It was just over two weeks ago when I noticed the first hummingbird had returned to Opal Creek. Lured here, no doubt, by the same sunshine and mild temperatures that drew many of us Oregonians outside over the Easter weekend. A day or two later, I heard the frogs calling to each other from the slowly warming muck at the pond’s edge, tucked into a still shady corner of the yard. But, just today when I woke, the frogs were silent and the hummingbirds were nowhere to be seen. In their place was a fresh layer of heavy, wet snow and cold, dark clouds raking the mountains overhead.
Opal Creek, wilderness, ancient trees, crystal clear streams…these are words I throw around a lot, with funders, with staff, with donors, with board members, and with friends. Each of these words alone invokes thoughts of tranquility, open space, room for the mind to roam and unwind. These are magical words.
Winters days are numbered in Jawbone Flats. In sync the melting snow, extended sunlight, and the patiently waiting buds and seedlings, I’ve been diligently planning, organizing and developing our programs for the coming season.
On July 18-20 Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center hosted “Writing from the Wilds,” a three day writing workshop for youth, facilitated by Portland based writer and owner of Breakerboy Communications, Dave Jarecki. Here are samples of participants’ writings from that time.
Last week in Jawbone Flats we welcomed the Old Growth Forest Ecology class fromPortlandStateUniversity, taught by Dr. Trygve Steen. I was able to join the class for many of the educative hikes and lectures led by Dr. Steen and his assistant John Villella.
I’m back in the land of cell phone towers and speedy internet connections. I wrote this post last Friday in Jawbone, but was unable to upload it thanks to the weather and subsequent finicky web connection:
Sunday night, my eighth here in Jawbone this trip, I doubled what had previously been my longest stay. I still can’t decide if the silence is golden or deafening, it’s probably a bit of both, but there’s an incredible sense of tranquility here that I will have a hard time swapping out for the chaos of the city come Sunday.
This is a very special time for all of us who live here. The Opal Creek Wilderness is turned into a winter wonderland. The ancient, layered canopy makes for spotty snow on the ground; three feet here none there. Branches heavy with snow look close to breaking, but these trees were made for this environment. It is a silent world.
So far, December has been delightful in Jawbone Flats. And very cold! For about 16 days, the temperature only reached 35 degrees! Hoarfrost covered everything that never saw the sun and it accumulated for about two weeks!