Rain slides the highway into the sea. Rain buckles the road. Rain brings rocks and mud down from the hills. Rain sends creeks across the shoulders.
I am driving through it, sloshing, sliding, surfing, on my way into the mountains and snow flurries.
Horses, goats, sheep and cattle stand angled into rain or take shelter under scrawny oaks or Doug firs. If there is an image that conjures depression, this is it.
I tune in a radio station playing songs I’ve never heard. One woman (Bonnie Raitt?) sings about writing a love letter listening to a love song on the radio. It’s a great song and she makes me believe she is writing a love letter, a dearly departed literary genre.
Past flooded fields. Past a herd of elk. Past fallen oaks. Past grim towns. Past so many abandoned homes and farms. People used to live there. People still could live there. Why aren’t these properties being repurposed to address the housing and homeless crisis? Why isn’t there a new Homestead Act, that invites people willing to put some sweat and improvements into the property, build equity in it, make something happen. Anything is better than decay. I don’t have the answers; I am just observing and thinking as I drive. I see these places all the time and the bones on them look decent. They are rigged for power and water and septic. There is land to grow food. Imagine a program, a partnership between banks, government, churches, non profits, housing/homeless advocates and absentees property owners to rehab a thousand such derelict properties in rural Oregon over a five-year period. Operation Re-Homestead Oregon. It could work. It’s not working now.
Driving on. Hundreds of boats, cars and RVs abandoned in fields or driveways. Why? Someone made an investment once. What happened?
I switch my mind to writing fiction and where I want to go after the Bonnie and Clyde book comes out. It was excruciating to write and fiction offers a certain liberation that I crave. I want to transport myself away from where I have been in recent years, to a place where I am in control of the narrative and characters. I have two solid idea for novels and a host of Oregon tales to write.
Here comes the snow flurries. I need to concentrate. I turn off country radio and put my mind to it.