For 47 years, since I first started teaching Psychology at Fort Steilacoom Community College, the Green River Gorge has been one of my favorite places in the world.
Soft water cutting through solid rock over millions of years, the roar and clearness of the water, the steep trail down to the river, the waterfall, and the once hot tub under that waterfall. These all make me feel humble at the beauty, and grandeur, and “mysticalness” of this place. The fact that the place is overrun by drunks and rude people during the summer means only that I must go there when few people are there.
A few weeks ago I went again and was able to capture the best shots possible of this place (and nothing can compare to the reality of this place). Here are a few photos.
Poem and and reading and photographs By Dan Windisch 2018
For 69 years I grew up in, lived in, perceived in, And will, in the not too distant future, die in, a land of mist, reflections, shades of rain, and fog.
I grew up in lands of tall evergreen trees; Spruce, Douglas fir, and Cedar. Trees formed, from fog, and rain, and days of occasional sunshine.
I grew up surrounded by Mountains that exist only in days of glorious sunshine. Even huge, magnificent, 14,408 foot, snow-covered, even in August, Mount Rainier. She often disappears, stops existing, between the mists and clouds that covers us all, Then, surprising us all, bursts out glorious, and brightly snow covered, in sunshine; for a few days, then disappears, again, As if, never having existed, back into the mist. Was she always there? Are we always here?
I live in lands of rolling hills, covered by thick tall green trees, and dense underbrush, and wet dripping leaves,
and those marvelous Madrona (Mad Rona’s) trees with their shining when wet, bright red skins, and red berries, and regally red peeling bark (do you see her face in the bark? I do).
I live in Western Washington; Puyallup, Olympia, Lacey, Dupont, Tacoma. Don’t ask me for exact descriptions of people, places, and things. All adjectives and nouns slide into, and out of the fog, the mist, the varying shades of gray.
The joys of living in a land of mist, reflections, shades of rain, and fog? No sharp stabbing reality.
The best aspect? Sliding, mystical shape shifting Beauty, and a reality, that slides from sunshine, to mist, to rain. I hold, cherish, then let go, of everything, even me, back into the mist.
Yet, part of the my most beautiful, my most connected, are the people, and moments of beauty and gratitude, that I so love, They always remain in my soul, even when I forget. Even when they are hidden from memory by the fog, and the rain, and the mist. Like a dream, forgotten, but still there, Until I too slide back into the mist.
Currently, in this short moment in the long history of this land, Currently in 2018, ours is a haunted land, full of Walmarts, Costcos, strip malls, streets, freeways full of cars and frustrated, frightened, angry, confused, lonely people, glued to iphones, in hurried goings and doings, to buy, and store, and throw away, and hoard, more and more.
Fearful people. Yet also many kind, and good, and caring people.
Yet many of those that have more than their ancestors could ever have imagined, Are so full of fear of losing it all. People unconsciously fearing Homelessness, which, realistically, For most of them, is just a job loss, and a few months away. Scary thoughts, not thought about, but constantly there.
I live in a land of homeless people, with cats and dogs, And too many clothes on hot days, and needles on the ground, and murmurings, and shoutings,
The pain? No deep anything. Everything passes into, and out of, the mist.
Mist often leads me to, the Mystical.
and those with signs on too many street corners, ignored.
Veterans, beggars, Moms, down on their luck, or lazy? “I need Help. Anything will do.” “Why aren’t they working? Will they steal from me?” Anger that they do nothing, while I work hard. But do they need help? I’m sure some do. What do I do?
I’m both lucky and damned. If I lost my job I would not lose it all. I’m retired, have Social Security. Yet I suffer from back pain, am blind in one eye, and hurt most of the time.
Yet I am so grateful.
I still have a time, Just a little, (we die too soon) before I die, To cherish the mist, reflections, occasional sunshine, and the mystical.
I will dance (if only in my soul) in the rain, and sun, Reflect, Stomp in the mud puddles, Slide into and out of the mist, and shades of rain, And cherish our grandbabies, as they marvel in the growing glory of it all.
Below is the original photograph, and the final edited photograph of the lily.
I wanted to emphasize the gorgeous nature of the Lily, eliminate the distraction of the background, eliminate the orange of the stigma, and make the background black. What remains is the awe-inspiring shapes, curves, and texture of this amazing flower!
The place itself I love. It is the Hollyhock Retreat center on Cortes Island in British Columbia, a beautiful, remote, and Magical, Transformative place, especially in the summertime. I first went there in 1978 And attended a 13 week long Resident fellow program with a different workshop each week. I attended a dream workshop where I learned that I was Dan, Dan, The rainbow man, a healer and a teacher. And for the last 45 years, I’ve lived being a Healer and a teacher. I learned about Quan Yen (or Kuan Yin),The bodhisattva of compassion. I learned it from John Blofeld, that Very British China convert, Who wrote so beautifully about Quan Yen (or Kuan Yin), and also translated the I Ching. John Blofeld so enjoyed his afternoon tea :). I learned about the I Ching, and Tarot cards. And I learned from the wind, the trees, low and high tides, I learned from the lapping of the water, BJ, Whiskey and orange juice, early morning sunshine, the wonderful gardens, and even more wonderful vegetarian meals. I learned by working with Bill Glackman, now a lifetime friend, doing handyman work around the then COld Mountain Institute.
But what do I love about this picture! I love the early morning light, with the side-light and long shadows. I love the empty chair and the empty boat, both waiting for us/me/you.
I can feel myself sitting in that chair, with my eyes closed, warm, with the sunshine on my face and arms in the cool morning, and ever so gently, I feel a slight breeze. With each breath, I breathe in the light, salty smells of the sea. I hear the gentle lapping of water on the beach. I hear the bird calls of morning, welcoming the new day. That chair is a place to simply be, mindfully and appreciatively.
The empty boat, red and white and waiting, Is not about mindfulness. The empty boatis about adventure awaiting! Come,Let us row away to adventure! Morning is the time for both contemplation and beginning of adventures! I love that in this photograph.
I love the colors, the greens of the grass and the tree. I love the shades of blues in the sea, and in the mountains across the sea. I love the bands of lighter color blue on the water.
I love how small I am in that early morning light, And how big that quiet sea is, and how the shrouded mountains are at the top the photograph.
I love the lines of the small waves, lapping towards the shore.
I love the juxtaposition of the living Green tree, the stump, and the wooden chair. Three stages of existence?
I love the variations between the rocky shore, The tidal zone with it’s small rocks and mud , and the two big rocks In the nearby shallow water.
When I look at this picture, I feel gratitude, the hopes of a new morning, The beckoning of mindfulness and adventure, and the sheer beauty of it all: colors, bands of blue and green, and waves, sea, trees, shore, chair, boat, and distant mountains… and ME!
Our first daffodil of Spring! It reminds me of the quote from one of my favorite movies, “City of Angels” where Nicolas Cage reads the following from Hemingway. Cycles, and even pain, end, as flowers bloom once again.
“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
How can God make such gorgeous beauty? The parrots of Cartagena, Columbia are photos I was lucky enough to have reflected on my camera’s sensors during our Christmas cruise to South America during Christmas break. Several of the photos are a singe photo cropped closer and closer so that you can see the amazing colors and shapes of these gorgeous bird’s wings.
Such beauty! Click on any picture to see a larger version.