Wednesday, February 29, 2012
My location is Williams, Oregon. A turn off on the old highway, a road that only leads to Williams and "over the mountain," but only in the summer. A rural area, a small river valley, surrounded by forested mountains, the mouth of valley facing north and east, backed by Sugar Loaf and Greyback peaks; the accumulation grounds for water shed into the Applegate, into the Rogue, out to the Pacific. A land inhabited by people for about 10,000 years, people living off the richness of the valley bottom, off fattened salmon, berries and nuts. War came with white man, who drove the natives east, who skinned beaver, who hit pay dirt, who found value in the substance of beautiful trees. Ox and horse team lead to clear cut, the disapearance of Port Orfords, and Doug fir, to the rise and fall of economy, a major migration of hippies, right-wing survivalists, horsey people, environmentalists, pot growers. There is no denying the abundance of this land. Summer breaks branches with the weight of apples, pears, plums, one dollar for 12 ears of corn at the Provolt farm stand. High quality cultivated herbs, organic vegtables, wild flowers, mushrooms, medicinal wild plants. Winter is gentle, frost never sinking too deep or staying too long. A brief look around reveals amateur cabins and mobile homes rotting into the earth along side home scale junk yards, jimmy rigged privacy fences of black plastic and pine poles, a gathering of old men drinking coffee and complaining down at the general store, moms in long skirts and dreadlocks driving subarus. Look deeper and see hay pastures with strong old oaks, dark cold creeks lined with alder and rusting farm equipment, mossy, damp stands of old growth forest.