Aki and I walk the ghost trails of Treadwell. The once vibrant mining community was abandoned after a 1917 collapse flooded the tunnels it sent out into Gasteneau Channel. Today it’s ruled by deciduous trees: alders and cottonwoods. In summer they and the understory plants almost cover up the ruins. At summer’s end the cover slips away, revealing twisted rails and pipes that appear to grow out or through tree trunks. Weird machine parts, made beautiful by eroding rust appear leaning against spruce trunks.
Hard brown seeds of Cow Parsnip manage a tiny glow of beauty in the soft rain. The inverted pyramid assemblages contrast the droopy brown leaves of the mother plant. They have already sent a season’s worth of nutrients to the roots. So begins the end game of summer.
Treadwell, with it’s “all good things must come to an end” message, is a good place to adjust to summer’s end. It is coming. Already the fireweed are heading out with seeds they soon will release in a storm of white. Those berries not harvested by animal or man drop in ripeness, silver salmon color up in their natal streams, and bears build blankets of fat to take them through winter. In weeks Treadwell and other collections of leaf trees will be a celebration of shapes and we will look through them to the channel, our bringer of autumn storms.