Road trips from the Mid-Columbia and crossing the Cascade Range are for meditation and reverie. There is abundance and variety of earth.
The subtle and golden rolling hills of the Mid-Columbia emanate an eery glow under an early overcast morning sky as we begin our trip on a Monday. Perfectly aligned rows of transmission towers stand like giants across an expansive valley of shrub steppe, shadowy crevices and gleaming black sparrows. Not long after, we’re driving through the gargantuan windmills which pepper the top of the hills, material technology on borrowed land, the hovering cranes of industry. These stand in proximity to the congruent irrigation circles that are both a product of agricultural prowess and a mystery of the divine.
After leaving the shadows of the valley I fall under the clouds. The heavy fog stagnates like a menacing glass jar. This is is just before the barely visible green pines of the Cascades begin to creep in and the bucolic acres begin to tell me the story of what once was: the haystacks built like small monuments and the decrepit bones of abandoned barns that litter the valley like the ruins of a forlorn country. A country of old railroad settlements and the boom and bust of small mining towns. The large fruit stands of apples and berries and bounty. We drive and we drive and I dream and I think until we reach Seattle’s skyscrapers, the city, the epitome of civilized society.
I’ve asked myself how does so much rural history reconcile with the ever fast speed of modernity and with boundless immensity of land that stretched before me on an almost four-hour drive. Land that is mostly sectioned off. But it never fails that every time I drive through I’ve dreamt of stepping out of my car and walking into this immensity of land. I’ve had the urge to roam through the valley until I reach the foot of the mountain and letting myself feel free in that spiritual transcendence that only wilderness can provide.
I know that in this land I am a guest. I am a welcome guest in this borrowed land that has adopted me into its clan of foreign wanderers and native visionaries. I am grateful for the bounty of my labor in this land and the acceptance of my tribe of warriors. I revel in the mountain peaks, the mighty streams and the fertile stretches of this beautiful land, which can both submissively delicate and treacherously wild. A borrowed land we have to keep in mind as collectively dream of the future of what this land can be.
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