Saturday, February 27, 2021

"Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout" (Gary Snyder)

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

A poem read this morning, coincidentally, while an experimental batch of sourdough bread rises down the hall. As to the name of the mountain, Jim Harris gives one explanation:
In 1872 Jack Rowley and his partners, from the Lower Skagit [...] set out to prospect the Skagit to its headwaters. Panning each river bar, they found scattered flecks of gold, enough to keep them going. At the head of canoe navigation, now Newhalem, they were still seeking that elusive mother lode. Native guides were hired to lead them high above and around the river's narrow canyon. It was tough going and very hot. Sourdough starter began to work in a prospector's pack, messing up his gear. The place was christened Sourdough Mountain.
Harris's account, which is from a volume entitled Impressions of the North Cascades, is available online here.

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