Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's older than I thought

Friday - November 2
The leaves are off of the cottonwoods - spindly bushy trees at this time.  It is surprising how much the view increases and how short the distances actually are, the openness inviting shortcuts.  Cloudy skies in town slowed my start, tamping down my early morning routine, extending my coffee and breakfast.  I saw six swans on wing and two eagles as I approached the farm where it is sunny and calm.  Dressed as I am for the forest, dressed in common sense and respect, it is shirtsleeve weather as I head for my first appointment at the squatter's cabin.

A shadow passes through my eye...a large bird, a not infrequent occurrence, and I look up to spot a mature eagle flying down river to perch in a nearby tree.  It is a completely normal and usual happening when I get to this point on the road.

When I reach the fork where I turn uphill, bird calls delay the turn.  I drop my field pack and continue toward the north field in hope of seeing what is calling.  I spot two young eagles on a high branch in the tall alder that is a landmark on my maps.  The tree overlooks the fields and a bend in the river.  A third eagle comes in and lands lower down.  Then a fourth joins the first two.  Then a fifth larger and more mature eagle, possibly concerned with my presence, flies past heading upriver.  The landmark tree now has a name.  I return to the fork in the road and two more eagles are calling unseen from up the hill in the direction that I must go.

Vanguard Satellite Fired - Successful Coup in Burma

I work on my list of missing data for the cabin - roof details, interior elevations - shelves, nails etc., and the locations of some debris.  When I think that I have gotten most of the stuff, I carefully begin to look under things for clues about the builder.  There is a wad of newspaper stuffed in a knothole on the "boulder" wall (one side of the cabin faces a cabin-sized boulder).  I carefully ease it out and take it out in the light where I can gently unfold it.  It is from the Seattle Daily Times for September 26, 1958.  The year lines up the date penciled on the wall, 6/14/1958.  This also explains the lack of plywood in the construction (there is one small strip of plywood near the door where a repair would have been likely) and the high quality fir studs and 1x10 shiplap that seemed a bit out of place for a 1970 build date.  It also dovetails with the razor blade box that I found, which would've been hard to find in a drugstore by 1970.

If the cabin is an artist shack, it is not a Fishtown derivative, but instead, a generation earlier.  There was a well-known art movement working in the Stilliguamish, Sauk and Skagit valleys at that time as well as several famous writers that were going into the Cascade forests to write in seclusion.  I would expect the builder would be at least 70 years-old.

This is about all the discovery I can stand for a day.  So, I pack up and head down to the cedar forest where I take a series of portraits with the forest women.

Mother and son

Before ending the day, I walk the lower farm.  Of note, the colored rock installation is no where to be seen on the lower beach.  Unfortunately, I did not get around to plotting its location.  It is either just under the high water or the river has washed enough fresh gravel (the river has been higher than it is today) onto it to make it disappear.

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