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Every step I take carries gratitude, living in the Rogue River Valley.

Bear Creek, Oregon. (Kathleen Kenna photo)

Bear Creek, swollen with snowmelt at the end of winter. (Kathleen Kenna photo)

Mornings are cool, so my cardio walks have extra urgency. I’m grateful for the waking sounds of the neighborhood, and the cooing of mourning doves overhead.

Near noon, the sun is coaxing daffodils and narcissus to open, and I’m grateful to spot reddish buds forming on trees already. I admire the huge cones of towering ponderosa pines.

Bear Creek astonishes.

Every time I venture there, my gait slows to an easy pace. I’m so curious about seasonal changes in the creek, that I must stop, and watch, and listen.

Snowmelt has filled the waterway, and now it’s rushing, spilling over rockfalls, and gathering all the broken tree branches from winter storms.

The water is so clear, I can see rounded rocks on the creek bottom. In summer and fall, Bear Creek was muddy, and appeared polluted from its track through farms, suburban neighborhoods, and our small city.

Now, mountain runoff is scrubbing the creek, and manmade garbage — plastic bags, castoff clothes — collects at snags. I’m wondering about all the red fabric draped along the creek, for miles: Old drapes? Theater props?

Spring starts tomorrow: Bear Creek has been preparing for weeks.