Emigrant

September 2017, though perhaps imagined as a scene

Looking for long-eared lopers in the hedgerows and wild-rosehip spreckled hillsides around this brown puddle backup to a backup reservoir — well maybe I’ll just admit now, everything easier to see clearly when soon abandoned — that it really is just water for the motorhomes motorboats and motormouths who spend the summers droning while the dog, my sister and I investigate the hardened pathways that lead both away and toward the parking lots.
“Can’t believe you’re leaving,” she says and steps over a broken green glass bottle stuck in a deep crack of mud and neither can I, neither have I seen the jackrabbits here as my neighbors, more faithful to their habitats, have and described the sighting as noble, those silent tan heads over the fringe of dry grass reminiscent of kangaroo but with a special western mountain magic.
The truth is the promise of newness excites me, like the lurch I get in my stomach as the jet ski zooms toward our shore then turns sharply, like the cars climbing the freeway to California which we can see if we squint our eyes while gazing past this mud hole up into the blue treeline and up still toward the mountain which soon will have its first dusting of snow.
Something rustles in the shrubs wilting halfway between the old shore line and where the water actually starts, but the dog is after it in a moment and we watch his muscled body tear across the dried-up basin. The boat seems to race him on a parallel course across its viscous surface, then veers suddenly toward the dock on the far shore making the sound I love the most, the sound of winding down, of leaving while having nothing to leave behind, like the dog returning with slack tongue, the jackrabbit trembling in her thicket, the water retreating toward the center, not running from anything but leaving all the same.

 

Penny and Abby at Emigrant Lake, Oregon 2016 creative commons Tuula Rebhahn

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