25 May 2011

elowah falls

Take a breath. The sound of traffic falls away somewhere behind us on the trail. That metal train noise is gone. It's just the rush of water now or wind—they are the same.

In the curl of new moss is a pair of Calypso orchids, one in fresh bloom and one fading to brown, its succulent petals deflated and wrinkled on the edges. The Calypso only grows at northern latitudes, undisturbed, concealed on the forest floor. Fairy slipper and Venus's slipper are its other names. Its lolling tongue is covered with purple leopard spots, a scoop into its baleen mouth, halo of pink.

False Solomon's Seal has feather-duster flowers with a rotting sweetness that makes me sneeze at the top of the rise. I hold  my rain jacket and hands up to avoid the brush of shiny poison oak. It's not really oak, he says. It's something related to poison ivy.

A switchback trail takes us into the heart of the narrow canyon. White foam of the creek threads along the bottom, rocks and fallen trees bending the water this way and that. On the other side, clumps of sword ferns splay out from their own bull's-eye center. Moss covers everything—you can never get lost in the PacNW because moss always grows on the outside of the trees.

But it's the water we've come to see: Elowah Falls. From the top edge of the cliff, it lays down a gray mist over the falling water that takes us in, wets us head to foot, releases us into a wash of drops that almost makes a rainbow.

The bridge is slick. So are the logs over the creek, green with fine moss. There's water on my skin and clothes and in my eyes.

Touch the earth. I am a rock in the sun. He hollers to me from where he has climbed down to the streambed, but even his voice is the sound of water.


04 May 2011


Came back to much hoopla on Sunday after being out with the Mazamas at Smith Rock over the weekend. Prefer the rock.

My dad called last night while I was doing homework and watching Oklahoma beat Memphis to tie the series 1-1. Multi-tasking is the story of my life. Admitted to not having enough time to watch the playoffs last week. I told him I even took my homework camping. He just laughed and said there was this crazy guy in his medical school class who took his homework everywhere with him - lunch, work, church, even to football games.

"What happened to him?" I said.

"He graduated top in our class."

Oy. I am just hoping to meet deadline.

As part of my ongoing commitment to stay connected to my writing people in a tangible, face-to-face way, tonight I went to the First Wednesday Readings at the Blackbird Wine and Atomic Cheese Shop (4342 NE Fremont, Portland). Some of my favorite writers were there, some of them even reading.

Bruce Barrow read some flash fiction. Bruce and I worked across the Pinewood Table in workshop for awhile, and I always love his stories. He did not disappoint - loved each one tonight.

Scott Sparling read from his new novel "Wire to Wire" set to be released next month from Tin House. I originally met Scott also through the Pinewood Table, although we never sat in workshop together. I was honored to read with him last year at the Press Club. His new book has received some notable reviews, including one from my other friend, Laura Stanfill. It's such a small world.

Michele Longo Eder read from her memoir, "Salt in our Blood - the Memoir of a Fisherman's Wife." If you know me at all, you know how I love anything about crab fishing, so of course this was wonderful.

Elizabeth Austen read a few poems from her new collection, "Every Dress a Decision" from Blue Begonia Press. Her poems hit on the familiar and intimate in language clear enough to tell a story. Beautiful. I am looking forward to reading her book front-to-back.

Shout out to Steven Allred and Joanna Rose for having guided me at the Pinewood Table and connected me to other writers. It's good to have these friends who are writers - they make a difference in my life.