Summer in Oregon starts at 6:00 a.m. and lingers until after 9:30 p.m. It’s easy to convince yourself that it will last forever. But I am old enough to know better. It’s here one minute, gone the next, so we’ve been doing our best to seize the season and enjoy the bounty. The sketch above was made on the 4th of July weekend at the end of our Iron Mountain trek, a day trip from Corvallis. Iron Mountain (33 miles east of Sweet Home on Highway 20 in the Willamette National Forest) is renowned for wildflowers (sketches in the next post I hope,) but to me, the picnic/wading stop at Yukwah afterwards is even more beautiful than the blooming meadows at their peak.
Yukwah Campground – the name sounds weird, yeah? – is on the South Santiam River, 20 miles east of Sweet Home, and it is Awesome in the old-school sense of the word. The community of Sweet Home, veterans, and several volunteer groups built a wheelchair-accessible fishing deck on the banks of one of the most beautiful spots in the world (and I’ve seen some of the world). If you can’t see the fairies in the ferns, then you are beyond hope. When we arrived, the campground actaully had space available (gasp! on the 4th of July weekend?!!) and there was no one on the deck. We sat there, just the two of us, with our picnic for several hours and simply watched the chartreuse waters slip past the rounded lavender boulders and fluffy clumps of grass across the river. The old Big Leaf Maples are festooned with moss, and the sun illuminates emerald greens, lime greens, fir greens, deep greens, sparkling greens… If I were a fisherman I would be there often – I have no idea what the fishing there is actually like, but my father taught me that it is the Watching of the Water that truly matters. And if I were a trout or a salmon, I would be there often, in one of those dark eddies, enjoying the vivid greens and the crystal waters. Zen, ferns, fairies, fish… name your fantasy. It’s there, you just need to watch long enough. Go.