CLIFF CREGO |  Alpine Forest Stream, South Wallowas

Alpine Forest Stream, South Wallowas

On the road in the Northwest of America.
[click photo for next . . . ]

ORACLE—a reader of signs

The blackbird runs nervously in
quick staccato steps, yellow beak
thrust forward, then stops,
cocks its ear to the ground, then runs
hurriedly again.

Ancient, she

sits next to the spring.

The water appears suddenly

at the surface of the earth like

a music which steps

into the world

but reluctantly, beginning

over and over

again, rehearsing

in a whisper the faint sounding

sibilants of an almost vanished

tongue. She listens, but

knows not from where the water comes.

Cool, clear, constant

in its flow, the water is un-

touched by rain, snow or summer sun.

Watching, swaying back and forth, she

places her open hand above

a stream of minute

whirlpools, then looks down into the

swirling throat of the

largest, turning her

arm swiftly in a counter gyre,

murmuring something.

all but inaudible.

She leans forward and pinches off

a sprig of watercress, tasting

the stem's peppery

brassica, then swallowing the white



The men gather around in a

tight circle watching

the one, who, seated on the ground,

tosses the sticks. They all breathe in

with a gasp, their hands

raised into the air,

then pointing down, quickly, lifting

patterns up into

terse talk of

meaning. The man in their middle

slowly traces a form in the sand.

Out of the river,

a turtle rises and crawls to

land, head, neck fully extended

as if it had been from

shore since before the beginning of time.

The colorful display flashes

as the three men watch the

numbers turn all but instantly

into black figures. The clever talk

and laughter stop as

the message in bold

script steps down from top to bottom,

predicting opportunity, but

great risk...

they must move quickly.

Crack goes the shell, the

heat of the fire fracturing its

underside into myriad

storylines, waiting,

like a hand, to be deciphered and read.

Crash goes the code, the

cold of the night bifurcating

into myriad losses,

everywhere, losses,

like a terrible wind, taking all in its stead.

"All roads lead to the hidden center,"

begins the prophecy. "Very

From there, proceed with

the greatest caution,

Follow in steps of two's and three's."

Reading from her guide,

someone had written quickly in the margin:

"The yarrow stems ought to be gathered

come late summer; it

grows frequently to the side of

busy roads, on poor soils, in

patches, much space between

completely erect single

stems which are woody and almost square.

The white, sometimes pink,

flowers arrange themselves in tight

umbels to rhythms measured in fours,

while the delicate leaves

of many tiny feathers

spiral up around the

stem as a crow calls,

in neat couplets of five

against of two. A powerful plant,

it should

be used with care."

The blackbird runs nervously in

quick staccato steps, yellow beak

thrust forward, then stops,

cocks its ear to the ground, then runs

hurriedly again,

a different direction;

it too is confused about the

days, singing now

with hard frozen snow

on the ground.

A fish, (was it a

small trout?) nibbles at the surface

of the quiet pool and is gone,

ripples ringing in the

clear spring water...How did it happen?

Crash goes the code;

Crack goes the shell, the

cold of the night,

myriad storylines, waiting,

like a hand, taking all, taking all...

How did it happen?

She looks and sees...

She looks and sees...

Before, after,


It took the

whole world

by surprise.

THE LITTLE CLAVIER please preview 150 of 631 pages
w/ my black & white photography [opens in new window]

Please visit my MOUNTAIN WATER print gallery Above is a set of recent flowing water images. (Mouseover for TITLES & CONTROLS!)

I might just mention here that, following the simple, basic ethical principle, First, do no harm, I never use cars or jeeps or or snowmachines. Instead, I do everything on foot, bike or ski. I think this in a deep and direct way affects my work, and how I see and experience the world generally. So know thaty all the photos collected here were approached on foot -- including all the in between spaces -- sometimes involving journeys of weeks, or even months.

I would not want to work any other way . . .

All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 1999-2015