Thursday, October 1, 2020

I'm at Trout Lake

 So, it's been a long time (last October) since we've been away from home for more than a few hours at a time.* Having sheltered in place for a whole year now, we felt it was time to take a trip. Thanks to the generosity and hospitality of our friend Marjorie Burns (Bijee) we got to do just that, at a suitably sequestered site.


Tuesday we drove down to the Strange High House at Trout Lake on the north side of the Columbia River gorge, right at the feet of Mount Adams, one of our favorite places. That first night we discussed Ruskin and (of course) Tolkien.


Wednesday we went for walks, three in all. The first was accompanied by Big Dogs, and among the things we saw were a deer (v. wary of the dogs) and a field of dandelions -- the first time I've ever seen my favorite wildflower grown commercially, as an herbal product. The second walk was to the end of the road and back, getting a good view of the Little White Salmon river from above; the most striking wildlife was a hawk which we heard and then saw. The late afternoon was taken up with cider-making, pressing apples and pears from the trees in Bijee's yard.** It was a lot of work but the fresh just-made cider was amazing. 


Wanting to wash the apple/pear juice off my hands, we took our third walk down the side of the little gorge behind the house to dip them in the White Salmon itself. Except the rocks were slippery. And I found myself in, not by, the little river. The water was v. cold and my clothes got wet, but I on the plus side I did get clean. 


Thursday we went with Big Dogs to The Shallows, what used to be Trout Lake but is more now like wetlands with cold clear creeks flowing through it. We saw signs that elk frequented the place, but our wildlife high point for this outing was to first hear and then late see a v. small elegant little green frog. We had some unwelcome excitement when Janice found herself sinking in the sandy bottom on the river/creek. She quickly sank to within three inches of her knees, but luckily she kept her calm and Bijee and I was able to offer her an arm to brace herself with on either side and she soon had herself out and safe again. Then it was back to the House for some down time and a load of sandy wet laundry.


Thursday afternoon the discussion was of Morris and Tolkien, while the walk was along the rim of the White Salmon's little gorge (perhaps fifty feet or so deep?--I'm a bad judge of distances), after which we once again clambered down to the river level. Just before setting out we'd fed some past-their-prime apples to the two cows who live beside the house, so I had cow-slobber on my hands (note: cows like apples. just like horses, I suppose). Cows, while interesting, do not exactly count as 'wildlife', but we did see a v. fast, v. agile little black bird flying down the river, stopping briefly here and there, and then off down the river.


Then it's back inside as the evening comes on.


--John R.


*I suspect our current set of cats have a different set of expectations than their predecessors re. our being away. We'll find out by the reception they give us when we return home: effusive or standoffish.


** It reminded me of a time when we were living at Monticello (i.e., sometime when I was between two and six years old) and we spent a day picking tomatoes at the farm of my father's friend, who I think was called Bo Pace (it may have been Bo Paste or Beau Pace-- it was a long time ago). Most of the overripe tomatoes were squeezed for juice, which seemed to me a terrible waste.

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