Twelve years ago, I lived 60 miles up the Skagit River in Washington State with my park-ranger girlfriend, Paula, who’s now my wife. We were renting a farmhouse beside old-growth evergreens, a salmon stream, and our landlord’s two unshorn horses, their restless tails like fly-fishing rods always casting, casting, casting. My brother and his wife were visiting for a few days—the first time they’d ever left home without their kids—and then our mom called from Indiana three hours ahead, her voice cracking with fear and confusion and the undeniable muscularity of love, as if she was casting in her own way across thousands of miles to her sons. She told us to turn on a TV, but we had none, so we listened to NPR as the second tower was struck in New York, all of us in shock, all of us questioning.

That afternoon we headed farther upriver to a meandering trail beneath cedars and hemlocks, beneath dangling lichens the length of our arms, then up Thunder Creek to its suspension bridge where we listened to the pounding rapids, to a few raucous ravens, a kingfisher, maybe a dipper chittering and hunting for bugs. And I remember looking up at a sky so silent and streak-free that it made me wonder what good might come of the day, if the silence itself was a good start, the right start.

Where were you that morning? Please share. And thanks for remembering with me.


Copyright 2013, Jeff Darren Muse.

Photo: Life along Diobsud Creek in Washington’s North Cascades. JEFF DARREN MUSE