Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life on the Diablo, Part III

So, when we last left our campers, they were still hanging midair over finishing their trip.  Will they continue or will they go home in the night?

8-3-12  7:30 or so in the morning

I'd like to know why I always get hang nails on these trips.  Is it the diet, or the fact that I'm doing so much more with my hands? 

Nick and Mike are still asleep in the tent.  At least they slept.  I'm sitting at the campsite's picnic table.  Teddy is lying in the dust behind me.  I have a pretty view here.  I'm looking up the hill away from the campground and the lake.  Close by, there are sword ferns, moss, bunchberry, a small Western Hemlock, and a little path.  Further up, there's a nurse log, a vine maple, and other trees hanging with old man's beard.  Beyond that, it becomes dark forest.  To my left is the little path where we walked to view the barred owls.  When we went too close to the one on the perch, another swooped up toward us, turned, then they both flew away.  Still, the one was on the same perch later when I looked.  I wonder if he's still sitting in that same spot. 

Nope.  I checked.

Teddy is chewing sticks. 

Crap! My bug shirt is still in the tent and the bugs are out.  To my right, the tent sits on  sloped tent pad.  I ended up sliding half off my sleeping pad and kicking the dog every time I rolled over.  Poor dog.  Mike was snoring a minute ago, a soothing sound.  Now, I hear Nick moaning in his sleep.  He does this more in the morning before he's about to wake up.

There is Oregon grape in front of me too.  Up the hill.  Oregon grape is so orderly with its leaves on one side matching the leaves on the other side.  There's a word for that.  Pinnate, I think.  Don't know.  Can't.  Look.  It.  Up.  I miss my iPhone. 

I hear an osprey.  Last night, they were fishing over the lake.  Did I tell you we never made it to Ross Lake?  Oh right.  I did.  Yesterday, when I went to get new permits, the ranger there said that the winds kick up at about 1pm every day.  The hot air blows up from the valley toward the cold mountain air.  It's a wicked wind, the one that stopped us from going around the point yesterday. 

I need to walk down to the bathrooms and yet I know that Teddy will whine after me as I go and wake up the guys.  Where is his leash?

Right.  It's in the tent.

I keep thinking about yesterday, how everything I love was in that boat.  Everything.  How is it that it was a beautiful moment?  I ask you that.  All the pain and love wrapped up together.  I had such gratitude that they were safe, that Nick was invigorated by the wild water. 

There's a whistling in the woods, the owls again?  No.  I don't think so.  This time, it doesn't sound like a half-broken whistle.  I am so inadequate to describing the sound.  Don't you hate that?  I mean really.  Can you describe why a piece of music moves you?  Or even convey what it sounded like without singing?

Last night, as I wrestled to find a semi-comfortable spot, I heard the barred owl singing his four note song. 

I hate to tell you this, but yesterday, I yelled at Nick.  We got down to a discussion of destiny or choice.  He told me he has no choice but to act like me because he's around me more.  I told him he has a choice and can choose to be more like Mike if he wants, more patient, more kind.  I wonder now if he does have a choice.  Is our personality predetermined by our genes?

Now the Douglas squirrels are chattering and whistling.  Do they fight with their mothers before they leave their nests?

We don't yet have sun where I am, but I can see a bit of it in the forest above me.  The sky is completely clear.  This is just the light that is peaking the ridge behind me and moving closer, deeper into the valley.  The spot of light is getting bigger as I watch.  It's sort of like watching the moon rise.  It's slow, almost impossible to see any actual movement, but when I look away then look up again, the spot is bigger, closer. 

People can't really see or feel this speed. Think about it.  We see in a spectrum of light, the rainbow.  We can't see infra-red or ultra-violet or anything beyond them.  We've expanded each with instruments to see further in either direction.  We hear in a spectrum too, a limited spectrum.  Even dogs hear a wider range.  We can only tolerate a narrow range of temperatures.  Our inventions allow us to spread those a bit too. 

In time, we have a range of what we can feel.  We don't even have a word for the way we experience time, do we?  'Seconds' seems so inadequate.  There is an amazing array of things that move too slowly for us to see, like a flower blooming, a tree growing, a mountain growing, or the life cycle of a star.  On the other end of the spectrum, I've never gotten a good look at the humming birds that grace the flowers on my deck.  They move too fast.  Forget about seeing their wings move. 

So there's the question of life existing out there, outside our atmosphere.  We talk about that sweet spot, the habitable zone, the way planets have to be the perfect distance from their suns in order to support life.  What we're really saying is that this is where we would look to find life as we understand it, life we could actually recognize.  Imagine that there is life out in that universe that lives entirely outside our spectrum of time, life perhaps not dependent, as we are, upon water.  Why is it so hard for us to imagine that life could revolve around anything else but water?  Yes, it is possible.  And, like the life of a butterfly, there could be life that completes faster than we can recognize.  Oh, the butterfly's life is so short, but I'm sure the butterfly can feel the smaller increments of time.  To him, it feels like a lifetime. 

Why not a civilization that develops, flourishes, and dies in literally the blink of an eye.  How would we ever see that?  Our universe could be teeming with life, but we're so blind we can't see it.

That light in the forest is bigger now.  And closer.

Our scientists, the ones searching for extraterrestrial life so limit where it could appear. 

A chipmunk just ran through camp.  It seemed to look back at me as it ran. 

Ah, the sun is only a few feet away.

It is here.  Thank God, I was getting cold and needed comfort.

Thank you for listening, jb

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