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04 September, 2012

Wings Over Cascadia

This past May, not that long after the snow had left, I arrived in a Cascadian meadow. Too early for camas and yampah, ground still pretty squishy, so I was jumping the gun relative to the traditional calendar that has drawn people up here since forever ago. But, this was when the opportunity arose, and I took it.

Likewise for the sandhill crane pictured here. What I've heard is that one or two show up at this meadow in any given year, but no breeding occurs. More likely, in the midst of migratory flight, it looks down upon this island of grass in vast forest, and swoops in for a closer look, a rest, a meal. The meadow is welcoming enough that it may stay the season, stop the flying and settle in on ground thinly peopled, a nature preserve in fact. Ironically, this meadow is the handiwork of millenia of human handiwork, a home occupied each summer while people dug roots, raced horses, traded, and did whatever else, including at some point setting fires that maintained this non-forested Cascadian oasis.

May may be early for the human foods (that I know of), and full flower is still a month away, but for the other creatures life is in full swing. Foliage and flowers have the small flyers flitting from plant to plant. This swallowtail may not be rare, and it takes no talent or acuity to find one, but I still feel fortunate to have seen so many of these fluttering paintings.

Some are more subtle, and the closer you look, the more you see. This moth appeared to be a caterpillar-pillaged leaf when I first saw it. Eventually, it grew uncomfortable with my gaze and took off on tattered wings while I stood, nearly stuck in the muck. 

That day, I meandered a mile or two. Not exactly trudging, but not flying either. The clouds of tiny insects, flocks of birds, and solo flyers all took their travels into a third dimension. This little plain of grass surrounded by mountains opened up a patch of sky so they could fly free under a warming sun while in the dank woods beetles crawl.


  1. The photos here remind me what a great eye you have. Really wonderful, Mo.

  2. Thanks. The world is wonderful...sometimes I just have a camera handy.