CLIFF CREGO | EARLY MOUNTAIN SPRING—Salt & Pepper with Fendler's Waterleaf (Lomatium piperi & Hydrophyllum fendleri)

EARLY MOUNTAIN SPRING—Salt & Pepper with Fendler's Waterleaf [ click photo for next . . . ]
(Lomatium piperi & Hydrophyllum fendleri)
Eagle Cap Wilderness . . .

Yes, I realize this isn't much of a photograph. But
I like it, all the same. The ensemble. And the bare
spring earth quality one can almost touch and smell.

This is what it looks like right now at about 1450 m.
along the complex ecotone of the composite border of
ground just free of snow, and the border of montane
forest with the magnificent signature species of
Ponderosa Pine, Doug-fir, Grand Fir, and what I like
to call Fiddle-top Spruce.

This is a micro-landscape I lie in wait for, trying
to be there before the snow has melted so I can witness
this wonderful awakening of high country spring. What a joy
it is to experience first-hand this surge of energy as
the delicate and diminutive Salt & Pepper—so-called
because of the dark burgundy of the male anthers in
contrast to the light pink of petals | see detail |—
shown together here with the just emerging frost-protected
reddish sprouts of the Waterleaf. The Salt & Peppers,
a member of the Carrot Family, are so very prostrate
and small and tight to the ground that one could easily
miss them altogether, or mistake them for a cluster
of wayward ice crystals. But they're perennials, so
once you know them and where they grow, you have a
trusty friend you can meet up with again each year.

On the road in the American Northwest.


Beauty abhors the contortionist, the Yogi who wraps himself in a
wire-ball of knots, the Paganinni who charms with his devilish slights
of hand, the Architect who with a virtuosic flourish folds metal like
crushed paper into the form of a smashed guitar.

The more a culture goes the way of this mastery and worship of mere
outward difficulty, and the more this is projected as an ideal-to-be-
to the young, the more this culture will lose its resonance
with the at once simpler and infinitely more subtle and complex
spiritual dimensions of its art.


Imagine a series of nested circles, one within the other, expanding into
natural time and space. Then, imagine a kind of harmony, a kind of
mutual fitting together, of the movements of the circles, one within
the other.

Now, imagine putting the whole of this movement of expanding, nested
circles inside a small, tight, little leaden box, thereby isolating and
fragmenting the movement from the larger world. This is what happens
to Art and Culture when they are no longer rooted or nested within the
natural world. Once this happens, one of the primary tasks of Art and
the Artist is to somehow—smash the box.


Just as assuredly as the moon moves the tides, intelligence moves the
young mind in mysterious and subtle ways. The teacher is the one who
discovers first the rhythm of this movement in him- or herself, and then
awakens it just as naturally and invisibly in the student.

In this way, the teacher is the one who protects the student from a meta-
physics of education that forces children into a career of tourism on the
periphery of learning and creativity. How much better to find one’s call-
ing early in life, when learning is still largely an unselfconscious affair,
and skill and aesthetic sensibility become easily—as the apt expression
has it—second nature.

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All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego ©1999 - 2011
(created: V.15.2011)