When you're feeling old, it's always a good idea to go visit some lava to put things in perspective! Although as lava flows go, the closest one happens to be comparatively young — only 1,500 years old in places — virtually yesterday in geological time. The High Cascades lava flow consists of 65 square miles of mostly type "A A" (pronounced "Ah Ah") lava (big black chunky pieces), which provide a majestic (if gloomy) carpeting for the foyer of not-so-distant Mt. Washington. The nice people from the Department of Agriculture have been kind enough to build a little house out of the lava, which one can climb like a castle and then like an archer peer out of a dozen adorable little windows inside, each precisely framing a different one of the dramatic surrounding peaks. Any day now the McKenzie pass will close for the winter (last night it snowed here, and the road through the pass is hair-raisingly narrow). On Saturday it was 95 degrees and I spent the afternoon swimming in a lake, and now there is snow to hold in my hand. I suppose it is some consolation that it is snow and not lava.