East / West Pass between Hidden Lake & the East Fork
of the Minam River, Eagle Cap Wilderness . . .
On the road in the Northwest of America.


Balance in perception is simple in principle, yet difficult
in execution. In part, it is like carrying two complementary
types of lenses in your outfit. One, binoculars, brings the
very far away into clear view, while the other, a magnifying
glass, brings the detail of the very small up close. I never go
without both, these marvelous technologies of the magical
middle realm.


I want to move through the world in a way that awakens
the whole instrumentarium of my perception. I want to think
out the route through a problem with my toes, hear the crash
of a tree before it falls, sense the next storm with the pores
of my skin. I walk down the busy road and see all the isolated,
obviously unhappy people caged up in their expensive,
conspicuously old-fashioned, ineffecient cars. And I ask myself,
is this how the gods meant the instrument of our perception or
intelligence to be used or played? The pace or speed of
perception is like the tension of a string. If the string is too lose,
it makes a hardly audible, flabby sound; if the string is too taut,
the sound is painfully sharp, always on the edge of breaking.
I say to myself: Slow down, unwind a bit, get out of the car.
Then one might see perhaps what the fastfoward artificiality
of the automobile has made of us and our view of the world.


Clear thinking and decisive action, it seems to me, are
grounded in good systems of measure.

Dealing with problems on a world scale, likewise,
necessitates a universal common measure. The problems
of waste, runaway militarism, water and food scarcity,
pollution, overpopulation, and climate change taken
together present an urgent call, as well as a unique
opportunity, to throw out the thought-constricting and painfully
outmoded feet, fahrenheit and gallons of North America's
colonial past, and bring the world together in a unified
system of metric measure.

This was first brought home to me a long time ago while
working in the Alps. I was milking cows for a mountain
farmer there. And one afternoon, he asked, "How many
kilos did you bring down this morning?" I thought, kilos?
I had measured liters. Then I suddenly realized they are
one and the same. Absolutely brilliant!

The whole world needs to focus collectively and with
great clarity on the significance of an increase of one degree
C. average temperature. No translation. Just what it means.
And what to do. For right action and right measure, it seems
to me, go necessarily together.

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South/North Sister—
first light
Black Butte
Ponderosa Pines— after burn Manzanita

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2008 picture-poems.com
(created: VIII.7.2008)