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Category: The Crescents

Inevitability training

Crescent Bay, November 2006

Oof, my scanner is down again. More literal snaps from the archives.

This was taken after a monumental (for us) 16″ snowfall several years ago. Not as much snow down at sea-level, but we are about 350 feet above this and got buried. This was a November just months after I finished building the 5×12 camera and one of the first hikes of significance I took it on. I was fortunate in finally finding a backpack where everything fit very well, with a decent harness for the 40+ lbs. Still, fully outfitted with boots and tripod I’m around 300lbs and tend to settle in the deeper stuff. It’s a 3 mile round-trip down to Crescent Beach and back. But it was a good way to stay warm, as out power was out most of that week.

Shoveling snow is of course another proven method. Earlier, I’d climbed up and shoveled off the roof instead of the driveway to the amusement of wife and neighbor alike. I was worried about 14-16 inches of snow half melting and turning to ice and collapsing the 4/12 pitch roof. Not much point in clearing the driveway as we wouldn’t start to see snow plows for a few days yet.

Yet another method to keep warm is sawing firewood from rock maple and oak woodscraps with a thin dozuki saw. As it was mostly too cold to sleep, I’d get up at 4 AM some mornings and dig out the firepit and build a fire with whatever scraps I could spare. I’m glad the camera was finished at that point or I might have been tempted to burn it.

All good prep for the upcoming… winter. I am attempting some preliminary leanness in good faith, but am irrevocably soft in spots. Which tends to take the poetry out of such withered optimism.

There’s always one that doesn’t want to go home

Lake Crescent, August 2008

I wonder how many pets get inadvertently left here on the peninsula after family vacations. Everyone seems to have a story, if not one strictly from here. I remember our ancient Scottish Terrier ‘Slash’ falling out of a moving van in the hills of Tennessee when I was young. We recovered him- although whether lucky or not wasn’t immediately apparent- the dog was a terror and promptly bit my dad. My wife’s and my newest dog Emily was a Clallam County Humane Society rescue, after being found wandering by the side of the highway in Sequim.

Our recent trip to Idaho and eastern WA involved two lost dogs- one was just a pickup slowing to ask if we had lost the dog they’d seen back down the highway. The other involved a friend’s border collie that disappeared in the Quincy Lakes Coulees. Blaze, a charge of our friends, was also a CCHS rescue, a sweet dog, if utterly inbred and nuts. The long trip in the back of our friend’s pickup with 2 other wound up dogs and a horse trailer clanging behind was enough to send him yipping off into the void when she arrived late that night to the campsite and dropped the tailgate. The unspoken assessment was that coyotes probably got him the first night, but I actually found the dog hiding in a draw by Dusty Lake two days later. Sadly, only a brief reprieve- Blaze ran off again a couple days ago on a horse ride in the lower Elwha area.

Anyway, all this reminded me of when I turned off 101 around Lake Crescent to take this shot last month. A camper across the street with a family I thought had stopped to enjoy the dramatic view was instead looking for a dog. The father trying to gather up the family, saying ‘There’s always one that doesn’t want to go home. Cmon let’s go.’

‘Die in a Happy City’

Ediz Hook, Spetember 2008

Walking the spit of Ediz, there is the sense of fringe decay, atrophy at the unattended frontier. There is a sense of depopulation, as if through plague or economic collapse. Looking back to the mainland, Port Angeles also slumps at the base of the Olympics like so much uncontested Brink. Only the grandeur of Miocene tumult saves the town from it’s true scale, and its own teetering references.

Camus comes to mind:
The town itself, let us admit, is ugly. *

Granted, I have a certain animosity towards the town, and vaguely towards the country beyond it. Its social conservatism, lack of culture, willing absorption into the harvesting combine of Walmart, Costco, and the big box socio-economic model make me feel a bitterness that is ultimately powerless against the futility of such a place, and such an era. I wonder about the level of inertia needed to introduce change into this place, and others like it. No one mentions sacrifice anymore. Am I prepared to sacrifice? Prepared, no. But willing…? I wonder.

To entertain thoughts of economic collapse and other such irrevocable devastation seems unpatriotic, anarchistic and probably even criminal to some. I can’t help it. The need for the populace to succumb to the first reassurances from candidates has so far outlined our doom, even if it’s a contented one. Maybe the violent cycles of regeneration found in nature are a good model to follow, something that will ‘Rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.’*

*Albert Camus The Plague

Meanwhile, an interlude of literal snap(s)

Crescent Bay, November 2006

It occurs to me I haven’t posted any actual ‘wintery’ (aka snow) shots here, so in the spirit of literal compliance, here’s one at least. I’ll post some more if I can ever find them.

My scanner is down, so I’ve been raking the archives. The weather has been cool and rainy lately and so I’ve already begun my forays back to the coast and am very excited about posting some new work, if my scanner issues get sorted out.

Devolution

Ediz Bay, December 2007

The infrastructure is regressing around here. Dams are scheduled for disassembly, the lower Elwha Bridge has been demolished, and this pier is no more. It would be refreshing, but the genetic drift of commercial structures is never what it seems, and I can’t be sure that this pier didn’t just disintegrate in a storm. And there may be something in the works to take it’s place.

Recessions are always interesting in a small town. I’m an early casualty, getting terminated as residential and smaller commercial construction takes the first wave. Large projects on the state or federal level fare somewhat better. But it’s a little irritating to see a guard rail project begun for the length of 101 in this economy. We must be protected from blackberry thickets, soft shoulders, ourselves. Our drunken driving and falling asleep at the wheel. The contractor appears to be from out of state.

Blessings, though. I get to work on my stuff, which is nice. I’ve never drawn unemployment before, so it’s been an learning experience. I’ve paid into it for around thirty years, and I have 8 months’ worth if I need it. It’s odd to reduce 28 years of full-time toil into an eight month stipend. All the injury, swollen knuckles and collateral damage that comes with learning how to deliver newspapers, stock shelves, bag groceries, wash dishes and make Béchamel, pour a perfect B-52, toss a drunk out on his ass, stick frame a Dutch gable roof or cut crown molding…I feel the indignation simmering, but the fact is I’m nothing special.

Monday I went to unemployment class, got a refresher course in bureaucratic comedy and personal uncertainty. The instructor was nice but had developed a dark almost desperate sense of humor. She joked as she showed us how to make a resume on the overhead projector. Everyone was distracted. Some seemed almost peripherally appalled at the levity, but few had the confidence to be offended outright.

Thinking about starting over at my age is chilling. I’m only 41, but the thought of building pole barns piece rate in Quilcene isn’t appealing. I used to love building, building anything, but the thought of getting up at 4 am some anonymous February morning to drive around the Olympics so I can run along icy purlins by 7 am…Build a barn in 3 days or be consigned to minimum wage… Gee, my mind almost sound made up! Think I’d rather go back to kindergarten and just start over.

The long dark night of the…housepainter?

Crescent Bay, July 2008

The rush is on to paint my house before the rains return. Not so much because you can’t paint in the rain- I’ve painted in the snow before- but because it’s my favorite time to head out to the coast and snap away. I started to re-side my house LAST summer and I’m only now agonizing over color chips. But the mind wanders, and such petty anxiety is generally symptomatic of larger concerns.

I think/hope this project will continue for as long as I live here. Humans bind themselves to the abstraction of purpose in odd ways, and this certainly qualifies. I feel I’ve found my reason. In doing so I’ve neglected my job, friends and any sort of plan for future security, so I guess I better make it count. So, trying not to seem self-important streamlines nothing in the process; it certainly doesn’t flatter the necessary vanities of creative impulses, or even neurotic impulses for that matter. Saying otherwise is pretense, and tiresome at best.

Kafka comes to mind:
From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back.
That is the point that must be reached.

Principium soberer: the uncorrected text

Strait of Juan de Fuca, February 2008

Good dag,

They had been the doomed passengers on a sinking rosewater, mingle it with a quart of cream, six had reasons, said sir charles. Quite natural ones. Sufficient light penetrated the place to reveal locked, our bodies intertwined, and that infernal m. Poirot! Cried jane. What is it? It is, said her room. A note was left addressed to the coroner.it would be taken direct to the hirondelle, so i say,’ answered rupert ‘i have just read miss and being cold, fill your poultry, either in cauls when the skullfaced man was taken away, it was and true men will not unfrequently damn their…

Can spam get any odder? This, to sell V1@gRa..The words seem designed more to trigger sleeper cells than sell pills. Like the line from The Manchurian Candidate: ‘Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

Although, I do especially like the doomed passengers on sinking rosewater imagery, as mingled with a quart of cream. I’m thinking of compiling a tome of spam abstracts for bedtime reading. But should I worry about copyright infringement? :p

Gnawer of the moon

Salt Creek, December 2007

I only vaguely remember troll stories from kindergarten, but waiting under this bridge and the cold of the December morning was enough to debilitate me with childhood nostalgia. I remember the first time I noticed cold expressed as a distinct visual, some early winter morning chewing off the buttons of my winter coat, snot and drool alike getting cold, watching the rime star the leaves and glass. Waiting while my mother spoke with Ms Weintraub the kindergarten teacher, who was also a family friend. Of course it wasn’t the same day I heard Billy Goat Gruff for the first time, but the memory does exist in the same soft oculus that seems to illuminate all childhood memories. Anyway, I don’t remember being particularly impressed with trolls in general; though possibly with the peculiarities of their habits. Perhaps the cold, the gathering dawn light and the surreal glow of the frosty pilings conspired to hit me over the head in lieu of symbolic folkloric subtlety.

They call me Troll;
Gnawer of the Moon,
Giant of the Gale-blasts,
Curse of the rain-hall,
Companion of the Sibyl,
Nightroaming hag,
Swallower of the loaf of heaven.
What is a Troll but that?
-Bragi Boddason the Old


The remaining clouds

Crescent Bay, March 2007

I’m usually pretty exhausted when I come home from work, but I like to stop by Crescent Bay as often as possible. It’s only a few miles out of the way, and it’s a very short walk out, tide permitting of course.

There aren’t often such dramatic clouds to the northwest of us- much of the towering atmosphere seems to snag on the Olympic Mountains and the balance deflates and settles over Vancouver Island. But this was startling and quickly evolving as if in time elapse and I used a fast aperture to stop the movement, pushed the film recklessly and made four exposures to make sure I got something usable. A gamble, considering the cost of film and considering how b&w sunset shots of mine generally fare, ahem.

As such I don’t usually go for sunsets, but I like this because it had more structure than hue and doesn’t seem to suffer for lack of color. And the sea stack aimed like a schooner at the small sunburst along the horizon doesn’t hurt.

The cure of ruin

Lake Crescent, South Shore, March 2008

Alder is not held in high esteem here, but I think it’s lovely. Often a sign of new growth and renewal, the trees flag the sites of old logging roads, obliterated homesteads or just the nursed-out remains of fallen giants. A half-remedy of mostly forgotten or unknown ruin. A folk-remedy does say that you can place the leaves in your boots to ease weary feet, but I’ve not yet tried it.

Robert Frost comes to mind, but that’s little surprise:

“A winter garden in an alder swamp,
Where cronies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be,
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.”

A Winter Eden