Every time I open my website, a warm feeling rushes through me, the way the mighty Sauk River rushes over boulders in the forests near my hometown of Darrington, Washington. I gaze at White Horse Mountain (elevation, 6841) that guards the town (elevation, 554). Memories flood my mind like the Sauk in flood
I have been gone since 1970, but as a long-term resident observed, “No one ever really leaves Darrington. Some just go away.” I am one of them. Yet part of me will forever remain where I spent the first thirty-five years of my life.
Mom, Dad, my two brothers and I lived three miles out of town. We could see White Horse from our front yard and crossed the Sauk River on our way to town. It chuckled, murmured, and roared, depending on the season.
Life was not always easy, but living surrounded by the beauty of Creation, with good friends and relatives nearby, offered freedom to roam the forests. To fish and picnic along creek and river banks. To know that when trouble came, people would be there to lend helping hands. The rumble of a neighbor’s Caterpillar, with snow plow blade attached, often awakened us in the middle of the night as he cleared our driveway of snow that at times fell as much as 24 inches in 24 hours.
The mid-1950s was the golden era of high school basketball. We had a new gym built by the community, and big crowds to cheer our Loggers on. The whole town came out for the games, both home and away. We ruled in Class B, defeating far larger schools—and won the state championship against all predictions in 1955, 1957, and several times afterward.
Going back for reunions meant reminiscing about the “olden golden” days. Who could forget the heart-stopping moment when the ball sailed high in the air with only seconds remaining in a hard-fought game and the opposing team one point ahead? Or the swish when the winning shot dropped through the net just as the buzzer sounded?
One year, the Class B State Tournament was held in Tacoma. The carrier for The Everett Herald found Darrington looking like an abandoned town. He drove to Tacoma and delivered his papers to the loyal fans who had made the 210-mile round trip to support the team. I was there.
A Special Day
One of the last times I went to Darrington was with my brother, Randy, about fifteen years ago. Each mile of the two-hour trip resounded with “do-you-remembers.” We reached town, then headed up the scenic Mountain Loop Highway and stopped where the White Chuck River joins the Sauk. Randy fished. I sat on a boulder in the sunshine.
A feeling of familiarity swept through me. I was again a child, then a teen, sitting on a river bank watching Dad and the boys catch our evening meal (served with potatoes fried over a crackling fire and ripe tomatoes from our garden). Back then, before city folk swarmed in like a flock of locusts and emptied the streams, by the time Mom and I built a small fire, the menfolk had caught and cleaned enough trout for us all. Coated with cornmeal, flavored with the simple joy of being together, nothing ever tasted better.
“Where the White Chuck Rushes In”
Isolated and tranquil, the spot became a place to return in memory. A place to find peace and healing in a chaotic world. To thank God for memories—one of His greatest gifts. Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” Yet as long as I have photos, actual or indelibly etched in my heart and mind, I can go home.
The joys (and disappointments) of the past help me to look forward, as on tiptoe with expectation as while I was growing up. I greet each day wondering, “What lies around the bend in the trail? Behind the next hill? Down the as-yet-untraveled road?” Most important, “What does God still have in store for me?”
Fortified by faith, blessed by memories, I joyously step into the future, knowing all is—and will be—well.