an except from the end of chapter 8
Both of us were feeling fine and were talking a blue streak,
about anything, literature, the mountains, girls, Princess, the
poets, Japan, our past adventures in life, and I suddenly realized
it was a kind of blessing in disguise Morley had forgotten to
drain the crankcase, otherwise Japhy wouldn't have got a word
in edgewise all the blessed day and now I had a chance to hear
his ideas. In the way he did things, hiking, he reminded me of
Mike my boyhood chum who also loved to lead the way, real grave
like Buck Jones, eyes to the distant horizon, like Natty Bumppo,
cautioning me about snapping twigs or "It's too deep here,
let's go down the creek a ways to ford it," or "There'll
be mud in that low bottom, we better skirt around" and dead
serious and glad. I saw all Japhy's boyhood in those eastern Oregon
forests the way he went about it. He walked like he talked, from
behind I could see his toes pointed slightly inward, the way mine
do, instead of out; but when it came time to climb he pointed
his toes out, like Chaplin, to make a kind of easier flapthwap
as he trudged. We went across a kind of muddy river bottom through
dense undergrowth and a few willow trees and came out on the other
side a little wet and started up the trail, which was clearly
marked and named and had been recently repaired by trail he took
great precaution to throw the rock off saying "I used to
work on trail crews, I can't see a trail all mettlesome like that,
Smith." As we climbed the lake began to appear below us and
suddenly in its clear blue pool we could see the deep holes where
the lake had its springs, like black wells, and we could see schools
of fish skitter.
"Oh this is like an early morning in China and I'm five years old from the beginning of time!" I sang out and felt like sitting by the trail and whipping out my little notebook and writing sketches about it.
"Look over there," sang Japhy, "yellow aspens. Just put me in the mind of a haiku... 'Talking about the literary life - the yellow aspens.'" Walking in this country you could understand the perfect gems of haikus the Oriental poets had written, never getting drunk in the mountains or anything but just going along as fresh as children writing down what they saw without literary devices or fanciness of expression. We made up haikus as we climbed, winding up now on the slopes of brush.
"Rocks on the side of the cliff," I said, "why don't they tumble down?"
"Maybe that's a haiku, maybe not, it might be a little too complicated," said Japhy. "A real haiku's gotta be as simple as porridge and yet make you see the real thing, like the greatest haiku of them all is probably is the one that goes "The sparrow hops along the veranda, with wet feet." By Shiki. You see the wet footprints like a vision in your mind and yet in those few words you also see all the rain that's been falling that day and almost smell the wet pine needles."
"Let's have another."
"I'll make up one of my own this time, let's see, "Lake below ... the black holes the wells make," no that's not a haiku goddamit, you never can be too careful about haiku."
"How about making them up real fast as you go along, spontaneously?"
"Look here," he cried happily, "mountain lupine, see the delicate blue colors those little flowers have. And there's some California red poppy over there. The whole meadow is just powdered with color! Up there by the way is a genuine California white pine, you never see them much anymore."
"You sure know a lot about birds and trees and stuff."
"I've studied it all my life." Then also as we went on climbing we began getting more casual and making funnier sillier talk and pretty soon we got to a bend in the trail where it was suddenly gladely and dark with shade and a tremendous cataracting stream was bashing and frothing over scummy rocks and tumbling on down, and over the stream was a perfect bridge formed by fallen snag, we got on it and lay belly-down and dunked our heads down, hair wet, and drank deep as the water splashed in our faces, like sticking your head by the jet of a dam. I lay there a good long minute enjoying sudden coolness.
"This is an advertisement for Rainier Ale!" yelled Japhy.
"Let's sit awhile and enjoy it."
"Boy you don't know how far we got to go yet!"
"Well, I'm not tired!"
"Well, you'll be, Tiger."