Thursday, October 14, 2010

Washington - The Rain Forest

The rain forest surprised me. It wasn't chilly, even though it was cool; perhaps the humidity served as a blanket. The towering complexity wasn't too overwhelming, because my camera helped me to isolate and literally focus on various particulars.

My favorite plants were the exotic fungi, because they stood out from the multitude of mostly green colors.

They say there are several thousand plant species in there, and I imagined it would be a trial to take a day hike through all that jumble and jungle of green sameness. Instead, it was strangely invigorating. Is there more oxygen than average in a rain forest, what with all those plants exhaling? It was as exciting as the beach.

We had the slightest drizzle as we entered, but not enough to warrant covering my head. Even that amount of moisture waned and my hair didn't get wet -- only pleasantly fluffy, a welcome relief from the usual flat.

Autumn was beginning to give some color accents, especially in the form of the big leaf maples that arch throughout the canopy and drop their leaves over everything.




Hoh....the very name of this forest is like a mother's calming hush, or a version of the meditative Ohm. I got to thinking of the shape of the letters themselves as the circumference of a Sitka Spruce trunk with branches on the sides. It seems that just the word has endless possibilities, but in any case Hoh seems to be the only name possible for this place, so quiet and deep. The Hoh River runs through it.








Wherever a stump stands, several plants will use it for a seedbed, so that a conifer, a fern and a deciduous tree will often make a bouquet on the stump. But a log lying horizontal becomes a pasture of low and thick lichens and moss.

















These gray leaf lichens were lying all around, as well as growing on trees.










The brightest fungus I saw might have been this yellow one.


This area of the world boasts the tallest (Sitka) spruce tree and the tallest (Red) cedar tree in the world. I couldn't guess what most of the evergreens were, their lowest branches were so high up, and everything blanketed with spongy green lace. But I think this one is a Douglas-fir (it's written like that because it's not a true fir.)

 Leafy lichens abound. I guess this is one?

I was surprised when B. said we should turn around and go back out. We'd been hiking two hours and it didn't seem to have been more than about 40 minutes. By that time I wasn't living in the moment, though. Time was flying because I had caught a whiff of the moist rain forest scents. Funny I didn't notice right away. But when I did, I couldn't just enjoy the mystery and deliciousness of these smells, but I had to start thinking about how I would describe them, if only to myself, so I could remember them.

I will probably never come back here! was my thought, and I will never smell this again. So why did I waste time thinking about it, I now wonder. Why not just drink of the thrilling sensory Now? And why were the disciples not content to just be in Christ's presence at His transfiguration?

They were trying to make provision for the future, and prolong the experience, as I was hoping to provide myself with some words to take with me. I couldn't hope to make the moment last, as we were walking fairly briskly by then, getting closer and closer to the outside where the opportunity would be gone.  I was lagging behind and noticing that the mix of wild aromas changed with the changing terrain, but they were always bewitching. Do people get addicted to smells? It could happen here.

 Time was running out, and it did run out, ten days ago now. I kept thinking about the words for several days, but as expected, there was no way to improve on whatever poor metaphors I came up with while my senses were being bombarded. 

The smell of the rain forest was something like eating a cookie fresh from the oven, a cookie made of fermented wild mushrooms and hazelnuts, with one's head in a bucket of vanilla ice cream.

This was a new smell for me, with no links to my grandmother or anything in my past. There was no way to focus on it the way a camera helps one to focus visually -- and no way to deliberately preserve it, though my mind has no doubt filed this input in a purer form than the silly image I worked so hard to invent. Perhaps elements of that exotic forest atmosphere exist elsewhere, and if so, they might someday come to me on a moist breeze and I'll be taken back to the Hoh.

4 comments:

Jeannette said...

I read a line in a book today that your post made me want to go back and find again..."Language makes a mighty loose net with which to go fishing for simple facts, when facts are infinite. ...I have tried to create a world of words...not imitation but evocation has been the goal." ( from Desert Solitaire by E. Abbey)

You have been evocative here..not only of place, but of the impact of a corner of creation on the inner being...makes unseens briefly seen in the reflections.

I haven't been much help on the mushies... fungus. But the white undersided shelf-like ones growing on the trunk of the trees are Conks,( they may be Artist's conks) "Ganoderma applanatum."
Still haven't figured out the Courtright ones we saw.

M.K. said...

Beautiful pictures. Perhaps someday technology will help us transmit aromas to each other as we now do pictures, words and sounds.

Your analogy with the disciples is perfect -- both they and we are wishing for the best thing: the new earth. There we will be with Jesus, and we will enjoy forever the pleasures of earth, perfected again. You can live in the Hoh!

Sarah said...

Thank-you for sharing about your experience in this forest. You convey your sensory and meaningful experience in a rich and beautiful way that makes me feel like I was there too.

thegeekywife said...

delightful travelogue! :)