Idylls upon Leaving the Northwest for a Period: Kamiak Butte

Kamiak Butte, Washington 

The Lot in the Woods

There’s a square of pavement in the woods,

A tarred little geometer amidst a medievalism of trees.

Unlike its bigger siblings,

This one has columns: tall pines to hold up the sky,

High-reaching firs to tempt the sun down,

Elevated cedars aiming for airy climes.

The trees and the pavement here have an uneasy truce.

The trees are vain:

 They want to show off their Spring glories,

And the pavement brings admirers in.

Every forest is a quiet temple to its Creator.

We are here to worship.

 The new-tilled fields come to the waist of this Butte. I guess I don’t really know what a butte is, but apparently this is one. It doesn’t look like those parched and striated Arizona rock squares. It looks like a big hill to me, actually.

The fields are sopping with two days’ rain. A massive tree fell here, not long ago. We climb it sideways, pretending that the top is in the air and we are daredevils. Then, watching the sun and clouds dance around each other, we begin to ascend the trail.

The trail is steep and a bit slippery. It is zig-zaggy, but each turn yields new and better perspectives of the Palouse hills below, God’s bumpy green golf course. At the top, where the rocks have broken though the mountain-skin, we can see the sun and the clouds jockeying for position. We appreciate drama much more in the sky than we do in our lives.

We sit at the top and talk about the changedness of things. We talk of beginnings and endings. Kamiak is a new place for us, a new frontier. Like freshman year, it was a mountain that we climbed. At the top of each mountain the sun shone more clearly than on the slope. The sun is knowledge, knowledge of the light. The weary slog to the top is an exercise in perseverance, at Kamiak Butte and at school. We have persevered, we have conquered this slope. If it was a race, we won it. But life is not just a race, it is a decathlon. To those who win a few races, many more will be given. We have now together won two races: we conquered this mountain, and conquered our terms of study. Now let us conquer the summer.

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