Almost Timberline, Roadside Memorial.

[Notes driving home from a wonderful alpine assignment for The Wall Street Journal over the weekend]

Somewhere midway up the pass, it's pretty obvious that someone has died.  The colorful, plastic flowers and hanging cloth butterflies pop like fireworks in the dark, dark eve below the forest canopy that is below the greater canopy of summer clouds touching the mountain at timberline.  A worn bench sits next to the flowers and the fantastic power of nature is nowhere more clearly present than at these high points where her patient hand grinds the peaks to flat one grain at a time.  The wide, mountain valley that opens up below tells that tale, the unhurried river is always a skillful and slow surgeon cutting in painless increments imperceptible to the mountain as it is to the people that call it home.  The order of her work somehow only obvious at a distance, the cuts of the valley, the oxbow run straight leaving the elbow of the flow aside, nothing but stagnant water until it also fills in.  These are the places where the concept of winning and losing are a foreign language, everything in it's own way part of a greater.  The rocks wear smooth quietly in the stream in which I have rolled up my pants to fish and the mosquitos remind me in their tiny sorties that the big battles are nothing but a sum of smaller motions.

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