Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eternal Mounts

Along Washington's North Cascades Highway

I never see one of these mountain waterfalls without thinking of a story I heard years ago about Washington’s Cascade Mountains. A friend had been searching for an old mine he’d been told about when he stumbled across the rotted remains of a cabin. Nearby he spied a tunnel, like any other abandoned mine tunnel except for the twin watercourses plunging down the mountain on either side of the opening. 
Poking around, he found a few blacksmithing tools among the rotting logs. A rusted shovel leaned against the tunnel’s wall. As he prepared to leave, he noticed stones piled at the base of a sheer rock face as if someone had deliberately placed them there. Looking up, he saw these words painstakingly chiseled into the rock at about the height a person could reach if standing on the pile:
Eternal mounts, you have founts       
 Rolling down your rock-ribbed sides,

 Like one weeping in the keeping

 Of a watch that e'er abides.

Above the poem was etched the profile of the surrounding peaks.

I may never see that spot for myself, but whenever I gaze at one of our mountain waterfalls, I think of that unknown miner with a poet’s soul. I imagine him pecking away at the rock, leaving his words for someone to find, many years in the future.

My reality and his are starkly different, but streams continue to cascade down the sides of mountains. People still desire to leave behind something of themselves after they are gone. I feel connected.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hidden Things

I almost stepped on this little treasure.

"And I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, which call you by your name, am the God of Israel" (Isaiah 45:3 NKJV).

In this verse of Scripture, Isaiah foretells what God plans to do through Cyrus, a future king of Persia, who would rescue the nation of Israel from her enemies. To me, this verse has an additional meaning: God wants us to be aware of the treasures, the hidden riches, he has scattered all around us. He has given them as another way of teaching us who he is. He knows that learning to notice and ponder things that most people bypass can add richness to our lives.

In one of my recent Sun Breaks posts, I told about hiking to Boardman Lake in the Cascade Mountains with Hank and daughter Lenora. To reach the trailhead, we drove on a former logging road for about five miles up a mountainside. In dry weather, the narrow road is dusty and potholed. Trees arch thickly overhead. Not much grows beneath them, except in ravines where light filters through. In some places, branches sweep close to the edge of the road, hiding whatever lurks behind.

As we jounced along, we focused mostly on dodging the next pothole. Then, on the uphill side, I caught a glint of water reflecting through a screen of evergreen branches.

"Hank, stop!" I said. "There's something interesting there. Can you back up?"

He did as I asked, stopping at a wide spot in the road. Grabbing my camera, I leaped out of the van and bent down to peer under the branches. "Oh, wow! Look at this!" I called.

While Hank stayed with the van, Lenora followed me over the edge of the graveled road. Although the footing was precarious, I slid down to stand on one of two squared off logs the early road builders had laid several feet apart in a narrow ravine as foundation for the logging road. They had placed thick timbers crosswise on that foundation, and built the roadbed on top of this crude but effective culvert.

One of the foundation timbers and the hidden glade

The waterfall and pool

When our eyes adjusted to the shadows, we gazed across a placid pool where a little waterfall trickled over moss-covered cliffs before its water funneled through the culvert and dashed down the mountainside. The glade was a picture-perfect Pacific Northwest version of one of those postcard spots in Hawaii, and a lovely example of the delights that await those who take the time to seek out and appreciate God's hidden treasures, wherever He has stashed them for us.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Are you Fiercely Frugal?

I'm posting this note from my friend Diana Savage, whose Fiercely Frugal blog is not only full of great money-saving ideas but is also fun to read. Hope you'll follow her links to see what it's all about and to possibly glean a few creative ideas to adapt to your own projects. 

Dear Frugal Friends,

My friend Joan helped me get back to posting ideas on the Fiercely Frugal blog. (It’s been a hectic spring and summer.) She supplied information and a photo for a clever way to make painting more enjoyable. See her suggestion for a “No Cost Paint Container” at  (If you prefer to visit, you’ll find the post in the Resourceful Recycling category.) You’ll also find a link to Joan’s own blog with her delightfully descriptive writing about the Pacific Northwest, travel, and more.

Yours for frugal solutions,


Cooling off at Boardman Lake

A few weeks ago, daughter Lenora took a late summer break from Arizona’s heat to luxuriate in northwest Washington’s green coolness. We decided to drive to the Robe valley, where as a little girl she’d spent many happy days at her grandparents' former home. While there, we hiked to Boardman Lake, off the Mountain Loop Highway, to see if the huckleberries were ripe. We stopped first at little Evans Lake to picnic. Here’s Lenora enjoying the scenery.

The mile-long trail to Boardman Lake is well-used. The footing is tricky, and steeper than we remembered. (Of course, Hank and I are not as young as the first time we hiked the trail.)

Here is a denizen of the woods enjoying a beam of sunlight.

Lenora reached the lake long before we did, but we made it.

We met people who’d camped at primitive sites on the far side of the outlet, on the hill behind Lenora. To get there they scrambled across a jumble of logs. We saw some plunge into the lake’s cold waters to swim.

The berries were scarce this year, but as we headed back to the trail, we each picked a handful of blue huckleberries and carried them home in a plastic bag. Mmm! Huckleberry hotcakes next morning to remind us of a special afternoon in the mountains!