Bear with me. December is turning out to be a busy month. I wonder why. So this will be short .... and the Yellowstone posts will have to wait a while longer.
Oregon is in its rainy season. It seems some form of water is everywhere; rivers are full, fields have soggy ponds, ivy drips, our grass is forever wet. Even the air is full of water here in the western valleys. Fog night after night. It seems it rains forever, but actually it mostly threatens to rain.
All too often that silly little icon on the weather channel show clouds with a peak of sun. Ha! We’re lucky if the sun wins for even a few minutes. In the daytime the fog rises and hovers over town on the ‘sunny’ days. Often we to drive to a higher elevation to greet the sun and look down on the cloud choked valleys. The Umpqua Indians called this ‘the valley of sickness.’
Today we drive south to Grants Pass. The sun finds cracks in the clouds. Off in the distance I see magic happening, mist rises out of the wet mountains. Some of yesterday’s rain is drifting back up, rather than scurrying to the sea via the swollen rivers. Will-o-the-wisps of mist ease out of the dark slopes. I have to concentrate to see the upward motion. Watch a little hole in the mist, or a curl on the edge. Slowly, ever so slowly, the mist rises until it dissipates. It just plain disappears. If I just glance off into the distance, I see pockets of mist. Five minutes later the impression is the same, but in actuality the scene has changed. The sun has moved to a different slope, a different will-o-the-wisp rises.
Now we are looking across the flat valley that holds the town of Grants Pass, looking west towards several ridges and west towards the hidden sun. Rays of run reach down onto a slope angled towards the sun. Out of the ridge erupts an ethereal cloud, the biggest yet. The backlit mist is brilliant white, so white it blocks parts of the ridge behind.
But not for long. Clouds shift and smother the ridge in grayness again. The mist dissipates and the far off trees come back into focus. New pockets of mist start to rise in new places.