Springtime fills the broad coves and uninhabited rich valleys, the vast variety of hardwoods showing off their yellow-green early leafery. Pines on western flanks speak of a history of fires. A frail tiara of dark evergreens, spruce and fur, crown the highest peaks. They persist as remnants of an ice-age forest that once spread across much lower elevations this far south, back when a colder, glacier-dominated climate prevailed. Sadly, these cold-adapted relict forests are destined to disappear forever as valley temperatures warm sooner and rise higher as global climate heats up, eventually pushing these mountain conifers (and associated amphibians, invertebrates and flowering plants) into the history books.
As usual, I was giving a running travelogue of all this to my magazine-reading seat-mate, gushing in tones not unlike the ravings of one who has just encountered in person a life-long hero at arm’s reach. How could she not be as heart-thumpingly exultant by virtue of this reality show below us–this real earth, these coveted places of the heart, our mountains!
I should know by now. I’m an odd sort, with a love affair for this stunningly-magnificent planet that to some, maybe most, seems on the lunatic fringe. I guess that’s what 40 years of biology-watching, wildflower photographing, pond-water microscope exploring, tree-hugging and the occasional day of quiet solitude over decades in and near nature will do to a perfectly normal brain.
So I’m wondering if the large lady between me and the porthole might be willing to change seats if I look sufficiently needy, especially as we descend among the snow-capped volcanic mountains that surround Seattle–and if I promise to keep my high-altitude geology-and-botany fan-boy adulation to myself.
NOTE: I intended to write a paragraph on this topic, but it felt so good to be free of the cast, that my hands wanted to keep typing, so I let them.
NOTE: I used to say, when teaching, that if I had the attention and brain-heart connection with ONE student (out of as many as 120 in a class) then I could muster the will to go on, and could rally some enthusiasm for the task. Failing that, I have walked out of classes. So thanks for the ONE (maybe two) blog readers who actually connect. And I keep the daily journal public, still, because I know you’re listening.