After hunting and fishing in Idaho, I returned to a quiet valley easing into winter after a too-short autumn. Blaze orange bobbles punctuate the mountainsides north of my office, although elk that descend these slopes remain hidden. Swirling clouds of yellow aspen leaves—great gusts lifting flutterers high above my roofline—pile into messy triangles against every vertical surface.
And a blue heron (a bird that’s considered a good omen in cultures across the globe, and one I see on our rivers when I fly fish), flew from the bottom of the meadow this week and landed on my office roof! I’ve never seen one within ten miles of this spot, so sat here, open-jawed, as it soared to its perch above my head.
During nature’s seasonal preparations, something more important occurred: little kids appeared en masse for our church Fall Festival.
I come from a big city, one of the nation’s largest. Words like neighborhood make me think of crime watch, and community means awareness. These terms don’t represent people, altruism, or relationships. Yet this little festival unites families from up and down my valley, crossing demographics, socio-economic status, and generations as if everyone in the thirty-mile crevice were related—and on good terms—in a place more Mayberry RFD than Miami.
The community is also young, so hasn’t developed the my-granddaddy-knew-your-granddaddy prejudices of more established places. And families are happy to be here, having migrated from somewhere else because this is where they want to try to make a go of it, and not because of tradition or habit.
There were no tribes today. Only community.
Dinosaurs and Darth Vader; hamburgers, Harry Potter, and hot dogs; pirates, pumpkins, and puppies. In the context of this place, there’s hope for a whole world beyond our valley’s peaks. Happy Fall to you!