Dormaier’s Hill and the Enchantments

Dormaier’s Hill and the Enchantments

March 14, 2008

Last night at the end of a long week that began with a back injury and ended with a headache, with Dead Week grading sandwiched in between, I began to draw shapes only to stop thinking, to bypass the persistent inanities of the day and to live for a frew minutes before sleep in the world of my Mysterious Night Vision Field Journal.

I drew a hill, and I knew it was Dormaier’s Hill, which I climbed and ran upon so often when I was a child. I began to add the colors of balsamroot sunflowers, lupine, the blue bells of mertensia, the energy shock purple blue of larkspur. I remembered my sturdy young legs, how they carried me uphill, how I tried to imitate the deer when I ran down, springing legs together, knees bent, from hummock to hummock. I could feel again the sensation of air beneath my feet, the touching down and springing up, arms outstretched like a newly unfurled butterfly, completely coordinated, athletic, accomplished and free.

When spring comes to that country, whole hillsides tilted to the south are buttered yellow with sunflowers. West-facing slopes run rivers of lupine blue, and it is in the secret hollows and hidden springs of the east and north where I would find the glowing violet wands of larkspur.

From every quadrant, the Western Meadowlark liquefied the air with its fluid multi-note call.

Later that night, I drew in the distant range of the Enchantments, which are not technically so visible from there, but in memory all obstacles are removed, and what is far becomes near. I have been to those remote, bright tarns. The water there melts out of the snowfields under the thin spring sun. It runs through dark moss and through tangled red roots. The current of its falling polishes granite to the white luster of a whale’s earbone—and I have drunk that water; it runs in the deepest chambers of my heart and clarifies my memory tonight.

I Googled Ralph and Rosalie Dormaier; he died February 17, 1993 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, East Wenatchee, Douglas Co., Washington, and Rosalie followed him two years later to the week, on February 12, 1995.

2 thoughts on “Dormaier’s Hill and the Enchantments”

  1. Dormaier’s Hill. Oh this is so amazing. I was thinking of it so strongly, just this last weekend, probably as you were posting. I recall deer jumping the 7′ deer fence. I remember thinking, what a total waste – this is deer country. I remember running down this hill at breakneck speed, jumping over 5′ sagebrush as I plummeted down, first one then the next. The memory of running and jumping is so hardwired into my body that my most lucid dreams are almost always about this hill- running, airborne for a moment, lightly down and back up again.

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