It all began with a comment….
…from an unsuspecting Oregonian. The comment is the only way I can explain my long absence. Years ago my sister lived in Oregon and we used to kind of pick on Oregon a bit. We giggled about what the anchors on television looked like and found they looked so similar in Seattle. We laughed that people actually talked to you in the elevator. The transition was a bit mind blowing. One day we were talking about swimming at an eastern Washington lake when the Oregonian in the room said, “You have lakes where you used to live?” It was a sincere question. I piped up with “oh sure you can drive from Spokane (a town people usually know) for ten minutes in any direction and hit a lake.” They looked shocked and were surprised that Spokane had a river. Their image of Eastern Washington was nothing but sand and tumbleweeds. Me and my sister could not stop laughing. Could they possibly be serious? They were……
When I began this blog it was with one intention. To catalogue an area where the last real scientist came on the land in 1942. No lie.
I’ve got mountains filled with ripe huckleberries right now (which sell for forty dollars a pound) and databases that insist they do not exist. Hundreds of wildflowers – which scientific databases have never cataloged in my county. We aren’t the Rocky mountains (we are just part of their ecosystem) we aren’t the boreal forest (even though we share hundreds of their species) we aren’t the Washington scab-lands that get airplay on Nova and the films like ”Planet Earth” – we are the humble little mountain range in the middle of nowhere. Fundamentally this area is a place that no one ever sees. There is good news. One it does not draw the tourists that other areas do which can be a positive thing; for example check out the “lake o’ plastic bottles” drifting off the Florida keys. Maybe sometimes not being the perfect place to travel is a good thing. We are not having the real estate influx that Montana is experiencing. Things change here but very slowly and with the seasons. Well, almost everything is slow – but one thing is going fast. Our natural resources in this area are being sold off to the highest bidder at a speed that you would not believe.
My goal was not intended to create tourism. I could careless about people visiting (unless they really want too) instead I wanted to find answers and where I found them shocked me.
I found them here; E-Flora BC (that’s British Columbia) oh yeah, and on a website written by a man living deep in the Rocky Mountains, I found that in order to understand the species I was discovering on this mountain and in my backyard I had to read the web page of another man living in of all places California. And then… even more shocking New York – a man who I can almost draw one line across the map of the USA and we connect by points but he’s east and I’m west. If I attempted to look at sites in Washington all was lost – I found that this spot was a spot where all the ecosystems collide. The boreal forest, the montane forest and the scab lands of Washington ….. so I seemed to share some (if not all) species of with all of them. And how can that be? And why? This became the biggest unanswered question of them all.
This was not to justify my spot in the universe – I knew I had found my paradise for me. I could have chosen to live anywhere in the world (no lie) and chose this spot. Instead I suddenly got this crazy feel like I was like Lewis and Clark, investigating, looking and writing down all that they heard and saw so that one day some scientist can say, “hey there is a known photograph of the blanket flower in the little known eastern Washington Columbia mountain range.”
Before it was all gone. Because we are little known we do not (I repeat) do not have the same conservation laws as other well known mountain ranges. We were going to suffer I believe the same fate as the Appalachian mountain ranges. They will mine us, log us and destroy us before anyone even cared to look. That bothered me a lot… If any botanical scientist wants a good cause I believe that cause is here because again I mention the last real scientist that was here was here in 1942. How crazy is that?
I’ve watched the Bush administration sell off huge tracts of lands in an area that was deemed “roadless” by the Clinton administration. Millions of acres of this land is owned by a local logging operation – but they don’t log the land they buy. Nope. They log this federal forest because all it costs them is the money to make the road. They don’t clean up and I’ve watch mountain sides collapse as a result …. and they really are destroying this forest. The companies (like Boise Cascade) are “holding” the forest land they did buy for the day Congress wakes up and actually protects this area. Much of the forest is state owned and we are the first area that the Washington sells logging rights too. You’ll wander up these mountain roads to a completely logged off and horrific sight only to find you just wandered on state land. I think because if it happened in the Cascade range people would be screaming. But there is a quietness here – in the people and in the land.
So we just watch it all happen. Water dams where the power is sent to California because the businessman can get a better price and so, for electricity so we burn wood. In direct (no lie and literally) competition with China so I’ve watched our electric bills rise 130% every year in the last five years. Even when I live less then 31 miles away from the Grand Coulee Dam one of the largest dams in America. You’d think it would be cheap – it’s not – we don’t get the power. We gain all the problems that the dam offers without any benefit whatsoever. If you take the tour – they tell us that is exactly how we benefit; tourism. My unsoliciated opinion? I think if the salmon were still running we’d see more tourism from that.
The environmental issues in this area is so wrapped up in bureaucracy and red tape that it has become impossible to unravel them. I never thought for a second I could do that however, I thought at the very least I could record all of this because it is all going away with amazing speed.
Blogging got me off track though. It became a social network where I found myself bragging a bit and feeling like somehow I was justifying my place on this planet. It stopped being about the odd shaped flowers off my back porch and more about if someone liked me. The problem was in this process I stopped liking myself. I took less photographs so I could “talk” more and to be honest I got tired of the sound of my voice. So what am I doing now?
I rebuilt my blog. My new blog (the one I will spend huge amounts of time cataloging that area that I live) here: Lori Aull’s Images of the Colville National Forest My old blog will probably die from being busy with the new blog and donating photographs that I take to this website; E-Flora BC It’s a British Columbia website designed to catalog their wildflowers. Some of my submission have already been accepted into their database and I expect in time more will also be accepted. Overtime I intend to offer up my pictures to Washington state as well. In the end I decided that my goal was never to make a bunch of friends or even obsess wildy about how many stats I got in a week. Instead it was to let others in my area know what they are looking at. It was to put in one place an organized view of the various wildlife and plants in my area. If at any point my not so lofty goal led to a place where I took some pictures you all really appreciated then so much the better. Meanwhile, I’m spending a lot more time taking photographs and discovering new things everyday. I’m letting you know that I’m keeping busy, I’m doing well and if you don’t hear from me much don’t take it personal. I’m just focusing on my original goals.
My last point? The new blog really isn’t designed to take up any of your time. Your welcome to look but do not (honestly) feel pressured to commenting or anything of that nature. Come as you please take a look around but do not stress about validating my photographs. Utilize it for a learning tool (hopefully in that area it’s helpful) but don’t stress about wasting your time. The organization of it makes it kind of impossible to do because it really is just a place where I can post very large photographs about the species in this area. I make few comments about them except for location, information, and means of identification. It is little more than simple a place to offer research on the species in my area. I stopped talking about me and realized that going out everyday, taking photographs and cataloguing them is actually about ninety percent of my life so there really is nothing left to say.
….And wow, to think it all began with an offhanded comment.
May your life be peaceful & healthy,
p.s. Thanks for your friendship and trust me in order to do research on the many species I find everyday I’ll still have to access the areas I know I need to learn. (Some of those blogs are mentioned above but does not cover all of them by a long shot.) So I’ll be commenting on your blogs on occasion but a lot less then I did in the past. And please, if I do – don’t feel like you need to comment on the new blog in response. It really is just designed to offer a place to research for people like me who just wanted to know the answer to, “what the heck is that?” peace.
Filed under: Pacific Northwest, Photograhy, The Environment, Uncategorized | 8 Comments