Last weekend I taught a watercolor workshop, Pacific Northwest by Brush, for the North Cascades Institute. I was joined by a group of 16 painters, excited to learn and savor the Park environment. The weather was very unsettled, bringing us sunshine on Friday night, rain all day on Saturday, and cloudy skies on Sunday. It was an ideal way to experience North Cascades National Park: giving us a very firsthand knowledge of where our water and power comes from, and visions of lush ferns, incredible waterfalls, including Ladder Creek Falls outside of the Gorge Dam powerhouse in Newhalem. Katie Roloson, who is the Curriculum Coordinator and longtime staff member at the Institute, assisted me in the workshop. She suggested we take a short drive downriver from the Learning Center on the bus on Saturday evening--what a surprise--I had never seen it before and thought it one of the most beautiful falls I've ever seen. This is how much of the upper Skagit must have looked before the dams. We saw it in early evening light in drizzly skies that had been dark all day, and the mosses and dripping cedars and douglas firs glowed as if they were incandescent. In the center of the falls and raging creek, huge boulders were stuck between narrowing banks and the water surged wildly around them.
Here an American Dipper sits on a mossy boulder above the river. There is a Raymond Carver poem called Where Water Comes Together with Other Water. He was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, which must have given him a very deep appreciation for water, as it sits below the Oregon Coast Range on the Columbia River where it flows out to the Pacific. I love several of the lines:
But the big streams have my heart too
And the places streams flow into rivers where they join the sea.
The places where water comes together
With other water. Those places stand out
In my mind like holy places.