Rendered Fat Content


Harold Edgerton: Child Running [Bob Edgerton] (1939)

"I remember how it was before that flooding …"

It's two hundred and forty-five miles from the Villa to my old neighborhood in Portland, a distance I know better than any distance on this planet. I've driven that distance in every possible weather, in every season, in sickness as well as in health, and stopped at every exit along the long way at least once, probably more than once. Without too much prompting, I can muster up some personal story about every exit along that route, stories of joy and despair, hope and frustration. No other route better illustrates my life, for it represents my HomeRun, my primary route home as well as my primary route away. My home has been on each end at times, sometimes here and other times there, never in-between.

I've crawled that route on glare ice, taking two days to navigate across.
I've driven it twice in one day, an accomplishment I never hope to repeat. My first foray away from home began on a train ride through a long night along that very route and ended, returning home that way, for my grandfather's funeral. Now, it's heading homeward either way since I can honestly say that both destinations hold my DNA, though today, one feels more away now and the other seems most like home.

When The Muse and I first moved away from that other end, our lives were still tethered there. We frequently returned to secure some of what we'd come to recognize as necessities of our lives. We had no decent bread bakery here then. I'd smuggle back a half dozen loaves to keep frozen, for I felt as if I might die could I not have my rustic sourdough toast with hummus for breakfast. Likewise with pasta shapes. In those days, it seemed as if we could only find domestic spaghetti here, so we'd smuggle a trunk full of Mafaldine home. Many other necessities of living only existed on that other end, so we were forever traveling, struggling to maintain some civilized balance between.

Now, few things are denied us closer to home. I find myself roaming without urgent remit when I visit that other end of the HomeRun these days. I will visit that specialty butcher to see what I might find there, but I have two fine specialty butchers to choose from here, though breadth of choice remains a challenge. I still smuggle a backseat full of bread, but not because I can't find a reasonable alternative here, but because I appreciate that old original and don't mind at all carrying an inventory in the freezer. I last night arrived with fiddleheads and favas, fresh English peas and the finest looking green beans I've seen anywhere since last August; a few new pens; some garden plants and seeds; a few beef and pork cheeks, and a pile of our favorite steaks. We had not made that HomeRun to restore the larder, but force of habit had me shopping as if we had.

The return drive seemed easy, The Muse insisted that we stop at Multnomah Falls since she'd left her client without first availing herself of their facilities. That once-familiar exit proved fruitless as they'd instituted a pass system whereby visitors needed to secure a timed entry pass to enter the area. We drove on to Starvation Creek, the scene of many former respite stops and even one life-changing experience. For supper, we stopped at the redoubtable Pheasant Grill in Arlington, the town my above-mentioned grandfather was both born and died in. We took our cheeseburgers to go and ate them at a picnic table overlooking the lagoon at the bottom of which lies the original Pheasant Grill, which was flooded when they filled up the John Day Dam. I remember how it was before that flooding, when the HomeRun was two lane highway all the way to Portland and back again, a time just after pioneer times when only a train ran through that gorge.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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