SMOKE

Oregon has had a drier than normal summer this year, meaning an unusual fire season. We always have some forest fires but this year has been exceptionally bad. Today my morning trip to the nearby grocery store was shorter than usual because of the smoke. Many of the customers and some of the workers were wearing masks. The customers weren’t lingering and I overheard one pair discussing trying to find a movie they would like to see just to get into cool air they could breathe. I cut my shopping short too. It’s hard to think when you can’t breathe easily.

When we drove home there was a pair of crows on our front lawn. They didn’t stay long. I seldom see crows since we moved here and really miss watching the show they put on when they’re trying to get their walnuts cracked or struggling to keep an offspring fed. It took me awhile to realize those in our yard today must be visitors from some not so far away area that’s on fire.

We’ve been very hot the last few weeks, unusual for our area, so that explains both the fires and the presence of the crows. We do have more than our share of birds in our area, we‘ve had Mallards in our side yard off and on all summer and humming birds visiting my Fuchsia since I put it up after Mother’s Day. Two blocks away, I can visit our lake to see the Herons fishing and watch the Canadian Geese come in for a landing. Mornings I can look up at the slice of sky I see from the window above my desk to watch hawks circling on the hunt.

There are some good things about a hot, dry summer. We put two tomato plants in a small raised  bed in the side yard and now have more tomatoes than we can eat or give away. The roses in nearby yards seem to have been in full bloom for a very long time, and the swim pool at our community center seems to be in constant use. My walks are usually in the evening and there are usually other walkers doing the same thing. However,  I’m probably the only one in our park glad to see the visiting crows.  

There are other birds that frequented our old neighborhood on the same side of town and only a couple of miles away that don’t show up here.  A Mourning Dove lived close enough to me that I could hear her but never saw her. Pigeons came to parking lots frequently, and once in awhile were joined by Sea Gulls. A group of Juncos seemed to live in our back yard and Starlings often visited and tried to find nesting sites–a fairly constant struggle to keep them out of our buildings. The man next door had a fish pond for Koi so once in awhile a Heron or other fishing bird showed up to study the scene but never seemed to be successful. 

It was the crows who put on a show. They would pick up a walnut from under a tree just down the street and fly to our corner with a tall pole and drop the walnut. That seldom did any good so they would pick up the nut, go high again and try to fly down to  drop it where a car would run over it. Usually with an off spring calling loudly to be fed. Just one of the survival trips they’ve learned that also keeps a watcher entertained.

Copyright Jo-Brew 2017

Author of OREGON'S MAIN STREET: U.S.HIGHWAY 99, The Stories
Co Author of OREGON'S MAIN STREET: U.S. HIGHWAY 99, The Folk History

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