Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Invasive Species

Dark clouds: the sky is weighing the pros and cons of really storming. Heaven gave us beautiful weather for the 4th of July weekend. But now it's thinking of other things.

Stopped at Latourell Falls Sunday. A concave swoop of basalt, like a great overhang built out of gray legos, and water spilling slowly over its top edge. Four turkey vultures turned slowly in the sky at the top. A Spanish boy, maybe ten years old, capered and mugged for the camera in the wind from the splash pool, his shirt fluttering madly. A family group of Japanese walked solemnly up the path that leads under the old highway bridge, acknowledging us by just barely ducking their heads. In the parking lot I caught the complicated consonants of a Slavic language, the sing-song of some dialect of Chinese. Time ran up to the crest of a hill, hesitated near the top, and then ran backwards to the bottom again.

I don't know how to begin to say how precious all this is to me, how anxiously I view all the threats to it: the English ivy, the Himalayan blackberry, the grubbers who want to privatize and develop. And just the endless, endless inrush of people. Our unemployment in Oregon rivals that of Michigan, but still they keep coming. Good people, most of them. Individually I'm glad to have them. They mostly come for the right reasons. But these places are gasping under their collective weight. People who asked me where I was from, at IBM, used to be incredulous when I said I was from Oregon. Waitresses and pizza-delivery guys might be natives, but programmers? Was that allowed?

I'm only second-generation Oregonian, but Martha, who's been looking for work for months, was born in the house her grandfather built in northeast Portland.

"So I'm in this meeting about rooting out invasive species," she remarked the other day, "and I look around the circle: he's from New York, she's from California, he's from Chicago, she's from Pennsylvania..."

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