Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Among the Others

It was this: gauzy breath of things, a wild perfume

settled on grass and leaf, and whirring wings about me,

the wash of light sheer raiment falling to earth.

Saltwater marsh, wetland woods, mudflats spread out.

Stepping down the path, heart’s beat pulling me along,

and different tattoos of footprints wound about stones.

Mountains rose up, far off as loved ones.

The tableau revealed the paucity of what I knew

and was trying to learn but always, a simpler woman stirred.

Water rested, shone of myriad worlds above,

below, beyond to deeper, deepest waters. The greenest life.

I was as a twin, outside while also still myself:

to sense all that drank, rested, snarled, predated,

slipped into murky green and blue, fur and hooves,

tails and claws that flew and teeth that tore and ears

that pricked long before any small knowing

came to such as myself, a lesser being,

neophyte of nature’s finer absolutes.

Struck dumb by love for all I do not comprehend,

lost to amazement again–I took it in, held it close

Elderberries, bear-berries, salal berries

leaned this way and that. And my legs went weak

as I recalled their bounty meant for wild things.

Day’s revealing light began to cool,

water lulled each side of a narrow path.

No sound followed but a sigh from within

family of grasses, scrunch of bushes.

Trees gathered up shadows and light

like gatekeepers of that country.

But I felt the others. Tell me not otherwise,

they were there and noses lifted, paws stilled,

ears came awake–

black bears, a cougar or bobcat and coyote.

And this was not–despite my adoration–

our common hunting ground.

Not my moody sky to cover

my differentness in the coming night.

Monday’s Meander: An Oregon Riparian Wildlife Refuge

On Saturday we returned to a place we explore each season, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The riparian forest, wetlands, and lowlands comprise over 1800 acres that are home to over 200 species of birds, 50 of mammals, 25 of amphibians and reptiles and a large assortment of insects, fish and plants.

We had our ears attuned to birdsong as eyes sought out critters among lush greenery. We heard more than saw wildlife–a snort of a black tailed deer, the sleek fat body of a river otter, the rustlings of perhaps a snake through the tall grasses. I was hoping for a bobcat but have never seen one, and may have sighted a coyote and beaver.

It was a peaceful mosey among groves of old great white oak trees, which support 800 kinds of creatures there. We missed the bigger groves but there are many other trees to enjoy along the paths. Small lakes amid the wetlands were luminous, dramatic as the sky darkened and brightened with sunshine alternating with rain clouds. The river itself was hidden much of the time–several areas are off-limits to humans to protect migrating birds.

Rain became a fickle companion, the sky feeling low and then high again.

Rain increased but it was a mild day and we are Oregonians…we kept on. At the end of our walk, the small lakes and swooping vocalizing birds captivated me. I could have set up camp there right through dusk and nightfall.

Clouds scudded off; the landscape flushed with honeyed light once more.

It was a soothing while also stimulating afternoon, and I always feel happy photographing nature. We will return when more paths are opened to our eager feet.

Monday’s Meander: March Scenes from the Pacific Northwest

Contrasting views from the country to city…I savor them all. My long walks have gradually become less rain-slogged with more rending of cloud cover, allowing longer stunning light and, finally, deepening blue skies and flowers abloom. The bees are out and hard at it, what a relief. We saw a hummingbird by the river zipping about and lots of birds singing, fluttering here and there with their lovely plumage.

Bear with me if I often post shots of the spring glories. I need nature’s mysterious and lovely offerings more than ever. I suspect we all are eager for the good land’s magnetic vagaries and welcome continuity as much as we can get. Sunlight’s always a refresher. Sky that is bright feels like open arms. I do hope you all take a good walk this week, short or long.

Friday’s Quick Pick/Photos: Good Earth, How You Move Me

Photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson, copyright 2018

Last week-end, Marc and I made our first early spring trek to check out Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge in Washington State. We visit at least once a season to investigate the bird activities and walk among the marshes and grassland, as well as absorb partial view of the Cascade Mountains and portion of the Columbia River. I grew more excited as we neared the turn-off; this nature preserve shares small surprises each visit as well as peaceful beauty.  Many people flock here to enjoy the wealth of the offerings; they are always friendly and usually share what they have experienced.

There is almost more water than trees but alder and fir trees as well as groves of stark black cottonwood are attractive in fields and along the river. We will return when they are fully leaved, but before the summer sun bears down upon us with fiery heat.

Far from being accomplished birdwatchers, we still try to identify our sightings. This time we noted a bald eagle perched high above, blue herons in the marshes, Northern harriers hunting as well as red-tailed hawks, watchful kestrels and a bold scrub jay, and the elegant outlines against brilliant sky of charming swifts. And scores of Canadian geese as well as the requisite mallards and buffleheads. We enjoyed many I could not quite capture on film or name. The harriers were majestic and powerful and flew very low over land, then abruptly rose and rose above treetops countless times. I could barely move for the awe I felt. You’ll find the harrier in the 3rd, 13th and 14th photos. They tend to hover right, almost seeming still, before diving to kill their prey. (Unlike red-tailed hawks which ride the thermals, spiral up and then execute a very rapid dive to prey.) The smallish kestrel stands atop a post. I suspect you all know a bald eagle and heron.

I find the high wild grasses stunning, and love to listen to and watch them sway, shimmy, rustle, sigh and bow in the strong Columbia Gorge winds.

You can see shining Mt. Hood a few times, a dramatic beacon to those of us who live here (though one of many great peaks we can see on a clear day).

There were also a couple of interesting outbuildings beyond the enclosed refuge as you can walk for miles and miles along the rushing river.

Good Earth, how deeply you move me…

Steigerwald Spring March 18 062