Roland and Ida have been in town this past week and I was able to have a great visit with Roland when he stopped by one afternoon. We've known each other since 1980 when they moved right over the mountain from where I was living on Big Pine. Their idea was to farm organically, with horses, tomatoes, tobacco, and a mix of vegetables they readily shared with neighbors. They did this quite successfully, but as their two children arrived they moved to Walnut and eventually back to Roland's childhood farm in Maryland where Roland became one of the premier sustainable homebuilders.
They have maintained their Madison County connections over the years. In our case, our connection was sealed over hours together picking tomatoes, working tobacco, fighting wildfires, and various building projects Roland graciously helped me with. But what forged our relationship even more happened five or six years ago when our two sons met independently of us in Portland, Oregon. My son, Ben who goes by the moniker Banjo these days, answered a Craigslist ad for a room that had been placed by Roland and Ida"s son, Noah. Meeting to discuss the room, they began playing the "where you from game" as most young people in Portland are from somewhere else. To make a long story shorter, when Noah finally asked if Ben had heard of a place called Big Pine and Ben answered, "Heard of it? I was born on Big Pine." They knew a friendship had begun.
Now, some twenty-five years after their move, Roland comes over and it's like he never left. We are both talkers and we covered much ground, both old and new alike. Our kids, our work, outrage over the Republicans, admiration for Bernie Sanders, and details of trips out to Portland. But changes were also evident. Roland limped slightly and spoke of knee issues. I mentioned my blood sugar. We both spoke of young people doing the hard work on our job sites and teaching us new technologies and ways of doing things. As he was leaving, Roland said, "Yeah, I can't even imagine doing all that farm work with horses now." The comment reminded me of this photograph.
Back to Portland after our week on the Olympic Peninsula. From slow to fast, quiet to noise, open landscape and forest to mountainous buildings. We like it here.
First night back we go to the Crystal Ballroom to hear our friend Mark Hosler who lives in Madison County. Mark is a founding member of the band Negativland and he was doing a show of his unique music, which I might describe as organized noise.
We mostly take it easy the last few days. Museums, food, some shopping, more food, laying around, yet more food and drinks. We hang out with Ben at Clyde Common, the bar/restaurant he works in. We meet his friends and co-workers who, to a person, treat us like visiting royalty. Ben clearly loves his work, bartender and mixologist, and I must say how satisfying it is to see one's child doing something he enjoys, where he has found his niche. Home.
Architectural and Food Elements in Portland and Beyond.
Selected images from our recent trip to Oregon and Washington will appear sporadically over the next few weeks.
Bambino numero uno con la varicella.
As parents we are loath to admit this,
But our first children hold a special place.
In our hearts.
In our minds.
In our imaginations.
For men, if the first is a son, they become
the gift of maturation. In them,
the manchild and man to be, we
see ourselves, all we were, and
all we must become.
You do what you can and
weather the chickenpox, the rat house, the divorce, and new life.
You took steel drum class in high school,
instead of my choice of Latin.
But took Italian in college. I so like that.
We grow older and into our own selves.
In ways and places no one could have predicted.
And we leave, and come back, and meet up.
And we always like what we see.
Alla casa de le topi.
In Arizona e in Portland, Oregon.