Georgie and Emil in the rain forest.

Rain Forest

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

What is it like to live a blessed life as some people call it? Just ask me and I will spew out all the special happenings I have experienced lately. The Columbia River and its majestic path through our state, the ocean’s frothy spray as it pounds on the shore, and the views from our own Mt. Rainier. It had been some time since I had ventured into the great rain forest of the Olympic National Park. Rain was expected on the Olympic Peninsula but for some reason when we drove into that vast region of greenery the rain decided to leave us dry. But walking into that forest of deep undergrowth and thick canopy overhead you would not think the sun was shining brightly. Even sounds of the occasional car driving by in the distance were muffled by the dense forest undergrowth harboring all manner of little creatures.

The Quinault area holds many memories of past family gatherings but this time it was a return to the wilderness shutting out the skyscrapers of city living. Over the years that the Quinault Lodge was developed the grass seemed even greener than I had seen it before. And imagine a huge mountain lake without any sounds of motorboats—just the ripple of wind blown water lapping at the shoreline. Only an occasional swimmer letting out a shriek when warm skin clashed with the glacier-cold water could be heard. On the rolling lawn were rustic chairs, arranged two by two, as if awaiting the newlyweds that often honeymoon at this getaway fairyland.

After a stroll to check out our new surroundings we wandered into the immense entry hall with a fireplace acting as a drawing card for loungers and people curling up with a book they had intended to read and now had the time to actually crack open. The fire tender came in and lifted the huge timbers onto the andirons and the crackling of alder planks began once more. Direct heat emanated throughout the huge, high ceilinged room. The head of a Roosevelt elk stared out from above the massive fireplace reminding us that President Roosevelt himself visited this lodge. There is even a dining room named after him.

A getaway is a place without TV or movies. Why watch a movie when you are surrounded by a world of myriad shades of soft, soothing green and the rippling of water tickled by the wind. Occasionally a tiny squirrel scampers by and dog lovers walk their dogs along the wide pathways. I know, I am super sensitive to the plight of dogs being pulled by chains at the whim of their owners. I am often told that I am too sensitive but that is why I can express myself in writing with the way I do. Every little breeze or sound or smell in my environment makes an impression that I must chronicle.

There is something for everyone in the park—hikers, climbers, bird watchers, and those who study plant and animal life. Beneath the forest canopy are thousands of creatures adapted to the abundant rainfall creating lush green surroundings. Summers are delightful in this wonderland but anyone sensitive to mold and mildew had better not live there year round. As I often remind people, every pleasure and delight has its downside. People are adept at avoiding the underside of life and seeking the pleasures. That is life’s challenge. Visiting the place that even Seattle resembled at one time is a reminder of the earth and its abundance. It appears stable to the eye but even as we view the serenity of it all, huge forces are changing our earth bit by bit—rushing rivers digging even deeper channels, mountains erupting lava and oceans wearing away the shoreline. But let’s not dwell on this. Instead let’s savor the moment when all this beauty seems to be standing still for our pleasure. Enjoy and treasure it in the memory to draw on when returning to the noise and pollution of the city. Then be proactive about improving the environment whenever we can. After all, we only have one earth.

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at gnkunkel@comcast.net or 206-935-8663.

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