Triangle Lake, Midweek, Midsummer

Triangle Lake, Midweek, Midsummer
(for Peter, for all the paddles)

Some summer lakes,
if you go there,
if you do not postmark a card
or photograph
or sketch,
will slide away; no memory
but the faint
unstitching in the ear
where jet skis ripped the water’s belly open
like a four-stroke knife
gutting a rainbow trout.

Fumes of gasoline over any urban pond
may tremble in the back breeze of recall,
but here find Avery,
who was afraid of being towed on a blue rubber raft;
Keenzie, whose father threatened her with cold beer
until she jumped
from the dock;
Annabelle, the narrow black Lab you were told would jump,
didn’t, and licked your hand;
Simon, the wide black Lab who carried an open Coke bottle
on board his master’s fishing boat,
carefully, head up, Simon,
the Coke dog.

Fourteen years ago,
seven years ago,
last year, yesterday, today
we paddle to a far shore wild
with alarmist kingfishers flashing
blue white crested shadows
over open water.
Flat perch shadow dart beneath the lily pads—
we nose our yellow craft up
to the Ruined Dock of Our Former Love,
as we call it, recalling a bar
of melted chocolate and all the sweet
body parts it sweetened;
long swims with children now grown; night
watches for the beaver family—
quiet paddle back
flashlight in the bow.

One Thursday afternoon in June—
lamb chops and tabouli
red Nehalem wine—
we were close then
in our double camp chair,
elbows touching. 8:04 pm, 74°,
extravagant gold light on that far shore,
dark green smell of night water
rising from concentric circles
of silver running out
from the jet skier
towing the screaming children in the blue raft .
Avery, who was afraid,
watches from the dock
and cries.
Simon is gone;
Keenzie is gone;
Annabelle lifts one last leg
against the steel dumpster,
and Annabelle is gone.

We watch together
until ghost fingers of cold
creep down from the mountains
behind and warn us it’s time to leave.

–Sandy Jensen
June 2008

A Brief Vacation

The Sun Behind a Cloud Looked Like a Fried Egg
After our final grades were filed, Peter and I took “un breve vacatione,” as the Italian movie is called. On Friday, we had a picnic at Fern Ridge. We sat at a picnic table at water’s edge and looked out over the reeds to the distant hills as the wind-driven waves slapped in. The clouds scudded by and covered the sun until the bright disc of the sun shown through like a Polarized fried egg in the sky.

The Drowned Forest of Crane Prairie Rez, Cormorant Apartment Buildings, and Peter in His Pongo 120 Kayak

Saturday, we went to Cultus Lake and had a five hour, against the 12 mph hour wind paddle. We had planned on a picnic, but the mosquitoes near the shore kept us out on the breezy water. We had dinner safely inside the lodge restaurant and rented a cabin with a fireplace. At midnight, the smoke alarm woke us out of a “dead” sleep, telling us a back draft down the open chnimney had filled the room with dangerous levels of smoke.

All in all, we were happy the next day to move on to Crane Prairie Rez , which was mirror-calm and bird-rich. The herons gronked in and out of their heronry, cormorants looked out from their apartment buildings in the Drowned Forest with mild interest as we paddled by, and three bald eagles fought each other in the sky right over our head.

We picnicked on a point under a huge old Ponderosa Pine, and for some reason, there were no mosquitoes. We DID see a black and white spotted lizard and two green and white striped garter snakes and enormous breeder trouts in the crystal clear waters of Quinn Creek.

And the Wind Blew White Earth, Reluctant to Give Access to the Elusive White Opal

Our destination – the diatom pits, a mining operation near George, WA. Not far from the famed ampitheater and Cave B. However, visualize a dirt road to nowhere though endless sagebrush, generally headed for the basalt cliffs of the Columbia River far below. The DANGER, NO TRESPASSING, OPEN PITS signs start a half mile before the road curves into a few utterly featureless buildings. The buildings and the heavy equipment are shrouded with white. The open pits and tailings are endlessly white, towering over our parked cars. When we arrive the day is clear and sunny. Instantly, before we get out of our cars, the wind blasts down the powdery white road, covering us, our cars, and filling the Forester with fine white grit. The rock hounds suit up with white paper masks and jump out to search for common opal. The opal is mixed in with the diatoms somehow and they litter the tailings with chunks of rock larger than a brown bag full of groceries. We have special permission to take the opal – a form of recycling for the mining company.

The whiteness pervaded everything. The scene eerily like the initial scenes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I did not dare take my camera out of the case so I pulled out my black sketchbook to record the wild scene. The hounders had no trouble getting enough opal for the day and we left after only a half hour of digging. I was happy to see that there were conditions even too hard core for them. I was beginning to question their sanity.

We finished out our day at the Petrified Wood State Park at the Vantage Columbia River Bridge crossing. We ate our smoked turkey salads, dining comfortably on a picnic table with green grass and graceful trees to provide cool and shade. We were too dirty to enter the museum so we headed home. Driving west on I 90 the cloud formations looked like a fleet of circular flying saucers. I have never seen clouds like that before. Maybe the opal myths are true. Legend has it that there is something spooky about opals. Not just anyone gets to have them. We came away with our share but I think the opals had some resistance that day.

The Ancestors

The Animated World

May 31, 2008
Dream Journal: “Daddy Shows Us the House Where He Grew Up”

I am riding with Daddy and two of my sisters, Toren and Keesha, in the dry desert backcountry of Idaho. He drives on a dirt road deep into country and finally parks in a gravel pit.

“Where are we, Daddy?”

“I want to show the house where I grew up.”

The immediate area rose and fell in a rough series of dark sand hills or windrows—not like dunes but more like tailings from a mine. The tailings scattered back under pine trees where I could see old homesteads and shacks and people here and there.

A small stream of clear water ran through the trees and over the black sand gullies at our feet. Daddy and others bent to drink, but I was leery of drinking from any open running water that ran out of human habitation and mine tailings.

Daddy led us into the area, and we three girls explored happily. I could tell he was looking for something hidden in the depths of his childhood memory.

A line of three identical box houses appeared—company housing—and fell apart in a rapid time lapse.

As we clambered about, we came upon a rambling, old, wooden boarding house and entered, out footsteps echoing. People came and went dressed in country clothes.

An old woman came to greet us, and she seemed to know Daddy, but he didn’t know her.

“Are these your girls?” she asked kindly.

“Yes,” he said.

I jumped in and said, “I’m Sandy, this is Keesha, and Toren, and we have another sister and a brother at home.”

“Oh my,” she said, smiling at Daddy, “Such a lot of girls!”

But he was thinking, “Is this the place?
My Notes: I felt the old woman in the dream was a pioneer ancestor—Daddy’s great grandmother, as he didn’t recognize her, and this must have been the 1870’s or 80’s, and while I thought it was Idaho, I think it may have been on Grandma Petersen/Price’s side of the family in Longmont, Colorado.
How does this relate to this picture?

I began by drawing a deep spring with roots deep in the earth and a long flight of stairs underground that the women had to climb down to fill their pots with water. Then I drew the pot, and then the woman appeared holding the pot, looking out across the landscape. In the landscape she saw the animals.

I thought she was also a deep ancestral figure, prefiguring the dream ancestor by perhaps millennia.