I have lived in the shadow of the Cascades for most of my life. Slogging through traffic on a clear day, I am struck by the deep blues of the sky framing Mount Baker in the distance. Shadows across the white peak shimmering in glacial blue. Snow dusting the foothills and highlighting the rocky crags. The impossibly deep green of pines stubborn and proud. Strange as it sounds, I feel protected in this pocket of volcanoes. Sentinels of great strength and beauty, it is easy to forget how dangerous they can be. The range controls our moods. When the wet air slaps its face, the peaks toss it back to earth with booming thunder. It is awesome. It is frightening. It is unpredictable and unyielding. When we are socked in for days, I hate that range especially now that my joints creak and ache singing out the evidence of my well-spent youth. But rain never bothered me as a kid. I would lace up my waffle-stompers, button up my 501’s, put a down vest over my Henley and off I would go. I loved the woods. Even in a downpour, the forests of the Pacific Northwest protect you under the dense evergreen canopy. I can still feel the spongy earth strewn with rotten wood; the fiddle head of ferns brushing my jeans; the fat drops of water sliding off a leaf onto my cheek; the electric smell of rain. Tromping through the forest with my dog in the shadow of the mountain was home. Living in the shadow of the mountain, it would be easy to yield to its will. You could stay indoors by a fire, warm and dry. Wait it out. Hope it will pass soon. But you would miss so much. It’s better to soldier through. Take cover when you have to, but be there when the rain stops and the drops evaporate. Be there when the steam-filled air filters the sunbeams. Be there when the skies clear and the mountain comes out. Truly live in the shadow of the mountain.
Shadow of the Mountain
(1/1000 sec., f/5.6, 250 mm, 200 ISO)