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Cascades of endless hills and profoundly magnificent mountains abound where I live.  Like few other places on the planet, this land features always snow-clad sentinels dominating the view from almost every compass point.  People — from all over — flock to these natural shrines to walk, climb, ski, photograph, admire, and to reap the bounty of huckleberries, mushrooms and memories.

I know of another “mount,” higher than a hill, but lower than the Cascade Mountains.  I’ve driven by this solitary miracle for the past ten years and finally, recently, I’ve begun to take note of it. No map blares out its name.   No road road nor trail rips the landmark’s skin.  I’ve never seen anyone near it or on it. Like a verdant tiara, there are ancient trees ringing the mountain’s base.  Then, the forest yeilds to a lush meadow, leading all the way to the summit.  Unlike other area peaks, you don’t see this monument until you turn a corner and all of a sudden, it quickly fills visual space, a top to bottom view lasting only a minute.

This remarkable hill changes its mantle to suit the season: from winter-white snow cap to spring’s greater green.  And now, as summer is in full swing, the scene becomes increasingly glorious if your timing coincides with the perfect light.  Nature photographers all seek the picture-framing ideal shade of sun.  Some wait patiently until their majestic view intersects with the right ray of color, tempered by grasy and punctuated by windy breaths.

Inside my home, I love to peer intently at a framed photograph titled, Evening Light, a striking pose of 14,000 foot Mount Rainier, cloud covered and cradled in a bath of late day warmth.  Yet, the golden hill I’ve been describing appears different: its meadow is boldly splashed with brilliant paintbrush of yellow whenever the sun tunes it in.  Someone has sprinkled a treasure-chest load of Midas-laden glitter that has transformed dead brown grass to gold.  As this phenomenon occurs, it is not impolite to stare.

I entertain competing tugs whether I should walk this mountain.  A part of me wishes to capture some sun gold on my face, to wonder about the stellar view awaiting me, and to imagine what hidden beauty lies on the other side?  Yet, I pass by many other rock sentinels along my way that I have climbed.  I relate to these mountains with a common familiarity, which can diminish enthusiasm.  Footprints can do that.

So, here is this mysterious little mountain, completely unknown and chock full of unexplored territory.  Tested by time, receptive to seasons, immune to storm, summer sun and the dramatic heaving action of icy frost.  How can something as impassive as a statue suddently come to life when the sun shines on it, and begin to seriously beckon me to take a closer look?  ~

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