From Our President: Savoring an Autumn Sunset

One corner of our land, on the far northeast slope, is tucked under the overhanging branches of the big firs. It is a peaceful hill where we have buried our pets, and where the previous owner had buried his old dog. My husband has made grave markers for each of them. I have many memories here. In the spring, this corner has the first Red Currant blossoms and a spreading patch of fragrant Lady-slipper Orchids. A patch of Pacific Hounds-tongue blue flowers lights up the area when they bloom. It is the spot where one of our dogs cornered a porcupine against the fence, giving us a chance to see the little animal at close range, before we helped it find an opening to get away. Here we have seen bobcat and coyote scat along a deer trail that continues over the old fence into the woods to the north. Many days I will glimpse the tail of a deer as it leaps this fence and moves out of view.

This corner of our land always feels like a secret spot, and when the sun is low and continuing its journey to the southwest, as it does this time of year, I like to sit up on this little rise and look out over the small valley. The angled rays of the sun bring light into the shadows under the big trees. In the trees here I have seen Brown Creepers, dropping down to the base of the trunk foraging for insects, and then climbing systematically up until out of sight. I often hear the pair of Pileated Woodpeckers calling from up the hill and hear a Downy Woodpecker tapping lightly on a trunk nearby. I’ve seen a Winter Wren pop out of the underbrush to investigate my presence.

On this day, I decide to watch the sun set, and to listen for owls as it grows dark. The light dims as the sun moves below the fringing firs on the ridge across the valley. Suddenly, diffuse clouds catch the final rays of the sun and the whole valley lights up, bathed in the warm golden light. This afterglow gradually fades, but it seemed like a special show just for me. The clouds turn from yellow to gold, then orange to pink, and finally to grey as the light dims. All is quiet in the valley, but in the woods I hear a faint Saw-whet Owl call. The night begins, and fall is in the air.

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