Monday, November 10, 2008

An upcoming event of interest, sponsored by Protect American River Canyons (PARC)

Autumn American River Rendezvous - Slides, Music & Stories Inspired by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Rivers & Foothills.

Click the link above for the full details of this event to be held this Wednesday evening, November 12 from 6:30 - 9:00 pm.
Keith Sutter, award winning nature photographer, will show images from his personal and family adventures in the high Sierra and the foothills.

Ron Gould, Board Member from the North Fork American River Alliance (NFARA), has a cache of images taken from his personal hikes and adventures with Russell Towle and friends in the Wild & Scenic North Fork.

Eric Peach, PARC Board Member, will present slides and updates on issues in the American River Watershed.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Ode to Russell Towle

I am so sad to learn that Russell has left us. Above are a couple of photos that I took of him. The first shows him with his good old pruning shears at the tree he referred to as the "Blasted Digger". I tried to tell him that "Digger" was a derogatory term and Grey Pine would be better. Russell said that he knew it was a racist term but they were racist times and he was going to be true to history. I was fine with that. You'll also note those pruning shears in his hands. Each time I went out with Russell he had those shears with him to help keep the trails open. He's pointing up toward Giant Gap rattling off one of his stories. You've got to love those Russell stories, he had so many of them and always told them with enthusiasm. The other picture is at the cabin in Secret World. Russell was a GOOD man, damn I'm sad he's gone.
I didn't know what to think when I first shook the hand of this man, with the curly gray hair and frumpy clothes, and the stuble on his chin, reminiscent of a hobo. And in spirit I suppose he was somewhat of a hobo; he didn't fit in with conventionality, you see, Russell was a free soul. And I later learned that he had hitched rides upon the rails, and I wasn't surprised, for by then I learned his spirit yearned for freedom, and I supposed mine does too, but Russell didn't live as I, from 9 to 5, he followed his soul and somehow got by living close to nature, as I wish that I could. And he played the guitar and he sang in Portugese and he discussed paleobotany and history and geology and who know how many ologies this hobo free spirit of a man was versed in, for he was a far more complex of a man than I, and as a true hobo, Russell never did condescend, you see, this man that I knew, he was genuine; he loved knowledge and life and lived with enthusiasm. And when I first shook the hand of this hobo of a man, with the stuble on his chin, I looked into his eyes and I instantly liked him.
I know you're not resting in peace Russell, you're free and you're blazing trails through the cosmos. Maybe one day you can take me on some of those trails as well.
Ronald Edwin Lane

Friday, November 7, 2008

Commenting on Janet's Post below....

... but where everyone can see it. I'm with Janet. I would love to see more words here (and pictures). I didn't get to come to the Saturday part of the weekend... so all the people who spoke that day I didn't get to hear you... (hint hint!)
Mary Jo

Monday, November 3, 2008

Random Memory

Hey, everyone! I don't want to bump Uncle Rich's pictures of the mallet down - I was so glad to see something new posted on here! But I wanted to share a memory of my Dad, and to encourage others to do the same. I really like hearing/reading stories about him... this blog seems to have been mostly dedicated to pictures so far, but I wouldn't mind some more text.

When Greg and I were pretty young, we'd drive out into Dutch Flat with Dad and go to the playground/tennis courts by the community center. The tennis courts are enclosed by a fence – we would go inside, Dad would shut the gate, and then we would start the game. I think it came from Tintin, but there's no telling, really. It wasn't a complicated game. Dad would start stomping around in a very exaggerated way, yelling "Stop in the Name of the Law" in a very self-important, gargly voice, and Greg and I would run away, squealing.

Sometimes he'd push us on the tire swing. Well, not really push. He'd spin us in circles until we got ridiculously dizzy. He made swings for us out at the cabins, too. The one made of thick wire is still there. It used to have a comfy cushioned seat until some bees decide to make a home in there with the cotton balls. He made us rope swings too, which he would test out first. He was excellent at climbing trees. He could go way out on the thinnest branches, and he would take all kinds of risks. But whenever Greg or I wanted to climb a tree, he'd immediately turn serious and try to pass it off as the most dangerous of pastimes.

A couple of years ago, Uncle Rich and Aunt Chris gave us a bunch of Terry Pratchett books, and Dad absolutely loved them. Back in July, during one of my weekend-visits home, he finally convinced me to start reading one of them. But he wouldn't hand me the book – he had a whole long list of characters and scenes he wanted me to pay special attention to. After I finally started reading, he made a point of checking up on me frequently. He came over to the Big Cabin to make some coffee when I was about 30 pages in. He got very excited, and insisted that I give him the book so that he could see where I was at, and what was coming, and oh, didn't I like that character? And what did I think THAT part meant? And wasn't THIS funny? I could see Mom rolling her eyes from where she was sitting behind him. He tended to "look over your shoulder" as you read a lot, if it was one of his favorite books.

By the way, he was horrible every time a new Harry Potter book came out. It was bad enough that me and Greg had to take turns reading... but with Dad taking a turn too, we all got frustrated! Plus he didn't have school in the morning, so he would always get ahead of us in the story and then hint at all the exciting events to come... oh, it was frustrating!

-- Janet

Four pictures of a small wooden mallet made by Russell.

I vaguely remember Russell making a pair of mallets (one larger than this) out of scrap oak firewood while he was building the Wren cabin shack on Highland Drive in the 1970's.