Rain Forest Rhapsody
The western edge of Washington is home to vast expanses of temperate rain forests, and if you get a chance to see them, jump at it. It’s a soggy, mud boot-wearing world out there,
a place where moss will overtake anything that stands still,
growing like Pinocchio’s nose until it sags wetly to the ground.
It’s a lonely place, and people live there in a splendid isolation that’s rare these days.
If they live there until their time runs out, they can spend the rest of forever similarly splendid, similarly isolated, and I’m thinking that the kind of person who lives out there in the first place is probably comforted by that thought.
There are people, though, who try to tame that wilderness, even if they do have elk tromping through their back yard. Elk?
The forest is also home to several herds of Roosevelt elk,
who must have the cutest butts of anyone within miles. They’re used to people, but they’re shy. We stopped to see them, drove ahead to turn around, hoping to see more of their faces, and by the time we got back, some three minutes later, they were entirely vanished. We were so happy to have started our day with them, and we headed back to the lodge for breakfast, all chipper and bushy-tailed ourselves.
But all is not idyllic in the rain forest – we saw these signs everywhere, protesting a plan to create more Wild and Scenic River areas, as well as Scenic Wilderness Areas. You can read more about that here, if you’re interested. We ourselves were more interested in this sign
because, well, who wouldn’t want to see the world’s largest anything tree? I wanted to cuddle right up to one
and so here I am, in my bright red Valentine’s shirt, nestled into its roots. The red shirt is important, because
here I am again. See those little red pixels at the base of the tree? That’s me. It’s amazing what a wide-angle lens can do.
For comparison, here’s Shel next to the upturned rootball of another spruce, which must have been a whole lot smaller, even though still enormous.
These were my favorite roots of the day, at once sinister and elegant.
The fallen trunks and roots are home to a host of fungi, quite elegant in their own right,
even though some of them look extra-terrestrial,
as does this lacy lichen,
and this other lovely, lettuce-y lichen.
We didn’t get to see this red-backed truffle-eating vole, but I sure wish we had.
In all our wandering in the rainforest, this was the only spot of brightness we encountered.
That, and these beautiful words attributed to Chief Seattle:
This we know,
The Earth does not belong to man:
Man belongs to the earth.
All things are connected,
Like the blood that unites one family.
What befalls the earth
Befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life.
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web
He does to himself.
Think about it.