Place Where You Live:

Coyle, Washington

Robins feast on the ripe laurel fruits.

The small community of Coyle sits near the end of a long peninsula that stretches southward into Hood Canal. There’s no post office, no gas station, and no general store. Such conveniences require, at minimum, a forty to forty-five minute drive.

My simple house has none of the features of the dream home I once pictured; but, after a long day at work, or shopping in town, when I finally turn onto the one-lane dirt road that is my street, there’s the promise of rest and comfort at last. Home, where I can curl up like a snail in its spiral shell, far from the urgencies and demands of the outside world.

What I like most about this place is the feeling of proximity to wilderness: the many native trees and shrubs, the seasonal succession of wildflowers, the nearby watershed, the wildlife, and best of all, the quiet. Residences are separated by alder woodlots with their understories of salal, kinnikinnick, and deer fern, all overshadowed by Douglas fir and the occasional madrona. It’s a place that supports an illusion of privacy, where, by some unspoken covenant, neighbors do not intrude on one another.

Wild creatures frequent my tiny plot of land. Deer feed on unfurling willow leaves. At least three species of owl break the silence of the night. One spring, a black bear, with a head at least three times the size of mine, stared at me through my kitchen window with only about a foot of space between us. To me, she embodied the meaning of that much-abused adjective “awesome”.

For the sake of birds, I’ve allowed salmonberry and blackberry shrubs to grow tall along the edges of the property, and a laurel hedge threatens to obscure it all. It’s among the laurel branches that robins in great numbers come to feast for several days in autumn when the blue-black fruits fairly burst with juice.

Landscapers leave their calling cards, hoping to bring order to my self-imposed chaos. Nature is messy, but wonder lives in every leaf and flower.