Life in a Northern Town

Houghton Falls Magic, Part Two

Allegiances

It is time for all the heroes to go home if they have any; time for all of us common ones to locate ourselves by the real things we live by.

Far to the North, or indeed in any direction, strange mountains and creatures have always lurked--- elves, goblins, trolls and spiders -- we encounter them in dread and wonder,

But once we have touched the far streams, touched the gold, found some limit beyond the waterfall, a season changes, and we come back, changed but safe, quiet, grateful.

Suppose an insane wind holds the hills while strange beliefs whine at the traveler's ears, we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love where we are, strong for common things.

William Stafford

I'm in the very beginning stages of attempting to organize my 22,000 pictures into some semblance of order. And by beginning stages, I mean looking through the pictures and taking one big fat trip down memory lane— not deleting, moving or organizing a damn thing. On the upside, I found these shots I took last October of Houghton Falls. What a difference 100 inches of snow, sub-zero temperatures and a clogged railroad trestle culvert can make. I can only imagine the difference 70 degrees, rain showers and leaves will make to the ice drenched Houghton Falls I visited on Saturday. There is magic in this place, in every incarnation it chooses to show us.

There's something fantastically ancient about Houghton Falls. Time settles into a slower cadence and I wander through the ravine expecting to encounter a being from Middle-earth. Luckily, it's been protected in perpetuity by the Bayfield Regional Conservancy and its magic will be preserved for my grandchildren and their children to experience. So they will "come back, changed but safe, quiet, grateful" after a visit with the cedars, hemlocks, water and moss of this beautiful place. Isn't that what legacy is all about— leaving these gifts from the natural world intact for those who will come after us?