Changes We See
Lake County residents on places that we have seen change over time
Watching closely and interacting physically with the surface of Summer Lake as it is drying out in the warm months is a amazing. The changes to the patterns of the cracks in the mud, the color, the distance you can walk before starting to sink in never ceases. It makes you very aware of water and the lack of water.
This place holds a record of changes that points to the inevitable way the environment changes. When I was there for the first time I was struck by both how beautiful the natural world is and how we are responsible for not putting it in jeopardy.
A wildfire flared up and raced across the edge of the mountains and sprang across the highway, continuing north. The effects were sobering as quite a few homes were in the line of fire. The color of the fire retardant was brilliant against the blackened earth and plants.
There are more and different kinds of wildlife now then when I arrived in the county (1978). Some of the species that have increased include bighorn sheep, river otter, silver gray squirrel, fox, eagles and ibis. No species have disappeared, but some have declined, most notably mule deer.
When I went to Hart Mountain in August 2006 for the first time, the lakes viewed from the lookout were all full. For the next 10 years, the valley was dry, all white dust in vaguely circular patterns, like placeholders for ghost water, even in spring. Now, at long last, Lake County lives up to its name again.
It was very scary watching the fire crawl over the top of the ridge from my backyard at night. We were so worried that the fire was just wiping out our beautiful forest around Dog Lake. Later, after things cooled off, we were able to drive through and it looked pretty bad. We were afraid it was going to take a long time to recover. Happily, last year we drove through and things were recovering nicely. There was a lot of open space for deer and elk to graze, and more pockets of living trees than we expected to see.
I love to watch Abert Rim change through the seasons. The play of snow and stone in the winter, the brilliant lime and rust lichen in the spring, the color fadeout in the summer, and the way the fall light makes the whole thing glow. It is a year-round display.