Assignment Day Three: Water & Orientation
We have different relationships to and stories about water: how it has saved or defeated us. How it reminds us of family vacations, outdoor adventures, or the hot summers of our childhood. How it might symbolize a place we’ve left behind, or a location we dream to go.
How will you interpret this theme? How can you tell a story with water?
Legend of Storm King
The above photo features one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Lake Crescent and the mysterious Olympic Mountains. Legends and supported tales abound about this place, all believable.
This is near the first place on the shores of Lake Crescent where I camped out at when my family first moved to Washington State. I must have just turned eleven. It was summer. We traveled from Tacoma north, across the Narrows bridge and the, eventually, drove west, through the thick, pink, cotton candy sunset fog across the floating bridge of Hood’s Canal to the Olympic Peninsula and further westward.
We arrived at the camp grounds of Lake Crescent after dark and had to set the tent up in the glare of the car’s headlights. I recall walking to the waters edge with my dad, staring at the black water full of the reflections of twinkling stars and upwards across the water at the towering silhouettes of inky, jagged mountains against a dark, purple heaven glittering with diamonds.I thought it would be hard to sleep but before I knew I’d succumbed, dad woke me up. Fresh air will do that to you.
It was a misty morning. A warm morning. Dad rented a small motor boat and he and I set out upon the water at a slow speed, he controlling the motor while I sat up front in the triangle, the bow. Dad would guide the boat out a bit and then cut the motor because there was so much to see beneath the clean, clear, deep water. It was spooky to be able to see things so clearly lying upon the bottom of the lake.
The mist rose, dissipating, exposing steep, heavily wooded mountainsides.
There were areas where underwater drop offs happened so sheer and quick that the shock of not seeing the bottom was enough to stop my heart.
I later learned there was a reason for that.
One tale about this place speaks about an ancient war between two local Native American tribes. It happened so long ago, back before there was a lake here, back when there was only a small stream that meandered peacefully along a broad, flat valley between the mountains.
The war was about territory or hunting grounds or some such thing. And the main battle took place at the base of the mountain that rises up, seemingly from the middle of this (now) 10+ mile long lake, called Storm King.
The noise of this battle shattered the peace of this valley. Because the warriors were so noisy and refused to stop killing one another, the spirit of Storm King gave a few low grumbles as warnings of his displeasure, but the battle raged on and on and on until Storm King could take it no longer and blew his top in anger. Due to the human beings disregard for life and peace, Storm King Mountain stopped up the creek waters with the rocks from the top of his head so no more would there be war below him in this valley. Those boulders crushed the fighting warriors and there was quiet once again in Storm King’s valley. However, the boulders from Storm King’s head also fell across the small creek, stopping up its waters like a cork, because there was a great wall formed by all the boulders. Storm King’s head was much larger before that human war, oh yes, much larger.
To this day the hundreds of warriors who refused to quit fighting and either died from their war wounds or from Storm King’s anger remain buried beneath the deep, deep cold, glacial water.
A haunting, liquid peace.
A contemplative place.