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Posts Tagged ‘Shilshole’

I walk through the gloaming, the sky above me reddening toward night, through shade made deeper by dark, shaggy cedars and pale clad lindens shaking in the gentle breeze. It is a new place for me, but it is an ancient place, a storied place that still bears its ancient name:

Leyktud

Red Paint

The water of the spring seeps up from the ground, the source now collared by a ring of stone. Within the ring, the water is clear, but beneath the surface the stones are clad in the ochre velvet of accreted minerals. As the water gathers and flows quietly out the carved channel, the minerals oxidize, rusting, and paint the ground with a spill of red clay. The alluvial mud is slick to the touch, watery. For millennia, the People of the Inside and the People of the Large Lake came here to collect the wet, red earth, mix it with tallow, and make a bright, orange-red paint suitable for ceremonies and markings.

The springwater trickles down the slope to join the creek that used to run down to Green Lake but which now, sadly, has been capped and diverted to a less salubrious destination. But for a short distance, as I walk the paths beneath the trees, it is still wild (in its gentle way) and free.

I imagine it how it was, not so long ago, before the arrival of the Bostons (as the European-bred settlers were known). I can see thick-boled conifers, dark cathedral columns rising from the earth’s heart to hold up the red, sunset sky. Salal leaves, rough and leathery, grab at my shins, urging me to partake of their sweet, blue fruit. The breeze, wending its way past branch and fern, might taste of woodsmoke from a nearby camp. Frogs chorus in such numbers that, were I with a companion, we would not be able to hear each other speak.

But we would not speak, for this is a place where words are unnecessary, where the thoughts of men are unneeded, and where our hand only diminishes what already is. As the sun sets and the birds of daylight sing their last, I know I have found an immortal place.

This is Licton Spring.

k

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