Expectations, and the ebb and flow between two philosophies

September 11, 2013 10:58 am
Even as our understanding of the universe expands, philosophies of old remain our foundation. “Seek and ye shall find” sits cozily on the shelves of our minds next to the “negation of expectation.”

Late summer gathering is an excuse to be in the woods and a reason to hike forested trails. Sometimes, a berry or two goes in my mouth or a mushroom in my bag.

When it comes to finding things at home, I’m like a lab on a tennis ball. I will search high and low through every nook and cranny for the lost coin, not satisfied until I’ve found it. This may come from a long life of losing valuable items. In my family, when we’ve lost something, we say, “It must be with the purple ski jacket,” an item I lost before I was even 10 years old.

Looking for tiny berries or finding fungus bursting through the duff, I bore quickly if I can’t find anything, but if I do, the excitement of finding treasure is a thrill of its own. As a gatherer, I ebb and flow between the two philosophies. When I tire of seeking and not finding, I give up my expectations and lie down under a tree or take pictures of wild flowers.

My mother, not finding a broom or a can of spray starch when she visits, will go buy another. I now have six cans of starch and three brooms. And me? I’ve been missing my lens cap for longer than I can remember. Six months? More?

The other day my scout asked, “Is this yours? As he handed me the cap labeled “Fuji film” that has been on a TV stand the whole time. I am eternally grateful for the welcome set of a second pair of eyes.

These two philosophies seeming butt heads or are as two lovers sleeping with their backs to each other, but like all things, I rationalize. When one isn’t working, do the other. It’s a metaphysical cop-out, to be sure, but how often do you find what you are looking for after you’ve given up?

In 2008, I stumbled into Wallowa County to run a fishing and rafting inn at the confluence of two rivers. I said it was so that I had more time to write, but wasn’t sure what that was going to look like.
A chance email to the then - La Grande Observer editor landed me a freelancing job writing stories about the frills of life in rural Eastern Oregon. A year later I was learning to write news. I’d looked for such a job for two decades.

My roommates are both examples of seeking or not. When I got Finnegan I had been dog-less for five, long years. When I met my good friend Iris, the chocolate labrador puppy, I decided I would acquire a pup from her parents’ next litter. Shortly after Finn was born,  I was magically released from my rental agreement by my landlord’s marriage and desire for privacy. I soon found a house that allowed dogs and picked up my 15 pounds of joy from his breeder.

Bridey, on the other hand, was thrown at me as a tiny ball of teeth, claws and fur. For the first few days I didn’t pay her much heed as she was going to go back to her owner, when found, or sent to the nearest pound. Neither happened. Six and a half years later she leans on my shoulder as we drive down the road and nestles next to me during cold nights.

When interviewing someone new to Wallowa County I invariably ask, “What brought you here?” And more often then not it was a chance visit that eventually created a permanent move.

As Carly Simon sings, “I wasn’t looking, somehow you found me.” You blue skies and puffy white clouds, clichely decorating granite peaks from which ice cold streams run.