Landscape, Time, and Exploration

By Forrest Smith -

It may have been pouring rain, but the itch to explore the folds and crimps in the Pacific Northwest Landscape is still strong. I drove from my parents’ place in Packwood, WA back to Tacoma this afternoon, after a layer of snow coated everything a few hundred feet above the misty valley bottom.

The snow seems to make the valleys and ridges more visible. A green hill of un-flocked trees rises in front of the next ridge over, which is caked in white. Between the ridges are small valleys, with creeks overflowing with winter precipitation. Who know’s what’s in that valley? There could be large waterfalls, beautiful pools, interesting rock formations, perhaps even snowy meadows a little higher up. Each valley holds secrets that I’ll never discover.

I think often about the contrasts between the Pacific Northwest, where I grew up, and Southern California, where I currently reside. If you don’t think about it, a square mile of a piece of land contains the same amount of land as any other square mile. Of course if you think about it, depending on the vertical relief, valleys, and ridges, some square miles have far more land area. More land to explore, more things to discover. Compound that in the Northwest with a thick cover of evergreens that conceal the landscape beneath. It is a land that wants to you explore it.

I guess this is a bit of a lovefest for the Pacific Northwest. We left in part to escape the dark, wet days of winter, but the landscape still exerts its pull. More and more, we’re thinking that the warm winters of San Diego is where we want to be, but there is definitely a part of me that wonders if I’ll regret that decision to not fully commit myself to the landscape where I grew up.