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Monday, July 28, 2014

Children and Wild Water

"The child, making use of all that he finds around him, 
shapes himself for the future."
Maria Montessori

I led seven of Chickadee's older children and two mothers on a Columbia Gorge adventure on Friday.   It was splendid - Latourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Oneonta Gorge - an outing I have done every summer for many years now. Each time it feels like a miracle.

And then I left for a week-end writing workshop on "Earth Verse" with Kim Stafford at the Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology, a birthday gift from my daughter Eloika.   I felt utterly humbled sitting in that group, and yet words flowed onto my paper. And sure enough, my heart, imagination, and writings were full of children, water, rocks, and light.

So here today I have gathered some few photos from Friday, and two of my rough verses, written for myself, and now apparently for you, shared in the innocent spirit of the children who inform my life.

Latourell Falls

We began with Latourell Falls, the western-most falls in the Gorge.  First we walked down the trail, getting up close and personal with the plunging falls and the rushing water.  The kids scrambled over rocks at the edge of the creek until the spray was blasting us and I said, go no further. Then we hiked up the curving trail which climbs above the top of the falls.

With Children at a Waterfall

Slip inside the water, I tell them.
Let your eyes follow it as it falls.
When it hits the pool, stay with it.
Become spray.
Bring mist to the hillside, glistening yellow flowers.
Flow and tumble over rocks.
Move, swirl, dance, down, down.

Within water lies the great mystery.
Never created.
Never dying.
Lying hidden.
Flowing open.
Free of clinging.
Connecting us all.
Slip inside the water and be free.

Oneonta Gorge

We stopped at Wahkeena Falls for a comfortable picnic lunch, but could not give this cascading falls the time it deserves as a wonder of its own. We needed to move on to Oneonta Gorge, a side chasm that opens into the larger Columbia Gorge. (For those who know Oneonta, I don't climb the logjam with these kids, leaving that challenging adventure for children with their parents.) We stayed in the lower part of Oneonta Creek, still running wide, clear, and cold in late July, with towering green walls on either side, an utterly pure adventure and experience for these young children.


Rocks sing under over.
Water moves ever on.
Secret voices speak story.
Loud voices call delight.
Trout swim silent witness.
Salamander snaps moving food.
Sun tracks eastern cliff.
Shadows cloak western wall.
Where is time held?
Gorge follows different master.

Kim Stafford used some lines from a Leonard Cohen poem to set the tone for our workshop.   They rose up in my mind, ringing loud, as I finished this blog post.

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There's a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.