In this part of town you've got to be on the lookout, especially at 5:00. As I maneuver the car out of the parking lot and through the first in a series of green lights, my eyes vacillate from cars to people all moving swiftly to their respective destinations. As a recent transplant from the east coast commented, pedestrians in these parts rarely wait for you to stop. They assume you will or demand that you must, perhaps to their own demise.
Once I drive over the railroad tracks I'm officially on the Oregon State University campus where well-lit signage beams official mandates like a grumpy professor. Swarms of youngish pedestrians sail through the crosswalk on skateboards ahead of the more bookish sorts, laden with a full backpack, assuaging the recipient of an imperative text message.
I see her just ahead. She waits at the prearranged corner and as I pull the car up, she opens the door, grateful to be sheltered from the remaining pelts dripping off the gargantuan tree she stood under. She shows me a handful of chestnuts she rescued from the sidewalk but I barely have time to glance at them as I veer the car back in to traffic.
Leaving the campus, the exercise segues from dodging pedestrians to joining a train of fast-moving vehicles. The last remaining vestige of university life floats on the Willamette River, to our right. A chill runs through me as I ponder what it must feel like to be so close to the water and the mother in me wonders about life jackets as I try one last time to steal a glance through the trees at the brave participants.
As I hear about her day, my mind drifts from what I've left behind to what lies ahead, back and forth like a mental seesaw. It's easier now and as we near the next turnoff, I can't help feel gratitude. I love this part of Oregon. Rolling hills and expanses of farmland have replaced the swell of humanity we've left behind.
|Photo courtesy of
Deer Fly Designs
Perhaps it's the contrast, coming from city hustle bustle to a place where stillness reigns. In a few minutes we're transported. Our psyches healed. We've touched nature, the real world and reality has replenished itself. A world so close to all of us and yet, in its quietness, so easily dismissed or ignored.