living - Page 2

Olympia Provisions Portland

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Olympia Provisions NW PortlandLooking for a casual dining experience with maximum flavor? Check out Olympia Provisions Portland. When you mention the word charcuterie in Portland, Oregon, there’s one restaurant that instantly comes to mind: Olympia Provisions. Olympia Provisions is Oregon’s first USDA-approved salumeria. Since 2009, Elias Cairo and his sister Michelle Cairo – along with fellow owners Nate…

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Top 10 Best Things To Do in Cannon Beach

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beautiful day at Cannon BeachIf you’re traveling to the Oregon Coast, here are the Top 10 Best Things to Do in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The Oregon Coast is my happy place. If you’ve been there, you can understand why. No matter the weather, there’s a misty salty magic about this beautiful meeting of sand, rock, and ocean. Where the…

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Where to Eat in Portland, Oregon: Canard restaurant

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duck stackCanard restaurant in Portland, Oregon is part wine bar, part cafe, and a total all-day Portland favorite. Tucked into a sliver of space on southeast Burnside is one of my favorite restaurants in Portland: Canard restaurant. With a French ambience and French-inspired menu, this restaurant feels like a cross between a traditional French bistro and…

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Portland Travel Guide: The Duniway Hotel

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Looking for a luxurious stay right in the heart of downtown Portland? Check out The Duniway Hotel. On February 14, 1913, Abigail Scott Duniway became the first woman registered to vote in Multnomah County, Oregon. Her fight to get to that moment – for herself, her daughters, and all fellow women – was long and…

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Portland Foodie Travel Guide: Bar Miranda

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food flatlay at Bar MirandaBar Miranda is a playful bar with a brilliant food partnership, tucked into downtown PDX’s Portland Food Hall. Eat Well. From the moment I was about to step foot into Portland Food Hall to meet a friend at Bar Miranda, I knew I was home. In downtown Portland, housed within a dark grey building with…

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The Writer Behind The Writing

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Sandy Harris
Me at Steens Mountain Image | Sean Moen

The shower is my thinking place, that’s where I go when I want to, well get clean for one, but I go there when I have had enough.  I go there when I need to get away from things and wash them away. I go there when I have unrelenting migraines.

I just got out of the shower a short time ago; it seems time cannot move fast enough on certain occasions.  I realized while I was in there and between the shampoo and conditioner what I wanted to write about today and all of these fabulous lines came flooding into my mind. It seemed like an eternity had lapsed between the realization of what to write and “oh my god I can’t dry off fast enough before I forget all of this”.

I have been with Eugene Daily News for just over a year now and I have had the time of my life! My life revolves around words, yet they escape me when I try to express my thoughts and feelings and gratitude to a complete stranger who took a chance on someone to live their dreams.  I thank you Kelly Asay.  Today, I dedicate this to you.

My story begins when I was in the 4th grade, or there about.  My love for writing began with poetry.  At the tender age of eight I memorized The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service.  This poem is epic and although I have not spoken the words in many, many years, it remains my favorite.  I can see the story unfold vividly in my mind as I type these words to you.  This is what writing does.  It takes us to a place we want to go, to places we have never been, often times it is the only way we can ever get there.

gulls
Image | Sandy Harris

I had a blue hardback book titled The Collected Poems of Robert W. Service, I can see the tattered upper right hand corner of the book, the cloth stitching coming undone from the many times the book had been opened, the binding of the book wiggling free and becoming loose over time.  I lost track of where that book went so many years ago, but I have not given up hope of ever seeing it again when I walk through antique stores.

Writing has always been my outlet.  Be it writing stories that never get any further than my tablet, or unsent letters written to a loved one, waiting for the perfect time to mail it yet finding the letters years past and the loved one has died long ago.  I keep these memories and come across them once in a while, they take me back to a time in my life that was either painful or filled with elation.

I seemed to excel in English class.  I love creative writing!  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I can’t tell you what my grades were, that was too many years ago, but I remember the love part!

Once I graduated from high school I moved right into motherhood.  I didn’t think college was attainable for people like me, people who didn’t have money.  I only knew it was for rich kids.  My son Christopher was born at OHSU just over a year after graduation.  I found myself living in Georgia before I realized I had higher goals in life than to be mistreated by a bad man and with the help of my family, my son and I boarded a Greyhound bus and traveled cross country from Atlanta, Georgia to Eugene, Oregon and into the safety of my fathers arms.

I had to find myself again after those long five years of being with an abusive husband.  You learn about the physical abuse, but no one ever tells you about the mental abuse.  I moved back to Alaska, and four years later gave birth to my son James.  I was 25 years old and thought life was grand.

the Sun
The Sun Image | Sandy Harris

I continued with my accounting jobs throughout the years. Advancing from waitress to office work in a matter of months and eventually writing million dollar checks (true story).  I have been HR, I have been office managers, I have been accounts receivable, payable, I have created spreadsheets for the State of Alaska,  I have recruited people from across the country into jobs, I have been receptionists, I have been payroll, heck, I can even hook up a car to a tow truck.  I was living and getting by, but something was missing.

When I was 32 I remarried and eventually moved back to Oregon where my roots began, oh yeah, I was born at Sacred Heart Hospital in downtown Eugene.  My father’s side of me is here, as a matter of fact, my great grandfather Ben Hyland was the timber king way back when.  His salt box home still stands in Lowell today and many of my relatives are laid to rest in the tiny cemetery as you come into town just past the lake.

I found it hard to find good companies to work for once I moved south, maybe it’s my personality, I can’t keep my mouth quiet.  Try as I might, I am a rebel as you might say, well shoot, I’m going to blame the Browns for that!  It runs in our blood, thank god!  I am pretty sure I get my courage from them too.  I am not one to hold my opinion, if there is something on my mind, I’m going to let it out one way or another.  I learned this from the best boss I ever had, Max Rule.  My hat is off to people like him.  He encouraged me and supported me and set the bar high for my future employers.

So between the companies who didn’t realize the genius they had before them and the economy, well to say the least, I have had it rough at times.  The thing is to keep getting back up when you get knocked down.

I don’t give up easy.

fire helmet
Image | Sandy Harris

I was sick for quite some time and finally, after years of “We don’t know what is wrong with you” and many tests and procedures I was diagnosed with Graves Disease.  That sounds pretty scary, and it is, especially if you don’t know what is wrong with you.  Most often you don’t care what the problem is, you just want to know so you can get on the road to recovery.  It has been 6 years since that diagnosis.  I have lost jobs because of it, and a husband to boot, but to be honest, blessings in disguise.

My son’s are grown now, one in Alaska and one in Florida, making stories of their own.  I decided to try to sell my photography online and set up my shop on Etsy.  My photographs are international as well as across our beautiful country, as are my fingerless gloves that I make.  I found myself unemployed and answered an ad on Craigslist.   Writer wanted… Why not I giggled to myself.  It never hurts to ask. Later that evening I received an email welcoming me aboard EDN as a freelance writer if I was still interested in the position.

I nearly came out of my skin!  Seriously?

I get to write and photograph my own stories!  Hello!  My two passions in life, all wrapped up into one package!  I didn’t know the first thing about being a writer, I only know I love to write.

I jumped on the first story that was available.  Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers.  When I agreed to cover this story, I had no idea who these people were, and I didn’t care.  I was going to give it every thing I had.  Yes, it was the Steve Martin!

steve martin
Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers Image | Sandy Harris

In the year since EDN took a chance on my dreams, I have interviewed famous people, I have had close calls with jet boats, I have learned how to drive a stick and I know more about Nutria than I ever imagined I could!  I have spent a day with the fire department and I have seen a man die.  I have been welcomed into peoples homes and I have gained great friendships.

I have written with wonderful and talented writers here on EDN, and I consider you all my family.  You have supported me and given me guidance and it is my privilege to write along side you.

I have found that person within me that has wanted to come out and play for so very long, I found what was missing in my life.

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.  Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”

~ Emily Dickinson

Living In The City?

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The deer stood in this area  ignoring the traffic. None present this time.
The deer stood in this area ignoring the traffic. None present this time.

As my previous columns have already explained I have lived all over the country. In all of those locations I have lived in a city. By that I mean within the city limits in an urban area. One of the things that struck me when I first moved to Eugene was the number of neighborhoods that felt like they were at least in the suburbs if not quite in the country. The neighborhood where we first rented a house looked like a typical neighborhood in most cities. What distinguished it from the rest was to some degree the flora, plenty of trees, and to a larger degree the fauna. Or is that fawns? Nowhere else had I seen deer grazing, walking, and even sleeping in my neighborhood. Once we were leaving to go grocery shopping midmorning on a Saturday when we saw three deer grazing on a grassy area between East Amazon Drive and West Amazon Drive. The deer were eating right by the curb oblivious to the traffic zipping by on this bright sunny day.

I keep the path clear so the deer have an easy time of it.
I keep the path clear so the deer have an easy time of it.

It became even more significant when we bought our house in the South Hills of Eugene. There is a veritable menagerie walking, prancing, grazing, waddling, or flying in my neighborhood. Mr. Rogers always started his children’s TV show by asking “Would you be my neighbor?” I didn’t have to ask. It was as if I had to ask their permission to reside here in their woodsy neighborhood. No matter which window or door I look out of I see plenty of trees and my neighbor’s houses. It doesn’t feel like living in the city at all. In fact it feels like living in the woods, but with homes built there.

This Doe didn't seem to be bothered at all by my taking her picture.
This Doe didn’t seem to be bothered at all by my taking her picture.

The first thing I noticed after moving into my house was that the deer had made a path along one side of my yard so they could go up the hill between my house and my next door neighbor’s into another neighbor’s yard behind us to forage in the taller grass and weeds. They often just hang around and rest a while in my yard before moving on.

This used to be a budding rosebush branch until a hungry deer chomped on it.
This used to be a budding rosebush branch until a hungry deer chomped on it.

We have a small rose bush to the right side of my garage which is where their path starts. I assume the deer looked at the roses as a treat because they waited until the roses were fully opened up before nibbling them off of the bush. Some folks would be upset that their prize roses were being eaten, but in my family allergies prohibit us from bringing the roses in the house. We say “Bon appetite” and hope the deer enjoy their rosy snack.

One summer night I heard a strange scratching sound coming from our back yard. I had no idea what could make a sound like that. I turned the backyard light on and there they were. Four raccoons were walking along the top of my old cedar fence. I was afraid they might get hurt or might hurt my aging fence so I took my trusty garden hose which was hanging on a hook on the back of the house, and sprayed the raccoons to get them to come down from the fence. It worked and my rickety fence was still standing. Sorry no photo here. I was too busy dealing with the raccoons.

Just a small contingent of turkeys walking through my yard.
Just a small contingent of turkeys walking through my yard.

One creature that I really wasn’t expecting to see in “my yard” is a wild turkey. They like to move from one area to another in the hills as they look for food. Some people feed them and the turkeys scrounge whatever else they can find. On any given day you can see them walking down the street, the males strutting their stuff and unfurling their tail feathers and wings to impress one or more of the females. Usually I’d see about ten or fifteen of them waddling into my front yard. One particular day I had just come out the front door and I spied two turkeys walking on the sidewalk. There were more behind them so I thought I’d count them as they walked by. I counted fifteen, then twenty, twenty five, thirty, thirty five, and even got to forty when I thought the parade was over. I was wrong. Five more turkeys walked by making a grand total of forty five birds in all. We often see them on our neighbors roofs, but one day my wife saw a couple of them perched on the power lines that are stretched between poles from one side of the street to the other. Remember that these are wild turkeys not the “Gee I’m too fat to fly” domesticated turkeys we put on our Thanksgiving Day dinner table.

In the taller trees that surround our houses there are what seem to be hundreds of bats who are most active around sunset. They are good to have around because they are natural pest control creatures eating insects or if they are the carnivorous bats that eat small rodents.

I almost forgot to mention the opossum. I have only seen a few of them and it has usually been after they had a very bad encounter with a motor vehicle. I’m sorry to say they were not “playing possum” either.

I have saved the best creature for last. Actually he’s not a creature because he has become a member of our family. I really hate it when a TV show presents a situation and then supers across the screen “48 hours earlier” so they can drag out the way the story unfolds. That having been said, I need to go back in time to explain that a few years ago my neighbor next door moved a couple of miles away. Their cat, however, decided that he didn’t like his new digs so he ran away and came back to our neighborhood living on his own outside. His owners asked our neighbors and us to capture him if we could and return him to them. The wayward cat’s name is Hunter and he caught on to what all of us were up as he was captured, returned to his new home and escaped fleeing once more to our neighborhood. He learned to run away from anyone calling out his name understanding that a cage awaited him.

Hunter came around the bottom steps and made his presence known.
Hunter came around the bottom steps and made his presence known.

We hadn’t seen him for quite some time when one day my wife and daughter were returning home from some errands. After my wife put the car in the garage they heard this horrible sound like an animal in distress. They looked by our front steps and out walks Hunter. He just has a very guttural voice and he was giving them “what for” and demanding attention. He let both my wife and adult daughter pet him and seemed very affectionate. On another day he came up to my daughter and she sat down on the top step which prompted Hunter to get up on her lap. My daughter gave him some food (at the time we had two indoor cats too) and water. Since Hunter seemed to “adopt” us as his new family I thought he could use a house to protect him from the fall rain which would be coming soon. I put a large flatbed cardboard box I got from Costco on the brick platform and we took an old bath towel to put in it for his bed. He liked that so I went the next step and took a large box from Costco and laid it on its side setting it inside the flatbed box. Hunter moved in and seemed to like his new house. I, however, didn’t think it would hold up to well in the rain and colder weather that was approaching. I had some flat pieces of Styrofoam so I taped them to the sides of the box for insulation and covered everything up with a blue tarp. He’s happy with us and his house now. We added a mattress pad on the bottom, a blanket on top of it and then two bath towels. When it gets really cold I’ll put the top two towels in the clothes dryer to warm them up for him. He gets excited when take them out of the box (when I am feeding him) because he knows the heated towels will be coming back soon. I retrieved two more boxes so Hunter will be moving into a new house as soon as I get the chance to tear apart the old one, clean the tarp, add the insulation to the new box, and then wrap it up in the tarp.

Hunter likes his "House" but it is time to replace it. I sure hope he likes the renovation.
Hunter likes his “House” but it is time to replace it. I sure hope he likes the renovation.

Hunter has become protective particularly of my wife. One day she was sitting on the top step petting Hunter when part of the flock of turkeys started walking up our sidewalk. Through previous incidents we noticed how afraid of the turkeys he really was. He would either run away or hide in his house until they went away. This time, however, Hunter jumped off of my wife’s lap and proceeded to walk carefully down the stairs to the halfway point between my wife and the birds. Despite his obvious fear of the turkeys Hunter became my wife’s protector. He stood guard there until the turkeys left our yard.

We still have to occasionally chase a raccoon off our front steps as they try to steal Hunter’s food. He’s good about finishing his food so his dish is empty when he walks away leaving nothing for the scavenging raccoons.

Whenever I fill out a survey of any kind and they ask “where do you live?” The choices are usually Urban area, the Suburbs, or in the Country. I have a difficult time picking just one answer, because as I already explained, we are within the city limits but it’s more like the suburbs, but also like living in the country. No matter how you try to categorize where I live I just call it my neighborhood. I’m sorry that “Mr. Rogers,” AKA Fred Rogers, passed away because I’m sure he really would like to be my neighbor.

Suggestions for future column topics are welcome. Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected]

Changes being made to Medicare Annual Election Period for 2012

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Jake Gariepy, EDN

The Medicare program has instituted an important change to the Annual Election Period for 2012 and many beneficiaries aren’t aware of it. The Annual Election Period (AEP) is the time that Medicare allows members to make changes to their health plan choices for the next year.

The Medicare AEP for the 2012 year began Oct. 15. Unlike past years, this AEP ends Dec. 7, which may leave procrastinators in a scramble. 

If Medicare recipients are not aware of the current changes, they could be left out in the cold. Photo courtesy of Medicare.org

Also, options for Medicare Advantage plans in Lane County have expanded. In addition to the stalwarts such as Providence, Regence and Health Net, local health insurer PacificSource is entering the market.

Like its competitors, PacificSource offers a variety of plans with varying monthly premiums, from zero to $78. 

Since Medicare plans vary, recipients must weigh their options to choose the right plan for their circumstances.

The two different plans are called Medicare Supplement/Medigap and Medicare Advantage and are used in conjunction with the original Medicare benefits.

With Medicare Supplements, plan benefits will be the same regardless of which insurance company you choose. The alphabet soup of standardized plans differs only in premium and in some joining requirements.

Also, Medigap plans do not include prescription drug coverage. Patients with Medicare Supplement may also wish to select a separate prescription drug plan (PDP) at an additional expense.

Medigaps allow patients to see any US doctor who contracts with Medicare. But it is not without its problems.

Some doctors don't accept Medicare patients. Photo courtesy of Medicare.org.

Continuous cuts in Medicare’s reimbursement to providers have resulted in some doctors refusing to see patients who only have Medicare or Medicare/Medigap plan.

But with a Medicare Supplement, aside from the premium, most members do not have additional cost-sharing. As long as it is a Medicare-covered benefit, the Medigap plan pays the remainder after Medicare has paid its portion.

People who have significant health problems and who know that they may require expensive procedures in the coming year may benefit from this option.

Medicare Advantage plans are very different from Medigap. 

Some Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have no premium. Unlike Medicare Supplement plans, MA plans are paid each month by Medicare, which covers the services that original Medicare covered.

MA plans that offer no-premium options have generally arranged the benefits and co-pays in a way that makes it financially feasible to do so. Many of these plans also include prescription benefits, and can be a good choice for consumers seeking to cut costs.

Some patients may have to pay more out-of-pocket fees if their doctor doesn't follow their particular plan. Photo courtesy of Mobilityspecialists.net.

MA’s co-pays for each service or benefit include daily charges for hospitalization, skilled nursing services, emergency room visits and ambulance transport.

Starting at the beginning of 2011, Medicare began requiring all providers to offer preventive services like routine physical exams, colorectal screenings and mammograms, at no cost to members.

Some MA plans require patients to choose one of its preferred providers. Such is the case, too, with many Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), which may also demand your primary doctor refer you in order to see a specialist. HMOs will not, in most cases, pay for doctors who are not on their list.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) work very differently.

If you choose a PPO, you may see any doctor anytime, as long as they contract with Medicare. If you see a doctor that contracts with your particular health plan, you may be entitled to lower co-pays.

Patients who see a provider not affiliated with their plan may have to pay more out of pocket. However, PPOs do no require a referral to see a specialist.

One of the greatest advantages of choosing an MA plan is that most include prescription drug benefits, and there is no additional premium for this benefit.

People who want to change their plan or simply want to get more information should contact the individual health plans, a licensed insurance agent or a SHIBA volunteer. SHIBA volunteers are impartial volunteers who offer assistance to Medicare beneficiaries and can be contacted through the Campbell Senior Center or the Willamalane Adult Activity Center.

NEXT INSTALLMENT:  Who needs a plan in addition to Medicare?  How do I choose a Prescription Drug Plan?

Eugene hosts Open House for Pedestrian/Bicycle Master Plan

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“Eugene is a place where walking and biking are integral to the community’s culture, where the city’s livability, sustainability, and overall quality of life are enhanced by more people walking and biking, and where these activities are safe, convenient, and practical options for everyone.” – Vision statement from the Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Plan 2008

This last Monday, interested pedestrians and cyclists had the opportunity to examine and respond to the city’s 20-year master plan for renovations, and new development of pedestrian, bike, and shared facilities.  The city hosted a two hour Open House at the Eugene Library featuring highlights of the plan as well as several maps displaying the specific changes to be made.  Eugenians in attendance had a chance to talk with city representatives and express their thoughts with others present.

City of Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator, Lee Shoemaker was present at the open house, and spoke with EDN.  When asked why this is an important initiative to the city, Shoemaker responded that it is part of the plan to “Meet city goals of decreasing greenhouse gases.”  He also noted the importance of fostering healthy active lifestyles in the community.  Shoemaker expressed that achieving these goals is made possible by striving to make Eugene more walk-able and bike-able in a way that is safe for all, “there is a sizable percentage of people, for instance families with children, who would like to ride more, but simply don’t feel safe to do so.”  “We would like to see a new classification of ‘Bicycle Boulevards’ develop,” citing recent changes on Alder Street as an example of one potential for safety improvement.

Throughout the entire development of the plan, the city has worked closely with several community organizations and residents to gain crucial input, in hopes of making a cohesive, feasible, and relevant plan.  Community involvement included two prior open houses, as well as the formation of a Project Advisory Committee (PAC).  The PAC was composed of representatives from neighborhood groups, the Sustainability Commission, school districts, higher education institutions, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, among others.  The committee also gained insight from community members through an online survey.

Major changes slated for the next 20 years include: 25.2 miles of sidewalks, 12.2 miles of shared-use facilities, 111.2 miles of bike ways, as well as several intersection, infrastructure, and sign improvements.  Ideally, the plan will help to establish “20-minute-neighborhoods”, a concept that strives to make local, sustainable living an easy option, with work, shopping, recreation, and other opportunities easily accessible within a 20 minute walking distance.  Overall, the city would like to see in the next 20 years, a measurable doubling of the percentage of trips being made by foot or bicycle.  The anticipated benefits of the plan include decreases in traffic congestion, carbon and noxious emissions, cost of road maintenance and exposure to accidents.  The city also hopes to see increases in individual health and wellness, air quality, and access to equitable resources.

Eugene resident Jeem Peterson was willing to speak with EDN regarding his thoughts about the changes.  He stated that he wished that more changes were being made, that “the bike needs a chance to get where it’s going,” insinuating that although Eugene is undoubtedly a shining example of a well constructed biking environment, there are still many improvements that would allow the city’s reputation to flourish.  Jeem told me that the changes he see’s as being most relevant are those that increase safety, as he views this as a major inhibitor for many would be bikers.  Jeem emphasized the importance of the bike-ability of this city when he stated that it was a major draw in bringing him to Eugene as a transplant from Vermont.

Eugenian Jim Holm also spoke with EDN about his concerns.  Specific to his neighborhood, he pointed out on one of the maps, a stretch of road along the Delta highway from Green Acres to Ayres Road.  Holm said that although this stretch is not currently one of the areas to be improved upon, he has always hoped to see a change.  Holm explained that this is a hazardous section because of a lack of designated biking space and a number of landscaped islands that lead to the formation of entrapment or pinch points along the road, which is frequented by gravel trucks.   He continued to point out an intersection change that he was happy to see being made.  The intersection encountered by a biker exiting the river bike path via Briar Cliff, onto River Road, currently requires those traveling south-bound to cross four lanes of traffic, without a designated crossing.  Holm added that he thinks that constructing a path connecting already existing paths along the river, in a loop, would greatly increase Eugene’s livability assets.  

The rough draft of the Pedestrian/Bicycle Master plan may be viewed on the City of Eugene’s Transportation System Plan website.  Those with questions, comments, concerns or suggestions are welcome to respond through the site until October 14th.  

Story by Elisha Shumaker, EDN

Time Travel and the Sustainable Neighborhood

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A couple of nights ago, while sharing a bottle of wine with some friends, we accidently stumbled on a time machine.  With the first sip we were no longer standing in the man cave, amplifiers humming and instruments beckoning us up on stage.  The years dropped away from our faces, our eyes brightened, wrinkles turned to smiles.  Time travel.

Oenophile’s have a firm grasp on the glossary of wine, for the rest of us, using those words are rarely more than a slightly embarrassing attempt at sharing the interpretation of tasting the wine.  Classifying what you are tasting can be a lot like analyzing romance, go too far or try too hard and it all becomes pre-programmed responses and biology; all words, no magic.  This was magic.  The wine didn’t taste so much like a mènage of characteristics as it did an experience.  As it happens it was an experience we all had in common.

As the flavor opened on our palates the liquid became early morning, 6am early, at a beanfield;  the smell of the river, the soil, the verdant must of the pole beans, the crispness of the morning.  The smell of acres of work waiting to be done, sweat to pour, buckets to fill and empty into bags to have weighed and dumped by the lucky few who became “weighboys”.  Weight tallied, cards punched, lunchtime still hours away, fog just lifting and the heat coming on, a new row waiting to chafe on willing young hands.

Picking berries, beans, filberts, walnuts, apples and pears, while dreaded on one level, was how we’d pay for school clothes or a new bike back in the day.  The unhappiness at having to rise so early was more than offset by the sensation of being in the field, seeing friends, experiencing something distantly familiar.  Hard work is it’s own reward, but it was more than that.

The voyage only lasted for a few minutes, a couple of tips of the glass, but the echos of the adventure remained throughout the bottle.  With every sip the sensation would glow like an old bulb about to burn out, but nothing like that first transformation.  The best part was, the time travel seemed to have awakened a slumbering bit of the boy who was.

Yesterday a pear tree out in an empty lot seemed to deserve a closer look.  Pears everywhere, some turning to compost, 45lbs became a puree with a little lemon juice and headed for the freezer.

Today the blackberries that climb the fence at the back of the driveway of the vacant house across the street offered themselves up, and for the first time in years the offer was accepted.  Five gallons of rain plumped, sun ripened berries are now rinsed and spread out on sheet trays, ready for the freezer.

Heading to the fields isn’t necessarily going to happen now, that’s reserved for heartier souls.  Instead I’ve made the determination that the neighborhood is my new field.  Empty lots, homes standing vacant from foreclosure, backyard farmers driveways replete with garden bounty.  Sustainable and local; part of our motto at EDN.

The neighbor is selling quarts of blueberries out of her backyard at $5 for a gallon freezer bag full, and I get to pick them.  Its odd to be loving this again when it’s so easy to just go buy it from the grocer. I intend to pick them all.

Lane County is rich with pending harvest.  Our side of the street has so far yielded 25lbs of zucchini, 10lbs of yellow squash, 5 bunches of celery, a bag of rhubarb and enough basil to make Pesto for the entire block.  All fresh, and only a fraction of what was still available.  Next up is a visit to the neighborhood across the road.

The verdict is still out on what our odd weather has done to this years wine vintage, but the berries are perfect; pick some.

What ever sparks the inner recognition that fresh, seasonal and local food is what you have to have, is worth finding.  I re-discovered it in a bottle of wine and a short trip back in time.

Kelly Asay, EDN