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May 28th, 2020

"A Place Wrapped in Rest"

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A Place Wrapped in Rest
by Christopher Walsh, 5/11/2020-5/28/2020


Taking narrow, winding, where-engineers-could-put-them roads
Trees and hills and trees and trees looming
LIGHTS ON FOR SAFETY
To the turn to the next narrow, winding, where-engineers-could-put-it road.
To Slick Rock.
I'd go down to it:
From the road to the house,
To the back lawn,
To the lower lawn,
To the rocks near the crick
To the crick.
And, if I were brave and in trunks,
Down to the water,
Clear, soft-flowing,
Water-strider welcoming,
A variety of pools where all was slower.
Slick Rock Creek, Oregon, in the Coast Range,
Winding past tree farms and bridges and weathered, dew-wrapped homes,
Reaching the Salmon River just west of what we called "Beautiful Downtown Rose Lodge."
My family's slice of creek-sound.
We'd vacation there,
In a basic double-wide,
To hear the water flow,
Heavier after storms,
Far heavier after flood-storms.
(THAT was a rush-and-roar.)
And other flow-sounds: wind or rain or wind-and-rain.
At times they blended, sounding similar, undifferentiated.

Inside: stuff,
Vacation-house accumulation,
Musty but without water getting in.
Early-Eighties-style wood paneling,
Quickly dated and never replaced.
Two bedrooms, bed-hiding sofa,
Space for sleeping bags if needed.
Family room TV, with cable, a VCR, and
(Eventually) just two VHS tapes, cheaply bought,
"E.T." and "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."
Fireplace even I could light.
It was easy to get warm enough.
The brightest-lit room was the kitchen,
Small and basic but functional.
(Just make sure nothing in the fridge or pantry was expired.)
The family room/dining room: big-windowed,
Not needing as much lamp light,
Letting in views,
Trees and deck and plants and lawn,
And sky with only rare, small planes.

Part of the hill shored up landfill-style,
Layer of tires between upper soil and lower soil and rock,
Making that slope less likely to slide,
Giving it a more defined, don't-walk-past-here edge.
(You'd go around to get down to the crick.)
Later we added a plastic-domed planter,
A raised mini-greenhouse so Grandma Jean could kneel less
And meanwhile,
Under the deck,
Surprisingly lush plant life.
Growth, curated and un-curated.
Enough lawn for a riding lawnmower:
Lawnmowing? Maybe Grandpa Irv's favorite thing to do there.
One way for him to relax.
One of many ways, whether one of us was at the house or ten were.
And at Slick Rock, we could relax cheaply.
Not a fancy place at all; "fancy" wasn't needed.

A few decades of family-time, at that spot:
Parties, pot lucks, swims, reading, maintenance, dog-running, moving of downed trees, rest.
At times, sad-time:
Irv and Jean's dog Rocky got lost in the woods.
He'd been named for Slick Rock Creek;
He was linked to it, first in youth and then in death.
At more times, happy-time:
The enjoyment of warmth,
Of grass to run or walk on,
Of good-looking flowers,
Of lounging in or out,
The satisfaction and relief of a place to just be.

When at Slick Rock, I'd
(Somehow, for some reason)
Look south, from the house to the creek, and think I was looking west.
It's an odd blind spot:
I irised my focus on this one patch of land
And disconnected it from the rest of the range, from anything beyond the nearest hills, from even the cardinal directions.
I wouldn't do that now, but
It was okay. It didn't matter.
At the house next to the creek, I was less oriented,
But still grounded.
The place was a Place.
It was important to me.
It is important: I often dream of it.
Maybe it already felt like a dream-locale,
One I could fit to my mind.

Years later,
Post-Jean,
Post-Irv,
Post-selling the house,
My family, my folks and uncles and aunts and cousins and I, scattered their ashes nearby,
From the bridge just upstream,
Among the hills and trees and green,
Above and near this once-was-Irv-and-Jean's-place.
Something of theirs, there.


© Christopher Walsh, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Christopher Walsh (chris_walsh) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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