Where My Eye Goes, Part 2

Yesterday’s walk was in the rain at Cowiche Canyon. My eyes were gobbling up the greening hillsides, the shapes of basalt rocks, the rushing creek, magpies…but the overwhelming sense was smell. When cottonwood leaves open, they release a sweetness into the air that is thick and warm and rich like honey. The dampness from the rain heightened the perfume, until I could also smell a tang of sage and a sharp green note of all the plants that were growing.

I floated on this scent trail, almost unaware of the rain until I reached the aspens. Their leaves are unfurled and tender, and the dangling catkins are bloomed out. What caught my eye was the pattern of marks made by water trickling down the trunks. How did this form? Something in the way the rain fell and dripped from the new leaves, then gathered to follow gravity around the bole of the tree? I didn’t ponder this very much, just went from tree to tree to appreciate the variations.

Nature is a pattern-maker, the ultimate creative designer, the master teacher of all of us who are compelled to create also.

Cowiche Canyon

A trip to Yakima today meant I could take time to walk at an old haunt–Cowiche Canyon uplands. In another life, this was prime dogwalk territory, the place to start hiking after winter slothfulness, the place to watch spring arrive, and sketch. Today I found that I had missed the grass widows and yellowbells.

But there was phlox and Hooker’s balsamroot.

There were sagebrush violets, coyote tears, and thyme-leaf buckwheat.

It would have been good to spend more time. The air was still today, and full of moisture under a flat gray sky. I would have liked to walk down the trail to the creek, past the basalt columns. Maybe another day–my heart isn’t yet strong enough to climb back up. I came home and found a sketch from 10 years ago.