Monday, January 05, 2009

A Cascades New Year

Three days and three nights in the Cascades spliced the two years.

Hunkered, we were, between past and future.

A four-mile walk around Black Butte Ranch. The sprawling vacation development strives to fit into its natural setting. A noble human attempt that inevitably comes up humanly short.

Take it for what it is, not what it seeks to be.

Muted houses, mostly vacant, stand off from the road. Pedestrians separated from cars. A detailed trail map. Open space. Vistas. Hidden lakes. Ponds. Paved and plowed paths that follow creeks and contours.

We saw no for sale signs marking these get-away homes. A guess is that such commercial intrusions are as prohibited as garish exterior paint. Who wants to think of foreclosures, bankruptcy and tangerine siding while on a mid-winter get-away?

Black Butte Ranch in these sober times is a happy-face Potemkin mountain retreat.

A numbing windstorm whipped through the Cascades on this New Year’s weekend. It closed the Santiam Pass. No trucks or SUVs got through. We managed without The Oregonian with its news of the new year and reflections on the old.

Ah but the Scrabble, backgammon and books. So many books; so few words for a “Q” when you don't have a “U.”

Our walk was too far yet not far enough. Our muscles ached from effort while our eyes hungered for more.

Between the pain and delight. our mountain ramble was enough.

Just enough.

We stomped through the snow-muffled, wind-whistling wood, too thinned to hide hulking dwellings.

At our own rented threshold, we tramped snow from our boots, then settled next to hearth and fire and reached for the warmth of books and hopes for the new year.

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