Reub's journey

04 May 2016

Malheur


We have just returned from a four night stay at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in central Oregon and it is hard to know where to begin. In any ordinary year I would just post a bunch of amateur pictures of waterbirds with fabulous names: avocets and willets, ibises, bitterns, and stilts. Then cliff swallows. Yellow-headed blackbirds. Golden eagles. This year the group collectively saw 72 species of birds, which is quite a lot for 5 days of laid-back bird-watching.



But this is not any old year for the Malheur, and anything that I may say about what I saw is colored by what I felt. 



Photo by my husband, John.
Say. Saw. Felt. Confusing. What is the difference.



The Malheur refuge was occupied by misguided anti-government extremists early in January of this year. One of them is dead and most of the others are in jail right now. Many in Oregon feel that it was handled as well as it could have been.



But it is still terrible, and there are lasting scars in that area. There are ranchers who, at the time, were sympathetic but misrepresented, and others who were targeted by angry armed men and who now feel paranoid. There are more than one or two citizens diagnosed with PTSD. And there is an ugly race this month for sheriff. Everything is badly bruised.



 How do you enjoy a place like this?



Well. It is helpful to accept small beauties in a great landscape.


Conversely, there are great beauties in very small landscapes. 


 It is possible to love them both, two opposing ideals, and hope for the best. May Malheur heal, and Burns, OR, become a viable community once again.

17 comments:

  1. There are more pictures and I can't help but share them. But I had to start with this.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks AC. I did have a great time.

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  3. I agree with AC. Nature's beauty has to override the darker side. It has a way of healing over time.

    I love the creature (coyote? wolf? fox?) in an otherwise plain landscape. It's a beauty of a shot. As is the glimpse of the enduring rainbow in the first image.

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    1. Thanks Hilary. That is a coyote out there hunting for mice midday. :) Pretty far away,but somehow still identifiable.

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    1. You should come out this way! You already have so much bird knowledge, plus you could get great wildlife shots, I'm sure of it. Long drive from the east coast, though.

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  5. It's horrible what happened here last winter. I do hope for healing in the community.

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    1. It's awful. And there are STILL a few armed militia wandering about.

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  6. the land will recover. Burns may not. there may be lasting scars in Burns. beautiful pictures though. the flock in the leafless shrub...yellow headed blackbirds?

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    1. In January and February the refuge was closed and the wildlife loved it. There were thousands of empty gun casings though, and it is unsure if birds were shot.
      Yes, those are yellow-headed blackbirds, like ornaments in a tree. They are fun to watch, and very noisy, singing and commenting all the time.

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  7. it will come full circle, i believe land can recover, refurbish itself. the image of the yellow-headed black birds is amazing, "birds of a feather, flock together, has never been truer!!!

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    1. Yes, the land and animals barely noticed the blip of violence. The birds carry on nicely.

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  8. may nature heal the wounds of man. love those yellow-headed!

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  9. Wow, sad. But you are right, start with finding the beauty. The 3rd image is beautiful too.

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