I just came from an alien landscape (to midwestern-born, northwest-coast-living me, that is) and am left with strong color memory. It was a sage-brush desert on the eastern side of Washington, where sinkholes drop out of dry earth into water and so sprout incongruous tufts of green against the more subdued pastels of the arid plants’ palette (sage green, of course, and dusty pink and moony blue-green and yellow yellow yellow… yellow-green and vibrant orange also come from tiny but powerful lichen that grow on rock faces). Soap Lake, which is considered to be an inland sea because of its salt content, crusts its edges with sulfurous yellow and white crystals over slimy dark mud. People with hopes toward the healing reputation of the mineral rich water gather in waist deep water and shift their feet back and forth. Some join hands, some set up low slung beach chairs in the shallows and soak it in as they gaze at the pale brown cliffs, the hot blue sky. We swam in another place– Park Lake– a deep and dark and cold one with enormous rocks pushing up out of the glassy surface. Tiny plants or algae or pollen (not sure which) made a cosmic pulse of the top few inches of water– bright light green dashes and dots tumbling through black.