Notes from Windward: #68


First Impressions

Sarah shares some of her first impression of Windward

     Being a Carolina woman who's hardly been west of the Mississippi, I had to laugh when I arrived at Windward and realized I'd moved from one land full of oak trees and pines to another. But the landscape of Klickitat county is different from any I've ever known, and some of my most magical moments in this first week at Windward have been simple walks through the woods collecting wildflowers, admiring the florescent-green color of the lichen, and rejoicing over cloudless daytime views of Mt. Hood and clear night skies brimming with stars.


     The summer solstice was a few days after I arrived, and a few of us strung wildflowers together with needle and thread to make celebratory garlands. We sat around the fire that night under a honey-amber moon, our heads ringed in flowers, and Monica painted our eyelids with a mixture of olive oil and thyme—a traditional anointment said to make people able to see fairies. I'm not sure if I saw any fairies that night, but I did see a group of friends practicing ritual on one of nature's great holidays, and I rejoiced that I was in a place where celebrations are guided by the sun and moon, by the safe birth of bunnies and chicks or the sudden new leaves of a plum tree long thought dead.

     When I accompanied Walt on some errands in Goldendale one sunny day later that week, our views driving down from the mountains were so beautiful I found it difficult to speak. Everywhere I looked, evergreen turned to cliff, cliff turned to river, and river mirrored sky. Down in the flatlands, the buildings of Goldendale seem to rise straight out of the prairie, such that even when you stand in a parking lot in town, the immense spread of greens and golds overwhelms the panorama, and the sky stops only to graze the looming peaks of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. In Goldendale I understood for the first time that I live "out west" now.


     Be it through tasting Monica's teas made with wild plants, helping Orly make earthen bricks or Emily care for the sheep and goats, weeding under the young fruit trees in the evening with Jen, sharing stories with Walt while shearing sheep, watching Opalyn's excitement build in the never-ending peacock chase, or cooking alongside Gina in the kitchen, I have found many open hands and much engaging work here at Windward, and I look forward to further discovery in my new land of oaks and pines.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 68