“Good evening ladies and gentlemen! And welcome to the first annual Umatilla backwoods talent show. We have a lot of talented young performers on the schedule with an array of performances for you tonight. We hope you enjoy! So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!”
We logged out about 4 miles of perhaps the steepest trail known to man, woman, or beast, during perhaps the hottest days of the year; we sincerely loved every minute of it. Our final and shortest hitch gave us time to finish up a last bit of log-out on the Corral Creek trail loop and allowed us to finally get around to many of the things we had talked about doing all summer.
These plans included watching the Perseid meteor shower while laying in the middle of a field on our sleeping pads, fry night, which consisted of everything from backwoods deep fried veggie corn dogs to bread battered deep fried bacon, recording our soon to be number one hit single on Shawn’s macbook and finally, a talent show, with a surprise guest appearance from our Forest Service contact, Janel Lacey.
Like all of our hitches, it was a lot of work, but even more fun. With the impending knowledge that we would soon be parting and going our separate ways, there seemed to be an extra charge of energy among the crew as we hastened to spend a few more days together and get the most out of them that we possibly could.
A talent show performance from Brock gave us a perfect summary of our summer together:
“A cool breeze edged with a slight nip tells that fall has already begun and that summer has already given its farewell. A distinctive smell in the air delivers the same message. A golden leaf with a touch of red ﬂaps in the breeze, giving its all to hold onto its quivering twig. With a strong gust and a silent snap, the leaf is set free from its solitary bondage. With barrel rolls and somersaults, it travels carelessly in its unknown journey. As the gust dies down the leaf descends back towards the green grassy civilization, its motion erratic. A noisy grasshopper cruises by almost mockingly in its drunken ﬂight. The leaf sways back and forth in the calm and lands gracefully on the crunch of the forest ﬂoor. The sun’s rays penetrate the haze and the forest becomes alive. A small army of ants march over the leaf carrying the wings of a disassembled butterﬂy whose life has since passed. The individual scales of the wings resemble reﬂectors, as the blue, orange, and yellow colors burn violently in the sun. Angels of the insect world. A current reappears to encourage the leaf’s journey. After minutes of ﬂoating through the kaleidoscope of colors, and observing others that resemble itself, the Earth seems to drop away.
Like a cartoon, everything shrinks down to toy-sized proportions. The leaf feels alone for the first time, sharing space with only the whispering wind. What were towering pines moments before are now just small pinecones in the distance. The breeze takes the leaf away from the canyon wall and it starts settling towards the river valley below. Recognizable objects appear as the surrounding environment grows back to familiar proportions.
A freight train chugs up an incline towards the leaf. Steam releases through the whistle and the leaf shakes in the vibrations, from its thick stem up into its thinnest veins. Their routes stay in line and the path of the leaf intersects that of the train’s smokestack. The thick, black smoke engulfs the leaf. The heat causes the fringes of the leaf to curve downward, and acting like a sail, launches the leaf back skyward. On its journey it gives and takes away. The leaf deposits part of itself on others and picks up new things that it adopts as itself. Twigs tear small pieces away from the leaf. A fuzzy dandelion top clings to the leaf and they travel as one. High in the atmosphere the Earth looks small. Now separated, the SCA crew are making their own realities and dimensions. The threads that connect them still remain, for they cannot be removed. The interactions they had together caused each member to become a thread in each other’s personal being. In the future, their realities may all align again, if only for a moment. The leaf descends again, continually shifting, changing, morphing. The leaf is hit by the bushy tail of a squirrel, chasing another as it chirps. The leaf suddenly shifts in its path and the Earth is rotated on its axis. Landing in powdery sand, the leaf throws up a mushroom cloud of dust. The dust bellows upwards and rolls inward on itself, leaving a void area around the leaf that resembles a moat. The leaf takes off again and travels anywhere the wind blows.
Though the leaf is no longer in sight, a perfect replica now lays etched in the sand.”