...and weather is changeable, so I grabbed a chance to drive over the pass and visit my oldest brother yesterday. Three hours one way and splendid sunshine as soon as I got out of the valley smog. This is the country whereI grew up. The flash of blue you see between the trees is Suttle Lake. The large cinder cone is Black Butte. The dead trees are from a fire several years ago.
God made a lot of this beautiful country. So much so that he had to kind of crumple it up to get it all fitted in. There used to be a fire lookout on top of Black Butte that was accessible only by pack mule. The young man perched up there, alone all summer except for the weekly food delivery and the occasional intrepid hikers. But. oh dear Lord, what a view he had! I think the structure may still be intact, maintained, and available for rental if you want a really isolated getaway. Fire lookout was not a job for highly social people. You were paid to scan the terrain for smoke, not to chitchat and play cards with the visitors. The young men working the lookouts had to know where all the cabins and campsites were so they didn't mobilize the smoke-jumpers for every weekend vacation bonfire. There was another lookout near our cabin that was accessible by road, and every few weeks Dad would load us kids up in the back of the pickup, grab some of Mom's home cooking, and pay the young fellow a visit. Since all the heat was generated by a woodstove, and the lookout was responsible for cutting his own wood and hauling it up 6 or 8 stories to his lofty perch, as well as maintaining the building and the area, these hardworking,hungry, lonesome young men always made us and Mom's pies, fried chicken, and home-baked bread, quite welcome. The aerie was about the size of a big walk-in closet, glass walls all the way round, crammed with charts, maps, telescopes, radio equipment, and one spartan bed. What must it have been like, to be alone up there at night when a slam-bang thunderstorm rolled over you? What must it have been like on the many clear summer nights with frost forming on the windows and the MilkyWay filling the sky with light? And sometimes, spring and fall, clouds would roll in and the lookout would be enveloped in mist so thick you couldn't see the ground. We visited on a day like that once. It was like being inside a pearl.
That was the time we brought my brother's boxer dog. He was a very social fellow and happily followed us up the many flights of stairs, then walked around and around the outer balcony. Something about his gait made the whole place rock gently. Dad got a little green, and we never brought the dog along again.
It was so good to see my brother and his son. They have a small portable sawmill and are turning the salvageable logs on their property into lumber. I would love to have something made from lumber from the cabin, but I can't think what. It'll come to me, I'm sure. I had a wonderful visit, though all too short, then mounted up and headed back over the pass for home. It's probably going to snow this weekend, and I HATE to drive in snow, so it's good I grabbed the chance when I did. And oh, the memories that have stirred up!