[I can't believe my good fortune to stumble across this picture. It's a double-set of waterfalls in Lithia Park in Ashland Oregon that was destroyed in a flood about fifteen years ago. This was a favorite watering hole when I was growing up. There were nooks with deep water behind each of these falls.]
From grades 6-11 I lived in Ashland in a two-bedroom home, about 800 square feet. My father and his friend built it. They welded together a wood stove that sat in the living room on a bed of bricks. That place will live forever in my memory as a blessed home.

The house was cream-colored with brown trim. In the front yard was an enormous black walnut tree. I put in a few boards and spent many a summer afternoon reading books up there. In the back yard were three cherry trees of varying sorts.

We had a cat named Paul. An old lazy patriarch with soft black fur and white patches.

There was no air conditioning and only the stove for heat. In the winter I would get up at 4am, build a fire and fall back asleep on the living room floor to the huffing of the air intake and the patter of rain on the windows. One by one the cats would come in and fall asleep near me.

In the summer I would put up the tent in the back yard and sleep on a military cot out there. Since there were four of us (and sometimes strays) in just two bedrooms it was a great way to get my own space. For a while there I had to sleep in the living room on the couch, converting it back every morning. When it was particularly hot we'd have a kiddie pool in the living room and we'd all strip down to our skivvs and soak our feet in water run in with the garden hose.

We owned a red subaru. A stick. I learned to drive in that car in a nearby dirt lot. I used to back it down the driveway, then back in, over and over. Once I scraped the house. I jumped out of the car to find the scrape not so noticeable so I didn't say anything. A few days later mom noticed a red mark on the side of the house. The jig was up!

After school I'd come home and make myself two fried eggs on toast covered with maple syrup. Or cinnamon toast with extra extra butter. Swilled down with Tang.

I have a scar on the back of my left hand. My sister (?) locked me out of the house so I punched one of the windows to get in. Didn't think that through so well. Fist going in is not the problem, it's fist coming out.

And D&D. We played D&D all the time in the living room after school. Queen of the Demonweb Pits, Vault of the Drow, White Plume Mountain. My mom once came home to find me making annotations in a D&D module while my friends were busy doing my various chores.
"Why are they doing your chores?"
"I told them I would level up all their characters if they did my work."
"Then what are you doing?"
"Making the adventure harder."

Once I hooked a roll of quarters from mom's closet and spent them at the arcade. They were Susan B. Anthonys (dollar coins now out of production). She was fit to be tied. But as I recall she quickly forgave. My mom was very quick to overlook the foibles of youth. I had near unfettered freedom to come and go as I pleased. I knew every fence, trail, train-track, and ditch in town; from the farmland plains north to the towering mountains south.

There was a tribe of feral cats living in a giant pile of scrap wood next door. I decided that I was going to make one of them my pet. So, I rigged a rabbit cage and put in some meat as bait. That paid off in the form of a snarling orange creature, rippling with lean muscle. As I extracted it from the cage, his body stiffened and his whole torso thrummed with a menacing cat-moan. Surely a little love and tenderness would soothe this savage creature! As he gulped down the raw meat I brought him gently to my neck in a careful embrace. It was at this point that with cleat-like talons he crawled on to my back and dug in with all ten claws. I ran into the house howling, crying for help. My mom and sister beat the mini-bobcat off with a broom and it scattered out the back door. Lesson learned. Leave them wild cats alone to their wood pile!

In Mormon cosmology there is a spirit world, like a different dimension that co-exists with the mortal world. I believe there is a "spirit Ashland" created by those who lived there in the same epoch that I did. And that is where I will go to live for a while after I pass on. A Paradise, a Xanadu, to rest for a season. I will walk to it down Siskiyou boulevard in the shade of massive trees, and then a bend in the road and a gentle slope down to the Plaza.



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