I’m a native Oregonian; a state that has the lowest per capita church attendance in the country. It doesn’t mean we aren’t religious or followers of the spirit. It does mean that we’re hard to pin down when it comes wearing a label. And to be honest all of us, including the remaining Native Americans came here from somewhere else. Some of us just happen to have more family members resting in pioneer cemeteries around the state than others. Me? I’ve got three generations and various cousins planted in a lovely cemetery on the north side of Chehalem mountain above the other side of Newburg.
My genes are solidly northern European. Supposedly there’s a Cherokee in my dad’s family tree but I don’t have any proof so that’s a thread in my family tapestry that would be fun to claim but I can’t prove it. (shrug) There’s one German great grandfather; with a name like Kaiser I think I’m safe to assume he was German, not Dutch. The rest is Scots, Irish, English and Welsh. And heck, for all I know there could be a Roman or two in the family tapestry if I went back far enough. Hell, for all I know there was a British trader or two over the years who made it to Goddess knows where and left a calling card or two behind.
My dad’s family name comes out of Yorkshire in England and some of the Vikings settled there as well as Ireland so there just might be a Scandinavian sea farer adding a thread to the tapestry. Have you ever wished you could invite your DNA over for tea, muffins and a good long sit down?
Anyway I originally did this back in my early J Land career. I got it from another writer who has since dropped off the radar. The original template was designed as a stream of consciousness exercise. And Russ was right. You do end up where you didn’t expect to. For the non-Nothwesterners out there; the Hanford reach includes a free flowing section of the Columbia river and the Hanford reactor complex. One of these days the leftover radioactive contamination will probably reach the river and we’ll all start glowing in the dark.
As for the arms depot? They used to store nerve gas there. That wasn’t so bad. The stuff doesn’t go anywhere unless you blow it up. So, some geniuses in the Reagan administration decided to make the stuff “war ready’ and installed the rockets. The government built a very nice, state of the art incinerator to deal with the little darlings. And they finally did. So, guess whose little sister lives smack, dab in the middle that little piece of God’s little acre? So far they aren’t glowing in the dark.
WHERE I'M FROM
I am from Douglas fir, hemlock, spruce and cedar.
I am from the Cascades, the Blues, the Siskiyous, and the Wallowas.
I am from clear cuts, choker cables, riggers and log trucks with one log loads.
I am from sandy beaches, basalt cliffs and mudflats.
I am from wild geese calling at sunrise, wrens in the thickets, and great blue herons on the other side of the river.
I am from the little creeks, the mighty Columbia and the Pacific breakers.
I am from tricycles, tetherballs, little sisters with skinned knees and a love for bugs.
I am from the ivy by the patio, the hydrangeas with dinner plate size clumps of blossoms and the garden in the back yard.
I am from a wringer washer, a concrete laundry sink and clothes full of the smell of sunshine.
I am from missionaries, Methodist hymnals and fairy rings.
I am from winter gales, spring showers, sunny summer days and autumn fogs and frosts.
I am from the Hanford Reach, the Umatilla Arms depot, and the Columbia Gorge where condors may soar again.
I am from logging towns with no mills, harbors with no fish, and farms being swallowed by urban sprawl.
I am from shelves full of books, an old flute and feeling out of step on the march to wherever.
I am from feeling like I’m on the outside looking in.
I am from seeing what no one else sees to see.
I am from hearing what no one else seems to hear.
And if you’ve reached the final lines of the exercise this may be why you’ll find me out hugging the local oak trees these days.