Place

I keep seeing in my mind’s eye, the three eagles circling over the house this morning, two adults and a juvenile, riding the thermals above the Doug firs. They flew close enough so I could see the adults’ white heads turning side to side and the barely perceptible undulating of their wings. I was attracted outside by the slightly absurd whistling, tweetering, musical sound – not quite song – eagles make amongst themselves. That call seems to lack gravity for such large bird presence, and in this case it reminded me of comfortable family chatter.

If the eagles were inclined to describe this place they’d swoop out over the whole little rectangular peninsula with three coasts, a small town, steam rising from a pulp mill, straight roads between fields, houses tucked among trees, and a highway reaching out of town to the bridge and ferries which join the peninsula to the rest of the world.

Our place is a skinny four acres on a bluff over the Strait of Juan de Fuca. From here I can see Canada and, on a day of memory, further north to Alaska. A gravel driveway winds up to cedar-clad buildings. One small house, here when we bought the property at the beginning of the last decade, is now a guesthouse, the other small house, our house. It recreates in a way my old urban life where I could always see the houses and windows of neighbors.

But really it is utterly different. In Anchorage, city dwellers, we lived in an old 40’s house with all the quirks and charms of age. Here we built in a clearing, a new house, an early green-built house.

I never realized what a profound thing that might be – to build a house – and then make a life to go into it. So many matters I didn’t consider, caught up in building and in convincing my good-natured husband to uproot. I thought we might “divide our time.” In book jacket author descriptions that always sounds such a great idea, but I wanted to make a home for all four seasons in a new place.

Eagles do divide their time, and maybe these will circle back here. Further along the bluff is a nest – a home.

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