High mountain divides have always been important to me and I seek them out at every opportunity, maybe because they provide, besides scenes of incredible beauty, places to stand, contemplate, and wonder about this world in which we live. They are also places where decisions are made.
At sun-up as I stood at the crest of a small divide, a tiny white cloud drifted over, all alone against a sky just starting to turn blue for the day, and made me think about a single drop of rain falling exactly in the middle of this very crest. When it touched the ground, one of several things could happen. If it could choose, what would it do?
Would it seek a small hollow on top of a rock and wait until the sun came out, evaporate back into the air and simply go through the whole cycle again, having made no effort and having accomplished seemingly nothing at all?
Or would it choose to trickle down from the rock, sink slowly into the rich soil on the top of the ridge and do its own small part to sustain a single blade of grass?
If it were a little more adventuresome it could choose to run off to the west, down this canyon that I had just traveled through, where the sun had not yet made its appearance and the cool mists of dawn still hung in the air painting the sides of the canyon in various hues of blue, ten miles later to join the river for a thousand mile trip to the Pacific and whatever fate would await it there.
Or it could choose to take a much longer journey and travel through this canyon to the east, as the sun first touches the treetops beyond a high grassy meadow, where it would enjoy thirty more miles of this beautiful canyon, perhaps spend some time in the turbulence of a beaver slowly swimming across his pond, join the river in time to experience the exhilaration of a trip through the whitewater rapids of the gorge, flow through the beauty of yet another twenty mile canyon, maybe touch the feather of an Osprey as he plunges for his dinner and then finally resume its journey to the sea.
But I doubt that raindrops can choose.
Note: These photos were taken at Siegel Creek pass in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains of Western Montana.