THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD

  This year Oregon’s cool, damp spring has our verdant central valley almost bursting with shades of green. As I pass by rivers, between communities, I notice the young hawks practicing their soaring flight above or see a squirrel scamper across the road just ahead. I can’t help wondering about the families that came to Oregon over Highway 99. Those families, like mine, who came north from California after the wartime jobs ended.

  What did they see? They would have been driving on a narrow and curvy mountain road that eventually dropped them into a sea of green. They would pass by and over rivers with rushing water in them, maybe notice an occasional deer mixed in with the cattle or sheep in the fields.  Pass small communities with prideful slogans.     

  Their automobiles  would have been packed with supplies for several days, often children, and whatever they needed to keep the car running: jacks, extra water, wrenches, tube patches, maybe even a partially used spare tire or two.
  Passing by farms and through the small towns along the highway, did they hope for one that offered a promise of home, or maybe just employment? For some there was a friend or relative already in place to offer suggestions, or possibly a place to stay for awhile.
  Then there were the veterans, some returning to their home area, others looking for a place to start over.  Did it look like the place they left behind?
  Did our rural valleys look as grey and depressing as they sometimes can, or did the travelers see how beautiful it really is?

  Was the beauty one reason to stay?  It’s certainly one of the reasons I don’t stray for long.

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