Crown of Pearl Hill

Basalt flows once covered most of Eastern Washington State (the Columbia River Basalt Group). Most exposed Basalt outcroppings are heavily weathered. This magnificent group sits atop Pearl Hill, just pass the Chief Joseph Dam.

The Crown of Pearl Hill 2

© Brad Skiff

Another View

I’ve already posted a couple of views of this small pioneer home on Pearl Hill, but here’s one more. I liked the cinematic framing for this shot. The image was taken with an infrared filter on a green, spring day.

two thirty five to one

© Brad Skiff

Blurry reasonings

Three times my laptop has gone to sleep as I ponder this image.

What should I write? A scenario leading to a pointed observation? Ah, loneliness…but are we ever really alone, so long as we have a soothing tide and a faithful pooch?

Or maybe something more ominous: Imagine, if you will, a woman out for a walk along a tumultuous shore, her faithful canine by her side. But this particular stroll isn’t as peaceful as it seems, because this stretch of beach begins on the shores of the mundane, but ends in the Twilight Zone.”

Or, how about something poetic?

You are faithless as an ember evening,
crashing like catechisms on the shore, instructing me
in the virtues of a disillusioned life.

Oh crap, who am I kidding? I lost an hour of sleep just like the rest of you. Here’s a kind-of-cool picture I took on Whidbey Island a couple of summers back. Hope you like it…

A Walk at Sunset

Shaded Testament

Once I wasn’t,
then I was.
Now I’m wasn’t once again.
Ah, simple physics!
My atoms will rise
with the bursting of this world
to sip starlight.
No paroxysmal dogma wrapped in vespers
could be clearer.
Once I wasn’t,
then I was,
now I’m wasn’t once again–
my shaded testament to all.

Shaded Plot

© Brad Skiff
Photo taken with a Hoya 720 nm infrared filter at Sunnyside Cemetery, Whidbey Island, Washington.

Raging Chief Joe

“Spillways are open.”
That’s a common comment after warming rains pelt the snowpack each spring, and the little town of Bridgeport is washed in the echoes of angry water churning from the Chief Joseph Dam.

It’s soothing, really, like the constant purring of an enormous concrete cat.  Unobtrusive–you get used to it quite quickly–unless you approach the beast.

This photo is from a couple of years ago, and was taken at dusk with a ND filter. It’s unusual for all the spillways to be opened at the same time; usually one or two are closed, making for a less than ideal photo. Luckily, on this day the dam was wide open.

Right now there are six inches of snow in my yard, but in March, some unseen hand flips a switch and we warm up quickly. Then the Chief Joe will rage once more.

Chief Joe at Dusk


A tree never travels until it dies.
It captains a vista
or cloisters in the shadows
like a resolute monk fettered to the land
some Calvinist hand fingered for its seed.
The speed of our rings to the girth of his
spawns envy for the boughs that shade our lusts;
gratitude and grandeur bestowed to the naïve
who views so little of the world,
blankly pondering nothing.


Infrared photograph taken with a Hoya IR 720 nm filter.
© Brad Skiff

There are fewer of these kids that it seems…

The other day, after a productive period of work in my freshman art course, I asked my high school students to put away their chalk sets and wipe down the tables. A teacher poked her head in to ask me a question while the kids went about their task of cleaning the room, so I didn’t provide my usual oversight. Still, after the bell sounded and the room was emptied of my charges, I noticed the tables were spotless and, instead of a jumbled pile of chalk sets on the back counter, someone had gone to the trouble of neatly stacking the thirty-odd sets of pastels for me.

Kids today.

They’re not at all like the knuckleheads in the cartoon below, which I drew to illustrate that school isn’t just about pragmatic knowledge. Yeah, I see that kind here and there, but they’re not as prevalent as you might think. After twenty three years in the classroom, I find cynicism toward our youth is generally unmerited. Sure, they’re not adults yet, and mistakes will ensue. But they’re never boring, and more often than not, they possess boundless promise!

Kids These Days


Warmth is a mirage birthed from a singularity
to shimmer on entropy’s stone,
a blip of vindication dismissed by eternity.
Cold is the hard truth of us all.

The Marker

Poem and photograph © Brad Skiff