Quick note – No Unsacred Place links

Hey, all, just wanted to crosspost a few quick links to my latest essays from No Unsacred Place.

I completed the “Deep Ancestral Totemism” series of posts, meditating on our evolutionary history and the structures of our brains to be more in touch with ourselves as animals; you can read them here:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

And my latest post, We Do Not Return to Nature. We Are Already There. solidifies some thoughts I’ve had about the nature of “nature” for a while now, particularly in light of us being an increasingly urban species. This isn’t just about finding little bits and pieces of “nature” in a city, but rather a city being, in its entirety, a part of nature, as much as any wilderness place, and the ramifications that that view can have for our efforts toward sustainability.

Cultural Appropriation 101 for Dead Critter Artists

In recent years, wearable art with animal parts has become downright trendy, particularly, though not exclusively, among twenty-something hipsters and their “ironic” ilk. Feathered earrings are all the rage, fox tails are on everyone’s purse and belt loop, and “hipster headdresses” are showing up everywhere from college campuses to Coachella.

Unfortunately, some artists are participating in an older, undesirable tradition: cultural appropriation. For decades, particularly since “going Native” became cool with the hippies in the 1960s, non-Native people have been grabbing bits and parts of various Native American cultures—or at least what they think “playing Indian” is supposed to be like. And there are those who deliberately misrepresent themselves as Native artists or purveyors of Native art, when they’re in actuality not associated with any tribe, and may even be reselling dreamcatchers and other things made in China.

So why is this a problem? Read on:

–What is cultural appropriation?

Cultural appropriation is the borrowing/theft of elements of one culture from another. More specifically, the culture doing the appropriating is generally more powerful than the one being borrowed from, and often there is a history of oppression and even genocide. Appropriators generally don’t think about the effects the appropriation could have because it’s part of their privilege to not have to think about things like that.

Anyone have a source for this? I got it from Native Appropriations, who were also looking for the source. Artist! We want to credit you!

Most commonly with regards to dead critter art, appropriators are cashing in on “Native American mystique”, either accidentally or intentionally misusing elements or perceived elements of Native American cultures in their art. This is not just a case of mistaken identity, as in happening to use animal parts in your work and having someone else accidentally assume it’s Native, but rather things like people “dressing up like Indians”, or mass-produced dreamcatcher car air fresheners. Hipster headdresses are an especially bad trend; these are quasi-Plains-tribe feathered headdresses, like old Indian “warbonnets” from 20th century Westerns, worn by (almost always white) hipsters for “irony”.

–Why does it matter?

There are a few reasons:

First, racial stereotyping. There are still entirely too many people who think that Indians are just imaginary beings that exist in some romanticized past, or are all horse-riding savages out on the plains, or are all unemployed alcoholics, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Artistic appropriators usually draw on the “noble savage” stereotype, where Native Americans are hyper-idealized as nature-loving, broken-English-speaking shaman-elders dispensing medicine to wide-eyed whites. That, or they draw on the “all natives wear feathers and buckskin” stereotype, drawing together some Hollywoodized smattering of supposed Plains Indian traits into a cultural trainwreck.

Second, buying “native-inspired artwork” does nothing to help actual Native people. This includes artists who may have some Native blood in their background, but have absolutely no contact with any indigenous cultures. News flash: being 1/16 Cherokee does not predispose you to being able to work with dead animals in your art, nor does it make you an expert on your distant family’s culture if you’ve had no contact with your tribe. While certainly not all Native people live on reservations and not all are impoverished or struggling with addiction, the truth is that many reservations are among the poorest places in the United States and this all too often gets ignored and even encouraged by non-natives. The money that goes to non-Native artists posing as “Native” could be going to actual Native artists, either on or off the reservations.

Third, continuing to pander to stereotypes does nothing to help these issues or the people affected by them. Playing dress-up Indian just sends the message that Native people are stereotypes, costumes, images, and otherwise not real people. Additionally, the confusion can draw attention away from actual Native artists who are trying to get their work out there and clarify what is and isn’t genuine tribal artwork. “Hey! We’re over here! Someone pay attention?” often gets drowned out by “NEW NAVAJO NATIONS SHIRT ON SALE 50% OFF AT URBAN OUTFITTERS!!!!!” If we’re going to have any hope of turning these harmful trends around, we need to be paying better attention than we have been.

Now, for some more specific points:

–Why is it bad to associate feathers and antlers and furs with Native American art? Don’t they use these things in their work, too?

Some of them do, some of them don’t. The sort of indigenous artwork you’ll find in Guatemala is very different from what you’ll see in South Dakota, which is all different from what you’d find in British Columbia, and then on into Alaska. And while many modern Native artists do incorporate these things in their work, not all stick to traditional art forms and patterns; there’s just as much innovation of new designs among Native artists as anyone else. So just as there’s no such thing as a monolithic “Native American culture” or “Native American spirituality”, so there isn’t one single style of “Native American art”.

And as a side note, if you think about it, “Native American” as a general title is a remnant of what’s happened to a diversity of cultures over the past five centuries. Most non-Natives wouldn’t take the time to identify someone as Cherokee, or Salish, or Diné. And so to those non-Native people, “Native American” is as specific as they feel they need to get, effectively erasing cultural diversity even further. “Native American” as a concept didn’t exist 521 years ago.

Anyway, back to art—yes, some indigenous artists use animal parts in their work, but some don’t. And of those that do, the exact materials they use, and how they incorporate them, varies not just from tribe to tribe, but from artist to artist. Some tribes use almost nothing in the way of animal parts in their work, or none at all; others’ art looks very different from the buckskin shirts and feathers found in some Plains tribe artisanry. For example, weaving plays a significant part in a number of tribes’ art and culture, from Guatemalan sheepherding cultures, to the Chilkat weaving of Northwestern tribes. Woodcarving is also important in the Northwest and elsewhere, and far north the Inuit are known for intricate carving of bone and ivory.

Also, assuming that ANY art with animal parts is Native or stealing from Natives is itself a form of stereotyping. This essay was prompted in part by a situation where a neopagan artist was using very personalized designs in her art with animal parts, designs that anyone even barely familiar with actual Native art would know weren’t indigenous. Someone called her out as an appropriator simply because she had a piece with an antler and some feathers. That critic was furthering stereotypes herself, by automatically equating dead animal parts with Native art, as if that’s all that indigenous people ever use. I think I’ve made the point that “Native American art” is much more than antlers and feathers, and to continue the idea that antlers and feathers is all it is is just more limiting and stereotypical.

–“So why can’t I have my hipster headdress? It’s just ‘Native American INSPIRED’”.

It’s also racist. I’ve been sorely tempted on more than one occasion to ask someone in a hipster headdress “So, do you wear blackface on Tuesdays?” Think about that for a moment. American culture (other than a few pockets of pure ignorance) has rejected the stereotyping of black people by blackface performers. We see what’s wrong with it, and so we don’t do it anymore.

But in the same way that blackface was a farcical, marginalizing stereotype of African Americans, so hipster headdresses and similar “Native-inspired” art can do the same to Indians, yet fewer people are speaking out about it. Really, how does wearing chicken feathers on your head and acrylic paint on your face honor people whose homes were forcibly taken from them, whose numbers were drastically reduced to just a fraction of what they were by deliberate mass murder, and who today still often suffer the consequences of physical and cultural genocide?

Keep it classy. Source: http://arcj.blogspot.com/2007/09/cowboys-and-indians.html with hat tip to Native Appropriations

Unfortunately, indigenous people are still all too often made invisible in civil rights efforts. So most people don’t see what the issue is with chicken feather headdresses and “Pocahotties” at cowboy-and-Indian-themed frat parties because they haven’t encountered any opposition to it. The current hipster headdress trend doesn’t help this invisibility one bit; it simply reinforces the idea that “playing Indian” is somehow okay. (By the by, this is a MUCH more detailed and eloquent explanation of what’s wrong with hipster headdresses.)

–But so and so is Native American and they said my artwork was cool!

Well, yes. Native Americans aren’t one big group in full agreement on everything. Some are going to think that there’s nothing wrong with the made in China dreamcatchers and may just think the hipsters in headdresses are silly, nothing more. Others are more pissed off about the effects they see these things having on their people and other tribes.

It’s because some of them are upset that I feel it’s worth paying attention to. If Person A isn’t upset about something but Person B is, it doesn’t mean that I should just assume Person B is full of shit because it suits my personal interests to do so, especially in a situation where there has been definite damage done to the ancestors and cultures of both Persons A and B by people not listening to them. And, on top of it, as a person who is NOT a part of an indigenous culture, I have even less authority to decide that that complaint is worthless. Finally, given the history of white people NOT listening to Natives’ complaints, to include today, do I really want to continue in that tradition of not-listening?

–So what can I do to help?

First and foremost: educate the fuck out of yourself. Check out the Native Appropriations blog at http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/ and read the archives, as well as checking out the blogroll. For a historical perspective, read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. If it seems like each chapter is just telling the same story over and over again but with different people in each, then that should tell you something about the consistency of how badly various tribes were treated. If you have a Netflix account, both Reel Injun and Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action are on instant queue. These are just a few tiny starting points, but even they can be good eye-openers.

Study up on actual Native artwork, too. Some art and history museums have collections (however ill-gotten) of artwork and artifacts of various tribes. Read up on various tribes’ artworks, both historical and contemporary. Head over to sites like http://www.nativeart.net/ and http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/native-american-art-entertainment. If you want to buy genuine Native American artwork, ask the artist about their tribal connections, and make sure you’re buying from the right people (powwows are a good starting place). Oh, and make yourself familiar with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.

Second, take a good long look at your own artwork. Have you been trying to make Native-style artwork? Are you still developing your own style, and are there ways you can make it more your own rather than borrowing from others? I’ve been developing my own work for over a decade, and I still periodically look over what I’m doing to make sure that I’m not encroaching on someone’s traditional designs; it’s part of why I no longer use loomed and applique beadwork in my art, and why I no longer make dreamcatchers, as a couple of examples.

Wolf mask by Lupa, 2011.

Presentation is important, too. I have a big disclaimer on my artwork page on my website and in the main description of my Etsy store that specifically says I’m not Native and I’ve never claimed to be. I’m even wary of using certain key words in my Etsy listings; I’m okay with using the fairly generic “pagan” and “shaman” as they’re a part of my background as a neopagan since the 1990s. (However, I’m also aware of how neopagan culture has itself appropriated from indigenous cultures, as well as the troubled recent history of the word “shaman”.) I’m less okay with keywords like “medicine”, even though I know that people looking for generic little leather bags will use that term, which has been drawn further and further away from its origins much in the same way as “shaman” and “totem”. But I refuse to use “Native American” on my listings (with one exception) even though it would probably get me more hits from people who don’t know the difference between a Native American artist and someone who makes stuff out of deerskin.

Third: find your own balance. I’ve explained above how I have my boundaries currently set, and those may change over time. Even writing out this article has given me reason to test those boundaries and how I feel about them. You may not be as concerned as I am, and be okay with making dreamcatchers as a non-Native person, or not see an issue with using the term “Native-inspired”. Or, for that matter, you might be even stricter and see my calling myself a “shaman” or using the term “headdress” for the wearable animal hides I make as appropriative actions in and of themselves. I can’t decide for you where your boundaries are, though I will respect you more for at least giving them thought.

And that’s really where I want to leave this for now–something for people to chew on, and think about, and discuss further. Feel free to link to this, if you like; it’s a public post.

How Wolf Fed the Scavengers

Once, when this place was still new, a great famine struck the land. The sun broiled the earth, and the plants were so thirsty in the drought that they could barely keep their stems and trunks straight, never mind grow enough fruits and leaves for everyone to eat. The plant-eaters were always hungry and they grew thin, and the meat-eaters could barely find anything other than bones to gnaw on, their prey was so wasted away. All the animals grew desperate, and fell to fighting each other more than they ever had before.

So it was decided that the animals needed a king. This king would decide who got how much to eat. The plant eaters argued that because they were the closest to the plants, that they knew them better and should get to have control over who got what. The meat eaters opposed them, saying that as they were at the top of the food chain, they had a better view of the situation. Those who ate both plants and meat were split right down the middle, some siding with the plant eaters, and some with the meat eaters.

Bone stag wall hanging by Lupa, 2010

The arguing lasted for three days and three nights, until at the end Whitetail Deer was made the king. All the animals brought forth all the plants that were ready to eat. “Since I am king,” he said, “I will take the first portion since I need my wits about me to keep an eye on our food supply. Then the rest will be divided up among the plant eaters according to size. But the meat eaters may only eat those animals who die of starvation and disease; from now on, hunting will be banned.” This caused much dismay among the meat-eaters, but what could they do? He was their king, too, and he said these words while shaking his mighty antlers with their sharp points.

So the plant eaters were able to leave the meeting with as much food as they were able to get, and all the animals were to collect more plants as they were ready to harvest, even the smallest berry or seed. Each day the food would be brought to Deer’s home, where he would divide it up, and send the plant eaters home with food while the meat eaters only had a scant few bony carcasses to squabble over.

Then it was decided that the meat eaters were not even allowed to be at the food collection except to bring what they had gathered and pick at the bones of the starved, and the plant eaters began to venture out of Deer’s home only to bring the collected food in, protected by their king’s antlers. The only ones who stayed out were the dead, who were left on the edge of Deer’s home, and over time there were fewer and fewer carcasses left out each day.

Wolf totem headdress by Lupa, 2012

Soon the meat eaters began to hoard what food they could. The bigger ones, by bullying and stealing food from others, ended up with the most and stayed strongest, while the little scavengers grew more and more hungry over time. Only Timber Wolf did not participate in this; she only took enough to feed herself, her mate, and her pups, and often ate the least of all her family. She grew sadder as she saw how the animals fought each other over so little.

The little scavengers noticed that of all the big meat eaters, she was the only one to let them have their own food. So they sent Raven, who was the bravest of them, to go speak with Wolf and ask her for help, since she was a great hunter, swifter than all the other meat eaters, and perhaps she would know what to do. She was given the last of the scraps to take to Wolf as an offering.

Raven flew to Wolf’s home as quickly as her weakened wings would carry her. She landed at the front of Wolf’s den, and croaked to her, “Lady Wolf, great huntress, brave warrioress, I am here on behalf of all the little scavengers, those of us who are too small to hunt big game. We are hungry, and we are too weak to steal our food back from the other big meat-eaters. You have the greatest hunting skills, and you are powerful. Will you help us to get food so that we may not starve to death and all become food ourselves? Soon none of us will be left!”

Wolf, curled with her mate and pups in her den, heard Raven’s pleas, and it was enough for her. She was tired of seeing the little scavengers creeping around and crying. Her hackles raised, she stalked out of the den, and met Raven there.

“Yes, I will help you. Let us go to our king, and ask him why we are unable to hunt. Let us ask him why we are not allowed to be at the food collection any more, other than to bring what we spend our days collecting in the hopes that we will be given bones to gnaw. My young cry for food, and your young barely live. It is too much.”

So they shared the scraps so Raven could recoup her strength from her flight, and Wolf could be ready for the trip. Raven perched on Wolf’s back, and they went to Deer’s home. When they got there, all the plant-eaters were inside, and no one was guarding the door since all the meat eaters were so weak that no one thought they could get in.

But Wolf got in, and Raven with her, and before anyone could speak or stop them, Wolf strode straight to where Deer sat, one antler shed and lying on the ground, the other shaking on top of his head. He was surrounded by all manner of food. The stores were piled from the floor to the ceiling; there were enough plant eaters that had died that even the small amount the famine-stricken plants could produce was more than what they could all eat. She looked at Deer, and all the plant eaters around him, and noticed how fat all of them were. And she grew enraged.

“How dare you?” she cried. “How dare you leave us out here to starve? You threw out all of those who nibbled at the edges of your leavings, and you only gave us your dead. Now that so many of you have died and you have more than enough food for all who remain, you keep it locked away here! You are no fit king!” And with this she fell upon them all, with bared teeth and fiery eyes.

She slew a tenth of the rabbits, and a tenth of the wild sheep, and a tenth of the elk. She hunted and killed a tenth of all the plant eaters, and the smell of the blood brought all the meat eaters together to feed. Then Deer himself, huge and fat and no longer so fierce without his antlers, got up and ran away, and Wolf chased him, with the little scavengers in their wake.

She chased him through the forest, and she tore away his toe, and the weasels fed upon it. Then she chased him through the mountains, and in a clearing she tore away his tail, and all the ravens came to take a piece of it. Then she chased him through the desert, and she tore away his remaining antler, and all the mice came and chewed at it.

Detail from wolf totem headdress by Lupa, 2012

And finally they circled back around to the mountains, where Wolf chased Deer all the way to the top of the highest peak, and there she overtook him and slew him. And his coppery blood rushed down the mountain in all directions, and he had grown so big that there were great, gushing rivers of it. The blood flooded all the land, from the mountains to the desert to the forest, and such was its power that it brought an end to the famine, and the plants thrived again.

And when Wolf came down from the mountain she brought Deer with her. She fed her young and her mate and herself and she tore what was left of Deer to pieces and gave all the little scavengers enough to feed themselves and their families.

Then she addressed all the animals, “I have killed our king, which makes me queen. I have only one decree—that we all go back to the way things were before the famine so that plant-eaters eat only what plants they gather, and meat-eaters eat only what meat they hunt or find.” And so it was.

But all the little scavengers followed Wolf around from that day on, for whenever she made a kill, she remembered their plight and how their food had been stolen from them, and always left them something to eat. And for her part in bringing back balance, Raven and her children were allowed to eat with Wolf and her kin for the rest of time.

The Core of my Spirituality

I’ve been on a HUGE artwork tear the past few days, in prep for something nifty I’m unveiling this Monday–Lupa-calia (yes, there’s a hint–it’s art-related!) While I’ve been doing so, I’ve been watching a LOT of various nature documentaries on Netflix. I find it entertaining that they call the sorts of things I like to watch “cerebral”, especially as some of what I’ve been watching has been things about the evolution of Homo sapiens. However, it’s ranged from that, to disasters that shaped the Earth and made life here possible, to what the nature of death is and how it’s ultimately defined.

The more I find out about the world, and indeed, the universe we live in, the more I fall in love with it and the more precious it becomes. On an immediate level I worry for the very near future of this planet and its inhabitants. The only people denying climate change caused by humans are the most stubborn and least willing to listen, those who desperately grope for anything to support their continued denialism.

But on a broader scale, all this research–and it is a form of research–is making my perspective continually less anthropocentric, and more awe-struck by the immense scale of time and space. We are not all-powerful beings, though our ability to manipulate our environments and ourselves is impressive. For example, if another asteroid like the one at the K-T boundary at the end of the Cretaceous hits the Earth, we would be just as dead as the dinosaurs; the animals that survived the chain reactions of natural disasters that resulted were mostly small burrowers. And yes, the Earth and the existence of life on it have survived several mass extinctions, but the scale of time it has taken to recover from these has been almost unfathomable, measured in millions of years. Being relatively large, calorie-hungry critters would definitely be a hindrance to our survival as a species if a disaster on that scale occurred–and if we keep up our actions, we may cause enough global climate change to test that hypothesis.

I am also less and less enamored of the claim that the Earth loves us, and that Nature cares about us. We are but a tiny brief blip in history; on the one-year calendar that represents all of time, we exist in the last few seconds of New Year’s Eve. We’re really not all that important, and why should we be more important than species that lasted for many more millions of years than we have? But I also don’t think “Nature” is angry with us, either. We’re talking about a planet that routinely obliterates entire ecosystems with massive volcanic eruptions and the like. While the Earth isn’t in as much of a state of upheaval as it was a couple of billion years ago, it’s still not exactly the safest it could be.

We’ve gotten complacent in the past couple of hundred years as the Industrial Revolution has caused some of us to live longer and be more insulated against illness, injury, and other such problems. For me, being more mindful of where we are in all of this has contributed a certain level of humility to my perspective. On a short-term level, sure, we’re doing some neat things, and there’s no reason not to try to make human existence as universally good as it can be as long as we’re here. And yes, the fact that we are conscious, aware, observant on a level that perhaps no other animal has ever been, is a damned impressive thing.

But we are just one of a plethora of amazing, fascinating, and uniquely skilled species that have graced this planet. Most are gone now. But as I trace the lines of my ancestors and their relatives far, far back, all the way to tiny bacteria, and before that, perhaps, chemicals that gave rise to DNA–my sense of my place in all this is that I am a much smaller, younger, and less overarching being than many humans would claim.

And I’m alright with that. They say spirituality is about feeling one with something bigger than the self. All metaphysics and otherworldly things aside, knowing that I am a part of this ever-evolving macro-eco-system Planet Earth, in an impossibly vast Universe, is enough of a spiritual core for me.

First Hike of 2012

I have been stuck indoors too much as of late, between book revisions and artwork frenzies. So today we had a warm enough day (in the low 50s) that I decided to venture out to the Gorge for a hike. I had originally intended to do something relatively low-altitude like Triple Falls, since I wasn’t sure how far down the snowline would be out in the Gorge area. However, as I drove further out I didn’t see snow on the lower peaks, and so I decided my first hike of the year should be one of my very favorites–the Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop.

Now, I’ve rather out of condition. Up until this past September, I was running 5k three times a week. However, once I graduated with my M.A., I hit the ground running on some creative projects, and unfortunately let the running lapse (though I have been on some hikes in the meantime). So it’s only been in the past couple of weeks that I’ve started to run again, and I’m nowhere near the condition I was before. I was prepared to turn around and go back if necessary. Happily, not only did I make it around the entire loop in three hours, but a lot of my slow-down was due to adjusting my hip pack, taking entirely too many pictures, food/water breaks, etc. I actually did less resting than I normally do, probably due in part to the cooler air, as well as having been cooped up inside too long!

I’ve never done this hike later than late November, when it was still a bit fall-like, and if I recall correctly, sunny and warm. (Autumn likes to stay warm here for a while.) So it was a real treat getting to see what this place is like in full dormancy. The only (not-human and not-dog) animal I saw the entire time was a single female dark-eyed junco in some brush near the end. However, the plant life was incredible! The firs and other conifers were still spreading their branches for sun and mist, and the ferns had nothing left green except their newest fronds, so they were these spectacularly bright green arrays against the dark brown of dead leaves and soil.

One new development was that as I was hiking, and observing everything around me, my mind kept accessing information that I’ve been picking up from science-based TED Talks, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and other videos on YouTube from various scientists. I listen to these and watch what I can while I’m making artwork. Having enriched my store of knowledge about everything from geology to biology to physics and then some, I felt as I hiked that I had more of the backstory to this place I was a part of for that time. It wasn’t distraction, though. Rather, knowing things like just how long the processes of evolution have taken to get to this point only served to make me appreciate my fellow beings more. I could look at the canyons I hiked through and imagine how the rivers and streams had slowly cut down the earth over time, wearing these enormous grooves over thousands and even, in some cases, millions of years. I consciously shared breath with the trees, ferns, moss and other plants in this well of oxygen. I observed the formation of rain clouds in the sky. I knew the fleeting, short lifespan of the little songbird who greeted me so briefly before flitting away and was blessed even more by her presence.

The knowledge of this world is sometimes downplayed for sake of more ethereally “spiritual” interests. One of the points I made in Deep Ancestral Totemism, Part One over at No Unsacred Place is that so much of religion and spirituality is aimed at transcending or otherwise escaping this world, as though it has nothing to offer. The idea is that this world is so flawed that we are encouraged to look to a “perfect” world that comes next. Or, alternately, while we are here we are supposed to transcend and avoid anything of our more animal nature, trying to be “spiritual beings having a physical experience”. And, of course, there’s the very mundane practice of escaping “nature” for the comforts of human technology, which often distracts us from the needs of our bodies, or negates those needs temporarily.

The problem is that so many people are trying to escape the physical realm for various other places that our detachment causes us to take what is physical for granted. Because we can conveniently ignore the world around us, we lose that sense of connectivity. The idea of a polluted river or strip-mined mountain is so distant because most of us in the US don’t have to think about them. And so these actions are allowed to continue unabated because we’re more interested in our selves and our needs and the things that let us continue ignoring, transcending, ignoring, transcending, etc. The more we focus on the mind, too, and virtual reality, and spiritual reality, the more this reality suffers.

So it was a great relief to me to find that the knowledge I had absorbed through modern media had only deepened my connection to the physical Land. I had felt yearnings and appreciations even when I was holed up in my apartment listening to these things, but being out in the wilderness today really confirmed that knowing more = appreciating more.

Anyway–like any good trail, this essay rambles.

My favorite part of the hike was actually the last two miles, coming down the mountain alongside Wahkeena Stream. Why? Because it was raining! I love hiking in the rain, provided it’s not close to freezing. I admit that, selfishly, I like having the trail to myself when possible. But more than that, it reminds me that this area is a rain forest, and to only visit here when it’s clear is to miss out on what truly gives life to this place.

And so that was what grew within me as I hiked, and this is what it became:

Sometimes I think the Northwest is best
When it is being the Pacific Northwet.
The rain soaks into the sun-parched pigments of the soil,
And glazes the fern leaves in a hydrous kiln,
Until all the colors remember themselves more fully.
Even the sky cordially removes his blue cloak,
And gently wraps the sun in a sheet of gray
So that it is the rain forest who shines the most.

You can see more pictures from the hike here.