Thursday, September 16, 2010

From The Canyons - Neighbors

I live on the breaks between the Grande Ronde and Minam-Wallowa rivers. That is, I live there most nights and week-ends, and a little in the morning (before 7 am). I value the scraps of time that I am there.

Yesterday morning I heard elk bugling before getting in my car to drive into work. Correction, I heard the bugling of elk and the buzzing of a small private plane, the chattering of pygmy nuthatches and the rattling of a pick-up truck on the road, the clear heart-stabbing song of a meadowlark and a chainsaw starting up.

Life where I live is on the continuum of the wild and the human, as it is everywhere now. I’m beginning to understand that wildness extends into our cities, and we extend our influence into the wildest areas. I'm beginning to understand that every action of mine impacts the wild somehow, and the wild affects every part of my life. Often these are unintended consequences – most of which are unknown by me.

The windows of our house at night, bright with light in a dark world, concentrate the moths in our vicinity. The bats follow the moths, zipping around our porch. The pots of kitchen herbs and greens I keep watered on my back deck are assertively inhabited by the little frogs known as spring peepers – the only place I see them any more. Mule deer graze close by, knowing we do not have dogs or hunting rifles, knowing the coyotes keep a distance from our house.

We are neighbors – us and the coyotes and deer and rambling bear and occasional cougar and on and on. From not-so-wild turkeys to very wild grouse, owls to house mice, we live in each other’s vicinity, some closer than others, some (like the house mice) too close for my comfort. They are part of my world, and for better or worse, I am part of theirs.

I mark my calendar as much by the birds I hear in the morning and the schedule of wildflowers blossoming, what stars are visible in the night sky, and the shape of the moon as by dates and months.

Now I have decided to move to town, aware that I will still be part of this continuum, aware that all my actions still will impact the wild around me, aware that I will still be struggling to learn how to be a better neighbor.

Warning to my human neighbors – I intend to plant native shrubs and wildflowers along my fence lines, tolerate any deer that wander by, put up bat boxes and bird boxes, and in every way I can imagine encourage the wild to continue co-habiting with me on this glorious, beautiful earth.

- Danae Yurgel, HCPC Office Administrator

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