In a Dry Place


We drive over Snoqualmie Pass,

then we motor down,

and down,

and down

to the wider view,

on the other side of the mountains.

The dry side.

We’re headed to Umtanum Creek Recreation Area,

a shrub-steppe habitat of dry hills, sage, and rattlesnakes.

Bighorn sheep are said to roam the craggy tops;

in the creek’s deep crease

willows flourish,

butterflies lilt,

and wildflowers cycle through bloom, seed, dormancy, and bloom again…

Umtanum Creek’s clear water feeds the wide Yakima River,

which in turn feeds the Columbia River,

which empties into the Pacific.

Today the water is cold but the sun is hot –

perfect for a raft trip down the Yakima.

But we’re interested in a dry place, so

we head across Yakima river

on a bridge

of creaky wood

and swaying steel.

The creek’s final course flows quietly

under a cool, shady thicket. We could follow it –


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