Fog draped on the hills, lifting only briefly to reveal a patch of blue sky, the bright yellow and orange on the hills, already fading to cinnamon. The past week rainy and overcast, more rain predicted. Slick maple leaves scattered along the driveway, tumbling down from the trees, the rain hastening their fall. The light soft, subdued, caressing the landscape.
The Vermont landscape, a sharp contrast to the high elevation desert of Bend in Central Oregon. A river running through it, cold and clean, a draw for residents, visitors and businesses. A modern town laced with the history of the wild west, a few touches of Scandinavia. Surrounded by desert and buttes, snow-capped mountains, the landscape sculpted by lava flows and volcanic action. A mill town hugging the Deschutes River, formerly a hub of lumbering activity, now a mecca for outdoorsy tourism. Public access to the river – for paddling, floating, rafting, tubing, fishing – with extensive walking, biking and jogging trails weaving in and out of parks and flower meadows. Sculpture at every traffic circle, along paths. Eclectic neighborhoods in transition, abandoned lots slated for park development, award-winning neighborhood designs. Small wooden bungalows alongside large architect-designed houses. The former mill district, now an upscale shopping mall with residential areas, parks and an amphitheater. A historic downtown with unique shops, cafes and indie brew pubs, a water-bowl for dogs outside most. The ubiquitous strip highway, residential development and chain stores. In town or out, the mountains, rivers and crystal-clear lakes inviting outdoor activity. Every street of this feels-like-a-small-town-city abundant with food and drink to feed the body and soul. Countless restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, farmer’s markets and food carts, most with outside seating areas, all staffed with super friendly people. The unrelenting sunshine, at times too hot and intense. The light too sharp at mid-day, the landscape parched and dry, in danger of wild-fires, not a drop of much-needed rain. The water, a precious natural resource, the desert landscape endlessly fascinating. The sunshine powerful, commanding respect. A town in the desert, celebrating sunshine and water, embracing easy access to the great outdoors.