Finding a happy place amongst the Boston Marathon mayhem

April 24, 2013 08:49 am

By noon last Wednesday, the nation was reeling with confusion and fear. At the Wallowa County Rotary Club meeting that day, President John McColgan said, “Let’s hope for a better week.”

Customary during Rotary meetings are “brags” — when a member pays money into a special fund to brag about something he or someone else has done. McColgan, a Boston native, made a $10 brag, a pretty hefty one, that one of Boston’s many heroes during the mayhem following the blasts was the track coach from his alma mater.

We Americans like to find the good in a dismal situation because we just can’t have enough hope. But the bad news continued pouring over the airways and the week just wouldn’t end. Until it finally did.

Though I lament the stranglehold technology has on me, I am fairly plugged into it at all times. I awoke Friday morning with text messages from my brother who mentioned reports on CNN. I logged onto their website and got a briefing of the previous night’s crime spree triggered by the release of photos of two bombing suspects.

I fired up the kettle and turned on the radio — many of the nations news sources had continuous coverage all day. I then read an online post from a college classmate living in Boston reporting that he and his wife were on lockdown inside their apartment while police searched block by block for the remaining suspect.

I started instant messaging my friend Bill to get the inside scoop. He and his wife are recovering reporters and have moved on to occupations with regular hours and more reasonable compensation, but the news buzz remains in their blood.

The latest buzz

Bill said his wife was text messaging, working on her laptop and listening to the police scanner with rapt attention. Several false reports of apprehension were coming over the scanner, but the city streets were silent.

Late in the afternoon, Bill said he’d gone outside for a quiet walk, which seemed awfully eerie for such a busy city.

As the police search went on all day I couldn’t stop thinking, Where is Batman? The scene in my mind was a surreal movie where a bad guy had the citizens of one of the country’s major cities utterly paralyzed. I saw photos on the nation’s top news websites of black armored vehicles and heavily armed officers patrolling a war zone. Batman could set this right with a mano a mano clash, disabling the bad guy and getting him into police custody.

By 12:30 PDT, Batman hadn’t arrived and I had to leave the house to cover a story. A few hours later, the second suspect was apprehended and I shut off the various news sources and read a book. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Matthew Fox, a former priest and author, came to Boulder, Colo., to speak. He said in times of great strife, it was best not to spend too much attention on the news because the sadness would become too much to bear.

The next morning was windy and cloudy. I pried myself off the sofa and went to shoot photos of brandings in the Upper Valley and in Imnaha. 

From there I went to take pictures of log trucks lining the streets of Wallowa in memory of a beloved truck driver whose memorial service was held at the high school. 

Late that afternoon, my scout, the dogs, and I headed up the Lostine Canyon to our happy place. I sat on the bank of the crystal clear river and listened to the symphony — first the brushes on the snare drums, then the high pitch of the flutes. A thin brass line began, followed by the gentle rumbling of the timpani and then light strokes on the violins.

The river’s song said all would be well, and the sun burned through the clouds for just a few minutes before diving behind the mountains for the night. 

I could catch up on all the intimate details tomorrow.