This is my 100th column for the Source... and my last. Look for changes in your favorite paper - new formats, new material.
Two years ago, when I accepted this writing gig, I thought, "Well, I probably have ideas for three or four columns." I really wasn't sure what I'd do after that, and I was a little worried. I wasn't a writer; at least I didn't see myself as one. I thought it would be a way to share my love of the outdoors with my fellow Bendites and an interesting new creative challenge.
Fortunately, shortly after I began, I attended a Nature of Words writing workshop with author Pam Houston. I was a fan of her short stories about running rivers and falling in love with cowboys. She showed up late and disheveled, perched herself cross-legged atop a table near the front of the room, and rambled about writing. Her stream of consciousness washed around me until something she said hit me like a standing wave.
"Pay attention. Notice the things that glimmer - the sights, the sounds, the people, the events that arrest your attention and stand out. Then let the magical, associative thing happen."
Her advice, and Monday morning deadline pressure, actually changed the way I live my life. Every week I'm on the lookout for glimmers, and a connection between them. When you're looking for glimmers, you discover them all around you. Glimmers don't have to be big, they're just the moments that give you pause to appreciate life as it whizzes by.
I recently celebrated my 10th anniversary of moving to Bend. I got in before the boom and I'll still be here after the bust. I saw the parkway go in and the Old Mill go up. I made a million dollars and I lost a million dollars (on paper). Ten years, one hundred columns - they're mileposts on the journey. But, the more things change, the more they stay the same, as the proverb goes. This is still a great place to live and ride your bike, play with friends and paddle your boat. Stuff you might take for granted if you don't notice the glimmers.
On Saturday, I went for a mountain bike ride with some good old friends. We did the "Tour de Lava" and ended up on the Blackrock Trail, which connects Benham Falls to Lava Lands. Ten years ago we called it the "Invisible Trail" because it was so faint you couldn't actually see a trail, but somehow you could sense its path through the scraggly manzanita. Nowadays, it's been discovered and improved and is a fun, twisty singletrack that just makes you smile. Check it out, if you haven't already. Thanks to COTA for all the new trails.
On my way home from the ride, I passed through the Old Mill and stopped to watch a beach volleyball tournament. Yep, lumberjacks replaced by beach volleyball right here in the High Desert. It may be an incongruous concept, but there is no denying the glistening appeal of sun, sand, and bronzed abs. Thanks to Eric Staley and a group of dedicated volleyball players, the Bend Beach Volleyball Club now has four sand courts to play on near the river in the Old Mill. Co-ed league play is beginning next week and you can check out Bend Beach Volleyball on Facebook for more info.
Wind and Waves
Then I headed up to Elk Lake for music, camping and the first in a new series of standup paddling races. There is nothing that sparkles more for me than wind and waves, so I paddled the course once on a standup board and once on a surfski. Paddling was followed by Fourth of July barbecuing and then the wind and waves picked up in the afternoon for a little windsurfing chaser. Elk Lake has really metamorphosized into an epicenter of fun in the last few years. Thanks to race director Randall Barna, there will now be a whole series of races at Elk Lake this summer promoting the aloha spirit. Standup boards, paddleboards outrigger canoes and surfskis are invited to partake July 11, August 15 and September 26. Singletrack smiles, sandy six-packs, wind and waves - just a few simple glimmers from a Bend weekend.
I'd like to thank Editor Eric Flowers for giving me the opportunity and free reign to share my glimmers with you each week. Thank you, too, to all the people who shared your stories, upcoming events and ideas with me. And, finally, thanks to those of you who bumped into me here and there and said, "I read your column this week and enjoyed it." That was the point.