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Vo l . 7 N o . 1 found a college, first called Tualatin Academy and later, Pacific University. The Clarks had three children and died in Oregon. * How can a place three thousand eighty three miles from where you are born feel like home before you’ve even finished unpacking? The city of Portland was progressive, hip, culturally interesting and suited me well, but the flora and fauna of the surrounding landscape stole my heart. I hiked volcanic peaks, swam in icy snowmelt rivers, frolicked in fern-frosted forests, and jumped waves in the Pacific. I went on bird walks, plant walks, mushroom walks and moss walks and still I couldn’t get enough of Oregon. I wanted to learn more, understand better. It wasn’t the curiosity of a tourist, but the growing devotion of a citizen. Some combination of smells, sounds, and sensations in Pacific Northwest ecosystems fed me in a way that nowhere else had. Maybe my ecology background inspired me to connect with the natural landscapes, or maybe in my late twenties I was just ready to drop anchor somewhere, anywhere. But in recent travels, I’d visited other beautiful places near interesting cities – New Orleans, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Salt Lake City, Missoula, San Francisco – why not any of these? Outside of jobs or relationships, when we have the freedom, why do we leave a place? Or, why do we stay? My sister in her wanderings moved to Oregon shortly after I did. Then my father, so for a few short years all the living Durhams were in Oregon. But then my grandfather died, my sister moved east to Montana followed by my father, and my uncle got busy starting his own family at the Oregon coast. The friend who’d moved west with me returned to Connecticut, and her sister moved east to Washington, DC. I remained. To me, Oregon wasn’t about family. It was about a rugged individualism and connection with wild nature, like the Scottish naturalists John Muir and David Douglas. I was named for a Scottish wildflower, a hardy, shrubby thing of alpine cliffs and rain-soaked bogs. Oregon seemed a perfect place to root myself for a while. * Douglas Cameron Ingram was born in 1882 in Scotland and moved to Oregon at nineteen, in 1901. A U.S. Forest Service ranger and ecologist, he was also a devoted botanist, collecting plants for the USFS herbarium from

all over Oregon and Washington, including two rare subspecies named for him: Ingram Columbia Lily (Lilium columbianum Hanson var. ingramii) and Ingram’s Indian Pink (Silene hookeri var. ingramii). The latter is a rare alpine flower found only in Oregon. In August of 1929 he was sent to Okanogan, Washington to help lead a fire crew fighting the 23,000 acre Camas Creek wildfire. When the wind changed and the fire spread, he met his death in a wall of flames. A ridge in that area northeast of Lake Chelan now bears the name “Douglas Ingram Ridge”. Before he died, he and his wife Emogene had one daughter, Alice. They lived in Oregon. * I moved away from Oregon after five years. A relationship had ended badly, and I thought a change of scenery would do me good. I settled on Boulder, Colorado, deciding that this other progressive, hip, culturally interesting city on the edge of the Rocky Mountains could be my new home. But immediately, confusingly, I was homesick. I tried to be at home there, for two years I tried. Until I gave up and moved to Washington. And then back to Oregon. Only after leaving did I understand what home really means, that certain comfort and contentedness that goes deeper than familiarity. In Colorado and even in Washington I felt away from the center, outside, gone. Not there. Oregon held a strong sense of being and belonging, here. I’ve been back for six years, a long time for a nomad but not so long in the scope of a life. I can’t be sure I will stay, forever. But I am digging in. At present I work in ecological restoration, acting as doctor, teacher, and steward of the natural landscapes I love. In my employment with a Portland-based nonprofit, I get to work in natural areas around Portland as well as in outer suburbs from the Columbia Gorge to Forest Grove, leading volunteer tree planting projects. Last year I was standing on the rain-soaked lawn of a public park in front of eighty or so eager volunteers while the mayor of the little town spoke of the park’s history and the good work we were about to do. It was the usual pre-planting pomp and circumstance, and I was only half listening, thinking of all I needed to do to facilitate the process of helping novice planters get 800 new trees planted in the riparian buffer of Fanno Creek in the next three hours. Waiting for my turn to speak, I watched robins cock their heads to spy worms in the soil and listened to goldfinches singing from trees and shrubs

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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