Portrait of the Mind
Larch Mountain is located in Camas, Washington, a place I once called my home. Hidden within the woods was a house with a wraparound porch, a separate garage with large windows overlooking the vast span of woods, and a small pond surrounded by hefty mossy rocks. The pond leaked out into a stream that ran down the mountainside, weaving between trees and receding underground at times. In the midday if you trumped down part of the winding road you would reach a spot where you could witness beavers building their dam, flipping throughout the clear water, packing sticks, mud, and piddling pebbles into holes with their tiny black hands. Bleeding hearts and bolandra cloaked the roadside creating a vast mural of radiant greens, murky browns, with specks of pastel pink and purple.
The pond was my playground. I’d roll my pants up to my knees, take off my ratty Converse, and submerge my feet into the icy water. Slimy, orange newts gathered in the water, hiding within the deepest recesses. Vegetation grew from the middle of the pond and floated along the top of the water creating a perfect camouflage for the tiny creatures. I spent long spring afternoons coming up with countless contraptions to catch the tricky little suckers. I attached a large plastic container to a stick with yarn and tried to drop it upon one of the few brave enough to venture to the shallow parts of the water: failure. I found an old fishing net and poked it into the deeper water, swishing it in smooth circles gently gliding it toward the surface: failure. I tried to poke my hands under the algae coated soil at the bottom to see if they buried themselves: failure. The newts mocked me, swimming near me and then turning around when I sloshed through the water toward them.
No matter how hard I tried I could not catch the newts, for months I obsessed over them. Sitting on the mossy rocks surrounding the pond I would wish I could get one; just for a better look, not to keep it. They...