attack of the juicy salmonberries

Last night I finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  It wasn’t on my list of things to read but Adam was at such an impasse last week for a book to move onto and being that I hoped he’d tackle something with import, he was intrigued when I explained to him The Road might be a little disturbing, he couldn’t help himself. What this has to do with me is that after several days I regretted him starting The Road, it seemed like a poor choice for a twelve year old during a worldwide pandemic and Donald Trump presidency but he was a quarter of the way with no turning back and when he was done I decided I should go right after him so we could process the story together.
June 2020 - Reflection Run 42-2

Before The Road he read Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, the book which I’ve always believed to have singlehandedly set in motion during my grade school years, that wanderlust and longing to see someplace new which ultimately led to moving across North America to the Pacific Northwest.

Speaking of wanderlust, on Saturday, for the first time in three months we ventured beyond the city limits. The boys’ mother took just her second or third day off from working, in that same span of time.  We got up to our favorite easy place to reach in the mountains that are real mountains, the rugged kind of place that gives one the shivers on a stormy day.  It was a good day to be up there, because fewer people. Fewer people because it got stormy later. Everything was preternaturally green, the trail was brushy with vanilla leaf and ferns, it reminded me of how bare and brown it was the last time we went walking in the mountains. We had a very late lunch by the river. The boys went downstream to play but after a spell they came back through the brush, pulled off a sneak attack, pelting (just) me with juicy salmonberries. They’ve been putting up with me all these months at home. It was almost meditative, the sound of the river and the salmonberries: Plunk. Plunk. Smoosh. Plunk.

I took my camera with me hoping to shoot some scenes for black and white but it was terribly gloomy, we were walloped by a dark wall of rain on the return walk. Each of us had sopping wet feet. Oliver Fern loves mud and he was……muddy, too.  I’ll try to share the picture I took when I was getting lashed by the storm, I loved the way it was going to look (in my mind) but it was too gray (which is what we live with here for nine months out of the year, or so it seems like sometimes) there was no contrast whatsoever and my family had deserted me as I stood like a maniac on the upturned roots of an enormous, fallen Doug fir. You could say I was a poor imitation of John Muir. Balanced precariously on the top edge of the enormous, spiky root ball, it wasn’t until I looked down that I more fully noticed winter had washed most of the soil and gravel out of the roots, it was mostly clay. Getting down is always harder than going up. When we got home I spent what seemed like an eternity ringing out our wet gear, hanging it in the bathroom to dry.

June 2020 - Reflection Run 56

Part of the alley behind Beth’s Cafe is painted a bright blue like the Dalmatian Coast. Our house is blue, I used to drive a blue Toyota truck with a head gasket problem, my raincoat is blue and so are my eyes. Currently I don’t own any bluejeans, only black jeans which are all worn gray and threadbare but I do have a pair of blue sneakers.

4 thoughts on “attack of the juicy salmonberries

  1. I read Travels with Charley years ago, and wish Steinbeck had spent more time in NY, it was just Niagara Falls as I remember, I’d have liked to get his impressions of someplace I know. Sorry to say I haven’t read The Road, but I remember the movie vividly, if you can use that term for such a dark and darker story, definitely a little disturbing, although it was a well-made movie. Not the usual buddy-roadtrip movie.
    Did you edit this after posting it? Removed something about tired eyes. Which I do frequently, post-posting edits, so glad I’m not the only one.

  2. I love this post, and I’m not sure where to start with the comment. It was The Road that grabbed my click…I mean, I was going to click anyway, but my brain said The Road! before I clicked. Tough read in any circumstances. I can see why you paid extra attention during the pandemic. I’m glad you jumped into it right after. There aren’t going to be any little Hoppers, but if there were, I’d like to think that’s the route I would have gone. It’s a very dark, frightening book, but there’s a lot of hope in it, too.

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