down. What a magnificent sight it was to gaze up at the sky & witness such a celestial event among friends. It was a great morning in Oregon!
The sun & the moon
met each other in the freshness of an August morning
and as they embraced, the sun smiled brightly
then grinned as he crowned the moon
with a corona of dazzling light.
The earth hushed
The sky darkened in reverence
& we stood in awe before the crown.
Then the two lovers slowly
committed to their lonely orbits
leaving us in the fullness of day
Walk a half mile down the McKenzie River Trail from Clear Lake, Oregon & you will come upon a treasure of waterfalls and azure pools. I like to stop & gaze at the dance of the water, infinite incarnations in the blink of an eye.
Waldo Lake is one of the many gems of Oregon. At 5,414 ft in the Oregon Cascades, it’s the second-largest & deepest lake in the state & is known for it’s pristine, crystal clear water. It’s a magical place.
Every spring these tulip fields at the Wooden shoe Tulip Farm explode with color, a welcome end to a dreary winter. I am lucky I don’t have to wander far in Oregon to experience such beauty.
Stop here and see if there's something to help you get things untangled.
Settling in the Northwest like the old days. But not.
A blog by Louise Gallagher
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