It's been a solid week and I've been in Oregon, back to San Francisco, down to Pescadero and Santa Cruz, and back up to Oregon again. The week was punctuated by caring for patients with heart failure, emphysema, back pain, abscessed butts, blistered skin, herpetic lips, atrial fibrillation, strokes, alcoholism... then to urology to deal with incontinence of all degrees... and finally to leave clinic, to party, drive, party some more and eventually to end up in Eastern Oregon to admire the South Sister from the Wickiup Plain. Here, I finally slept the deep sleep my body has been needing for 9 months.
The differences between Oregon and California have never been more profound to me than they are today. Arriving in Eugene after a few days in the Deschutes National Forest, I walk to the nearby co-op and find myself in a beer tasting session with people who are friendly enough to talk, inquire and share. Here, people aren't struggling to exist, and therefore have time for humaneness. I love it, and it makes my heart ache for Oregon, as it always seems to do, after too-long away. Also: I buy delicious beer to accompany my mission, which is to can 40lbs of tomatoes tonight.
Here, great meadows are trod lightly upon by people with stock horses, dogs and backpacks, and there are few rules about how one should proceed. There aren't enough people here to require regulating every square inch of one's recreation. I bring my dog, drink beer, admire the Blue Moon (once in a... ) and revel in the potential for rain, the need for not only a tent but a rain fly too, and I eagerly anticipate the dark clouds as they roll across the high plain with their promise... the promise of precipitation is the promise of keeping people from settling here, and from buying land here, and from calling it home the way I can because I was born here. Despite my infidelities, I am married to this place, I discover again.
This is a place where not all things are designed to make you more rich and popular, but perhaps to make you smile.
I will credit California with having the town of Pescadero within its boundaries. On Friday before I left I went to an "art fair" which turned out to be a great excuse to walk around the old grange of an old farm town and drink cheap wine out of stemware with old eccentrics and artists. There was a pyramid of cupcakes and a huge crock pot full of homemade meatballs, and the farmers and Buddhists of the community gathered and celebrated their idiosyncrasies. Somewhere around my 5th glass of wine (I wasn't exactly counting, since they were free...) I got into a conversation about running. I was invited to run a 5K the following morning. I heartily agreed, thinking that the wine hangover would be a boon to my performance.
The next morning, I woke on a farm to the sound of diesel trucks at 6am starting up and heading out to their respective markets. The farmers rushed out the door with coffee and eggs, and I slogged to the elementary school to find a very energetic Latino man with a PA system and a head set leading Zumba in the playground. A large group of people, dressed in vegetable costumes, were warming up for the race. And so began my 2 week vacation: doing Zumba at 7 am in the school yard of the Pescadero elementary school, followed by running a 5k (and setting a PR). Wrapped up the weekend by packing my car, hauling 40 lbs of organic tomatoes to a friends house in Oregon, and now, after 2 days in the wilderness, drinking the beer from the beer tasting, and canning tomatoes for the rest of the night. Ahhhh, vacation!