The west wind hissed through the countless branches of the Old Growth Douglas Firs above me. Laying in a hammock connecting two of the six firs on top of the hill, I rocked slowly. A subtle cloak of haze obscured the horizon in every direction, giving the otherwise eventless sky a pink cast. It was hot by Pacific North West standards, but compared to an early summer run of weeks of triple digit temperatures, the mid 70s evening felt fall like.
Glancing west, I closed one eye, held my arm out, forming a line of a protractor with suns trajectory towards the hills behind Portland. The Suns path was an entire valley to the south of its solstice high-water mark behind the foothills of the Cascades. The area's long summer days were careening towards the fall equinox, shedding three minutes per day. Like watching a gas tank shrink towards empty on a remote highway, these slight differences in length of day, indistinguishable when viewed day to day, but substantial when observed weekly instilled a sense of scarcity.
The unescapable smell carried by the summers wind and conceived by the blossoms and subsequent blackberries, that for a few weeks each year excuse the existence of the brambles that cover so much of the West Coast, had given way to the dull smell of drought and dust. With a sense of urgency, an hours work and a healthy thorn tolerance, enough cups of the black fruit to make a cobbler could be appropriated.
"Shit," I announced to anyone that would answer, breaking the silence observed in that half an hour before sunset spent laying in a hammock. "We kinda blew it on not making a blackberry cobbler."
"Fuck," Tim responded after a distracted pause from a nearby hammock, humoring my disappointment and concern about the cobbler, but by no means indicating enough enthusiasm to suggest breaking the bonds of a hammock in favor of picking blackberries.