Bend has its slogans: Living at its best or My life is your vacation. Still, these slogans are only cool if you’re actually fulfilling them. Sometimes, I forget to get out into the wild places in my own backyard.

The broad strokes of the landscape are formed by volcanic activity, but the finishing touches are made by fire.

Ghosts of trees that did not survive fire jut from the forest floor with white sepulcher arms.

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The woodpeckers are the grave robbers, making their living from the dead. And they are as unabashed and boisterous about it as Jerry in Tale of Two Cities. 

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In our Cascade mountains, the Ponderosa pines tower over the dry needle beds. You can tell a Ponderosa by the club-like arrangement of the spindles. These Ponderosas surrounding the evergreen tree are just saplings.

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The forest floor delivers sweet surprises if you stop to look.

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Listen. A yellow-rumped warbler trills its cascading call and another answers. It has a spiritual essence as if the trees themselves are singing to one another.

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Then, the moment is broken with the rattling and scolding of a squirrel.

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There is no silence here. The wind moving through the upper echelons of the forest make a constant roar and the river rushes with its watery hum.

In the wash of green in a forest, color lurks on the ground. Tiny wildflowers bloom their quiet praise waiting patiently for love to find them in the form of a butterfly or bee.IMG_0477

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The Cascade mountain range is one of the most unique ranges I have encountered. The highest  volcanoes of the Cascades dominate their surroundings and so they have a specific name and, often, a legend.

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I love the legends. I feel we must once again animate our forests with poetry before the scientists crush the wonder from us. We sink beneath facts, numbers, and findings. I want to feel the stories again.

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There was a time when our forests and stars held stories and mysteries because we had a relationship with them.

If we remain behind our walls of distraction and feed upon the facts fed to us through our devices, what will become of our stories? What will become of us?

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