Because I live up here out of town in unincorporated King County…at night I hear frogs, and bats, and the wind howling off the mountains. Sometimes when it rains, the rain comes in sideways and I better have closed my bedroom window. Sometimes on a clear early morning, I see the Cascades. The part I see isn’t high enough to have snow year ’round, but mountains are synonymous with majesty for a reason. I miss wilderness. When I was young, I remember outhouses, and all the creepy crawly things I imagined in the dark.
In Houston, a friend of the family built his own house out in the woods. I would go sleep over, and we would hear a mountain lion yowl, or a black bear snuffling in the night. The windows were small, and high, and the frames were thick and strong. Come morning, “Now don’t you children go outside without an older boy and a gun.” I was 5. That land is a suburb now, deep in the heart of Houston.
My parents would sit outside in the summer dusk with cigarettes and highballs, laughing at me as I walked on the grass to keep away from all the frogs that came out to warm themselves on the sidewalk. But there was also the DDT truck, moving slowly down the street in the evening, spraying poison in the air to kill mosquitoes.
My father had a massive heart attack when I was 3. He almost died…no one understood why he didn’t. Children weren’t allowed, so at night the nurses would sneak me in through the side door. Once, because of car trouble, we didn’t go. They killed an enormous copperhead lurking in the shadows by the door that night.
Now there is so much concrete. But I can see the mountains.