Central Oregon, the area around the Cascade Mountains, is a study in contrasts. Vast fields of jagged lava rock step towards pristine alpine meadows and lush green forests. The rugged landscape and harsh climate takes center stage, buildings accommodate with deep overhangs, steep sloped roofs and windows framing the views. The sky seems gigantic, especially at night when the Milky Way is clearly visible amongst the twinkle of lights.
We spend the final week of summer here every year, enjoying those last precious days before frantic school schedules take over. Between long trail hikes, bike rides and dips at the pool there's plenty of time for reflection on the year ahead. It's always challenging to disconnect, to live in the moment so that you can come back refreshed and recharged, but we all give it a go. This year I was struck by the way that this environment, the limitless trees and space, is humbling in the sense that it makes you aware that you are in service of the earth rather than the other way around. The most successful buildings and shelters I've had the opportunity to see, echo the unique qualities of their surroundings and have details inspired by these natural elements. Not only by using wood and stone, which is plentiful in this region, but the quiet details. The long shadows cast by staggered structure, the asymmetric rhythm of tree groves, the glimmer of gold wood layered beneath dark bark, the worn patina of copper and minerals, and the soft tumbled river stones on a bed of green moss. I cherish this week every year and am so grateful for the inspiration that it inevitably leaves with me.