Mornings and the mountain

Mornings find me at my most pensive, which is why I prefer to write fiction soon after I’ve woken up and before or during breakfast.

If I have time, I walk to the bus stop, which is about a mile down the road.

It is cold and I can see my breath and also the whitecapped mountains that crest over the greenblack rise of the pines across the lake. Another mile south and sometimes I can see Takhoma, the biggest of them all. Or rather, he can see me.

Takhoma is the Salish name for Mt. Rainier – khoma, meaning “white-capped sentinel,” and ta’, which is a kind of superlative meaning “greatest” or “largest.” Thus, Takhoma, The Great White Watcher.

On clear days like this, people from the cities along Puget Sound will look sometimes to the east and say, “Look, the mountain’s out!” as if it were hiding, before, behind the perpetual clouds that come in off the water.

My hope – maybe somewhat irrational, childish – is that this comes from some old Indian expression, translated literally into the languages of the settlers when they first came west.


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