CLIFF’S EDGE: ‘High Water and Low Smoke’

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As our nation’s summer winds down, it leaves behind at least two dominant impressions: High Water and Low Smoke.

We certainly got our share of the latter in the Pacific Northwest, and there’s always the chance that the bare hillsides left behind by all those fires may result in more flooding here in the months ahead.

We should be so lucky.

But fall is my favorite season and, optimistically, I’m going to hold out for a more gentle transition into it.

Come to think of it, we’re not dealing with just one transition but many.

The first for me will be in the realm of sports where I’m having no difficulty sustaining an active interest in baseball as the Mariners tease us with the prospect of post-season play. As long as they’re in the chase mathematically, they’ll have my enthusiastic attention.

At the same time, if they do make it into the playoffs, I’ll be among the genuinely astonished Mariners fans,

Completing my seasonal sports transition will be the pro football season and the promise hovering over the Seahawks. Promise of post-season play for them is no more certain than that of the Mariners, but it’s no less certain either.

What I appreciate most about fall, of course, is the season’s colors, beginning with the fall leaves, followed by the varied hues of the vegetables and fruits that show up amid the Halloween decorations and emblazon many a Thanksgiving dinner table.

Sports provide color, too. It’s of a different sort, but it’s no less appreciated amid fall’s exhuberant grandeur.

And then what? Why, winter of course and another barrage of celebration, each bringing its own sensations of sight and sound.

I was reminded of this pending prolonged indulgence of sights and sounds that start about now and carry us into the next year when one of last year’s Christmas lights tapped me gently on the forhead as I went out the front door a day or so ago.

Or, I wondered, was it really the start of this fall’s Halloween lighting? It was the only orange light in the string, after all.

Cliff Rowe is a retired journalist and journalism professor. (He practiced both in a time before journalists and what they produced were considered “enemies of the people.”) He and his family have lived in the Shorewood area of White Center (then Burien) since 1969 when they returned to the Northwest after seven years in the Chicago area. There, following graduate school, he wrote and edited with the Chicago Sun-Times and with Paddock Publications in the Chicago suburbs. On moving here, he was with The Seattle Times for 11 years before turning to teaching journalism at Pacific Lutheran University for 35 years, retiring in 2015.

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3 Responses to “CLIFF’S EDGE: ‘High Water and Low Smoke’”
  1. Wondering says:

    How many fish did you catch?

  2. Clean it up! says:

    Good to hear of your finding fall to be your favorite season. Me too! It always has been my favorite, though I must admit as the years go by, I now find a fondness for each of the seasons here in the Pac NW. But fall always makes me want to get out there and absorb it. It’s easier for me to get going early and stay out until the last bit of light. Maybe it’s in part because the mosquitos have usually died off by September!? I always look forward to the years that have the right balance of temperature and rain to produce the best fall colors. I see a lot of the broad leaf trees have already started shedding their brown dried leaves, what with our dry summer. Still we could see some good color if we get some cool nights without too many storms.

    Our family often took car trips up towards Mt Rainier in the fall. We had horses and a few times took them, too. One year we stayed in an small log cabin abandoned by miners near where Crystal Mountain is located now. It was a very memorable trip. A young male elk became enchanted with my mare and would come calling in the evening. He would circle the small pole corral and make eyes at her while she hid behind the other horses! Each evening he would eventually wander off, usually with my father whirling a rope and shouting, only to return the next night and repeat his ode of love. I also saw two cougars having a ‘cat fight’ in the lower boughs of a fir tree. They were on the other side of a small valley with a creek running between us. Their shrill yowls were very loud and not to be missed. They were aware of us but made no-never- mind as cats often do when self absorbed. We moved on as the horses became antsy as you might imagine and we had to work our way back down a rather steep hillside before dark. This all happened in late September in the mostly undisturbed beauty of that area with chipmunks everywhere and camp jays ready to swoop down and steal any bit of food that was not battened down. I wish all kids could have a similar experience!
    Have a great week Cliff! Your posts are appreciated!

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