QUINCY, Washington The moon hangs fat on the horizon, smeared with ruby grapefruit clouds. Frosted, the lawn crackles underfoot. The Cave B winery will reap its final harvest this weekend. Summer is over.
Cuvee, the vineyard dog, bounds into the brush, then re-emerges, smiling around a branch. I wrestle it from her and boomerang it overhead. The sage disintegrates midair, like a clay pigeon shot clean.
"Is it a meditation walk if everyone talks the whole time?" I ask Jess.
"It's still good for the soul," she smiles.
My roomie is right. I step carefully over three downed strands of barb wire. Ranches gave way to resorts here; grapes instead of grain. I inhale high desert, softened by water's scent, 900 feet below. The fourth largest river in North America, the Columbia spills more water into the Pacific than all its western hemisphere rivals. Its gorge, cleaved into volcanic rock, remains the only navigable route through the Cascade Range.
But this moment isn't about statistics, however impressive. Nor is it about dams and wine turbines and the ecological furor that roils these waters.
No, the dawn eases over the cliffs, gentling the canyon's stone. My shoulders slacken, my arms swing free. I want to bound like Cuvee. Because I'm far from the office. Because autumn air is firing my cityslicked synapses. Because all I have to do for the weekend is this: be in my body playing, eating, drinking, howling at the moon that squats over the plateau like some toad god.
Or just because.