Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Summer evening

We spent last weekend with my mother-in-law in the town of Mount Shasta in far northern California (about 45 minutes south of the Oregon border). Saturday morning was magical, as chronicled in this post. By late afternoon, billowy clouds had begun to build up in the sky, and we decided to head to the Living Memorial Sculpture Garden for sunset.

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Spectacular evening clouds

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Looking northwest from Highway 97

The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden is located 13 miles northeast of Weed, California. Yes, there is a town named Weed (its motto is “Weed like to welcome you”), and in spite of the wealth of marijuana-related souvenirs being sold in local shops, it has nothing to do with pot. Instead, it gets its name from an early developer named Abner Weed. in 1897, he established the Siskiyou Lumber and Mercantile Mill, which by 1940 became the world’s largest sawmill.

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We were the only visitors except for a Vietnam veteran and his wife driving this Ford Mustang GT. With Mount Shasta in the background, the car looked like it was in a sales brochure come to life.

The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden (LMSG) is a place unlike any other I’ve ever visited. According to its website:

It is situated on 136 acres of land provided by the USDA Forest Service, which were replanted with tens of thousands of trees by countless volunteers.

The trees are living tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives in war. The sculpture garden, a place for reflection & remembrance, healing & reconciliation.

The LMSG pays homage to all honorable veterans, in conflict and in peace.

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The Why? Group

This is a land of pine trees, sagebrush and manzanitas punctuated by volcanic rock. The wind can be fierce, but when it isn’t blowing, the quiet is so complete that it’s startling.

At the LMSG there are eleven metal sculptures by artist Dennis Smith who did a 13-month tour in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. For him, the sculptures about about "war and the effects of war,” but he appreciates that “everyone comes with their own personal story that blends and interacts with the LMSG.”

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All Wounded Warriors

While I did a stint in the military in the 1980s, I was never in combat nor do I have strong ties to the armed forces. However, there is something about the LMSG that engages me at a deeply personal level, and each visit is an emotional experience. Each of us has their own places of power; this is one of mine. And in a time of turmoil and uncertainty like the political climate we’re in right now, these sculptures seemed to take on added meaning.

I don’t expect that my photos will convey my feelings but at least they will give you a idea of what a spectacular spot this is.

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The Nurses

The high desert here is raw, lonely and haunting. While it isn’t part of the Great Basin, it reminds me of the scenery you find in the Eastern Sierra.

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Sagebrush (Artemisia sp.)

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Dead sagebrush (Artemisia sp.)

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Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.)

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Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.)

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Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus)

As we were walking around looking at the sculptures, the drama in the sky was intensifying.

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All Wounded Warriors

Looking north:

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Coming Home

Looking west:

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Coming Home

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The Flute Player

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Korean War Veteran

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Korean War Veteran

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Korean War Veteran

What a sight:

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One of three figures surrounding The Flute Player

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The Nurses

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The Nurses

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The Why? Group

While the western sky was ablaze with hues of yellow, orange and blue, the clouds shrouding the higher reaches of Mount Shasta were oddly colorless.

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This is the most color the mountain itself received:

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The Peaceful Warrior

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But elsewhere, the magic went on and on:

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My day ended the way it had begun: with a display of wondrous beauty I had not expected.

6 comments:

  1. Gorgeous sights! Those statutes are really amazing.

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  2. Sunset, especially when it plays itself out among clouds, is always magical in my opinion but the sculptures here make it more so. The memorial is impressive. I'm surprised I've never heard of it before. Your photos are excellent, as usual.

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  3. wow.How many times have I driven right past that Weed turnoff. I have to say that the stretch between Dunsmuir and the Oregon border is one of my favorite drives. Next time need to explore a bit !

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    1. The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden is 13 miles east of Weed, right on Highway 97. If you ever find yourself in the area with lots of time on your hands, make the drive on Highway 97 to Klamath Falls (from there you can loop back to Ashland). Spectacular high desert scenery.

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  4. Really powerful place (and post). Wonderful photos as always!

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