Friday, March 13, 2009

Things Seen on a Cold March Morning Driving to Donnelly

Yesterday morning the 70-mile drive to Donnelly seemed unusually stark. I left in the morning twilight—because we’re at a western point in the Mountain Time Zone, the mornings tend to be dark, especially after the shift to Daylight Savings Time. Of course we make up for it on the other end of day, which is very pleasant—our evenings are long, & especially so in the height of spring & summer.

But yesterday morning still had the feel of winter (22 degrees in Indian Valley when I left), & as I traveled higher in elevation, I went more & more deeply into the winter. As I was in an oddly pensive mood, the playlist as I was making these observations also was a bit unusual for me: selections from La Bohème & Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. As an added feature after the list, I’ve added a clip of the great Jessye Norman singing “Beim Schlafengehen” from this set; this
setting of a Hesse poem is simply one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.

Hope these observations conjure up a picture of this area in late winter.

  • At the intersection of Indian Valley Rd & US Highway 95: the full moon to the left over a rise; to the right, a single greenish sodium light on the southern slope of Mesa Hill
  • The snowy & rugged summit of Council Mountain to the east against a gray & yellow sky
  • A pair of poplars silhouetted against the sky
  • An old water tower with a conical roof
  • Dark, bare ground on the south & east slopes; level pastureland covered with snow
  • A skeletal radio tower on a rise above the Weiser River Bridge
  • The old homestead Eberle loves on Cottonwood Road dark & tilted toward the north in its stand of bare cottonwood trees
  • The seasonal pond that Eberle calls “Little Bolivia”; dark & frozen; sometimes there are swans on that water & in the adjoining pasture this time of year
  • A dark mule & a white horse grazing on bales of hay in a corral beside the highway
  • The gray abandoned Adams County Leader building; there are hundreds of old newspapers inside
  • 1 white SUV parked at the Starlite Motel
  • A house on 3rd Avenue in Council with flashing icicle lights on the porch & a white boat in the yard
  • A small unpainted wood outbuilding standing on the border between a muddy rise & a snowy pasture
  • The full moon again above a large hay shelter that’s been about half emptied thru the winter
  • A half-built log home “For Sale” at R&R Log Homes
  • 3 fir trees growing in a line to the east of the highway at the foot of Fort Hall Hill
  • A barbed wire fence on cedar splits standing at about a 45-degree angle toward the west
  • A line of scorched Ponderosa Pines on a distant ridge—remnants of a forest fire several years ago
  • A black mailbox, the door hanging open, on a post in a snowbank
  • A “Turn 45 MPH” sign almost completely swallowed up by snow
  • A small pine growing out at almost 90 degrees from a cliff rising above the eastern side of the highway
  • Osier shrubs turning red with spring standing in the snow
  • The faded red house Eberle calls the “halfway house” (halfway to McCall) with old-fashioned Christmas lights shining through the windows
  • An unfinished shed, the lumber turned gray in the winter, with no roof & a “No Trespassing Sign”
  • A crow flying directly above the highway
  • Hoarfrost from an overnight frozen fog on the pine needles & bushes
  • A forklift crossing the highway at Tamarack sawmill, weighed down with a big load of 2x12
  • A shredded truck tire, turned white with hoarfrost, lying in the shoulder
  • A semi with smoke trailing low out of both stacks
  • 3 roan horses in a wooded pasture
  • -5 degrees as I enter New Meadows
  • Cattails rising out of the snow beside the Little Salmon River
  • A frost-covered mullein twisted around a white plastic fence
  • The sun on mountains west of New Meadows
  • A ramshackle abandoned house amongst the orange, awakening willows
  • -6 degrees & blinding sunlight at the mile high Valley County line
  • Fog rising like thick steam from the Payette River under the Boydstun Street bridge
  • A large metal wheel from an irrigation system almost completely buried in the snow near Lake Fork
  • The pastures north of Donnelly swallowed in fog
  • Donnelly: -9 degrees & thick fog; my moustache freezes as soon as I get out of the car to go to the coffee shop
The picture of Meadows Valley was taken from Farrell Rd, not from the highway


  1. do you think you're posts in general have been a mite gloomy lately? check your inner pulse for a sense of light? Are you being affected by the long winter season?

    Perhaps you need a sunlamp? This end of winter place always drives me to the artificial sun lamp in my lower level.

    I believe I may be solar powered.

  2. Hi Chris: Will consider your suggestion! This post certainly is, & Eberle's Weiser River March one might be (tho she wrote that in 01, & I'm just posting it as part of a series. Certainly the last two poems were.

    I will say that I'm "not in a good place," somewhat related to the end of winter, but more due to other things; am trying to not have it spill too much into the blog.

  3. Thank you for the Strauss, John. It's one of my favourite pieces. I don't know how you manage to drive while you listen to it, though. I'm afraid I'd veer off the road. I have been known to pull off to the side when any of the Four Last Songs came on the radio, just for safety's sake.

    Sending happy thoughts -

  4. You are a beauty of a poet, John, and I bet a fine player too.
    I think allowing the darkness to pour into your writing will be truthful to yourself and may help? Lean on the holy things right now, John. Peace

  5. Sandra: Yeah, I can see it being a safety concern. & thanks for your good wishes.

    Chris: Thanks too for your kind words.

  6. Jessye Norman is a singing machine, isn't she? Gorgeous. I enjoyed your solitary drive, too. Peaceful and beautiful.

  7. Beim Schlafengehen (Hesse)
    Now that I feel the tiredness of
    the day,
    my deep longing shall
    welcome the starlit night
    as a weary child does.

    Hands, cease your toiling,
    head, forget about thinking,
    for all my senses now
    are longing to sink themselves in

    And the unguarded spirit
    wants to float on free wings, so that
    in the magic circle of the night
    it may live deeply and a thousandfold.

    This is beautiful

  8. Hi Willow: Thanks-- so glad you enjoyed it; Norman can really sing.

    Chris: Thanks for posting the Hesse poem; that's wonderful!

  9. I really enjoyed this post John. Your thoughts and words are divine. Have a good weekend.

  10. Thanks Clare-- glad you liked it. Fun new icon!


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.