Thursday, August 7, 2008

Where Else But Eugene?

You have to laugh. One afternoon a couple of days ago Ann and I had an errand to run. We needed a particular nut to repair a wagon that we use to haul water to some native plants near the Red House. We’d been to Jerry’s and Home Depot without luck.

A bit of searching on the internet led us to Nielsen Fastener Company, across West 11th from Fred Meyer. They have just about every nut, bolt, screw, and what-have-you known to humanity. Nielsen’s just happens to be right on the Fern Ridge bike path, so we didn’t have to drive. Where else but Eugene?

We love the bike path. Ann and I have made friends with quite a few people there and have come to recognize many other friends we have yet to meet. People say hello, cyclists let us know when they are passing slowpokes like Ann and me, and drivers actually anticipate our arrival at street crossings and wait for us to cross first. Where else but Eugene?

As we sat in our little trailer house named Patience preparing to go on our errand, Ann wondered, “What would happen if we rode a distance away and locked our bikes together only to discover that we had forgotten the key?” You see, Ann’s bike lock does not require a key when you get there—only when you want to go home.

You can see this coming I’m sure. As we left Nielsen’s with the appropriate hardware, Ann slapped her pockets with a look of horror. Indeed, she had forgotten the key. She had forgotten all of her keys.

There sat our bikes, locked to each other like Ann and me. We just had to laugh.

Now we are not against walking. In fact, we like to walk. We just hadn’t planned on that chunk of time just then.

We then remembered where we were—in Eugene. We walked to the curb, stuck out our thumbs, and in about a minute and a half had a ride back to the Red House. Where else but Eugene?

A young man from New Mexico, just passing through on his way to the Faerieworlds Festival, was our benefactor. He said he usually did not pick up hitchhikers but that we looked cool. Imagine that, Ann and I looking cool. How cool is that? Where else but Eugene?

Once back at the Red House we found Ann’s bike key, along with the rest of her keys, in the door of the unlocked Patience. Back down to West 11th we walked with a purpose.

Once there, we stuck out our thumbs once more. Less than 30 seconds later a small pickup veered from the fast lane over to the curb and who should step out but Kathleen, one of our friends from the Fern Ridge Bike Path.

Ann and I met Kathleen soon after we became volunteers for the Bureau of Land Management particularly and the West Eugene Wetlands Partnership in general. While Ann and I roved the Fern Ridge bike path through the wetlands over a month ago, we ran into Kathleen and her walking partner Marsha powerwalking on their lunch break. This exercise routine has been a daily ritual for them for over two years. They just love the wetlands and the trails and shared with us some of their observations including the turtles in Amazon Creek. Ann and I were able to share with them a view of an American Kestrel through the spotting telescope.

That very same evening Ann and I ran into Kathleen at a nearby store. We seemed destined to cross paths and indeed we have several times since on the bike path. Our paths crossed once more this afternoon when Kathleen stopped to give us a ride. Where else but Eugene?

Encountering Kathleen in this way, where she went out of her way to give us a hand, got us to thinking. Our connection with Kathleen is through the West Eugene Wetlands. Our connection to the Wetlands is through the West Eugene Wetlands Partnership. The several agencies of the West Eugene Wetlands Partnership, with different missions, different cultures, and different budgets have gotten together to make something important happen for the people and nature of Eugene and the Willamette Valley.

This wetlands restoration project embodies a spirit that seems to us to pervade this town. This is a spirit of caring enough to help, a spirit of hope that this help will make a difference, and a spirit of cooperation and of tolerance. Where else but Eugene?


Matt McRae said...

What a fantastic Blog entry Tim and Ann (and suspiciously good photo documentation as well). Your creative story telling is fantastic and we in Eugene feel incredibly fortunate to have the two of you here.

elvira said...

Amen! I love that you guys are out there so much and also happen to be great bloggers ;) - thanks for all you are doing!