Place Where You Live:

Humboldt County, California

The Place Where I Live

 I live in a green place. It’s as big as Delaware, and yet as small as a bird’s-nest fungus the size of a young girl’s finger tip. The ocean licks this place’s western flank. Mountains lift her east side, revealing veined greenstone and modest glacial cirques. In the middle are, round, grassy hills scattered with patient oaks and trespasses of madrone, tan oak, Douglas-fir, and scrawny native rhododendron lifting their pink blossoms to the cool, wet air. Slopes of coast redwood and Sitka spruce fall to the sea, and Sooty Grouse strut the trees’ fat branches.

 Winter mornings, the yelping of Aleutian Cackling Geese rains down. Long, wavering skeins embroider the noisy sky, weaving, breaking, and forming again in slow motion, impatient to find the day’s forage in spongy pastures. You can count them as they pass overhead, or look for white Ross’s Geese among them. Or, you can let your focus go soft and feel their motion on your retinas, letting the calls sway your eardrums. Sharp notes moving inside a willow thicket tell you Myrtle Warblers are nearby, their cheeks darkening to black with the approach of spring when they will fly north with the geese in their indelible urge to find endless sun again.

 This place can make you wander when you’re supposed to be doing something else. When the sun shines, people can’t help themselves. They put down what they’re doing and open their wings to the sun’s warm calories. To its affirmation that the rain will always end. That the creeper’s silver call will shiver in the forest again and the thrush’s whinny will query your intentions as you move about out of doors. Neighbors nod to each other, smiling, quietly knowing the ways of our place. We know why we’re here; we wouldn’t be anywhere else.