Last Sunday we climbed above treeline and into the dusty blue of high mountain sunshine where the larches blazed orange gold and Cascade blueberries lit the hillsides in red fire. Just below Maple Pass, the mountains around us alive with light, another hiker let out a wild whoop, and the mountains echoed back his joy.
We need a language of place, I think, to speak the wonder of this landscape. A verb for the way the late autumn sun backlights turning leaves. Another for the blue fading of mountains, each line of peaks paler than the one before till they disappear into the sky. I want a word for the sudden temperature change when you walk from sunshine into shadow, and one for the pockets of cool air held in low, damp places. What is the word for stones sunk into frost heaved ground, for the lacy trim of ice crystals along the edges of leaves, for the way bare branches rimmed in ice glitter in low sunlight?
In his beautiful, demanding book on the importance of landscape language, Robert Macfarlane writes, "by instrumentalizing nature, linguistically and operationally, we've largely stunned the earth out of wonder. Language is fundamental to the possibility of re-wonderment, for language does not just register experience, it produces it. The contours and colors of words are inseparable from the feelings we create in relation to situations, to others, and to places."
If we spoke the language of the mountains and sound, would we name the daily wonder of this place? Would we see our landscape more clearly, love it more deeply, and protect it more fiercely in a changing world?
TODAY AT MARKET
Red & White
Oat & Honey
Mountain Rye + Vollkornbrot
Chocolate Malt Chocolate Chip Cookie
Bittersweet Chocolate Cookie
Brown Butter + Nibby Buckwheat Shortbread
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Buckwheat & Honey
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