The Cascades have beckoned me half my life now.
by Frederick Storm
San Francisco's utter urbanity, its seeming civility & existential exigencies of the extreme become ever more distant, both in space and in time.
Gone now are the grayness & the gayness, the bigness and the badness, the glibness and the madness, the gritty grimness and the pestilential sadness.
The Revolution wrought by Reagan has surely receded.
The objective of perspective not necessarily needed.
The City's separate sense of identity seems semi-sweetly swept away now in my life.
Who can tell, one day His Honor Mayor Brown may even forsake his fiefdom and finally take himself a wife.
Generations from now, when Halley's Comet makes its inevitable return back past the Earth, will anyone then alive remember to open up my own little tragi-comic time capsule of mid-life angst, written as I sat and wondered with Otis on the Dock of the Bay?
I very much doubt it.
The essential essence of one solitary, self-aware, even self-absorbed sense of a persistently single man's meandering path on a spinning and tilted cobalt ball of stellar flotsam & jetsam is no more relevant than the gurgles, bubbles and swills of a sylvan brook.
Whose rain drops and ice melt are so far removed from the channels, locks and shipping lanes of a great river.
In May I shall flee the waters whence I came.
Farewell to the Ashippun, the Bark, the Oconomowoc, the Fox, the Rock and the Wisconsin.
Their melded journeys as they form and flow toward the Mighty Mississippi, currents churning relentlessly downstream like the “City of New Orleans”, surging on toward the Gulf shall now flow on without me.
My 21st Century Oregon Trail journey now lies clearly before me, due west, back west, Out West.
As I embark on the road straight before me, the Mississippi bluffs now behind me like the Rubicon, my eyes are firmly fixed on the elusive prize of my new life near the shores of the Western Sea.
I wonder what will become of my Wisconsin without me?
The Brewers will still lose and Miller will still brew.
Quarles will still file and Brady will sue.
Cheeseheads will still tailgate, Favre will still throw, and Badgers fans still cheer and alternately boo.
Holsteins will still be twice daily milked, as they chew and they moo.
Only difference is, I just won't be there to see it, to feel it, to live it, or to be it.
Thus, the angst-ridden resolution of a Gordian conflict between my Charlie Brown heart and my Dylanesque soul that leads inevitably to the tumbling & stumbling of the unknown and the unknowable.
Game, Set, & Match to the Solo Soul. So goest the Miller High Life Man. Who knew?
From now on:
Not a single dropp of meadow dew that sparkles on the heartland’s prairies, daffodils and springtime grasses,
Not a single bead of my labor’s sweats that formed and fell from my furrowed brow on crisp Fall football afternoons,
Not a single sip shall I again drink from the elusive champagne cup of sweet victory celebration, arriving so improbably, so unexpectedly, so impossibly, on occasional Leap Year Days and frozen February Blue Moons.
Not a single ounce of the bitter piss and vinegar that emanated from deep within the dark recesses of my anguished spirit shall now remain.
No more shall I cry out in agony and ignorance, like some rabid Wolf-mix breed, howling at the leaden winter solstice skies swirling above me, cursing to God, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Gaea, or to the Great Spirit, or whoever He, She or It is, who’s actually supposed to be running the show, and calling the shots, here in my own little precinct, ward and district on this bewildering yet beguiling planet.
Now it is on to the next stop for this tortured unit of biomass, this infintesimal muonic speck that is me, as I flow along a seemingly random conduit through the course of the cosmological flow.
So ends a decade of Monday morning quarterbacking, and a string of bitter personal disappointments & defeats, emptying my wallet, and deadening my brain.
The Great Columbian Gorge is where I choose to play out this story of one quite remarkable life, though as yet largely unremarked upon.
So I arrive at my Deschutes destination and my Cascades destiny.
Twin loons and one gregarious goose greeted me on the sun-dappled dawn of my new Cascades morning,
The serenity of the twin loons as they silently swam seemed an odd juxtaposition to the much grander grandeur of the gamboling gander, honking and cackling his mountaintop warning.
As I began to sharpen the focus of my attention on the winged gray creature, I imagined this gargantuan gander as my grandmother’s guest of honor, elegantly dressed out and stuffed for the main course of the Northwoods Yuletide feast of yesteryear.
Then it occurred to me that the analog image of this bird’s goosely graces could be viewed equally well coming from the picture tube of a little 10 inch black & white Zenith set, circa 1965, just as sharply, just as vividly, and just as clearly, as on the biggest, newest, honkin’est super size hi-def flat screen HDTV digital monitor, sold on the very first day on the sales floor at Best Buy or Circuit City.
Perception truly is reality in the land of the Cascades goose.
Like much of human life, great goose was painted by the Creator using only jet black and brilliant white, with the bird first sharply drawn on precise lines of contrast, then his down softly blended & feathered in the ever so subtle gradations of ten thousand shades of gray.
Unlike my native Midwest, here in the Oregon Cascades, a goose’s droppings will generally not be debated & denounced by denizens of cacophonous citizens, sanctimonious supervisors, superior selectmen, and other bombastic servitors of the greater public good.
Here near the end of the Oregon Trail, yonder goose basically goes whenever and wherever and however that he feels.
In The Oregon Country, no one here seems to be much bothered by the bird's goosey mess.
Except perhaps beside the riverside city parks of Portland or in The People’s Republic of Eugene, one might guess.
Now I freely admit, that for me to here sit and to ponder, in great wonderment at the avian scat over yonder, that may well seem rather odd to you.
After all, for any sane man to deliberate Socratically, while gargantuan goose poops emphatically, I suspect must be viewed by many with the greatest suspicion.
One could say that it should be no big deal after all, for a gosling to do, well, what all geese & all grouse & all goats, and all God’s creatures large and small are just wont to do, that is, after their meals are quite completely eaten & wildlife dinnertime is through.
But I ask you my friend, seeing a feathered creature at the quite literal end of his animal breakfast, just at the very start of my own morning repast, I ask you, just what would you have thought, being in my position?
I suppose that my contemplations of the goosey gooey accumulations might even be considered as bizarre.
Especially, when viewed against the backdropp of the Three Cascades Sisters, as seen from afar.
Now what of the fresh fallen crystalline snows, frosting the ponderosas, and framing the photo opps of a spectacular new April Deschutes day?
As the spring calves & lambs frolic and play.
Rather bizarre indeed you would say!
Amid the wanderings and ponderings of a Midwestern man returned West.
Amid the musings and fusings of one reticent rebel who’s been:
Depicted, Conflicted, Restricted, Evicted,
Ceased & Desisted, Totally twisted,
Yet how I resisted, how I fought and persisted,
Many years ago, decades before the dawn of the American Century, Horace Greeley ushered in the triumphant, though far less than perfect ideal of Manifest Destiny to this continent.
In the effusive exuberance of his youth, in a vital civic and social life of leadership yet to unfold, Horace had once penned,
“Go West Young Man”.
Though I am no longer young, west I have gone yet again, and west I shall stay, at least for now.
So as I say one last tearful goodbye to my own two sweet sisters, yet now I shall now have three new sisters to embrace.
To the south, the trio of craggy Cascade peaks towers above me, North, South and Middle Sisters. The Three Sisters, mountains of great challenge and eternal hope, must now serve as my newest siblings.
My feelings of filial fondness now must flow through ink, paper, and fiber optics, fighting against fearsome firewalls, like Pacific salmon, struggling to return to their home waters to spawn and then to die quietly alone.
My Deschutes destination, my Cascades destiny.
So what of Cascades dreams have my thoughts begat?
Surely there must be more than whither great goose has shat.