Back from Bend

The four-day trip over the mountains to The Nature of Words in Bend was both exhausting and rewarding. Quick precis: Great weather (mid-fifties in the day, high-twenties at night, clear and sunny), great workshops (I took three, and picked up tips in each one) and readings (heard seven terrific authors), enjoyed the company of my dear friend Ruth, met up with old friends I haven’t seen in awhile, made a few new ones. I particularly enjoyed the poets there, my former mentor Pattiann Rogers and former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. I admire the poetry of each, and hearing them read it and discuss poetry in the workshops was a great experience.

We took a short side trip to the High Desert Museum south of Bend. What a great place. I really enjoyed the raptor house. I made a few attempts to communicate with the owls. I’ve learned many of their calls here from being kept awake at night and having to figure out what was keeping me up. In several cases, I got their attention, but they didn’t seem to have much to say to me. I think my accent might have been poor, because they looked at me the way the French do when you’ve just butchered some attempt to speak that language. Also got up close and personal with two bald eagles. We see them here in the winter, but generally not from 6-7 feet away.

A sign at the museum advises visitors that the only birds kept here on display are those with some injury or defect that makes it impossible for them to survive in the wild. This seems like a nice solution for all.

But I’m glad to be home. The weather here is gorgeous now, too, which probably means that I’m going to have to work outside today. It’s as if October and November flip-flopped this year. We had November rain last month and now we’re getting Indian summer.

If you can get outside somewhere where there’s little or no ambient light in the early morning (before dawn–I hear some of you saying “”ugh” as I write this), it’s really worth the trouble. Right now, about 5 or 6 a.m., a brilliant Venus is climbing the sky toward a crescent moon and the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux. It’s pretty spectacular and worth getting out of bed to see.

Got a great letter (a real letter) from Phil, my blog friend in Cornwall. He’s vacationing in Cyprus, so now I have a wonderful collection of Greek stamps.  Considering how much of our history is captured in personal correspondence through the centuries, I can’t help but wonder what we will use instead. I somehow don’t think that archives of e-mail will be as accessible. This feels like one of the downsides of our technological advance.

But I’m dithering, and I have some things that must be done now that it’s really daylight.

5 Responses to “Back from Bend”

  1. Photo Buffet Says:

    I visited the High Desert Museum four years ago and really enjoyed it. Bend is a unique part of Oregon, isn’t it? The smell of sagebrush grows on you after a few visits. Did you have an opportunity to visit Smith Rock, near Redmond?

  2. Philip Ferris Says:

    Glad the letter got through OK, Cyprus doesn’t tend to suffer the vagaries of the Greek rural postal service but one does cross fingers to be sure.

    I can see myelf writing again over the Christmas period as I tend to do settle to it when off work for a few days in a row. I originally gained encouragement for letter writing from fountain pen collectors who like to use their pens at, though I am a lapsed member of the site (I was buying too many pens).

    I am so glad you had such a good time, you deserve it. I haven’t forgotten the book I said I would be sending.

  3. Marianne Says:

    Photo Buffet,

    No, Redmond was off the flight path this trip. I grew up in the far eastern Oregon desert, so I confess to a certain “nostalgie” at the smell of sagebrush. But Bend is growing so fast it’s becoming almost imposiible to maneuver around. I confess I was glad to leave it.


  4. Marianne Says:

    Phil, your letter was such a treat. I’m sure the Eddyville P.O. is still talking about the fact that I got a letter with foreign stamps. That’s how Ben announced it when he brought in the mail: “You’ve got a letter from a foreign country.” I’m probably on the local sheriff’s “watch list” now. Its wandering reflections made me daydream about going off to some place less familiar again. Made my day. Thank you.

    Your fountain pen was very impressive.

    Don’t be too surprised if you get a real postal letter one of these days. I do that so little that I’m ashamed, but one good turn deserves a response.


  5. Philip Ferris Says:

    Marianne, I am always beyond delighted to receive a real letter but no obligation (a word that always tickles my brain about a story I once heard that investigated a culture based around a currency of obligations).

    In the days when I would correspond with upwards of 6 people regularly, my wife used to roll her eyes when I came through the door and asked, before kissing her or asking how her day went, “Any post?”

    One of the nicest sounds I ever hear has to be that of a letter hitting the mat in our kitchen. I have encountered some fascinating and generous people through letter writing and it sounds like I may be able to add another name to the list. I must write with my flexible Waterman next time, (can’t remember whether I did this time). Memory is probably my biggest problem, in that letters are often a stream of consciousness thing for me and I didslike making notes about what I have written; when I was a teenager I would have used a correspondence book but I have grown lazy these days (if I was organised I could scan each letter before sending but that would take the spontaneousness out of it).

    I wonder at times whether I was born too late, given my love of books and correspondence, “proper” ink pens, the sense of style from suits and hats being normal gentleman’s attire, the joys of post that comes more than once a day. (I have local postcards sent between towns in the 1930s announcing that someone would pop by in the evening – it was posted in the morning and reached the person in the afternoon). Of course, I would probably have popped my clogs at an early age, twice in my 30s I have had double pneumonia, and I have travelled much more widely than then – though my grandfather was one of the handful of people in our village who would holiday in London in the 1940s and 1950s.

    I shall stop now, before this turns into a letter and I have nothing to write in a future one.

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