2010.06.23 One more time: why are you here?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Thirty years ago I was doing something different than what I’m doing now. I was looking for someone to take a liking to my new K-8 teaching certificate, for one thing, but teaching jobs were pretty scarce in 1980, much like they are now.

If you go back 30 years to the date, however, I actually was doing what I’m doing now. I was writing a By The Way column for my father who left town and country for a long vacation.

I wasn’t just writing a column, I was doing the entire newspaper for three weeks. Of course I didn’t really know what I was doing, but Mary Clymer did. She’d been working at the Observer office for most of my life and she got us through.

In the column I wrote, I was trying to explain why I left Maine for Oregon and why I left Oregon for Morenci. I wasn’t very convincing.

I noted that eight years had passed since I previously helped get a newspaper out due to my father’s eye surgery. It was during those eight years that I worked in child care centers in Saginaw for two years, lived in Maine for a year while working at a rural hippie school, lived in Portland, Oregon, for two years while working in a classroom for emotionally handicapped kids (I think that’s what they were called in the mid-1970s), and returned to Michigan to earn a teaching degree—something that was preceded by working at Sauder Woodworking to earn college money.

The year in Maine happened by accident. I had no intentions of moving there. I was on a bicycle trip in Canada with my friend, John, and we met some people heading down out of New Brunswick. We were invited to stop by for a visit—a long one. I stayed a year.

The endless woods were beautiful and I wrote in that column:

“The smell of a good cedar woods in Maine is so staggeringly wonderful that I’d be willing to give up a few things in order to have a bottle of it to sniff every morning.”

I didn’t have to give up anything but a little of my ignorance. I received a package from Aletha Correll, who once lived in Maine, containing a small bag of the Maine woods. But it was balsam fir that I recalled smelling, she told me, not cedar. It was a really nice gift. I sniffed that bag dozens and dozens of times, always thinking of hiking through the forest near Pigeon Hill.

 There was the exciting coastline just down the road a few miles, lots of wild blueberries, very interesting people, composting toilets. So why did I leave?

According to my column, the spring wildflowers couldn’t match those found along Bean Creek. Autumn just wasn’t the same with so many trees staying green.

Sounds a little weak. Maybe I just wanted to get back on the road. Maybe I really wanted to see Oregon.

Portland was an amazing place to live. If you were in the right part of the city, you could see Mt. Hood off to the east. An enormous snow-capped mountain, right there in front of you.

Portland has Forest Park, one of the largest urban forests in the world. Miles and miles of trails, all within the city limits.

I suppose it has great restaurants and theatres, but I was a poor fellow living off teacher aide wages—several steps ahead of the Burnside Bridge bums, but by no means affluent.

I traveled by city bus and by bicycle, so I never visited the coast except when my cousin and cousin-out-law were driving that way. What beauty. Breath-taking beauty. The mountains, the city, the river, the forests, the coast—Oregon seemed hard to beat.

So why did I leave?

According to my column, the first thing I always mention when asked is the lack of thunderstorms. Lots of rain, but thunder is a rarity. Can you imagine living without thunderstorms? You can?

I also faulted Oregon for the lack of four seasons. Natives told me each season was present, just not as dramatic as I was accustomed to in the Midwest.

Do you buy that reason? A total of 10 years away and I returned, not just to Michigan, but to Morenci. I guess I’m still puzzled when I think about it.

The old column ended this way: “I had to leave it in order to learn how much I appreciate all these flat, boring stretches of corn and soybeans.”

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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