Outdoors

Summer in Cascadia

Drink deep from the well

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summer in Cascadia is as good as it gets.

It’s a magical season, enhanced by the ephemeral nature of fields of luscious flowers, warm nights and other delights that are defined (and enhanced) by their impermanence. A brief interlude of perfect satori, a momentary exception to the well-established status quo of long months of rain, darkness and glowering skies. It is the exception that proves the rule.

As each year passes, I find myself ever more aware of the preciousness of these golden days. The end of summer, never more than a handful of weeks away, sends us a message about the inexorable passing of time that gets more difficult to ignore with each rotation around the sun. Best to pay attention and make hay while the sun shines.

These days (and nights) are far too valuable to squander—we must be brave and deploy that “out of office” auto-response and get out there. It’s so easy to get caught up in being busy. Our lives are brimming with deadlines, tasks, rules and alerts.

Give yourself a midsummer’s eve gift and turn everything off. Shuck the routine, if only for a few hours. It is summer in Cascadia. We must drink deep from the well.

Grab what we used to call a rucksack, stuff it with some essentials: water, sunscreen, reading material, art supplies. Take the road less travelled. If you can’t find that with your GPS, take the Mt. Baker Highway and look for dirt roads. The more potholes, the better. Get lost (but make sure that you can find yourself again).

Prioritize visits to the delicate and special places that see only the briefest flicker of summer in the high country of our mothering North Cascades. The shorter the season, the sweeter the nectar. Skyline Divide. Heliotrope Ridge, Chain Lakes, Ptarmigan Ridge. In this rarified alpine air, the season unfolds like a time-lapse video. Every day is different. Every day is beautiful.

The wildflower bloom, now upon us,  is our Cascadia Mardi Gras, exhilarating and intoxicating. The glacier lily, lupine, paintbrush, phlox, penstemon and (my personal favorite) monkey flower join dozens of others in weaving a carpet of botanical luminescence beneath the black peaks and blue sky. Patches of snow lend a chiaroscuro to the high country and remind us of the winter, always waiting in the wings.

Don’t neglect the Salish Sea. The summer sun sparkles on its exuberant waters. The sandstone artistry of the San Juan Islands and the Chuckanut Coast are much better than anything on television
.
Want high definition? Check out the shadows on the cliffs at Clayton Beach on a languid summer evening.

And by all means, get wet. Lake Whatcom is a pleasing place to submerge yourself. The Nooksack River will carry you downstream in its own sweet time.

And, if you can finagle it, position yourself flat on your back in the deep hours of evening, away from the humming lights, beneath a tabernacle of stars that reveals a much bigger picture than the crisis of the day.

The best advice in human history: Be here now.

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Bellinghamster One-Act Theater Festival (BOAT)

7:00pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Ferndale Book Group

2:30pm|Ferndale Library

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6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

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Bellinghamster One-Act Theater Festival (BOAT)

7:00pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Wine Tasting Social

5:30pm|Lighthouse Grill

Incognito

6:00pm|Ciao Thyme

Basic Emergency Preparedness

6:00pm|Ferndale Library

Winter Soups for the Body and Soul

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Bangladesh Travelogue

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

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Friday
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Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

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A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

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Wild Things

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Deep Forest Experience

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Books and Bites

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Peace Vigil

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VoicePlay

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