Lost on Grouse Mountain

David Koch is missing on Grouse Mountain. He has been missing since Wednesday, five nights now, and there remains only a slim probability of his survival.

I met him Tuesday afternoon. He was making a promotional tour for his magazine, DM Review. He had a boyish face and thinning hair. His smile seemed expectant, as if someone were about to deliver a punch line. His conversation was softly spoken and hesitant or perhaps merely polite, paced to encourage interruption. He was, after all, from Wisconsin where time flows like glacial ice.

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Fallen Trees

The
only road that accesses our community runs hard against our neighbors’
property, land thickly wooded with madrone, pine, western hemlock and
Douglas-fir. In a breeze the woodlot sounds
like a vast musical instrument—a woodwind, a living voice, the sound of the
earth entangled with the sky. The sunlight among the bending branches is liquid.
Crows tumble down the wind like children playing among piles of October leaves.

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Rogue Waves Revisited

The existence of rogue waves has been common knowledge among sailors for centuries but the staggering size of the waves reported by mariners didn’t fit the statistical models endorsed by oceanographers. Scientists scoffed at sea stories of mountainous waves until satellites began sweeping the open ocean with radar. Now it seems waves of uncommon size are more common than the statistical models anticipated. According to several Brazilian scientists, they may not even be rare at all. And they are sinking ships at an alarming rate.

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Blind Humanity

“To see! to see!—this is the craving of the sailor, as of the rest of blind humanity.”
Joseph Conrad, Mirror of the Sea

The Pacific Northwest is painted in seemingly infinite variations of a single color—the gray shadow of land rising in rough peaks above gray water beneath a sky of broken gray clouds. Like a Chinese landscape, distance becomes intimate. Far and near alike are softened and obscured and the familiar becomes inexplicably mysterious. A few spare strokes capture entire landscapes and histories.

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Drowned Man Walking

Twenty-five years ago I started my first job as a sailor, working the docks as operations manager for Club Nautique, a sailing school and charter company on the Oakland Estuary, San Francisco Bay. We had several stout little sloops—Pearson 26’s—which club members sailed without charge, sometimes sailing after the office closed and returning the boat to the slip before we opened again next morning. One undistinguished Thursday morning a Pearson was missing.

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