26th February, 2021
Heading out on State Highway 75S, there is an old, weathered sign; it sits on the side of the road, thrust in the heart of the Sawtooth Wilderness. After stopping the car, I get out and look across the meadow wondering if I can see the river’s source—a streamlet or brook. I hear burbling amongst the artemisia tridentata. What about this ‘thing’ I just don’t understand? What’s it like being where you are sitting without explanations. This may be a time to check out our staying power.
When we inquire, we might find that the question is made for us. What if all of this is part of the journey. Where you are right now, can you sense yourself being breathed and feeling your feet on the earth. There’s a part of you, that knows how to be at ease, here, hearing the sounds that make this place. All of this is yours. The watershed meanders into tiny rivulets combining to form the River of No Return. Stream beds hold minerals and nutrients from the ocean brought by salmon. From their fragile life everything is connected to the meadow. The creatures that eat the fish, deposit the nutrients in the forests and a cascade of Douglas fir, big sage brush, walleye, and pronghorn deer emerge out of what Hinton calls the ‘single generative existence tissue,’ the Tao. Here the meadow explains nothing and further north the river dances a solo through the ‘wild’ of mountains, meadows, and rivers.
Before leaving to head south through the White Cloud Mountains, I turn round and round. There is a feeling of belonging, a tenderness when I’m here in mountain landscape. Every place has a sound and within the silence, ‘absence.’ As I’m leaving, I let in what I don’t know, don’t need to know, and hear the headwaters whisper through me, ‘here she calls her name, Salmon River.’