Monday, October 3, 2016

This Place

As I sit with the birds and my morning coffee, as I do every morning I'm home, rain or shine, I watch the seasons change.  This time of year, when the stark white sun and brittle greenery of summer disappear practically overnight,  in favor of cloud-streaked skies and the moist reds and yellows of autumn, is my favorite. 

After the equinox, the change is not slow.  Every morning, the sun is noticeably farther to the south and lower in the sky than it was the day before at the same time.  The air is damp and cool.  One day the morning sky is full of swallows gorging on bugs to fatten up for their autumn sojourn, the next day, the sky is empty of their quivering acrobatics.  The flashing copper bullets of rufous hummingbirds no longer zoom from feeder to flower to tree, though the Anna's will be my companions throughout the dark, sodden months of winter.  Golden- and white-crowned sparrows dot the ground beneath the feeders, and the towhees dart in and out of low bushes.  As of this writing, I have yet to welcome the first wave of juncos to the yard.  I await them impatiently, as I would an old friend who has planned a visit but been somehow delayed.  The juncos are the life and cheer of my winter garden.

This morning, I hear the voices of sandhill cranes floating over from the east.  Flocks of  "gigglers,"--the cackling race of Canada geese--mill around above the horizon; I can see them as tiny dots just above the tops of the neighborhood trees which in another month will be leafless, stately in their nakedness.  The orange tops of school busses are visible once more, lumbering past my fence on their morning rounds,  their color harmonious with the natural palette of fall.

This is the sixteenth time I've witnessed the return of autumn to Columbia County, Oregon.  In 2001 I came here, desperately unhappy with the circumstances that had bade me leave behind the place I had come to love as home, and relocate to this far northern outpost of lonely exile.   Truthfully, if I had to count my integration with the people here as the measure of my attachment to this place, I would have packed my bags and flown years ago. 

Yet this house has grown too large for me.  This yard, sad in its neglect, too much of a burden.  I know we will leave here, rather sooner than later.  Even now, our lives are becoming more and more established south of here, in a dusty building a hundred miles away.  There is hope and anticipation about the ultimate relocation; after a two-decade exile, I will finally be back in the bosom of the family I fled in tears years ago. 

But when I sit in this back yard on autumn mornings, gazing toward the rising sun, great birds winging and calling above the horizon, small ones pecking at corn and sunflower seeds at my feet, I love this place fiercely.  And I wonder, how can I ever leave?         


  1. Poised one change again...another journey and adventure.

  2. Somebody really flipped the switch all right. Suddenly it's cool and damp and I have competition fo the afghan on the bed. A little tuxedo with a love of all things soft.