THE DRY SIDE

Dry side, wet side:

Washington’s two faces.

Lush, spare, dim, bright.

In two hours you can change sides, be

transformed.

The wet side:

Seattle techies huddle over their devices,

abundant rain permanently greens the land

and skies are often moody.

The dry side:

cattle and crops settle

into a spacious landscape of pale-hued,

open-skied desert.

*

Last weekend we sped up through Snoqualmie Pass to the dry side,

alert with anticipation:

new places, open spaces.

 

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The Columbia River:

big hunk of water

set down among towering basalt cliffs.

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Roadside rock:

at sixty miles an hour.

 

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Wanapum Lake.

A dam on the Columbia River created it. Setting disagreements with damming practices aside,

it is

breathtaking.

Even the details of odd patterns in the rocks fascinate us:

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Only an hour off the Pass, and

we’re already transformed.

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Looking back north, the Vantage Bridge begins to fade.

Onward!

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The Columbia Plateau.

Sprinkled with thousands of lakes, the land

attracts water birds, the

birds attract birders,

and I am not exempt.

Great egrets, check. A pelican, too. But where are my wished for

American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt? Oh well.

The landscape is its own reward.

Late spring wildflowers

and wide open vistas:

enough.

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A delicate beauty, the Sagebrush Mariposa lily

consorts with big sage among

dry grasses.

Sun lover, it beams.

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In harsh desert light

lilies almost hide.

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Showy milkweed.

Like so many wildflowers, it’s bloom is early this year.

Ants rejoice.

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Along Lower Crab Creek, just above the Saddle Mountains.

Old fence

slowly bows

to the ground.

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Lower Crab Creek spills into wetlands, painting the dry land with new colors.

Jubilant Spring growth is softened by somber, gray-green pillows of

fragrant big sage,

with side-notes of deep orange and gold grasses

already gone to seed.

*

Big sage sleeps.

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Salsify.

Yellow dandelion-like flower yesterday,

fuzzed ball of feathered parachutes today.

Fresh breeze makes quick work of the seeds.

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When the wind is too strong for photography, and the light is too harsh

(as it was last weekend in the desert),

take your pictures anyway.

Go with it.

Let the grasses blur and shimmer as they will,

press the shutter,

and breathe deeply.

 

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Saddle Mountains.

Their furrowed slope eases down into sage and grass,

through ancient lands shaped by fire and flood.

Look hard  –

see the lilies dotting the field;

they’re blooming in the middle of the old sage, too.

*

If you come back, it will still be good here.

This sparse place minds its business,

sucks down what rain it can,

bakes in the sunlight. It sings

the old, high-pitched,

buzz song

of desert silence.

 

 

 

 

 


30 comments

  1. Beautiful words and photos, Lynn. I especially love the close-ups of the dandelion and milkweed, the far-away shot of Vantage Bridge and the wetlands with the pillows of big sage. I also love your final words in the poem. 🙂 Happy Memorial Day weekend. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for saying which are your favorites – it’s always instructive. That milkweed is a little different from the east coast ones, but I love them all – they’re incredible plants, with those complex flowers and fabulous seed pods, and then the bonus of feeding Monarch caterpillars. The Vantage Bridge photo was one I was really pleased with, too. And I just love the sage – the color, the funny little leaves, the fragrance. Hope you are relaxing in good weather this weekend, but I think that may not be the case…

      • Surprisingly we are having decent weather, quite warm (80s) and a bit humid, with some lingering clouds. I really loved that sage in those pictures! I always enjoy all of your pictures, Lynn. 🙂

  2. Such a beautiful post…Lynn…and compelling narrative, as well. I’ve not been up into your neck of the woods, but have read much about it. While I prefer the rich greens of the saturated forest and lake regions, I also love the earth-tones of the grass and cliff country. You have brought us another fine selection of images….the Salsify is incredible…as is the third image with the flat-rock shoreline leading into the cloud-reflecting water and the mountains and clouds above and beyond….so very nice. 🙂

    • Yes, I know you can appreciate the contrasts Scott. I often feel like I’m THERE in your landscapes. Thank you for telling me your favorites. Salsify seed heads, like dandelions, are really fun to play with when you have a macro lens, but boy was it blowing hard! The third image was one I was excited about, so glad you mentioned it.

  3. Always so good travelling with you Lyn and impossible to pick a favourite from your stunning views. What a great contrast though from the rainier side, you captured the desert silence so beautifully!

    • I do love it there but I don’t think I’d want to live there. The colors are so beautiful though, and when the spaces open up like they do after you cross the mountains, it’s instant relaxation.

    • I’m glad you think so, Adrian. I’m enjoying the contrasts you’ve shown lately too – the Azores and Iceland? It exercises the imagination (and the technical skills a bit, too, I bet).

    • It probably depends on what part of the country I’m in – parts of east coast states can be really similar to places you’ve photographed in the German countryside, it seems to me. But eastern Washington – very different from anything near you! That one of the big benefits of moving here – just two hours and we’re in a completely different habitat. So much to choose from.

  4. OK, since you like people to pick favorites: I appreciate #3 (color, composition, etc., etc.), enjoy the stripes of #4 and the point of view in #16, really really like #14 (color, lines, composition, etc., etc.), but like them all. Also, your writing is beautiful. Thanks for the trip.

    • 🙂 Thank you! The third one’s kind of a classic landscape, isn’t it? It was so pretty there! I’m glad you said you liked the next one too though, because sometimes I think it’s difficult to mix more abstract images into a post with mostly straightforward ones, you know? I am tempted to leave them for a separate post, but also like to knit all the best shots together into a narrative. And that sage – 16 – was one of my favorites. Thank you very much Linda! Have a great weekend.

      • Yes, I do know. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t even be mixing my dumpsters with my Back Ponds in the whole blog. The alternative, however—multiple blogs—is something I’m not ready to spend my time on. Keep doing what you’re doing, though. Your narratives are such a vibrant aspect to your posts; I’d hate to see you compromise them.

    • Yes, incredible dry, but with enough rainfall to bring those gorgeous flowers up through the soil. I’m sure you would love it – you would love the subtlety of the colors.

  5. Beautiful post, Lynn – I’m thinking maybe your best (of those I’ve seen) yet. Beautiful photos, more than I can shake a stick at, although the reflection above “Only an hour off the Pass, and” particularly gets to me, and your words are wonderful too. I really feel like I’m there. And the geologist in me looks at those basalt cliffs and their vertical joints and says “cooling contraction columns”, formed when the lava cooled down – like Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway. Wonderful stuff. Adrian

    • I thank you for responding to the narrative – yes, it’s one of the fabulous qualities of this area that you can snake though those mountain passes to another world, in not much time.
      I forgot you have a geology background – yes, cooling contraction columns, and various other amazing geological features abound in eastern Washington. We were struck by circular patterns of bubble-like shapes in flat rocks alongside the Columbia. I think basalt also, or at least volcanic. All about the same size – maybe small cantaloupe sized. Very, very cool! I will see if I can add a photo of it above.

      • There – I threw in a photo of the strange circles in the rocks – it’s the surface of the rocks you see in the third photo. Maybe you can educate me?

      • Well three things strike me about these bubble-like shapes. First, they seem quite discreet from the surrounding rock, they do not seem to have diffuse margins. Second, they appear to be more or less spherical or at least rounded. Third, they consist of lava with many vesicles or gas bubbles, which the surrounding rock does not have. They were lava with a lot of gas bubbles, almost a froth, like pumice. I would guess that these are semi-solidified lumps of a very gassy lava that have been thrown up into the air by a nearby explosive eruption, only to fall back into another, less gassy lava that was still more or less in a liquid state, on the surface surrounding the explosion. That any good? A

  6. Another lovely, lovely series. You have this talent for gathering the essence of wherever you go or are. The Salsify stuck with me the most, but you do make it difficult to choose!

    • Oh, that’s music Gunta, I do feel truly fascinated by the essences of places and love to think I am getting that across. That wind was blowing so hard when I took the Salsify picture – I had to work with it in LR quite a bit, but it came out well – thanks so much!

  7. Beautiful landscapes and flowers, Lynn :-). Thanks for reminding me of the basalt cliffs in Vantage. I had a lovely time climbing there 15 years ago. The taped hands in your next post also brought back climbing memories. I visited Index once, about 10 years ago. Wonderful granite.

  8. Oh Lynn I am so desperate for travel, and this is tugging at every twitchy part of my being! What amazing, open landscapes – My favourites here are the long views – like your delphinium shots, you’ve captured a wonderful range of textures and colours, and there’s a tremendous feeling of space..oh how I want to get some wheels and go!!

    • We must be kindred spirits, because that’s just the feeling I get, and I love that living here, it’s just a two or so hour drive over the mountains to get to this totally different place – with its wide spaces and gorgeous colors. I’m sure I’d get tired of it if I lived there, and the summers are very hot, the winters cold. But I do love it. Utah is another place that makes me crazy that way!


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