Thursday, April 23, 2009

Earl Returns To Strum Creek

In November of 1977, both my friend Earl Rivers and I became the latest hires by the Dept. of Forestry in Astoria. Although more than a few years have passed, I still remember our early days as “new out of the box” foresters. To say that we were filled with wonder and awe for the job would be putting it politely. In those days, everything was new and exciting and we could not wait for the next experience offered by the job. Do you remember those days?

At any rate, Earl stopped by the house yesterday and wanted to take a ride to woods and see some forest tracts in which we worked during the early 1980s. For some reason he was especially interested in finding a track known as Strum Creek No. 3 and asked if I might remember where it is. Oh sure, no problem; the district on which we once worked is about 68 square miles in size and the area of his inquiry might be the size of a K-Mart parking lot. Since Earl left our work unit in 1985 and moved to eastern Oregon, I figured that his recall of the area might be somewhat fuzzy. If I got him close, that might be good enough for this trip down memory lane.

Not two minutes after leaving the highway, Earl commented that this part of the forest sure looked different than we he last saw it in 1985. I reminded him that over the past 24 years the trees have had a chance to put on a little growth; even an old forester has to be reminded that the forest is dynamic. As we rounded a sharp bend in the road, I reminded Earl of a time that he and I had spent a day measuring trees in this very spot. Sadly, he failed to remember, time is funny that way.

After twenty minutes of travel through the “forest of our youth” I stop the truck on a ridge high above Strum Creek. At this point, Earl got out of the truck and said that he remembered the access point being not from a ridge but adjacent to a creek bottom. He was saddened to learn that the access road he remembered had been closed or in forestry speak, put to bed, 15 years ago. In order to make it a total experience, I offered to drive back down to the highway and wait while he walked down hill through the tract. He showed little interest in my suggestion when I reminded him that he would be traveling 2.5 miles before meeting me at the highway. Somehow, the forest of our youth seems to have become a whole lot bigger with time!


Earl said...

Steve, A nice post. I enjoyed reading of your and Earl's visit back to the shared past.

That's the way with time and memories and why they say "you can never go home again"--because both you and "home" will be different then remembered.

In 1977 I joined the USAF and in Nov '77 I was beginning a tour of duty at San Vito, Italy. The base isn't even there any longer!

Steve Skinner said...


I agree, time changes everything!

pitchertaker said...

Interesting....most of our memories of the past are larger than reality of today. Earl remembered the dynamic of the forest differently. I think we change more than the places we remember change.