Mary’s Peak is the highest point in Oregon’s Coast Range, and the native Kalapuya called the Peak Tcha Timanwi, or “place of spiritual power.” It is a local favorite for hiking and communing with the natural world. On the drive up I have always felt jarred when looking over at a steep hillside just west of the road that was clear-cut some years ago and basically looks dead. It is such a contrast with the wildflower meadows and old growth noble fir forest higher up. For our Earth Exchange, we leave the main road and venture towards the clear-cut section of the forest. The forest road meanders through bright green trees, and then all of a sudden it opens up and there is what looks like a smoldering battle field. It has just stopped raining, and the mist rising from between the cut and fallen trees looks like smoke. We mark our entrance into this area and then each take a good hour to wander on our own before we get back together and share our experiences.
*The area is MUCH steeper then we realized looking from the main road. We wonder how difficult and dangerous it was to cut trees here. We have compassion for the loggers who support their families with this dangerous work.
*There are old, rotting very large stumps, remnants of an earlier cut of likely old growth forest, interspersed with a wild jumble of cut and fallen trees and branches. There are signs of wildfire and wind damage. It is hard to tell how many different ways this forest has been assaulted or in what order.
*And at the same time there is new growth and beauty. Fireweed and daisies. Vistas to the snow-capped mountains of the Cascades.
*We realize that this area that looks dead from farther away is full of new life and beauty along with death and destruction.
We create our RadJoy bird at the entrance to the cut area and say blessings for the beings that were destroyed, as well as the ones that are now growing and blooming.
Our relationship to this particular part of the forest has now been changed forever. It will never again be just “the dead area over there”.