Mount Baker

On my journey I stopped at a little turnout to smell the roses. But there were no roses, so I photographed some beautiful Fireweed instead.

Fireweed bloom

Fireweed bloom

I wasn’t the only one appreciating them.

Busy Bee collecting from Fireweed bloom

Busy Bee collecting from Fireweed bloom

At the turnout, the reason I stopped, was a tree that caught my eye. In reviewing the photo I feel sadness I didn’t notice when I was capturing the image. I have 30+ pictures of this tree. I knew it was reaching out to me, but I didn’t know why until tonight.

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree

In looking at the photo I am haunted with sorrow for the artist whose work is appreciated after they are gone, the victim that the fundraising campaigns are named for, and the loved one you didn’t tell enough before they passed. For them, I am sharing this image of the tree whose beauty shines after its life, the tree that serves for a home for myriad others bringing it to a bustling life once more, surrounded by genetic companions carrying forward its family even after it stands there, bare, naked, dead to its roots.

Panorama

Panorama

Silhouette vista

Silhouette vista

Beautiful panoramas punctuated by resolute vegetation was the story of the day.

Green on Green

Green on Green

However, the summer mountain meadows brought their own delight, this version: green on green

Pop!

Pop!

Green was abundant, but the meadow grasses and fireweed punctuated the green like a sirens song for the eyes

Natural beauty

Natural beauty

To me every crooked tree told a story of the hardships before. I found them even more beautiful for their scars and bends and twists.

Stark beauty

Stark beauty

Their footprint is here, they are not forgotten… those that passed before – and the world was improved no matter how small the increment, because of their presence. It seems quite noble.

Bent but not broken

Bent but not broken

They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, sometimes that strength is us circling back upon ourselves and gearing up for a new start… we aren’t retreating, we’re recharging.

My human interactions for the day were lessons in themselves.

Idiot and embarassed husband

Idiot and embarassed husband

As I come upon the beautiful spot named and well-known for its photogenic vistas (Picture Lake), I note someone walking off the path – even though there are signs about every 20 feet  asking  people to stay out of the recovering meadow and stay on the path. (Just to be clear she was speaking in English, and even if she couldn’t read, the signs had a boot print with the red circle/line through it – she just elected to ignore the request).

Composition

Composition

At first I was annoyed that I couldn’t capture this image without a human present. Upon seeing the photo, I’m grateful he was there. Seeing the majesty of the mountain, the clear lake, the abundant summer life and the remnants of the life that passed before seems somehow punctuated and more poignant by the visual interruption a human in an orange fleece.

Photographers

Photographers

While the “real” photographers bogart the best spots patiently*waiting for the perfect color saturation and for the ripples on the lake to die down, anxious to capture the reflective glass surface and the perfect hues of green and blue… the mountain stands boldly, knowing it will out-wait all of us.  

*What you miss in this photo is his wife sitting on a log behind the bushes to the left, drinking wine and chatting loudly on her cell phone (and then regurgitating the conversation for at least the following 20 minutes to any and every one who dared pass through the gravitational pull of her boredom).

Amateur

Amateur

In spite of only having an iphone camera…  I think I captured a decent image of what I got to see.

Struggle

Struggle

And when I turned around, back towards the sun, I was captured by this struggling plant, more dead than alive, struggling to make the best of the short summer sun. Struggling to live even when you feel half dead is apparent in the harsh climates of the mountain tops and in the cities below, if you turn around and notice.

I hope the impact of the beautiful images outweighs the heavy narration. What I spent the earlier part of the day doing took an emotional toll and the mountain served to soothe my soul.

Earlier in the day I visited a livestock auction… for reasons that are still evolving. The first creatures on the block that day was a grouping of 3 lovely Nubians

Broken hearts

Broken hearts

They went for too low of a price to the butcher. I realize it’s a part of this ‘business’ I’m in. But it broke my heart.

And there was a horse. A lovely 7 year old mare. She went for $200. Probably there because the owners couldn’t feed her anymore. Going to a home where she will be a $200 horse… I find often when people underpay for livestock (or anything actually), they undervalue it. They also tend to be the ones that complain the most about how much they paid, or how little value they are receiving for what they paid. Hopefully the person who won that auction was the young family I saw, just starting in farming, who just couldn’t stand to see her suffer… but I didn’t see their bidding number so I will never know. I can’t bring myself to post the picture I have of her here. She is a beautiful, noble and gentle beast.

On a positive note: The auction I went to was maintained far better than I imagined or had read. The care of the livestock, while too assertive for my personal preference, was respectful and reasonable. The 120 other people in the room were friendly and interested. And the butcher generally paid a fair price for the meat goats and meat sheep he purchased… there just wasn’t anyone bidding against him for the dairy doe, her daughter and her herdmate (or two little intact alpine bucklings that came later).

So – how about a little uplift so I don’t leave you on such a depressing note (assuming you haven’t already clicked away several photographs back).

On my way down the mountainside, I kept seeing these stupid little rubber circles on the switchback roads:

NOT crop circles

NOT crop circles

 After seeing 4-5 of these, I stopped and photographed this one… mostly because 100 yards down the road I saw this (sorry bad photo, no zoom on my iPhone).

instant karma

instant karma

Can you tell what it is? It is two motorcyclists… one bike. The other bike is likely what they are peering at over the side of the road. I can’t tell you how grateful I am the rider is safe, standing on the side of the road. Also, now knowing that, I can’t tell you how much pleasure I take in the idea that his stupid-stupidheadness culminated with his motorcycle being somewhere down a very, very steep mountain road. Instant. Karma.

If you aren’t uplifted enough by that, let me add one thought here:

My dear friend, Anne Belov, is working very hard to publish her first cartoon book (with Bob T. Panda). She is using Kickstarter… you can contribute and basically pre-order a book… and if you’re a stickler for quality, check out her blog http://yourbrainonpandas.com/ and if you aren’t convinced just with the Olympic series… well I may not be able to help you. Those comics are GOLD!  (get it, that was a pun… you’re lucky I’m not doing the comic thing!) Even Kickstarter had acknowledged her amazingness… on their tumblr account http://kickstarter.tumblr.com/post/29642714758/kickstarter-explained-by-a-panda (please someone under 40 explain to me the value of tumblr???? It looks like a photo album where you make your club pics look like they were taken in the 1950’s… am I close? I so don’t get it, I will try harder to understand it.).

Okay, that was it – go to the Kickstarter: http://kck.st/Qn6uAg and kick in… You can even get a Bob T. Panda for President bumper sticker!! Please. Thank you.

And thanks for going on my journey to Mount Baker with me.

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About Chief Milkmaid

A former executive, now goatmilker and cheesemaker, I am the Chief Milkmaid of the Little Brown Farm.
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3 Responses to Mount Baker

  1. Bob T Panda says:

    What an excellent post, and of course I loved the surprise ending! Nature is beautiful, some people are idiots. Pandas are cute (not to mention sassy) Glad you got to have a day off the farm! You are the bear! (I read all the way to the end, even though I didn’t KNOW there would be something about me! I am just that kind of bear.)

  2. The ending is perfection… there is nothing to bring a smile to a face (or a heart) faster than the Panda Kindergarten… unless you’re a specific cat. 😉

  3. Pingback: What will 2013 bring? | LittleBrownFarm

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