Paul and I drove over to Eastern Washington Friday, staying the night in Ellensburg to take in the opening of a group show featuring two pieces by his friend Helen Gamble. One was composed of several hundred cardboard tags containing handwritten "memories of home", each by a different person. Many had been dipped in beeswax; all were strung from the ceiling on delicate wires:
This morning we got in the car and headed the thirty+ miles to Yakima, crossing the Umtanum Ridge Crest on I-82: scrubby sage on rolling hills as far as the eye could see. Driving through landscape such as this, devoid of trees, unpeopled, I always feel an unfurling of the heart, an opening out, a release. The muscled backbones of the hills stretch and elongate, as if the earth has engaged in yoga. I feel the connection of all living things, from a skeletonized leaf with visible remnants of its vascular system, to the hip-curves of every valley and the sinews of each basalt ridge. It's a little bit religious, I suppose, this experience, minus the dogma.
My brother and his wife retired in the middle of a Yakima apple orchard -- I can never remember exactly how many acres, but it's somewhere around sixteen, which is a paltry number, considering the size of many surrounding acreages, but to me it's sixteen perfect acres. We walked the rows while brother J., who bubbles with information, kept up a steady patter about frost, pollination, blossoms, smudge-pots, helicopters (whose downdrafts can help dry the water from cherries), apple varieties, hail damage, on and on.
Between the rows:
Walking the perimeter:
I intend to return at harvest-time, to attempt to fathom the weight of a single laden tree.