What I Saw Today

What an outrageously perfect early summer day!We left the Chetco River Inn and drove up to Prairie Lookout where we could see over to burned over Vulcan Peak and Biscuit Fire area of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

This particular video really is like a visual journal. I see I repeated myself once or twice, but just as I don’t polish my journal entries unless I’m going to turn them into something I want to publish, these videos put together on my lap on my iPad Pro in the evening or morning after the adventure have to stand as a way of informally speaking to my world about what I see that is beautiful or important to me in that moment.

Because the moment rushes by, and eventually the video is all the memory I really have left of a unique time spent with friends one summer afternoon way back in June of 2016.

 

Peter Poet in Packer's Field on the road to Prairie Lookout high over the Chetco River.
Peter Poet in Packer’s Field on the road to Prairie Lookout high over the Chetco River.
The bright flash of wild columbine is always welcome. Notice that this one has no yellow or white, which many do. In the Rockies, blue columbine grown in the alpine area.
The bright flash of wild columbine is always welcome. Notice that this one has no yellow or white, which many do. In the Rockies, blue columbine grown in the alpine area.
We found the Fire Monster at Packer's Cabin on the Prairie Lookout Road. He is the most obvious candidate for having drawn down that first lightning strike!
We found the Fire Monster at Packer’s Cabin on the Prairie Lookout Road. He is the most obvious candidate for having drawn down that first lightning strike! 

(NOTE: In mid-June 2016, my husband Peter and I along with an artist friend, Charlie Johnston, spent a week at the Chetco River Inn. It is about twenty miles up the Chetco River outside Brookings, Oregon, which is on the border with California. As I often do, I decided to make a series of daily journal videoitos aka digital stories.

This is the last in the series of five.)

Flowering

 

Charles Johnston, Peter and I went flower hunting in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, up on Vulcan Peak which got scoured by the Biscuit Burn in 2002. Started by a lightning strike, it fried 500,000 acres. The new understory in this area is the Siskiyou Azalea. From the top of the ridge the most intoxicating perfume wafts up from under the snags, which once reeked of ash and char. Cobra Lilies grow in the serpentine seeps along with the Siskiyou Indian Paintbrush as an adapted companion plant. And harebells, pipsissewa, and tiger lilies oh my!

Ten years later, and this place still looks like a bomb went off here. But its a great place to look for wildflowers!
Ten years later, and this place still looks like a bomb went off here. But its a great place to look for wildflowers!
foxglove
Foxglove are such a ubiquitously beautiful feature of the Pacific Northwest landscape that sometimes it’s hard to remember that they are immigrants from Turkey, escaped from domestic gardens.

(NOTE: In mid-June 2016, my husband Peter and I along with an artist friend, Charlie Johnston, spent a week at the Chetco River Inn. It is about twenty miles up the Chetco River outside Brookings, Oregon, which is on the border with California. As I often do, I decided to make a series of daily journal videoitos aka digital stories. This is the fourth in the series of five videos.)

Green Pools

 

Who can resist the allure of deep green river pools moving under the shade of the big oaks in early summer? Not I!

In mid-June 2016, my husband Peter and I along with an artist friend, Charlie Johnston, spent a week at the Chetco River Inn. It is about twenty miles up the Chetco River outside Brookings, Oregon, which is on the border with California. As I often do, I decided to make a series of daily journal videoitos aka digital stories.

The third in this series of five was filmed on a day warm enough for me to get out my GoPro and get some underwater shots.

It’s just as magically green underwater as it is above. The whole time I’m under there, the words of Lorca’s famous poem are running through my head:

Romance Sonambulo (Sleepwalker’s Song)

Federico García Lorca, 18981936

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain. 
With the shade around her waist 
she dreams on her balcony, 
green flesh, her hair green, 
with eyes of cold silver. 
Green, how I want you green. 
Under the gypsy moon, 
all things are watching her 
and she cannot see them.

Green, how I want you green. 
Big hoarfrost stars 
come with the fish of shadow 
that opens the road of dawn. 
The fig tree rubs its wind 
with the sandpaper of its branches, 
and the forest, cunning cat, 
bristles its brittle fibers. 
But who will come? And from where? 
She is still on her balcony 
green flesh, her hair green, 
dreaming in the bitter sea.

—My friend, I want to trade 
my horse for her house, 
my saddle for her mirror, 
my knife for her blanket. 
My friend, I come bleeding 
from the gates of Cabra.
—If it were possible, my boy, 
I’d help you fix that trade. 
But now I am not I, 
nor is my house now my house.
—My friend, I want to die
decently in my bed. 
Of iron, if that’s possible, 
with blankets of fine chambray. 
Don’t you see the wound I have 
from my chest up to my throat?
—Your white shirt has grown 
thirsty dark brown roses. 
Your blood oozes and flees a
round the corners of your sash. 
But now I am not I, 
nor is my house now my house.
—Let me climb up, at least, 
up to the high balconies; 
Let me climb up! Let me, 
up to the green balconies. 
Railings of the moon 
through which the water rumbles.

Now the two friends climb up, 
up to the high balconies.
Leaving a trail of blood. 
Leaving a trail of teardrops. 
Tin bell vines
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines 
struck at the dawn light.

Green, how I want you green, 
green wind, green branches. 
The two friends climbed up. 
The stiff wind left 
in their mouths, a strange taste 
of bile, of mint, and of basil 
My friend, where is she—tell me—
where is your bitter girl?
How many times she waited for you! 
How many times would she wait for you, 
cool face, black hair, 
on this green balcony! 
Over the mouth of the cistern
the gypsy girl was swinging, 
green flesh, her hair green, 
with eyes of cold silver. 
An icicle of moon
holds her up above the water. 
The night became intimate 
like a little plaza.
Drunken “Guardias Civiles”
were pounding on the door. 
Green, how I want you green. 
Green wind. Green branches. 
The ship out on the sea. 
And the horse on the mountain.

Green pools of the Chetco River
“Green, green, I want you green…”

 

 

In Praise of Rocks

 

In mid-June 2016, my husband Peter and I along with an artist friend, Charlie Johnston, spent a week at the Chetco River Inn. It is about twenty miles up the Chetco River outside Brookings, Oregon, which is on the border with California. As I often do, I decided to make a series of daily journal videoitos aka digital stories.

The second in this series of five is a morning’s amazement at the beauty of the gravel bar down on the river not far from our Stone House cottage retreat.

This is an overview of the Chetco River bar where I'm staggering around in the rocks looking through a lens instead of where I'm going. This is ankle-twisting country, for sure, but I got lucky.
This is an overview of the Chetco River bar where I’m staggering around in the rocks looking through a lens instead of where I’m going. This is ankle-twisting country, for sure, but I got lucky.

At one time, okay, okay from about age 8 to about age 60! I hauled rocks home from my travels by the irresistible bucketful. Finally, I realized I really didn’t get that much enjoyment out of them once I got home and put them in the yard. The geologists are right to call them “leaverites,” as in “leave ‘er rite there.”

Now, I take photos mostly. I don’t say a couple of special beauties didn’t make it into the back of the Subaru, but at least the muffler isn’t dragging the ground.

This videoito is a celebration of Oregon’s geology once it’s been tumbled and cast up on the bar waiting for the next flood to take it on down to the sea.

In the Southwest desert, this would be an actual set of Georgia O'Keeffe antelope horns. On the Chetco River, it's driftwood.
In the Southwest desert, this would be an actual set of Georgia O’Keeffe antelope horns. On the Chetco River, it’s driftwood.
Chetco Rainbow stone
The Chetco River specializes in what we call Rainbow Rock–admittedly not its scientific name.

Chetco stripey rock with leaves


single yellow flower on Chetco stone

 

spoon n stone Chetco bar
There are many surprises on the Chetco River bar–this perfectly good tablespoon beside a rusty whatchacallit was one for me today.

 

I'm not the only one enjoying morning on the bar.
I’m not the only one enjoying morning on the bar.

An Hour at Ophir

In mid-June 2016, my husband Peter and I along with an artist friend, Charlie Johnston, spent a week at the Chetco River Inn. It is about twenty miles up the Chetco River outside Brookings, Oregon, which is on the border with California.

The light was just downright peculiar when we arrived at Ophir Beach in the afternoon around 4:00 pm.
The light was just downright peculiar when we arrived at Ophir Beach in the afternoon around 4:00 pm.

As I often do, I decided to make a series of daily journal videoitos aka digital stories. The first in this series of five is on the Oregon Coast at Ophir Beach before turning inland. I was intrigued by the strange quality of the waves and the afternoon light, which was in high contrast down on the beach. The sky itself was at first a watercolorist’s gray wash and then magically the sky cleared and became a new, intense blue.

Little cloud in a mackerel sky at Ophir Beach. That scrim of cloud probably accounted for the weird light earlier.
Little cloud in a mackerel sky at Ophir Beach. That scrim of cloud probably accounted for the weird light earlier.
Ophir_from 101
Ophir Beach from Highway 101 as the sky is starting to clear. My camera is still stopping down to cut the high contrast, which creates its own kind of alternative universe feel to the photograph.

 

2 Men & a Dog


Last year, Peter and I visited Newberry National Volcanic Monument twice–once with Charlie Johnston and Elaine Rhode, then later in early November when the fall color was INSANE.  This is the U. S. National Park Service Centennial, so I made this video showcasing the glories of Newberry through the eyes of two men and a dog for the little video competition they are having.

2Men_Dog

Not to get too obsessive about my new favorite place, but this is my second video for this competition about this place. The other was narrated:

If you prefer one over the other, please let me know! Or if you have some feedback, I’d be very glad of it!

Whale Rider Mask

LOOKING AT THE WHALE RIDER MASK

Aug. 19, 2015

At the Nuyambalees Cultural Centre at Cape Mudge on Quadra Island, British Columbia, Canada

(NOTE: Because it is extremely important to differentiate my viewpoints from those of my sources, I have bolded my  first person attributions.)

 

Welcome to the Nuyumbalees Cultural Center. Visitors can walk across the street and picnic here with a view across the water to Campbell River on Vancouver Island.
Welcome to the Nuyumbalees Cultural Center. Visitors can walk across the street and picnic here with a view across the water to Campbell River on Vancouver Island.

 

Three totem poles greet visitors to the Nuyambalees Cultural Center in Cape Mudge on Quadra Island.
Three totem poles greet visitors to the Nuyambalees Cultural Center in Cape Mudge on Quadra Island.

I have visited Nuyambalees many times over the last double decade because their Sacred Potlatch Collection is available no where else in the world, on or off line. The objects are on loan from private Kwakwaka’wakw families, and all the regalia are pretty much subject to actual family need. If a ceremony needs something in the museum, ceremony has priority over public display.

Because the objects are privately owned, no photographs are allowed, no online representations are posted, and there is, of course, no catalog of the collection. Jodi Simkin, the Executive Director explained to me that the owners feel that to photograph is to take a ceremonial object out of its context; it is to attempt to appropriate the image for a personal agenda rather than the intent of the artist. 

Sketching is allowed; I feel that is because drawing shows a spiritual commitment on the part of the viewer to look deeply into the soul of the object.

The road to Nuyambalees is simply a pilgrimage that must be made, an essential quest for anyone studying the lifeways and art of the Kwakwaka’wakw.

I am here at the Cultural Centre today to view some recently “almost repatriated” objects from the Canadian Museum of History. “Almost” means these totem poles and other objects are actually owned by the Cape Mudge families, but they were confiscated by the Canadian government in 1929. They  are “legally” on loan from the Canadian Museum of History, which means that Nuyambalees had to cover the $30,000 price of shipping.

As often happens, I viewed the new displays and then wandered off deeper into the museum. The way I like to interview a museum is to first browse and read signage and then to find myself looking deeply at one object.

I read about it, look at it, then I sketch it and write about it, trying to think about what I see.

Today, I ended up in front of The Whale Rider Mask. Carved of cedar, it is a compelling black arc of whale body lined with sixteen individual, squared off teeth. The high-rising fin slices through the air of the museum as if it were the Salish Sea. In the center of the mask is Whale Rider, a blue-green man with patterns of red and blue dots. This mask would have been worn on the dancer’s head and been integrated into the pattern of dances, songs, masks, and stories at a potlatch ceremony. The design is clean and elegant with no wasted moves. Its very simplicity tells me it is the work of a master carver.

My sketch of The Whale Rider Mask
My sketch of The Whale Rider Mask

 

 

Detail of The Whale Rider Mask by Peter J. Jensen
Sketched detail of The Whale Rider Mask (center and lower) by Peter J. Jensen.

 

Owned by John Dick, The Whale Rider Mask  is one of a kind; no other mask similar to it has ever been located.

This particular mask was one of seven artifacts repatriated from the National Museum of the American Indian, items that had been confiscated by Indian Agent W. M. Halliday from Alert Bay in 1911 under the then legal auspices of the Canadian government. Those devastating but now obsolete laws systematically worked to dismember the economic powerhouse of the potlatch system by outlawing potlaches and confiscating the fantastically beautiful and priceless ceremonial objects and regalia. Less legally, Indian Agent Halliday turned around and sold the objects on the open market to collectors such as George G. Heye who purchased 35 items for $291; he paid $5.00 for The Whale Rider Mask. George Heye began the National Museum of the American Indian on the foundation of hundreds of objects and boxes of human remains he “collected.”

As part of the signage for each item, the Nuyambalees curators have chosen to include the original price paid by a collector. I wondered about this, but it seems to me that the whole act of confiscation and re-sale is so morally outrageous that there are hardly words to articulate that outrage. I read the posting of the obscene price as a kind of historical brand, a scarlet letter burned again and again on the conscienceless hide of the government, its agents, and the so-called “art” and “artifact” collectors.

The Whale Rider Mask itself, like any great work of art, holds its own in time and space. As a ceremonial object, it had a life and intent of its own. Now, those glory days are pretty much irretrievably gone, and it lives inside the grave solemnity of the Nuyambalees Cultural Centre. But as an art object that anyone with an aesthetic bone in their body could love, it glows with an inner life all its own.

Fine in design, perfect in execution, The Whale Rider Mask soars alone through the dim museum light, worth any journey to arrive at this place and to see it with your own eyes.

This video is The Killer Whale Story told in the Liq’wala language. It was originally recorded in the book Assu of Cape Mudge: Recollections of a Coastal Indian Chief by Harry Assu and Joy Inglis. Further credits are listed or told in the video itself.

Rock, Water, Fire

This is a digital story I made for a video competition in praise of Newberry NVM.

Below is a photo essay about a recent trip to Newberry.

What Has George Bush the Elder Done For Us Lately?

In November 1990, Newberry National Volcanic Monument was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. Over 54,000 acres were set aside and the area was designated a national treasure (well, it already was, but designation is everything if you don’t want it trampled flat by the admiring hordes).

NewberryMap

 Newberry Caldera punches a hole in the top of Newberry Volcano and then a whole lotta land runs down the northwest flank of the volcano 4,000 feet to the Deschutes River.

Geology and Rockhound Nerds Alert!

Newberry has the widest variety of volcanic features of any National Park or Monument. Rock out to your heart’s content at the Big Obsidian Flow, Lava Butte, Lava Cast Forest, Lava River Cave, Paulina Falls, Paulina Peak and two caldera lakes. I love this place!

PaulinaPeakPrima
Paulina Peak from the shore of Paulina Lake where we are staying in one of the historic cabins for rent here.

• Newberry Volcano is the largest volcano in the Cascades and covers a 1,200 square mile area with its lava flows.

RedRockBomb
A really big red lava bomb hurled out of the volcano not so long ago. It has usefully fetched up on the lawn of the Paulina Lake Visitor Center.

• Newberry National Volcanic Monument contains the widest variety of volcanic features of any national park or monument in the U.S.

Cascade range
All the major volcanoes in the Central Oregon Cascade Range can be seen from near the shore of Newberry Caldera.

• Newberry Volcano is considered active and will certainly erupt again either passively (lava Flows) or explosively (ash and pumice).

obsidian_silhouette_pointy
Volcanic features and pyramids of stone give a spooky, other-worldly silhouette to the caldera skyline.

• The slopes of Newberry Volcano are covered with more than 400 cinder cones and volcanic vents, Lava Butte being the most well known.

Obsidian silhouettes scrape open the sky.
Obsidian silhouettes scrape open the sky.

• Before the formation of the Caldera, Newberry’s summit was 500 to 1,000 feet higher than Paulina Peak is today.

Paulina_Falls_2
Paulina Falls is formed by Paulina Creek dropping out of the caldera lake on its way to the Deschutes River a looong way down hill. The name is from a Paiute Indian chief involved in the Snake War, from 1864-68. Chief Paulina was notorious for carrying out violent raids on settlers, no doubt fully justified!

• Eruptions at Newberry Volcano have changed the course of water flowing in the Deschutes River drainage many times.

• At the point where Lava River Cave crosses beneath Highway 97 the roof of the cave is 50 feet thick.

• Newberry Volcano is considered a very high threat volcano by the USGS due to recent volcanic activity (1,300 years ago), the presence of hot springs, and the 200,000 people living in its shadow.

Humans add their distinctive shapes to the weird crenellations of the Big Obsidian Flow skyline.
Humans add their distinctive shapes to the weird crenellations of the Big Obsidian Flow skyline.

• The Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Oregon, ash from its eruption 1,300 years ago reached present day Idaho.

P5280326.JPG
At a mere 1300 years old, the Big Obsidian Flow is the youngest lava flow in Oregon. A one-mile interpretive trail climbs up and onto this impressive lava flow of obsidian (black glass) and pumice.

• Newberry Volcano is made up of ash, pumice, lava, cinder, and mudflows. It contains over 120 cubic miles of volcanic material, compared to only 6 cubic miles at Mt. St. Helens.

The low edge of the caldera lake doesn't really help you understand that you're floating on a blast zone.
The low edge of the caldera lake doesn’t really help you understand that you’re floating on a blast zone.

• The term ‘crater’ in the place names Newberry Crater and nearby Crater Lake is a bit of a misnomer. These volcanic features are correctly termed calderas.

We visited recently with Charlie Two Legs and Elaine, Patron Saint of Patience, accompanied by Cash (as in Johnny) the Dog.

Charlie Johnston, the famous painter (Artist in residence at the Grand Canyon, for example) and Cash the Dog
Charlie Johnston, the famous painter (Artist in residence at the Grand Canyon, for example) and Cash the Dog
Elaine Rhode, Writer, and Cash doing some birding around Paulina Lake.
Elaine Rhode, Writer, and Cash doing some birding around Paulina Lake.

Newberry Volcanic National Monument is home to a variety of wildlife, and I got a chance to photograph these denizens.

Starting high and working our way down, first, the great fisher of the sky--the osprey.
Starting high and working our way down, first, the great fisher of the sky–the osprey.
I spotted Spotted Sandpipers foraging along the lake shore debris.
I spotted Spotted Sandpipers foraging along the lake shore debris.
Both Chipmunks and Golden-Mantled Squirrels provided entertainment.
Both Chipmunks and Golden-Mantled Squirrels provided entertainment.
ammonite
Ammonites stirred into the great geologic stew that is the Monument, give proof to what we already know–that this part of Oregon was once a vast sea.

 

garter_snake
This beautiful Common Garter Snake had a view home right on the water’s edge.

 

This is a magnificent red ant hill surrounded by a circle of magenta penstemon. Don't tell me ants don't have a sense of aesthetics!
This is a magnificent red ant hill surrounded by a circle of magenta penstemon. Don’t tell me ants don’t have a sense of aesthetics!
Evening reflection time in the cabin with artists Peter Jensen and Charlie Johnston.
Evening reflection time in the cabin with artists Peter Jensen and Charlie Johnston.

I’m giving John Muir the last word today:

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938), page 438.