Nov. 7, 2019: Prayers and Princesses

Last Saturday I visited Snoqualmie Falls with my daughter’s family. The day before our visit, the Snoqualmie Tribe announced their purchase of the land around the Falls, including the Lodge, ending the threat of extensive additional development. Good news for this beautiful place! I was delighted. And good news for the Tribe which considers sacred the falls and the surrounding land; the billowing mists are prayers.

I tried to keep that in mind as we sought gaps in the crowd along the cliffside railing through which to look at the always-spectacular waterfall and as we hiked down to the river below the falls with a thousand other families.

My two little granddaughters (2½ and 4½) are enamored of princesses, which is both adorable and annoying in this age of supposed equality. But their parents have brilliantly harnessed this princess-obsession: both girls have hiking dresses that slip on over their playclothes and fleece jackets, transforming them into Disney princesses. One is Belle from Beauty and the Beast and the other is Elsa of Frozen fame. They are only allowed to wear these special dresses when they are hiking. Should they decide not to hike (“Daddy, carry me!”), the dress is removed and stuffed in the backpack.

Down by the river, the two princesses climbed on boulders, managing to avoid tripping on their elegant gowns, and the grown-ups spared a tiny moment to imagine what this place was like before the power plant, before the Lodge, before the highway noise, before the crowds, when the only sounds were birdsong and falling water.

Time to hike back up. The littlest princess whimpered at the endless steep hill and began to beg to be carried. “Okay,” says Dad, “but first we have to put your dress in the backpack.” Reminded of the rule, the teeny princess became a hiking machine! On the way back up, the girls were moving slowly enough that I could encourage some appreciation of the mist-dampened native plants along the trail: “Look! See the Piggy-back Plant [I spared them the Latin – Tolmiea menziesii – I’m not that weird]. The baby plants are riding on the Mama-leaf!” I tried to call attention to a big old Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), but they were more interested in clambering on a log and trying out a natural Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) jungle-gym.

It’s been a positive week. Good news plus plucky princesses lift my spirit. And November’s mists and fog fill the air with hope.

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