You are here: Home » Reports by Year and Month » 2011 » August » ERTHAWARE Report #204 “Enlightenment within the Clouds”
Aug 012011

Dear ERTHAWARE Adventurers,

To celebrate the end of July we drove into the high hills to check the fingerprints of summer.

I overheard impatient grumblers at the “Scenic Lookout” cursing clouds that violated the cloudless postcards on display for a dollar — all is hidden. “Let’s move on!”

Such transient gawkers want instant full nudity, or a servile god with clear edges in graphic packaging; these are conditioned chasers of Debordian spectacles to fill on demand their vacuous days with faddish colors.

But they know not the numinous travail of veiled hiddenness, the reveal through waiting, the longing pain of the groin, the tantric consummation through tender patience, the unifying ecstasy of perfect imperfection as One.

My postcards are awash with the algorithms of chaos, a strike against the starched finalities of dogmatic piety, the utopianism of progress without risk or loss, the search-ending “new improved” product that removes all questions without effort.

But in reality’s seething disorder “without form and void” and flooded primal darkness, there is the quantum birth potential of all that is — a cosmic singularity, a blinding light, a pregnant word, a creating presence in the clouds of unknowing;

and a living flame of Love, however faint, tugging at my soul that embraces me as I tarry in the swirling clouds.

(I sat and waited almost an hour for the above picture. The interplay of cloud and ridges was like the featured performers changing leads in a jazz jam-session where the basic tune was not obvious, but definitely there.)

*            *            *            *

Last week our 4-some ERTHAWARE photography team went for a day up a favorite gravel road into the Olympic Mountains. At 5000 feet (1524 meters) we were stopped by deep snow. We thought of all our ERTHAWARE Report recipients in the rest of North America who have been sweltering under record heat-waves. In a city close to where I was born in New Jersey the shade temperature hit a record 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 Celsius), and figuring in the high humidity, the effective temperature was over 120 f (50 c).

To celebrate the end of July I took this self-portrait next to a 15 foot (4.6 m) snow bank. On this dry rain-shadow side of the Olympic Mountains, 44’ feet (13.4 m) of snow was recorded this past winter – ample enough, but 32’ short of the 1998-99 record. No one has yet put out figures of how much snow fell in the high country on the rainy side. The only alpine recording station is the University of Washington Glaciology Hut on Mount Olympus. I’m not sure they keep it staffed now. But it is not unusual for that wild place to get 3 or 4 times the amount of snow as recorded here.

Contrary to 90% of North America that is setting heat records, this has been the coolest Spring in the Northwest since record keeping began in  Seattle 115 years ago — thus the very slow melt-off of the Winter snows. But for us this is great wealth. It reminds me that fresh water is an almost taken for granted life-sustaining resource. And this snow bank is an incredibly valuable natural reservoir of fresh water for our region.

Off all the Earth’s water, only 2.75% is fresh water. Most of this fresh water (2%) is locked up in polar ice-sheets and high mountain glaciers that are now melting more rapidly and flowing into the salt water seas as the average temperature has increased rather dramatically in those regions during the last 40 years. Much of the the rest of the fresh water is in underground aquifers. Only about .011% of our planet’s water is in fresh water surface lakes, rivers and streams. This very limited fresh water supply keeps us all alive. And on a planet of 7 billion people (when my dad was born in the early 20th century there was only 1.6 billion) with increasing demands for personal use, agriculture to feed the growing population, and expanding industry, we need to think strategically about this invaluable life-preserving treasure of our global planet.

Beyond the self-centered complaints about a cold and cloudy Spring, I cherish and seek to celebrate this treasure that can uphold and sustain Life. Because of it, we are alive. That’s clear.

Stay cool!

On the journey,

Hugs from Lynn and me

The L.E.A.R.N. Group (non-profit)
2204 Chestnut St., Port Townsend, WA. 98368 USA

With humble thanks to the voluntary donors who encourage this project. Others are welcome to join.


Hello. Welcome to the Blog version of Erthaware Report. I have been photographing nature for over 40 years and writing about it for almost that long as well. I hope you like the content of this site and come back often!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.