NAOMI SHIHAB NYE: “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, / you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. / You must wake up with sorrow. / You must speak to it till your voice / catches the thread of all sorrows / and you see the size of the cloth. / Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, / only kindness that ties your shoes / and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread, / only kindness that raises its head / from the crowd of the world to say / It is I you have been looking for, / and then goes with you everywhere / like a shadow or a friend.”
In Bend the snow has mostly disappeared and we’re warming up over here on the East side of the Cascades. My half acre garden has many, yet, unknowns all just waking up from their very long winter’s sleep. This Spring is definitely something to look forward to.
My family gathered in my new home to celebrate my 79th birthday, and we had a wonderful time. Flora, Han’s wife who is a native of China, cooked for us, and the food was unlike any Chinese I’ve ever had. She was the hit of the party. We ate, and ate, and visited, and laughed and really enjoyed one another’s company. We had cupcakes from Ida’s in Bend. My cup cake had one candle on it. It took me two tries to blow it out. What’s up with that?
It was a particularly joyful day for me. My birthday fell on Sunday January 28th, 2018, and on Saturday January 27th I unpacked the last of my boxes completing a 24 month run of legal stresses, showing (35 times) and selling the Skyliner home, extensive storm damage to the Skyliner house, house hunting, four moves, and days and days of lifting boxes, unpacking, organizing and dumping old stuff. I’m so thankful for my son Terry’s faithful support, physically, financially, and emotionally, through this journey, and I’m grateful that at ages 77,78, and now 79 I actually had the strength to do so much. Whew! But, now it’s done, and I’m in a very cute 1100 square foot house on the South end of Bend. It’s nestled on a half acre of gardens with paths leading to little sitting areas and an abundance of beautiful statuary – and “yard work galore.” I’ve seen the yard in bloom, but now its doormat but ready to explode into life as Spring nears. Many surprises ahead. I do know there are roses in my garden, a slightly rare phenomenon in Central Oregon. Lavender, apple trees, many berries, and tons of flowers are on their way.
I’m so very grateful for my family and for the joys we share. And to all who extended birthday wishes to me, thanks you. I love you all.
Around 8:23 AM today, Dec. 21, the Sun begins its long journey toward longer days. Nevertheless, today will be the shortest day of the year, a traditional time of turning within, rest, and contemplation.
Yesterday Isabella and I explored a different walking trail. We drove just west of Bend up Century Drive, turned off on the road to Benham Falls and ended up at Slough Camp. From Slough Camp’s parking lot we headed on foot towards Benham Falls, about 2.5 miles. I hadn’t been up in this area for ages. It brought back a fun/funny memory. In The 60’s when I was attending COCC my folks sent me $70. a month for rent, food, gas, etc. One memorable month I out-spent the month by two weeks and had only a dime to last until next payday. No problem, well not really. For food I, every day, fished the Deschutes and lived on the catch of the day – trout. I ate fried trout, baked trout, boiled trout, and fried trout again. The dime I had bought me two lemons from the market on Franklin St. just two blocks from my apartment. Bend was so compact and easy back then. Anyway, Slough Camp was one of my fishing spots and it felt good to be back, although I’m happy to hike and not fish.
Isabella found a place where she could get to the river for a drink without tromping through brush and river grasses. She took off over a little embankment that looked almost straight down to me. I questioned her ability to get herself out of that hole, but she did it, eventually. I let her rest a bit, me too, before we carried on. It was such a beautiful, quiet Fall day, and I’m grateful for every minute of it.
Another beautiful Fall day in Central Oregon. Isabella and I headed out to do a little exploring, nothing dangerous or even very adventurous, but I though we’d try some new trails. After all the years I’ve lived in Bend, I have not spent much time roaming around Phil’s Trail Head, so I don’t really know the lay of the land. In fact, a few years ago, I did get quite lost, twice in one year.
Here’s my excuse, for getting lost that is. We left one bright sunny morning from the parking lot and headed west on Kent’s trail. After walking several miles I noticed was getting a little tired and decided to head back to the car. Not wanting to see the same scenery twice in one day, I headed south, I thought, with good intentions of catching Phil’s trail which was, logically, “right over there.” Ha! Not only was it not “right over there,” but the clouds rolled in and, directionally speaking, and I was sunk. Galumphing over pine needles, cones and various other beautiful objects that make up the forest floor, I wasn’t even able to decide what was up hill (Skinner’s or maybe Eugene) or down hill (Bend or maybe LaPine).
Somewhere in a science or physiology class I had learned that humans have a small deposit of lead or another metal material that sits just above the bridge of the nose in the lower part of the forehead. It was believed that that piece of metal worked as a internal compass assisting us in the general navigation of life. Well, guess what? I didn’t get one of those. Knowing there had to be a trail somewhere fairly close, I carried on. At least an hour later, alas the hallucinations began. Just ahead, I came upon signs of life. There it was, the Galveston/14th street turn circle with the Big Red Chicken sitting right in front of me. Something wasn’t right though. Things were all distorted. The chicken before me had shrunk. Must be Galveston’s baby, the Little Red Chicken. At closer range it was still a Little Red Chicken. I touched it. “What are you doing out here, Little Chicken,” I ask it? Are you real?
About then a bicyclist came around yon corner. Thank God. He was real and a normal man size. He stopped, as did the others behind him. Pulling myself together mustering the most sane voice I could come up with I ask if “they” knew where the parking lot was. Pointing down the trail, the same direction their bikes were headed, one guy said, “That way.” “I knew that,” I smiled. “Um, how far?” About an hour on foot. They must have checked out my leg length, or lack there, of when they came up with my ETA.
That was one long day. Oh, did I mention the part where I’d left my water in the car? How smart is that? Several months later, when I was smarter, I repeated the same scenario. I’ll spare myself the details. I hadn’t really thought of those “lost years” until yesterday, in full sun, including shadows and all the directional cues necessary to activate my internal compass, after walking longer than I thought my return trip to the car would take, and on a well used trail, a sinking feeling re-emerged. Really? No, I am not lost. Just keep going. I did. That was good advise, as soon I came to a surprise, to me, art installation pictured below. I know a biscillion Bend-its and tourist have passed this place a biscillion times…and know it’s less than a mile to the PTH parking lot. Please don’t make fun of me. OK? So I’m old-er. I do this kind of stuff.
As for art, I’m proud of the place I live in and the many opportunities that are available to display art throughout our town…and forests. The “Little Red Chicken” was a fantastic surprise, right out there in the woods all by its little red self. And the tinkling of the cog wheels moving in the breeze, well, I found that installation a simple and telling display of the hearts of the folks who maintain Phil’s trials and the bike clubs who are a strong presence…ie, the Skyliner’s Road update. May “ART” prevail. Some say it will save the world.