The day after Solstice, we bundle into the van–driven west early by the threat of oncoming snowstorms. I don’t want to leave, but we have told family we would come for Christmas and it seems better to take advantage of a snow-free window. Compared to the bichromatic landscape of home, the coast is verdant and alive. Marc and Maggie and I explore coastal rainforest and regenerating wetland. Even as I wonder what’s happening at home, I console myself with the idea that there are many weeks of winter ahead. Over the five days in Washington, my favorite spot to visit becomes Hovander Farm.
The first time we visit, it is a four woodpecker day: hairy, downy, flicker and pileated all make themselves visible. Ruby and golden-crowned kinglets call from the red alder/bigleaf maple canopy. Natural history, big and small, is everywhere.
There are small chartreuse bits of lichen clinging to grey bark,
and the larger-than life activity of the pileated woodpecker–we hear a pair before we catch sight of their insane red tops.
And finally, there is the light falling on the golden land.