A long time coming, it came like a winter flood. After six months idling in the backwaters, our house sold one day, and it carried us away for a month.
Only a month? My body says a year.
My body says: go for a walk. A sanity-preserving suggestion.
We’ve landed in a gangly elbow of the Portland metro, a ragged cluster of office buildings and corporate-looking apartments, crooked between the wash and the roar of freeway. It’s loud, but it’s just this side of country. And it has its charms, up close.
Even better: if I climb steeply for five minutes, my boots sigh onto the soft, non-native grasses of one of the last remaining patches of Willamette oak savanna.
It’s literally the same few trails. A half an hour’s brisk loop. They make new conversation every day, though. Already they have changed their clothes for winter. Always moving forward. Yes, I’m listening.
Anna’s hummingbirds give chase, screaming in their tiny whirring voices. Towhees shout down the endless cars. Leaves plummet, pivoting around their spotted galls. I’m told that if I find a hole the right size in the hillside, I’ll know where a mother coyote raised her pups.
From the top of the slope, an actual answered prayer. That’s River Mile 28.
From the top of the slope, from the midhill oaks, from the south-facing windows of my strange and lucky home: every day, the most astonishing clouds.
I could make an entire avocation up here out of cloudgazing.
At sunrise, in particular.
At the close of each short day.
Every time I look up from my work.
Every time I look, this grace.