LOCAL WALKS: BIG CEDAR

Here I am, having arrived at a place

deep enough

to lose myself

among exultant Sword fern bouquets

unfurling in the dim light as far as the

I can see.

There it is again,

that pesky “I”

but no problem, it will

get lost soon.

*

We breathe together, the “I” and

this verdant ravine where Redcedar soars,

roots, opens, and sits

as still and profound as two in the morning.

Just this, redcedar whispers.

Who hears?

*

A cool breeze scatters leaves. Was it from the ridge-top?

The jagged, black edge of the island? Or

did the wafting breath arise

fifty miles east,

in the center of the dark, cold Salish Sea?

Here, now, air manifests 

in gentle waves of cedar boughs,

flutters of tender huckleberry leaves,

prickly bumps on old arms.

Air and mind

focus and release in shuddering waves

like the darting squirrel

that was perfectly still a second ago.

Back and forth,

we’re eachall centered in herenow

in the bottom of the green ravine

where the I loosens and

dovetails into the forest.

*

Note: This poem appeared earlier this year in a slightly different version, with different photographs.

*

1,
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.

***

In Washington state’s Deception Pass State Park, a double loop of intersecting trails climbs in and out of a dry, coniferous forest and a deep, wet ravine. In the depths of the ravine, a massive Western redcedar tree (Thuja plicata) stands. This is the tree in the first photo and the photo below (with a person for scale). Well off the beaten path, the trail that winds down into the damp, fern-filled valley where the cedar grows is quiet. It feels remote from the built environment. Fallen trees coated with thick layers of moss from which younger trees sprout vie with ferns for the weak light that filters down through tall conifers. One can relax into the feeling of losing oneself in this forest, with only the sound of a distant raven and a nearby woodpecker punctuating the silence.

If you continue past the big cedar you’ll find more trails; go one direction and you climb out of the park, past the remains of an old mine and a decrepit log cabin, and back down to a quiet road. Walk another direction and you’ll emerge into a rough, cut-over area where blackberries thrive in the sun. I usually climb a steep, rocky trail leading out of the valley to a gentle ridge above Pass Lake, pictured above. The small lake’s cold water provides food for Great blue herons, Bufflehead ducks, River otters, and other beings who are intimate with the shoreline’s nooks and crannies. Humans must fish from non-motorized boats and throw the fish back to the water. We protect the lake, a breathing being itself that loves fog and holds it close on cool days before it floats away, nourishing the forest as it goes.

The old Western redcedar. Not a true cedar, this species belongs to the Cypress family. It was, and I assume still is, the most important plant to many Pacific northwest indigenous people, providing everything from clothing to canoes.

***


62 comments

  1. Wow Lynn amazing photos and compositions + colours … I’d love to be there πŸ€“πŸ’šand yes I appreciate your question … β€œWho hears? β€œβ€¦love your narratives…have a beautiful time in your beauty ~ hugs hedy

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I sighed after reading your meditation, Lynn. Your words flow beautifully and your images pair perfectly. I love how they convey the feeling of the dense woods in solitude and quiet. Your fern rows and the foggy monochrome are wonderful. ☺️

    Liked by 3 people

    • These moodier months certainly are easier for photography…the photos were made at different times, but most of them weren’t made in summer. It’s a bit more challenging than a walk around the block getting down there but the remote feeling is worth it, as are your comments, Jane, thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, that sounds good, Alex. There’s plenty of organized chaos to go around here, trees are always tumbling down and growing on top of one another, branches and twigs everywhere… #6 worked better after I desaturated it a bit, glad you liked it. Good to hear from you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Feeling lost and at home in the forest – you hand over the feeling to me by your use of the “I”, that you dissect from the I. An artful poetic trick telling a lot about the narrator’s state of mind: stepped out of the ego into nature.
    Today I read your photos as an illustration to this new and again remarkable poem, dear Lynn, even though of course they stand in their own right and are highly beautiful again. Breathtaking are especially the foggy ones to me, and emanating the overly portrait sized one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Ule, because in this lush, damp, valley it’s easy to lose yourself. The lake is very calm and quite beautiful in the fog – the trick is to know when there’s fog there and to get out of the house fast enough to see it before it’s gone. πŸ˜‰ But it’s close by and we’re lucky for that. I’m happy the text and photos both pleased you. Enjoy your evening!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting, I hadn’t thought about that. I didn’t want to remove them but I didn’t think about them much, either. Those towers have become a taken-for-granted part of the island scenery (except when we’re returning home from somewhere farther away and see the hill and towers from a distance – then they take on greater significance). Thanks for bringing that to my attention. πŸ™‚

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  4. Maybe I repeat myself, but this time I feel very much of poetry not only in your words, but especially in your pictures too. Loosen the ‘I’. Very well said and a pity we can’t do it more often (okay, we could try ;-), nature helps. The first picture is so beautiful, poetry in itself! These big cedars unite so many pictures in them and let us humans shrink much more than usual in nature.
    I love all the other photos from the woods too. A wonderful atmosphere you captured here. Talking about tiny flowers, what a cute one! I know you have large fingers, but…just kidding πŸ˜‰ Nr. 10 is something where we are nearly alike in seeing things! The fern is always nice to watch. We appreciate the regularity in nature, right. I like the last photos with the fog. A tender quiet atmosphere. Very nice! I believe you at once that you can loose the I here. It must be a wonderful place to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s embarrassing but I just realized that I published a slightly different version of the poem on August 1st! Where are my brains?!? But I haven’t posted these images before. Nature does help to loosen the “:I” as you know. We have shared a love of feeling small in a vast landscape, or in front of a huge tree. The tiny flower is a kind of bedstraw, Galium triflorum. It creeps across the ground at the foot of the cedars.
      I think you meant #9? The overlapping fern leaves? Patterns! That was a good one.
      Pass Lake is right across the road from the entrance to Bowman Bay, where I’ve been so many times, and where the otters were. A ranger told me they follow a little creek uphill, away from the bay, and go through a culvert (tunnel under the road) to get to Pass Lake. And one day I saw “evidence” of otters on rocks on the edge of the lake. Both places are precious to me and less than a ten-minute drive from home. Thank you, Almuth, have a good evening/morning/day. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha, never mind. I repeated myself too in some posts. Besides, you said it, it was a different version and it is so beautiful we can read it a second time! Bedstraw is a nice word. I never thought about it before.
        That is so nice to hear about the Otters and that they are around your favorite places! They say you made a good decision and from your pictures I can say that too πŸ™‚ I hope you will see them again some time. Wonderful places! Have a good weekend!!!

        Liked by 2 people

        • The otters are around…I went on a walk with friends 2 weeks ago and we all saw a small group of them swimming around a rocky point. πŸ™‚ A few days before that I saw a group of 8 – it must have been the same group I photographed because it was in the same bay – and they looked like they wanted to come onshore but there were too many people around so they decided to stay in the water. Thanks for understanding…hope you didn’t work too hard today…and have a great weekend. πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

        • Familiy ties πŸ™‚ Maybe you can meet them alone some time! It was stormy and cold today, but okay. Tomorrow we will have some sun. I hope you have sunny weather too or at least some warmth πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great to hear, thank you. I think this forest is different from forests near you but I’m not sure. It does not freeze often here so trees keep growing all year and get very tall. The firsts can be quite dark.

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  5. Being deeply in communion with something can only result in a feeling of oneness and in which individuality becomes secondary.
    Because there is something greater than everything it encompasses. And that something greater is the energy of Life and the beauty, humility and wisdom of Nature.
    From this communion only beauty can be born. In images and words.
    As this post reveals.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Secondary, yes, or even invisible for a few minutes. πŸ™‚ There’s no doubt in my mind that you are well aware of that something greater, that energy. Your words are very kind, Dulce, thank you. I hope you have a lovely day!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. What touches me most in this post:

    β€œas still and profound as two in the morning”

    The lushness of the forest captured in #2
    The subtle colors in #3
    The way light breaks into smaller pieces in #5
    The scale you reveal by your hand in #8
    The fog weaving in and out of the hills in #14

    Thank you for them all, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was Joe’s favorite line as well, thank you. What an interesting observation about the light breaking into pieces – thank you for that, too. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post, Linda, and now I’ll confess to you as well – in case you didn’t see what I added up top – that I posted this poem with different images in August. I forgot that I’d already posted it. Apparently, I left it in my drafts folder and just picked it up and worked on it all over again! Yikes, the mind reels at what the mind does. πŸ˜‰

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    • Sometimes it just comes out, which is lucky. I’m a very long way from an accomplished poet but once in a while, a few nice lines happen and so I write. Then I refine. Thanks so much, Howard (and unsurprisingly, reading poetry from time to time helps, just like looking at great paintings helps the photography).

      Like

    • That’s the idea, Penny, thank you very much for your comment. Strangely, I published another version not so long ago and didn’t remember that but this version’s a little different, and I guess it all bears repeating. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  7. So you aren’t only a sensitive artist, but very spiritual, too.
    Your fantastic photos and your poetic texts remind me of a holiday on walking tours through a Bavarian biological reserve .
    It was such a deep experience as yours and I regretted coming back to the normal, even ways.
    Nature, as we know it, has been tamed and cultivated with its even paths and without fallen, old trees etc
    Thanks for walking with you! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • How nice it is to know that this reminded you of that experience in Bavaria, I’m glad. The Pacific Northwest forests, like so many places, have been logged a lot but the cutting didn’t begin until relatively recently – not like Europe. There is still “good” forest land and people have realized that preserving it is very important. They have also realized that when trees fall, you should just leave them there. It happens constantly here because the island’s soil is thin so many trees don’t have deep roots. They fall and they are left to support new life. When trees fall across trails a simple cut is made to open the trail and all the wood remains on the side. Wildness is so nourishing, I wish more people could experience it. Thank you, Petra, have a nice evening – and weekend!

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  8. I disappeared a little into your journey with you into the forest.
    I love this: “where Redcedar soars, roots, opens, and sits
    as still and profound as two in the morning.”
    And this: “where the I loosens and dovetails into the forest.”
    Thank you for your beautiful words and images.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I know exactly what you mean about having the free time – I love it! It’s such a blessing. Many of mine come when I’m hiking in the forest – I need to get more diligent about recording them as they arise. I lose so much of the best because I don’t 😒

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        • I was thinking it would be good to bring a small notebook along (old school!) and then to try and sit down and write about what I see (hear, smell, etc.) in the moment instead of later. We’re on the same track… πŸ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

    • That foggy day was amazing – I made lots of photographs. Fog is so tricky, sometimes it looks fantastic in person and is nothing but a blob in a photo, and there’s nothing that can be done with it. Other times it works. I haven’t figured it out. What’s wonderful is having enough free time that I can follow it when it happens instead of bemoaning having to complete tasks on someone else’s deadline. Ah, retirement! πŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Your northwest forest is so beautiful I never tire of seeing it in your collections. I can feel the moisture and richness of all that grows there. The poem fits so well with this group it was a pleasure to read it again. Wonderful work!!!

    Liked by 1 person


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