Late Fall in the Valley …

Working on my computer, trying to complete paper work that I have neglected during our extended October summer ….   I keep looking up and out of my office window at the Willamette River and the rain and wind-blown leaves.   The dark overcast skies, brisk winds, and leaf colors seemed to have just  appeared.  I don’t remember any transition from the tee-shirt sunny days of working in my garden and hiking along forested trails to our late cool, fall rains and leaf raking.  Unlike some, I gravitate to our fall/winter weather.   I resemble my late golden retriever who used to settle comfortably by the fireplace, his Read More

Nature’s Gallery

This time of year we live in the gallery—every turn shows nature lavishing on us its ironic exuberance, made all the more poignant because we know winter will soon slowly unpaint the scene. Shakespeare’s observation on this brilliant decline–   “This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong, to love that well which thou must leave ere long” comes to mind, as does Hopkins’ “Million-fuelled, nature’s bonfire burns on.”  And it is glorious, there’s no question. We stop in our tracks at the sight of big leaf maples bursting into gold.  Miraculously, this all comes back to us year after year—or will, if we take Read More

Valley of Fires

Just before noon one day in late October, Claire, Jessica and I jumped into my 22 year-old Subaru and drove to Lupine Meadows, a 58 acre property bordering West Hills road at the south end of Bald Hill Farm.  Jeff Baker, the Greenbelt Stewardship Manager, had just called to say “it” was to begin. The “it” was a prescribed fire that Greenbelt was coordinating on part of Lupine Meadows to enhance the native upland prairie habitat.  The Greenbelt Land Trust purchased the Lupine Meadows property in 2005 to protect the existing populations of endangered Fender’s blue butterfly and its host plant, Kincaid’s lupine.  Willamette Valley Read More

Why I live here …

                In our long wandering years we dreamed of returning not just to the US but to the Willamette Valley. Human salmon returning to the river that gave them life (I can’t say native river since I was born in a different watershed—along the banks of the Mississippi. . .). For years we told our kids stories about fixing up an old farmhouse in the valley, getting a dog, a chainsaw, and some chickens. Somehow it happened—we rebuilt a 19th century schoolhouse (built by a freed slave—no mere metaphor) not far from Corvallis, got the chickens and the chainsaws, and Read More

River musings …

Saturday, September 17th One Saturday in September, I slide my kayak into the waters of the Willamette River at  Harrisburg.  If you had a larger boat, you might want to find another launching spot because the river has created an extensive gravel bar between the cement boat ramp and the water.   The river doesn’t promise permanence despite all our efforts to arrest its exuberance.  After pushing into the river, I paddle with deep long strokes into the center of the river and pause to adjust my hat and look behind me at a procession of mostly canoes and a few kayaks.  The Greenbelt Land Trust Read More