Saturday, March 29, 2008

Up on down the road...

~~~

“If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad. As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing. I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.”

~ Lord Byron

That Lord Byron... he sure hits a lot of nails, square on the head. I wonder if he was ever a carpenter...

Not sure where I'm going with this today so bear with me, its the end of spring break, both kids have been here all week but the daughter heads back to her mom tomorrow... sigh...

And of course Tuesday is April Fool's... kind of fitting. For the kids anyway. This past week has been their Spring Break and the weather has been more like a fresh blast of winter than the warming breath of spring. Last weekend I was so encouraged when I saw my first Osprey of the season over at their nest on Greenhill Rd that I thought for sure we'd have some warm weather hitting any day now... but here I sat this morning watching a squall of snow blow by.

So... in light of nature's sense of humor I'll continue in that vein.

Surrounded as we are here at the farm by grass fields, we get geese flocking around us almost all year:



The geese are a nuisance for the farmers, eating the grass with no return to the farmer (there is no market for goose turds) and here in Oregon they've returned to goose hunting fairly liberally. I've no problem with hunting and understand the farmers' plight and desire to protect their crop (these Willamette Valley grass farms are fundamentally grass seed farms) from predation by flocks of critters who see these fields as huge salad plates.

Just a couple of weeks ago the farmers around me posted big white cloth flags as a deterrent to the geese. I was curious to see how well they worked...



...well apparently the geese didn't understand the message, they must think the flags mean "land here."

When I was living in Central California coast country we spent a lot of our spare time hiking the hills near the Cuyama Valley, along the Cuyama River. Like with the Guad Dunes I would do a lot of hiking by myself, often spending at least a couple of days out there. One early morning I was walking along the creek bed, alone, and all of a sudden a snake falls from the sky right in front of me. A big snake. A really big snake... well as these things go in nature, that snake didn't really fall from the sky, it fell from the grasp of the canyon's resident Red-tailed Hawk, who had been sitting way up in an old sycamore. Apparently I startled him... and he returned the favor. The snake was dead and partly eaten. But since then I spare no effort in surprising raptors when I can. When we were living in Southern Oregon at Crump Lake the bald eagles would often be sitting on the fence posts along the road. They always got honked at and I felt successful when they'd flutter their wings and almost fall off their perch.

And then there is our weird cat Loki. Loki used to live with several dogs and was... top dog. Even the Great Dane, Harley, was buffaloed by Loki. As you can see here, he still gets his way:



And no... I haven't forgotten about Tincup's tale. It is in the works. But first there are some more characters to introduce you to. Last post I introduced you to my good buddy Lance.



Well... way back when I was just a young GI...




I was much younger then than now...




...and my hair was much shorter...


...and closer to my forehead.

I made a few friends who are still friends today. Like my good friend Jef, one of those who convinced me I wanted to volunteer for duty in Thailand. In Thailand I met my friend and brother Al. Al was smaller than me and for once in my life I became "Big Al." And we were in the same shop, sometimes sharing the same shift. We definitely shared some adventures... in fact my first political work was with Al. He was on his second tour of Thailand... I met him for the first time when I saw this guy throwing a cat into some shrubs with a bee or a hornet nest in it. Al had no use for cats. In spite of that shaky start we went on to share a bungalow there and then when we both were discharged we went to college together and shared housing for a number of years. We met brother Marty in college, Marty's wife Patricia (who remains to this day one of my truest friend) and so many others. But most of all we shared philosophy, all of us... we would discuss and read and often had the same classes. We took sweats out in the Manzana (Los Padres NF), the backyard (I was so paranoid about having a fire in the 'burbs I suggested we heat the rocks in the stove... that was so many lifetimes ago... heh), out Hwy 166... I haven't seen Al in years (15?) but we talk occasionally on the phone. I almost had a chance to visit this fall but that plan fell through. Here is Al perched on a ridge over the Manzana, above the old Chumash camping grounds, way back... oh... 30 years ago or so:



Al came to visit me at Opal Creek, the last time we were in a face to face gathering. Of course he wasn't as slim then as he was in that picture... (gads I hope he reads this!)

Another good friend who was around at a pivotal point in my life was my buddy Greg Burke. Greg's another photographer and has a great eye. His online galleries are full of awesome work... Greg and I met in Fresno. We did a northwest tour, camping and hiking, photography, back when he was considering leaving California and moving back up here. We were politically aligned and participated in a bit of rabble-rousing together. On the coast of Central California... imagine that... Greg also took me on my first skiing backpack trip. We went up into the Sierras during a winter when the snowpack was at about 25'... what a glorious trip. He also introduced me to my first Oregon High Desert experience with a backpack trip down into the canyon of the Deschutes River... Greg came to visit me at Opal Creek, but he didn't know it. I was just living there and he just showed up.





...sigh...

I am such a lucky man. Great kids, wonderful friends...

April is almost here... Spring has sprung!

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