We are on a path of social evolution. The salmon are gone, and the oysters were long go poisoned by the plutonium plants on the Columbia. The great lumber industry that followed is dead. The rotating bridge of Raymond lies still.
The Wallapa River laps at rotting pilings.
The great logging industry is a small private show now, cutting the last big trees out of the plantations, a kind of memory theatre.
Up until two weeks ago, this was tourism country.
You could drive your pickup on the sand at Long Beach, right through the sand drawn down the Columbia from the face of ancient glaciers in the grasslands, and have fun. But even that was a memory.
In response, or as cause, cities grew as concentrated social spaces.
After all, they had art. Now they too are shut down. We must go back to the land itself, and the water: our ancestors. Or we need to go for the first time.
We need to have nothing in mind. The mind is there. Consider the sacred lake above, but not, please as a chemical soup. What we need to know is there. It is we who need to begin, to begin again, to carry on, to hold, and to give forth.
And we need to take this ridiculous sign down, in honour of our river. There are better ways to honour the people of the river, ones that don’t distort language, culture and place.
Hat Rock: See but do not touch. Talk about social isolation.
Cascadians are preserving natural and historic treasures, but for what? That is up to us. Lewis and Clark recorded this hat-shaped rock in 1805, but they missed so much else. They didn’t know where they were. They thought this was a funny landmark for boaters on a river through a desert, not a garden.
The real journey of discovery starts now, or rather, it continues. We are starting. The question is: will we always be starting, or will we carry on?