Reflections on Woodard Creek
We sleep with the window wide open during this June weather and the susurration of Woodard Creek lulls us to sleep. It's origin is from the artesian springs just a few miles from here and the flow is supplemented by the rains that keep this place so green. In late November we leave the window open a little and I awaken to the sound of splashing. The chum salmon are spawning and I know that before Christmas they will have sent their DNA forward to another generation and very slowly stayed with the current until either they weakened and were picked off by the Bald Eagles perched in the trees below our house or washed to the shore to be consumed by racoons and a host of other members of the recycling corps around here.
Narda and I keep track of our wild neighbors. The Human ones are pretty tame around here, but two days ago I saw a doe with a couple of frisky fawns prancing by the window in the photo above, and later, a coyote crossed the gravel driveway carrying a medium sized racoon or similar sized animal it had taken. The flowers in the photo are grown, with my vegetables in a garden surrounded by a fence equivalent to the one at Walla Walla State Prison. Keeps the deer from eating everything.
Garter snakes and northern alligator lizards keep down the slugs and bugs in my garden and red legged frogs join the tree frogs as part of my pest control-no chemicals strategy. Sometimes the slugs do well but we always eat well with the remainder. I won't use herbicides, so moles and other critters have made the "lawn" into a dandelion and buttercup forested ankle busting obstacle course. Mowing to keep the fire danger down is an adventure but it is great for the forty or fifty relatives of our two families who show up here every Easter for the feast and egg hunt.
The forest was cut about 120 years ago and I've had to take out a tree or two now and then. Western red cedar and hemlock along with a few Douglas firs are surrounded by big leafed and vine maples, alders and willows. The birds love our nine acres. Chestnut backed chickadees and red headed sapsuckers have nests drilled out of the same dead snag just outside our dining room window. Big pileated woodpeckers shout out their Woody Woodpecker imitations and Coopers hawks come winging their way through the woods. We've seen three kinds of owls here and often fall asleep to their calls. We keep a log of what we see and the notes let us predict what's coming next.
The monetary value we put on real estate is interesting. You couldn't buy half of one standard suburban house in San Jose with what this place is valued at. But then you'd have to drive to state and national parks to see the things that pass our windows every day. Half of the property is on the other side of the creek and is almost never visited; at least by humans.
I've seen sea-run cutthroat trout here and once, a dark torpedo shaped steelhead shot by me on the way up stream. The stream is reasonably healthy, considering the thoughtless development of some stream side properties but it has survived, And when all of us are gone it will still be here. I've worked in some of the most remote and beautiful places on earth but really, there is no place like home.