Tuesday, June 30, 2009

`The Big Words Fail to Fit'

On Wednesday we leave for a brief vacation at Lake Chelan, our first trip east of the Cascades. Judging from photos, the setting is alpine and elemental – water, stone, trees. With the boys we’ll hike, swim, eat, read and celebrate Michael’s ninth birthday.

The lake is glacier-fed and even in summer hypothermia-inducing. Its average depth is 474 feet; its deepest, 1,486. I like to research the places we visit, and dig up facts like this. I like to know the flora, fauna and human history. That’s how I learned of a school bus accident in November 1945 that left 15 students and their driver dead in icy Lake Chelan. Such a story is the stuff of cheap novels – and life. Now the lake, regardless of its undeniable beauty, will not look the same as I had expected before reading about the crash.

I thought of D.J. Enright’s “On the Death of a Child,” in which he writes “The big words fail to fit.”

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