A photographer’s love for our magnificent landscape, forged through experiences here — and far from here.
IT WAS ALWAYS my favorite time of day in the Palouse. After chucking hay bales 10 high on my uncle’s wheat farm in mid-July heat, we showered in the man cave in the basement and sat down to a wonderful farm meal of almost everything fresh from the garden or henhouse.
After excusing ourselves, my cousin and I ran outside and hopped on our motorcycles and headed up the back roads to the top of Cougar Hill, which rose above the fields west of the farm. Arriving at the top, we parked, looking northeast to Spokane, and southeast down the Palouse to Steptoe Butte and beyond. We straddled our motorcycles and basked in the fragrant, dusty warmth of the evening harvest sun, talking about girls and football as we gazed across the golden quilt of wheat fields spreading in the distance. Columns of dust and grain chaff rose skyward from the monstrous combines creeping along the hillsides like giant alien insects.
I remember how beautifully unreal the landscape seemed; earthly form, sunlight and human activity became one in this visual masterpiece.
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In addition to these summer days on the farm were family vacations that included following a rattlesnake’s trail in the sand beneath Steamboat Rock at Banks Lake; early-morning razor-clam digging at Ocean Shores; and trips to the Olympic National Park, camping at Crescent Lake, driving through the Hoh Rainforest and relaxing in the stinky, sulfur pool water at Sol Duc Hot Springs. I clearly remember the parents telling us kids how good it was for us.
Although I didn’t realize it until many years later, when I picked up my first camera, those early experiences and the long hours traveling across the state blessed me with a deep love and appreciation of the magnificence and unrivaled diversity of the Washington landscape, from the high inland deserts of Eastern Washington to the dense, mossy, misty, rain forests on the peninsula.
In fact, the longer I photograph here, and as I travel more often to other states and distant locations, the more I appreciate Washington’s remarkably unique visual and climatic complexity, an appreciation that renders those memories ever more precious with each passing day.