If you wonder why a reclusive nature lover would choose to dwell in a city, or more than dwell, would firmly and lovingly root herself here, then you don’t know my city. This is a city where wild life is at home. I do not mean those crowding into music clubs or poetry readings or lined up at gourmet food carts, but the more reclusive types among us, above us, around us. Once you start paying attention, you will find us everywhere, and you will understand.
That shimmering fuschia flash zipping above six-lane Interstate 405 at rush hour is an Anna’s Hummingbird, heading for the Red-flowering currants planted on the embankment. That cartoon-faced little fellow inching across the Springwater Corridor bike path by Johnson Creek is a Rough-skinned Newt. If you hear sweet singing while eating lunch in the new grey granite square downtown, it is likely the red-streaked House Finches nesting in the glass canopy above. In the rain drenched springtime you can watch Bald Eagles scan the swollen Willamette River where three-foot Chinook salmon weave their way under and around hulking industrial ships, upriver to spawn. Sit for a while on a bench at well-groomed Laurelhurst Park and you may spot the resident Barred Owl dozing on the branch of a Western Redcedar. Listen to the sounds behind the police and ambulance sirens; sometimes you will hear coyotes yipping and howling along with the neighborhood dogs. If your winter pansies disappear in one night it wasn’t the slugs- look for deer tracks in the mud. That ruckus at your bird feeder at midnight is no insomniac songbird, but a Northern Flying Squirrel. And yes, that little green glow at the base of a Douglas-fir next to Route 99 is a real, live, Glowworm.
These are my neighbors; this is my community. This is no great wilderness, but this is where I and these other adaptable animals have found ourselves, where we’ve settled, have come to belong, and even to thrive. This is our home.