The past couple of weeks I've been working on a project just inside one of the Olympic National Park areas. It's located on the southeastern edge of the great wilderness, just at the toes of the mountains and close to the inland waterway of Hood Canal.
The fierce unwelcomingness of the untamed land is not far from the edge of the works of Man, not far beyond the edge of the trail or outside the light-circle of the camp cabins. The woods are dark, and deep, and they seem to remember the times before the firstcomers ventured up from the strand line eyes wide with the fear of the forests; panic fear, the terror of the gods of the twilight under the boughs.
The land was settled, and logged, generations ago. All along the road north from the central valley, in the little hollows along the great water to the east are the remnants of the little logging towns still lingering on after the great days of the caulks and the timber fellers have passed away.
If you stay on Railroad Avenue you might mistake the place for a solid little rural community. But venture too far off the main street and you come across the sad remains of what once was; the shuttered shops and sagging little houses long past the day they should have been painted and roofed. The plain brick woodworker's union hall is empty and stares out on the broken street with its glass eyes hollow and haunted at the way of life that has passed away in the last of its lifetime.
The pickups are getting old and haven't been replaced with newer models. The clothes are looking slightly dingy and frayed. The only things shiny and new are, viciously, the "Mitt Romney" campaign signs, as if the plutocratic candidate would be caught dead in the dying mill town except to drum up votes and hoo-raw the rubes for pocket change. The locals don't seem to get the irony; they are sincere and rough-edged in their belief that the man with the overseas bank account will be their champion.