With my son and two Oregon daughters, we set out on our last morning to compact as many of the varied landscapes and cultures of this large state as we could into a few hours. The day was gray and mild, but our spirits could not be dampened and the views were enhanced by the rapid hide and seek of sunshine and mists.
A little sign was the only warning for our descent off the plateau four short miles down into the Deschutes River Valley. Two small lanes bending around outcrops and no guard rail over the 1000 foot precipice, we wound our way down, exclaiming around the dramatic turns and drop, and relieved to reach the bottom where we found Native American fishing platforms hanging over the rushing river.
The meal we had on this waning afternoon, including my son, was punctuation that a new chapter had begun in our lives, one of openness, joy, celebration and sharing; a father with his children, confident in our love and so very proud of the paths we are each currently on.
Yet this intensive look at the past is really no surprise to me, who had glossed over the emotional losses of those events, being so swept up in the immediate repercussions of suddenly having a ready-made family to care for. This new energy of mine, so closely resembling the dreams and aspirations of the young naïve kid who first wandered onto the side of Neahkahnie Mountain, to release the constraints properly and move forward once more, this journey backwards had to be completed. Matured by these many years of hardships and ecstasies, sobered by the lessons of being side-tracked and distracted, it seems vital to sort through and discover what is worth keeping and what should be left behind.
That the Mountain holds a sacred and inspirational energy for me is undeniable, that a wealth of friendships are intact despite so much time is comforting, that I could be so freely and openly with my son and daughters is magnificent, but I do not feel urged to pack up and move out here. Rather, it seems more likely that dreams that regularly assailed me in my sleep over these many years may actually become a lifestyle in reality. Represented in the mode of a construction business which is all I could envision at the time, I dreamt that I settled from coast to coast regularly, a job lining up on one as another finished on the other, calling each place home and joyfully rediscovering the benefits of each periodically.
Lane and Tom’s acre serves as a magnificent retreat, her little T-house, “the Womb” , a place to linger and meditate, a place of rejuvenation as I have used it this week. Perhaps this change of focus from construction to writing and music will allow this, bring an impossible dream into fruition. In the meantime, I fondle my little piece of white marble chipped from one of my artist friend’s evolving sculptures, the jagged edges already smoothing from my finger’s caresses as it hides in my pocket and reminds me of the grounded inspiration I received this week in the Nehalem Valley, my place of peace.