Miss Adams, the Mountain
By Linda Jo Hunter
Oh! The mountain is wearing the briefest white bikini top with her flounced green skirts. Her flanks and crevasses are all tan and dusty as she throws out one haughty hip to pose for photographers or painters. At her feet lay quilt patches, bordered by fences, of varying summer hues. I sit near gray-green piles of freshly cut hay; beyond them are cows trying to make a living in a field the color of a lion’s fur. The hay smells warm and tangy, a smell I always associate with watermelon seeds for some reason. Summer rests heavily on this valley and I picture a woman with a basket of ripe tomatoes resting on a bench before she moves on to her hot kitchen to stew, stir, dry and hang in preparation for the cold season. The nearby stream seems like a clear glass cover over its bed. Water bugs make shadows of themselves on the bottom, which loom like bugs on stilts. The fleeting nature of this time of year is apparent in a few impossibly red leaves on a salal plant.
As I sit here alone, dragonflies skim the grass doing biplane
stunts, except for the ones tied to each other by their tails.
Those paired ones fly straight, serious lines as if they are on
a secret mission. I can hear the cows chewing and ripping off bites
of grass. They look so innocent and benign, and they seem strangely
stationary, an illusion I am sure. I have been here alone for a
while, but now I see people coming with their campers. Their radios
are loud enough for me to hear through their closed windows, and
I can see from the expression of the drivers that they are upset
at where I parked. They are going to ask me to move. I can feel
it. So much for peacefulness. As they park and let out the dogs
and kids, I watch the cows. They are moving away. Already, while
I wrote that last sentence, they have turned like stern-anchored
sailboats swinging in the breeze and are all dragging anchor downwind
and away from the noise. I wonder if the mountain moves too. Maybe
she leans this way and that, so slowly we don’t notice. Perhaps
she peers over an easel to watch a painter’s struggle to catch
her mood. It is possible that she leans away from the hordes of
people who want to bring their indoor life intact to the outback.
It could be just a change in the shadows, but it sure looks like
the mountain is leaning away from this sudden infusion of noise.
She gives me direction. I think I will make like a cow pie and
hit the trail.
Linda Jo Hunter is the author of Lonesome for Bears: A Woman’s Journey in the Tracks of the Wilderness, and is also an artist and an old-fashioned tracker. She lives in Stevenson, Washington, with her guitar-building husband, Mike McHugh. Their website is http://www.strumminbear.com.