Coming home from Bend was better than the vacation itself this year.
The three-hour drive was spectacular: the sun was shining, the air was warm, the scenery beautiful. The peaks in the Santiam Pass were blanketed in white, but the Willamette Valley was verdant with new life. I drove with my window down from Stayton to Oak Grove, cutting through the countryside to take in the fields, flowers, and trees, breathing in the sweet smell of spring.
At home, when I opened the front door, I was surprised to find that it smelled the way I always think it should, like a hundred-year-old house. (When I’m home every day, I become inured to the odors of old wood and musty carpets; it takes some time away to make me notice these smells again.)
In the afternoon, Kris worked in the yard, planting geraniums, pulling weeds, and watering flowers. I sat on a chair in the sun, surfing the web. The cats, locked up for days, enjoyed their return to freedom. They bounded across the yard, chasing bugs and each other. They paused now-and-then to roll in the dirt.
We took a walk in the late afternoon.
Down the street, we passed an old woman who was washing her truck. She wore shorts and a t-shirt. In one hand she held the hose, in the other a cigarette; an open can of Budweiser rested on the rear bumper. The truck itself was not in need of washing — it was in need of demolition. It was one of those old Toyota pickups, and once had been painted grey or purple or maybe black. Now it was mostly the color of thirty years of use. A blue tarp was draped over the truck, and the woman peeled the plastic back in spots to wash her vehicle. She was in no hurry, and I calculated that it would probably take her until sunset to finish the job, which was probably her intention all along.
We walked through Risley Park, where parents played with children, and younger couples walked their dogs. A group of boys played at the base of a large maple. One boy had a rope that he was casting into the branches above him, trying to get it to come back over. The other boys might have helped him except they were too busy wrestling with each other. In the middle of the field, a teenage boy was pitching a baseball to a teenage girl. She swung her bat and missed. She picked up the ball and tossed it into the air, swung again, and missed. After another miss, she tossed the ball back to her laughing boyfriend.
We walked down Concord — a street I’ve only seen at thirty-five miles per — and admired the houses and the interesting lots. We picked up a real estate flyer for a 4,000-square-foot Tudor home ($488,000), and though the house was nice, we agreed that we would never give up Rosings Park for such a place.
We walked down River Forest Loop, past a father throwing a football to his son, past barking dogs, past towering oaks, past the empty lot that is filled with boulders, past the house that I do covet. Kris stopped every few hundred yards to smell flowers or to examine plants.
Back at Rosings Park once more, I took a cool bath, and I realized that finally, after nearly two years, this place feels like home.