Monday, July 11, 2005

Appreciating the simple things

They say it's important to stop and smell the roses. Well sometimes roses aren't available, but that doesn't mean there aren't pretty things, fragrant flowers, around to appreciate and enjoy.

Over the weekend, I spent a day on a tour of rural Washington County. It's part of an annual tour by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce. We got to see some pretty country on the fringes of Oregon's largest metropolitan area.

On one of my online profiles somewhere along the line I used to describe myself as a country boy with a taste for city things, or something like that. I thought it sounded clever. But it's true. I grew up out in the country, where our nearest neighbor was about a half mile away, and the next one about a mile away. It was 15 miles to the town where we got groceries and it was about 12-13 miles to the other, small town where I went to school.

I wasn't as major or good with my hands as the other farm boys who were my friends and peers in school. I wasn't a jock, but the jocks let me hang around. In our school, which was very small, everyone got along on some level or another. But I didn't quite fit in.

In the years since, I've gone off to college, and lived in a variety of small towns before ending up in more urban areas for most of the last decade. Now, I live in the state capitol. I like the access to amenities. But I don't know that I really fit in here either. This weekend I found myself coveting those country roads and rolling hills covered with pastures and berry patches and wheat fields and orchards. And I found it sad to see the cities encroaching on the rural landscape.
On the outskirts of the town of Sherwood there was a development of new, large, multi-story $300,000-plus homes butting up against the edge of the city. The homes were so close together it looked like you touch stand with your hand touching one house and reach the wall of the neighboring house. It was like the houses, like an invading army, were marching into the countryside, wiping out the farms in their path.

But on that frontier, there is beauty, like the flowers of a garden, or a nesting pair of bald eagles and their fledgling making their home on the fringe of a reclaimed landfill that now served as a wastewater treatment facility and
wetlands preserve inside the city limits of Hillsboro.

It felt good to spend the day in the country, where vegetation isn't just landscaping.


Anonymous said...

Mmm... I like how you put that last statement. I live in New York City, where the only trees are planted in little holes in the sidewalks, and even in the suburbs wildflowers aren't really wild. Well said.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Like my daughter the country nut, lives in Oregon 10 miles from the nearest city. Doesn't even have potable water. Loves it.

mawgawrita said...

I'm a country girl that swore she'd never live in the city! But this is where my job is...Although, there are some people that consider Portland a town. lol. It is all relative. I grew up at the end of a long dirt road. We had seven acres that sat by a 2 mile lake and ours and the neighboring fields were full of trees and swamps and places to hide in the tall grass. Our homestead was a stones throw from the beach...there were logging roads to drive up and hide on and drink beer and many moonlight walks on the beach holding hands and kissing...We'd sneak out at night and play in the cemetary,we'd race our bikes for miles to the dump. It was great fun! How the hell did I end up here??

grace said...

i like to visit the country. i could never live there. my allergies would KILL ME!

then again, i'm allergic to alcohol and that doesn't stop me from drinking...

Chick said...

Lovely flowers...can I covet them?

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