Our house is the last on the street before it starts downhill toward the West Fork River.  The ground slopes away all around the back, so we look down on the roofs on the next street.  Our grown children, raised on the flat in Texas, arriving at night when they first saw it, said “You didn’t tell us it was on a cliff.”

In the summer, the maples, elms, sycamore, redbuds, black walnut, and other trees yet unidentified join the Norway spruces, hemlocks, and pines in screening the view.  The line of hills across the valley is just a shadow against the sky behind the curtain of the trees.  The river can be seen only as a glimmer of light on water, if you know where to look.

Now, with the leaves gone, there is a wide view through the lacier curtain of the evergreens and bare branches, of the hills across the valley, misty purple, blue, and brown, with the bare white arms of sycamores in the mid-distance.  From the patio, a long stretch of the West Fork curving along the bottom of the hill is visible, gray green most days.  I can see half the sky, the sunrise and the sunset, and the weather coming in from the west.

At night, the Veterans complex rises from the valley across the river like an Italian hill town, all terracotta brick and blue tile roof, lights reflected in the river.  The moon shines behind the shaggy silhouettes of the spruces. It is wilderness with the friendly twinkling of distant town lights.

Words or photographs can’t capture the feeling of being on a hill. You have to be there.

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