Notes from Windward: #66


Todd's camera enjoys a fall feast in the forest

      As it happened, the traditional 9 AM Windward Walk was both late and solitary. On a particular early November morning the writer's usual walking companions had left early on a mission to Portland. Temperatures had risen to the mid-30s and what had been freezing rain the day before had morphed into the gentle intermittent rain we most often get around here.

      Just twenty-four hours earlier the writer's camera had first sampled the visual treats that freezing rain can leave behind, namely icicles growing from just about everything, including the galvanized fencing and the last golden delicious of our 2006 apple crop. Now the gluttonous KonicaMinolta wanted more such treats.





      By ten, the sheep and the bunnies had been fed, urgent emails had been read and answered and all was in readiness for an exploration of the fall colors lurking in Windward's forested acres.

      The Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs were the camera's first subjects. Naturally, they remained steadfastly green, their only seasonal compromise being to allow ice to lend them some extra sparkle. Still, not wholly un-photogenic.



      The oaks, though, were more cooperative; all seemed bent on showing off for the camera. Walking these areas all summer the writer had seen nothing but green. But now their hotter colors were in full gloss, thanks to an icy varnish. Even the mosses seemed to glitter.

      At first, the eyelevel scenes captured most of the camera's attention. The forest floor, however, was soon found to be equally compelling (at least to a camera that is easily seduced by colors, textures and patterns).







      On days when I treat myself to extended walks, my route typically loops down to Wahkiacus Canyon, wherein lies a certain nameless water body trapped behind an old earthen dam. Wildlife (mostly deer) and semi-wildlife (mostly free-ranging cattle) quench their summer thirsts at this murky pond fed (in wetter times) by a creek that empties into the Klickitat River. The oddest critter I've seen here was a solitary muscovy duck that flew in from somewhere to the far south (they're native to Central and South America) and hung out for a week or two, to the delight of the wildlife-watchers in our crew of summer interns.

      When the camera arrived, no such creatures were apparent. Instead, the pond was a darkish confetti of raindrops, reflections, clumps of algae and waterlogged leaves. This was not enough for the camera, which requested that a hefty stone be flung to propagate ripples; the camera-holder dutifully complied.



      Back up the loop to Windward proper, the camera was greeted by ice-rimed vistas splashed with seasonal hues. The scene looking east along Windward Lane reminded the camera-holder of the luminous richness one might associate with, say, a fanciful Thomas Kinkade painting…but without the shmaltz. You think?



      At the juncture we call the crossroads, the camera became fascinated with a muddy puddle being henpecked by icicle-melt from a nearby pine. What lurked inside the bubbles, though, was not to be revealed until the images were viewed on a big monitor. No doubt the mysterious, roughly star-shaped objects you can see inside the bubbles have a mundane scientific explanation. The camera-holder, of course, prefers to think of them as White Chocolate Spherions, bubble-dwelling aliens from a remote sector of the Alastor Cluster that recreate on puddles such as these.



      The morning's photo adventure ended in a 1000-gallon concrete tank. That's the place we hope will be home to a thriving population of fish by next summer, part of our aquaponics system-in-development. For now, the oak leaves and pine needles floating on a couple inches of rainwater will just have to do. The camera regards this is visual proof that sustainability is a beautiful notion.



Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 66