J and I arrive a bit after nine on a day of expected showers with some wind, but the temperature will be typical for spring...not a bad day to be caught in a shower.
The cottonwoods are beginning to leaf out, the grasses are just a step ahead and all the shrubs just a bit more so. Once again, Smoke Farm is intensifying the greenness of it all. In winter, it was the forest with its cedars and firs that kept that color, which can be almost overwhelming here in the Northwest. But with spring, everywhere, everyplace will take that tone.
But, as strong as that single color can be, today it is the smells that we comment to each other about. There is the most wonderful scent drifting through the cottonwoods as we walk towards the river. It is a complex mix that we don't recognize in its additive combination. There is citrus and cinnamon and mint and pepper. We sample different plants as we walk, finding a hint on this shrub, and a hint on that tree, but never finding any one of the culprits to be the majority. On past trips, it has been the view, or the sounds of running water, or the sight of salmon or birds. But, today it is the sense that is most difficult to describe. It is the sense that must be experienced.
We check out the beaver activity at the creek, where beaver are doing what beaver do, cutting trees and eating bark, and leaving the leftovers as a sign of their mostly nocturnal work. The creek is running good and full, and the restoration is coming along.
Walking up the river, we find that the guy across the river is building three cabins in the most insane of locations. Neither J or I can figure the thinking that must have gone into (or not gone into) the location. He is right at the edge of the gravel bar, not more than 6 or 7 feet or so above the current water level. He is not building in a 100 year flood plain, he is building in a once a year flood plain. I comment how it should only be a couple of years until the cabin floats off down the river like Huck Finn's raft. It makes no sense...none at all.
I take J up to the squatter's cabin, which he finds fairly fascinating...as everyone does. The floor has been pushed up more since I was here last. The gradual slide of the hill with gravity and the wet of winter and spring are pressuring the cabin more and faster than I would've expected. I am glad that I have documented it carefully. It begins to rain in earnest while we are there and once we leave the cabin, only the cedars provide shelter for us.
We finish our trip by working our way in a circuit out through the lower beach. I point out the pear trees and 3 maples that stand close to where the Baker homestead was.
All through that rain, we could still smell the citrus-pepper-mint-cinnamon of the spring forest.