Written during my field job at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, near Blue River, Oregon, May-July 2010. All pictures were taken in the Forest.
A thunderstorm brews in the mountains, and the air is a constant exhalation through the cedars and pines, keeping them on their toes. The sound is a mountain stream, glacial melt-waters rushing away to their destiny. The light is expectant, dim, setting the stage. Something mighty this way comes.
Clouds roll with gentle thunder, starting softly and picking up speed and sustenance, a small rock starting the avalanche. Now the rain, a fine mist that moves in sheets, drifting among the swaying trees. The agitated buzz of a rufous hummingbird zips away, seeking shelter. There is a nervous excitement to the air, a taste of expectation on the wind.
Though there is violence about, an almost peaceful quality pervades. The trees sway gently but will not fall, not today. They are supple, mighty beings; they lean into the winds with their own definition of grace. The relentless grace of the mountain forests, of steady rain. An angry grace, defiant, compliant. A peaceful grace of trees who have weathered a thousand rains, who will weather thousands more. These trees, soothing movements among suspended droplets, silently dampening bark slowly darkening.
A Stellar’s jay’s harsh clatter disrupts the hypnotic quality of the rain and the wind and the trees, and the storm flows on. Wind and water, flowing through the sky, soaking the trees and making them dance, to the accompaniment of tympanis, low drum-rolls in the mountains.