Saturday, June 9, 2007

June Rain

Rain all day long, no tv, not much internet because of clouds and drooping wet branches(yay!). Kids are taking it well. It’s the usual June rain, thorough and sopping, but not cold. Been listening to the rain through the cracked windows as I slave away on knitting for deadlines. Luckily it’s a project I can read a book while I do the wrong side rows. I’m reading The Wild Cascades; Forgotten Parkland by Harvey Manning, with poetry pieces by Theodore Roethke (I’m a Roethke fan). It was published in 1965(when I was born), and was an “argument” for the establishment of the North Cascades National Park. It worked. Here’s an excerpt. Manning talks about lollygagging, big time, on the trail. Just like what I’m doing kind of…my house is shaped like a tent(a-frame), and has big windows full of trees.

“…Possibly the only pure and quiet sleep remaining for civilized man if a rain sleep in the wilderness, an island in time.

Rain sleep is not deep sleep, not after twenty or thirty or forty more of less continuous hours in the sleeping bag, but rather a shallow half-sleep, a blend of fragrances and sounds of forest and river and memories of other wilderness days and nights. The sleeper hears the steady roar of the river and as he dreams the unified sound of the river separates into scores of distinct sounds from individual rapids and ripples, all flowing into a whole and complete dream of rivers present and past.

The sleeper also hears the rain on the tarp, which moment to moment and hour to hour varies from a steady rattle to a sporadic pit-a-pat, and he hears the hiss of wind through the branches as new rain arrives, and he smells the wetness of fir needles inches form his nose, and feels breezes on his cheek, and all this and much more enters the snug dreams of rain in the wilderness…

Always, too, there are such camp pleasures as the warmth of fire on fog-chilled knees and the slow sipping of a cup of hot soup. However, the sure sign of an alien is that he spends days of alpine rain drying socks, or more often charring them. The true citizen of the North Cascades aims only to keep dry the small path of heather under the tarp, and with it the sleeping bag and the food. So long as there is water in the sky there will be water in the socks and bots, and not until the sun returns will pants and shirt and sweater and parka ever be entirely dry. However, having come originally from the sea, man with his waterproof skin can learn to love wet. In the North Cascades, he must.”

(amen, hallelujah)

Now for some Roethke(in pieces)--

A wind came close, like a shy animal.

What I love is near at hand,
Always, in earth and air.

I walk in this great decay;
The woods wet by the wind,
The dying moss, the brown
Features of time’s delay…

The far slope of the range, half light, half shade,
The final man, his bones adrift in fire,
The dream extending beyond darkness and waste,
To see beyond the self
This quiet’s but the means,
Whether it’s found or lost.

Leaves, leaves, lean forth and tell me what I am…

PS, This is one of my all time favorite books. Lots of wonderful mountain photos, and Mr Manning’s text is just right, describing hiking into and out of the mountains in pre Starbucks and Microsoft Washington. Published by the Sierra Club, you can easily find old copies for a few dollars, try Powell’s Books.


Trailhead said...

This called to mind some wonderful rainy nights in the backcountry.

You can knit and read at the same time? Wow.

Bpaul said...

Lovely poetry selection. Roethke is a consistent hitter.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Wow! Thanks for the book recommendation--I'll be tracking this one down!