Chilling, Actually

by Jeremy O'Bryan

News today seems usually to be bad news.

Leah and I were recently featured in the Tacoma News Tribune’s Outdoor section. We took in a picnic lunch in early March between hikes in Washington’s amazing Mount Rainier National Park.

We were kicking back on the old porch at National Park Inn in Longmire, gnoshing on tidbits of cheese, fruit, ham, and bread. It was a kind of chilly, actually, but the absence of any wind made the outdoor picnic bearable. It was quiet, as if we were very nearly the only visitors.

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Just then a guy wandered into our space with a park employee.

“Not much of a view of the mountain today, but you can shoot whatever else you want,” the employee said, gesturing widely to the cloud-enshrouded Mount Rainier in the distance and the ten-foot banks of snow blocking the view from and toward the Inn’s porch. The guy had a press badge and some camera gear hanging around his neck.

“Thanks,” the guy replied, and the park employee went back inside. Camera gear guy sauntered carefully closer and asked if we were just enjoying a picnic there on the porch.

“Um, yes?” I said, hoping this was my sweepstakes deliveryman about to proffer millions to me via a giant 4-foot wide check. I looked around. Just him. No hidden cameras, no big check.

“We’re doing a feature on late-winter activities at Longmire,” he said. “Do you mind if I photograph you?”

Understanding the plight of a photographer sent to capture images of something that isn’t going exactly the way some editor imagines, and knowing we were the only game in town, so-to-speak, I said, “Sure.”

We chatted. He snapped off frames. We commented on the fact that the view from the porch, usually dead-center on the Mighty Rainier, was blocked by the snow that had fallen off the roof of the Inn. If you stood up from the chair, however, the view was much better, and now included great gray bands of clouds. But no mountain.

We also lamented together that our little picnic was the most exciting thing happening to take photos of that day. But that’s OK. A picnic on the porch at National Park Inn in the late winter should include a bit of lazy peace and quiet. Time to avoid the constant flow of noise from the world. Time to heal.

The photographer got his shots in. We finished our picnic and took off for another short hike. No big sweepstakes check, but it was better to actually be part of some good news.

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