"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

29 October 2014

Late Autumn Meditation

Ice is starting to form on the river...

By and large, it is has been a rather mild autumn. I've caught myself going without a jacket more often than not. Although, part of me wonders if it is not in defiance of the season, and, the season to come, instead of the ambient air temperature. Every year, as it cools down, I find myself silently wondering if I have truly gotten used to living up here, that my body has adapted to climate as my mind has to the environment. Most often, I know the answer is yes, but that doesn't stop the questioning.

There are the omens of change in the air. Breath being visible at night and the early morning. The snow on the very high peaks is not melting away. Shadows grow longer. The sun ducks behind the ridge between three-thirty and four in the afternoon, giving one a slight chill at first. In another few days, the idiocy of Daylight Savings starts, and it'll get darker that much quicker. A few weeks after that, the sun will not rise over Pendleton's massif and those of us along Rue Maji will not get direct sunlight again until the end of January. In my mind, the beginning of winter is the day I notice we've entered the Long Dark.

The other day, we went up Grizzly Gulch. On the peak for which the trail is named, as well as along Torrey's, snow devils danced is the high alpine gales. Where we were, the breeze had a slight chill, but was gentle. I managed to get a better look at the bones of the avalanche that occurred sometime last winter. It was amazing and terrifying to figure out where the slab ran and the scale of destruction it caused.

"Snow can do that?" Sampai asked me the time I showed him the photographs from that fateful June walkabout.

"Um, yeh," I replied. "It's compacted water, and water is actually pretty fucking heavy."

True to fact, the thing that kills people in avalanches, besides suffocation, is blunt force trauma...

In another month to month and a half, we'll be snowshoeing. A place like Grizzly Gulch will be a place we only go so far, as to avoid those avalanche chutes. The rhythms of the seasons. Sabina and I have already booked a hut trip for her birthday snowshoe and I imagine kicking up some powder. The other day, a fellow proletariat offered me a pair of cross-country skis and was utterly shocked that I didn't telemark.

Here and now, it's late autumn, and a mild one at that. I know what's coming. I can feel it in the marrow of my twisted skeleton. That is not now. Now is a hike up a bit of Dry Gulch. Might need gaiters. The sky is that shade of blue, the sun is shining, there's little breeze, and the air is mild. What a time to get caught up in the moment.


  1. Robbie
    My postage stamp lawns, both of them, have nearly 6 months when no sun peeks at them. On the north side, small, they are blocked by my house. They seem to grow, nonetheless.

    I love watching telemark skiers, those graceful turns are so nice. I skied for nearly 40 years, all downhill. I loved the speed, letting go of thinking and just reacting to the terrain.

    Yeah, this is the DST change I don't care for. Most like it for the added hour of sleep on Sunday before work on Monday....since retirement it's just means It's dark longer.

    Last couple days here seem to signal the end of what resembles warmth....got up to 43 today, a few flurries this morning that didn't stick.

    Making a lamb curry, it's been simmering for some time, I'm using shanks that I pre-cooked in soup broth for 4 hours.


    1. Thanx for the sunlight perspective. As the sun comes back, I am reminded what solar-power creatures we are.

      If I was ever going to ski, it'd probably be telemark. And, certainly, I'd not bother with ski areas...need to get me beacon to go with my avi shovel. Although, I like the people speed of walking, hence, snowshoes.

      Fifty-one here. We're doing a white pizza tonight. About a week ago, I did my pork vindalhoo, which every incarnation is the bestest I've ever made. There's a Sri Lankin lamb curry I do, which is grand two days after I cook it. Paprikash in the next few days. It seems in perfect context for autumn.

  2. I couldn't figure out what the photo was about until I clicked to make it larger. Ice. Still in the 60s here...ideal for one who curses that nuclear orb... ;D

    1. And, ah, lassie, that's just the start of it. By mid-December, the river will be froze solid enough to support a man.

      [you totally noticed the pseudo-Scottish accent in that, riiiiiiiiiiiight?]


  3. It's been mild here as well. It was 80 degrees Monday - which sucks for this time of year. But this weekend it's going to be in the 30s - my kind of weather! I think I was a polar bear in a former life.

    1. We're supposed to get snow come Sunday. Although, current prophecies argue as to accumulations at my elevation, if any.

  4. I'm still mowing the lawn...it's ridiculous, really, all this rain and nice weather.
    Enjoy your autumn.

    1. I consider giving the back one last clipping, but the snow's coming Sunday.