October 20th - Final Post
After spending last night in Pennsylvania, we pushed east again this morning and arrived at our bungalow in New York around noon today. The bungalow is located just north of the New Jersey border. We didn’t stay long, as the landlord was repairing a timer switch to an outside light and I didn’t want to be in the way. Next stop: the dog park. I’m glad to report that there’s a nice park with an off-leash section about ten minutes from here. Gus had fun meeting some new dogs and running around—much needed exercise after five and half days in a cramped car. After that I stopped at Lemongrass, my favorite Thai restaurant in New City, and ordered take-out of my favorite dish: pad kee mao with tofu. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening unpacking and setting up our new place. Right now I’m drinking a cup of Dutch Henry tea, a special blend I made of chamomile and mint from my garden.
Thus ends the greatest adventure of my life. Oregon seems awfully far away in terms of highway miles, but it’s still close in my heart. I have a feeling I’ll go back some day. Unpacking my things, I was happy to find some river teeth that I picked up along the Rogue. What are river teeth? The writer David James Duncan describes the phenomenon eloquently and poetically in his book entitled River Teeth. In a nutshell, here’s what happens: a conifer falls into a river, and the river goes to work breaking it down. Maybe in ten years most of the tree has broken up and eroded. But the branch joints, those places where limbs met the trunk, places dense with pitch, last much longer: hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years. And when they finally do wash up on shore, they’re quite shrunken and soft, and very often they look like teeth. I’m glad I kept two of them. I’ll display one in my office at the bungalow. The other I’ll keep on my desk at school. I like to think, too, that the river worked on me during my six months of living along it, and that now there’s something durable, something thick with the pitch of my soul, laved by all the times I swam in the Rogue or dragged a fly through it or merely gazed at it and let its whorls tell its story in that language I couldn’t really translate though I tried. Those teeth of the Rogue, hard and yet soft and shaped by a beautiful and patient persistence, have sunk deep in me with their memories of the river’s endless conversation. I can hear it talking through those teeth even now.