With only three days remaining, I walked to Ranier for the last time. I unzipped my jacket and took off my gloves on the way home because the air rose to plus ten, and I felt warm. This seemed strange because on those California days at Mt. San Jacinto when it was around twenty I was thickly bundled. Something has changed inside as if antifreeze now runs through my veins.
It’s a fine sunny day, and I even see traces of diamond dust in the morning at these higher temperatures. I can’t resist taking pictures of the illusive sparkles, trying to show them as they are, against snow in its many forms. Boulder and desert snow, tiny stars in the boulders, shimmer of water in the desert.
I still see deer tracks, squirrel, others too I’d like to meet. I hear the familiar sounds—the whistle of the driverless train bringing wood chips from Chip Mountain just a quarter mile to the mill, the squeak of tires on packed snow, and the call of a raven.
I am the object of this writing, this novel; I have no protagonist. Being here is so much like an image of something real, not reality itself, that it makes the whole experience seem already made into a poem or a painting. The need to make metaphor and impression seems not as strong now. I have called relationships together in these missives and drawn attention to the things back home as likenesses of things here, but now it’s like the ending of a life where what has been done is final and only recall remains.
Birch trees with their horizontal lines and vertical strength, bark that sheathes canoes, roofs dwellings, bark that heats the paper mill, their wood from which I read a book, write a letter, eat a bowl of soup, and set the bowl on, these adaptable, bendable, and recoverable trees are on the level and they measure up. I can’t get enough of them.
Whenever I have gone to Ranier, I have taken a picture from this viewpoint. This final entry into that sequence.
Diamond dust and boulders