Ode to Winter
The Soap Lake Blog
Soap Lake, place of healing waters and abundant character, the human kind: distinctive, memorable, extraordinary, a bit quirky, and never boring. From day one Soap Lake has embraced all comers; sick, destitute, in need of healing, or just looking for a place to land. Whether arriving with money for a room, with or without a reservation, maybe just hoping for a tent to rent or a spot in one of the camps along the shore of the lake, Soap Lake bore arms wide open to strangers throughout the early decades of the 20th century.
For those who sink their feet into the rough sand along the shore or slather the sulphur-stinky black mud on their bellies and feast their eyes on the rugged basalt landscape framing the pretty aquamarine lake, maybe catching the sweet salt scent of the mineral water on a warm summer night carried on a southbound breeze, or those that hear with delight the playful chatter of killdeer along the shore – something catches hold and never lets go. It hides in the bottom drawer of vacation memories, in the spent quarry of the almost gone days, not hiding – languishing like a water nymph that can only be felt by the young-at-heart and the ones who distill memories from the shape of clouds.
This is our place, our not always summer, but forever colorful place that is oh so generous to the eye as landscape laid bare a remarkable past of spent geologic epochs that changed the earth and how we see ourselves as we look northward towards the path of many great floods come and gone, eroding, heaving, cleaving and leaving us this tortured but perfect landscape. Ours is a rough hewn land of hardened lava rock wearing lovely ochre, lime green, and other shades of green and grey. And in the spring comes the orchestra, blaring loud the wildflower chorus.
It is the winter now slipping away that we shift our focus to. The lake never froze this year – really – just frozen spots and some not so into which certain shorebirds found easy feasting from, especially along the shore. The noisy pooping geese will overstay their welcome, as usual. It’s the Kildeer and Curlew that leave slight footprints and sweet sounds we look for now. So fast the snow melted from around the bunch grass – leaving the moist surface moss that can be seen when you crouch close enough to smell the earth it clings to.
Amazing how the brightest color against the flat grey, slight brown and off-pale yellow is the rusty-loud orange and lime of lichen which paint exquisite patterns across the basalt columns which line the low and in-between places.
A patch of fallen leaves expired now – black and ready to surrender the last vestiges of their existence to the arms of the salt grass they fell upon. Too heavy in their wetness to blow away, too spent to turn to bone, they witness spring with shallow eyes and empty heart. The spring warmth and summer sun will wither them further and before this time next year they will be earth, again.
So too it is that way for us, the humans. Each breath, a gift, a perfect gesture of the divine to fill our heart with delight and awe of the silent and perfect beauty of nature just outside our door. Our witness to the perfection of nature is the gift we give ourselves. Take time to enjoy this beautiful place, our Soap Lake, our treasure, our almost perfect place.
The photos in this album were taken on one of the last cold days this winter. Now, less than a week later the snow has melted and it feels like spring.