It’s hot. Is there a word for hotter-than-hot? It’s so hot the first few weeks in Entiat that my sweat has a sheen of sweat on it and all I’m doing is cowering in front of the living room air conditioning unit that looks something like R2-D2 and a mail drop box. The other two rangers I live and work with have found a dusty TV and VCR player and we spend glorious hours consuming some serious cinematography (Forrest Gump, Blazing Saddles, and The Princess Bride) while waiting out the heat of the day. Once the temperature outside drops below 100 degrees – six o’clock or so – I hike up the dirt road past our house to my favorite local spot: the Steliko look out tower, standing dormant and shuttered against a nearly constant barrage of wind. From the look out you see this: a tiny town below, blue sky above, the pale gold dry grasses whispering in the breeze, a rattlesnake coiled in the dust, balding hills in every direction. What you see is the high desert, the harsh seasonal reality of these matchstick mountains.
Life here is full of contrasts. We work in the woods and spend days off in town. Sweltering days turn into night shivers. Our trail maintenance and ranger patrols take us to places where the dust turns to duff, dry hillsides morph into vibrant meadows festooned with bright summer flowers. Streams babble. There are larches and lakes and bare granite passes.
Today sweat is streaming down my face as my folding hand saw sings through a log as wide in diameter as the blade is long. No, wait. I’m singing “9 to 5” with a Dolly Parton no one else can hear, except I can’t remember most of the lyrics so it sounds more like
Workin’ 9 to 5
what a way to make a livin’
nuh-nuh nuuh nuh nuh
nuh-nuh nuuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh
…it’s enough to drive you
crazy if you let it!
Today my mind is quiet. Today I feel alive. Is there a word for more-alive-than-alive? I think about this as I finish cutting my fourteenth log this morning. I also think about corn nuts because I’m hungry and I really, really love corn nuts. This is where I belong, I decide, and my body hums with an electric anticipation of the hundred tomorrows that will be like today.
[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaERHs8Q93E[/youtube]