I have recently embarked upon the seventh decade of life. I have come to recognize the brief snatches of grace that flit across my life. They come unbidden; they arrive when I am surrounded by intact natural communities – vibrant and thriving and full of innate power.

Yesterday, biking through Witham Oaks, I pierced the veil of care and worry that blankets everyday life.

The woody community was chuck full of fat breathing lichen, a forest of gray-green. Birds moved in flashes on both sides of the path and chorus frogs, robins, and chickadees took over from the traffic noise of the road. A red-shouldered hawk watched me pass by its perch 20 feet high in an ash tree.

Yellow-rumped warblers flew into the air like wind-blown leaves as they snatched invisible (to me) insects. Bright water flowed through rushes and grasses. From deep in a brier clump, a song sparrow sang so hauntingly of springtime that I stopped, transported.

I had about given up on encountering a very special friend as it is one of the smallest and earliest nesting species here in the Willamette Valley.

I have found this jeweled delight in Witham Oaks for several years. Happily, I again heard the unmistakable scratchy song of Anna’s hummingbird. And there it was, atop a feral fruit tree, perky although the air temperature was 50 degrees cooler than its tiny body. A moment of grace. A tiny, magnificent manifestation of the value of keeping friends close.

Please help preserve Witham Oaks.

Howard Bruner, Corvallis

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