As I searched my photos for places of awareness and change, I remembered this drive across Highway 20, a scenic and beautiful drive across Washington State in July, 2017. Beautiful views, and my favorite little creature, the pika, lives there. The little creatures live high in the mountains because they cannot survive temperatures above 77.9° F— so they are in danger if global warming heats their mountain home.
I decided to write poetry and create art based on the photo above. I loved the sparse tree snag and the blue-green of the lake rippled from the fierce wind, which affected the usually crowded area. I chose to write about that windy day.
I wrote and revised at once on the prose portion– starting with the area in general and the wind in particular, especially on the lake.
The haiku took longer as I struggled to keep the form. I like how it ended– with the sound of the short “i” in hymn and wind.
Here’s the haiku progression and a bit of how I revise for stronger verbs:
Hymn in the Mountains
In the mountains of Highway 20 in the summer a green lake beckons travelers to stop and gaze at nature’s beauty, though the lake is a reservoir behind a large dam. On hot days, this highway— in the North Cascades —is a cool and scenic drive. Closed in winter due to avalanche danger, it draws visitors as soon as the road opens again. Lately, the highway has been closed in summer, due to the wildfires of global warming.
In 2017 we drove across in July, enjoying the mountain heights and forest greenery, breathtaking views and a respite from the heat of the valleys of eastern Washington.
Stopping at Ross Lake, we found no other vacationers in the usually busy highway rest area of scenic views. As we stepped out of the van, the reason for few people blew us, literally, back into the car. We pushed the doors against the wind and let them slam back closed after grabbing our jackets. We turned our backs against the wind and spun around to put on each sleeve, finally able to wrap the jacket tightly around and lean against the wind to walk the paths and stretch our legs after hours of riding.
At the edge of granite boulders, gazing down across the tops of pine and fir, we witnessed the wind surfing the emerald lake with waves and ripples easily viewed from our vantage point far up the mountain. And the whistle of the wind and the “EEEE” of the pika hiding in the rocks sang to us as the only evidence of other companions.
Emerald waves racedSheri Edwards
forest shore to more, hymn
by wind and pika.
I decided to put the haiku in the image of inspiration too.
Next, I chose a silk painting style to recreate the photo as abstract art.
And finally, so the lovely yet windy scene could be enjoyed by others, I created a video of the nature, poetry, and art:
Resources on Ross Lake
- National Park Service
- National Park Foundation
- Pika: National Geographic
- Pika: National Wildlife Federation
- Pika: Wikipedia
- Pika: Pronunciation Merriam-Webster
Videos about Pikas
Search for some informational videos of your favorite creatures.
Enjoy the videos. Then close your eyes and consider what you saw — how they walked, interacted, ate, etc. Write down some phrases.
Try to add some strong verbs and specific and descriptive phrases.
Rearrange them in an order that makes sense.
Read it a couple times.
Add one final statement.
Illustrate in your own way– line art, blobs of color, or try a silk painting style.