The Unexpected

I wrote a poem that has been in the works for a while.  Like the subject it covers, I tinkered with it to no end, looking for the right words and structure; looking for the right inspiration.  That inspiration finally came Monday morning at 2 am…  My oldest daughter Jessica drove all the way out to our house to wake us because we did not pick up.  We had fans running all over the house and did not hear the phones (any of them).  She burst through the door in the darkness and shouted “Mom, dad, get up… We’re gonna have a baby tonight!”  But this story is not about that poem.

There were a lot of unexpected things that night.  Sutter was two weeks early, and Tracey, a first time mom, was progressing quickly… defying family history and advice on this matter.  By the time I walked into the room it was still early enough in the process that I thought “we have plenty of time”.  I stayed long enough to see her experience a contraction and then I took Tracey’s hand, teared up a bit, and told her I had to find some coffee.

So let me be clear — I stayed with Suzanne through the birth of all our children and I’ve seen enough of the waves; of the pain, pushing, blood and emotion; I know I’m not squeamish about most of it.  As I learned with my oldest daughter Jessica, I find it hard to hear and see my daughters go through such pain…  As with Jessica, I fully expected to be waiting out in the waiting room… waiting!

After I found my coffee, I got up the nerve to go in for one more quick visit.  The look on my wife’s face told me it wasn’t going to be as long as we thought.  I teared up again (for those of you who have known me for a while, you must certainly know that I’m emotional wimp).  As I took Tracey’s hand she caught her breath for a moment between contractions and said something like “Dad, I’m Ok… are you Ok?”  I just nodded my head and kissed her hand.

At that moment several medical types bounced and clanked through the room and set up an impenetrable barrier between me and the door.  They didn’t seem to notice the panic on my face as they broke out the kits, the buckets and the blankets.  I didn’t want to get in their way and I was also concerned… very concerned, about maintaining my vantage point in a part of the room that preserved my daughter’s modesty… for the both of us.  So I sat down on the couch in the corner, clasp my hands together and pulled my hat down low (yet another reason I like hats).  I’m not particularly religious but I easily had enough faith to say a little prayer with each contraction…  I found myself going back to when Tracey was born; it was crazy.  Unlike this night, our babies tended to take days, not hours.  Tracey was quicker than Jessica but then so was reading “War and Peace”.  In thinking back on the birth of our babies I wilt at the strength that Suzanne had summoned in order to endure all those hours of labor (…and yet, I was still allowed to live after all of that).  But all the noise, the voices and Tracey’s strength on this night kept leading me to this one vision in my head.  When Tracey was born, Suzanne gave those final pushes and her beautiful little head suddenly appeared.  The doctor and nurse’s cheers of encouragement were suddenly interrupted by the doctor’s shouts “WAIT!… Stop Pushing”.  He placed his hand squarely on the top of Tracey’s head to hold her in place as he worked to untangle the cord from her neck.  Now obviously everything worked out just fine, but the vision I’ve was alluding to is this…  Most of Tracey’s little body was still in the birth canal, which by the looks of it, is a pretty tight space.  Despite this, Tracey took her first full breath and let out a scream… Of course I turned to look at Suzanne as if to say “d-d-did you see that?”.  But what I saw was my dear wife, screaming too… and then I look down at Tracey’s head, screaming… Now I like to think of myself as a resilient man but the sight of two heads screaming out from each end of the same body…  well that did kind of rattle me.

IMG_4115Suddenly it was Tracey’s turn to push so I shook the vision from my head… again.  It wasn’t long until I was peaking up from under my hat to see the doctor getting into position to catch little Sutter.  Jessica, Suzanne and Nate were a comforting wall in front of my field of vision.  I said one final little prayer, and then I stood up at the moment I heard “There he is”.  I saw my grandson take his first breath.  It is so amazing; how all of the pain and determination… all of the blood and worries…  it is just spectacular how fast it instantly disappears into shouts of joy, tears, love and laughter.  I put my hand on Nate’s shoulder as he looked at his new son and said “welcome to the club son”.  I got to see my grandson being born, a young man I love and respect deeply become a father, and a daughter who has come full circle with all the strength and grace of her mother.

Like I said, there were a lot of unexpected moments that night.


…And now for the poem.

My favorite

You may want to ask or maybe not
but you may think…
Which one is my favorite?
You may think you already know

By the way I gaze in awe
at the toil and pleasure of each,
strolling through rows of time wondering…
Which one would I pick?

As I watch with pride how each
can bend so gracefully in the winds
of a harsh and beautiful world…
inching steadily toward the sky

This is what I know!

You are my children
You are my grandchildren
Blossoms known and yet to know
Love given, cultivated, never owned

Compost, sprouts and dirt,
weeds, ferns, moss, by seed or starts…
impatiens, peonies, roses and sun flowers
and the occasional baby’s breath

My favorite Arrangement

To all my loving family on Sutter’s Birthday.

© June 2015 Darrel Boyd

Thoughts on the Swing

Rockin Robins 2015

This year our first clutch of robin eggs yielded a total of four.  We’re happy to report that all four eggs hatched and the babies seem to be doing fine.  The parents are madly trying to keep up.  Here’s this years Rockin Robin video…

Thoughts on the Swing

Planting Day 2015 Pics

Garden, Planting

Get Ready…. PLANT!

Hello Fellow Gardeners and dirt worshipers!

ScreenHunter_31 Jun. 18 21.05It’s almost time to plant the garden, yahoo!!  Come on over Saturday, May 9 and we will fill it up with everything from tomatoes to cilantro, pumpkins and corn, cukes and beets – and good Karma for a bountiful growing season.

Feel free to bring plantings or seeds – I’m sure we can find room if you have some veggie you would love to try to grow.

We’ll start at 9am, break for a pot luck lunch at noon or so, and then keep going until it’s all planted.  There will be a weed or two (or two hundred) to manage, and a lot of dirt to dig.

HARVEST:   Right now I have a lot of radishes, and gourmet greens, and kale – please feel free to come get some!  I don’t know what to do with all these radishes.  Why is it that nothing inhibits the growth of radishes?

See you the 9th!


Garden, Harvest

Planting Day 2015

Hello friends and family of our Co-op Collina di mela (Hill of Apples translated from our poor Italian)!

Another year of gardening has arrived, and May 9 is our big planting day.   You are invited to join in on the dirty fun! J

Bring your boots, gloves, and a few planting tools.  I will have the seeds and plants –tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, corn, beans, etc.  Feel free to bring anything you would like to add to the garden.

Bring a pot luck dish for our shared lunch.  We will work from 9 – 4. Rain or shine!  There is room for a few more members, so feel free to recruit.  Just $25 and one day of “work” for all the harvest you can pack out.

See you in the garden.



Ribs and Devil Bugs

An excerpt from a series of stories:  Adventures in “FFF” (forced family fun)

B0000332“Hit it” I yelled as the trees started casting long cool shadows into the lake; the sun finally relinquishing its hot tinder grasp on daylight. The boat jumped to life and I popped out of the water nicely securing the strap over my legs on the kneeboard.  The hot, motionless, air and cool water now felt good on my body as both began a dance around me; I edged my board in and cut through the wake to the outside.  Breaking through the wake revealed a smooth glide upon a mirrored backdrop, sweet with the smell of wood smoke from the shoreline; I had never seen better water to kneeboard in.  Eager to see if I still had it, I zipped across to the other side of the wakes and snapped a double 360 right off the bat; then I tipped the edge in and crossed the wake, catching nice air… this could be one of my best runs.  As we reached the end of the lake I could see a small audience of campers sitting outside their tents; the campfire smoke stratifying lazily in the trees above.  Suzanne was setting the boat up for a sharp turn to the left, giving me plenty of water to work with between the boat and shoreline.  I cut back to the left side of the boat coasting on the board’s momentum until the roped slacked.  As the boat banked harder Suzanne looked over her left shoulder and gave me a smile.  She could see I was having a great run; she had set me up masterfully.  So many things were picture perfect; the glassy water, the warm air, the smell of wood smoke, the small audience of my wife, kids and a few people looking on in camps on the shoreline.  All these things had clearly come together so I could finally, without fear or hesitation, attempt a spectacular aerial feat; I was 43 years old, thumbing my nose at the mighty laws of physics.

In 2003, our little family was changing; so we felt we needed a new destination; we would give Suttle Lake a try.  It is a high mountain lake in the Oregon Cascades between Salem and Bend.  It’s not a big lake but there was a “fast boat” section for ski boats with pretty camp sites right on the shoreline.  We were a little disappointed by the “no wake” rule in the morning hours until 11am; by that time the wind would be kicking up and the smooth water would be gone but it was most certainly a beautiful place.  The temperature that week was blazing hot, in the low 100s and when there was a wind, it was thick with heat; desiccating everything in its path. A sandwich left out for 10 minutes could easily be used for siding on a house.  It was a “scary dry” mid-August and frankly, we were amazed camp fires were still allowed.

This was the first camping trip without our oldest daughter; she was grown and on her own.  This “family” trip consisted of our two teenagers, Chris and Tracey, and two parents, intent on our long held tradition of “FFF” (Forced Family Fun).  But it was different this time and I could certainly tell we all missed Jessica.  There was a certain dynamic missing for the two younger kids and it often manifested itself in various stages of intense boredom.  We made the best of the first 3 days, kayaking, hiking and of course, skiing and knee boarding.  But boy was it hot; hiking was nice but by the time we were done, we bolted for the water.  On the 3rd day the wind dropped off early in the afternoon and the water began to settle down.  As the scaling of the lake surface began to fade into a glassy reflection of the skyline, we rushed down to the boat and piled in.

B0000345The skiing and knee-boarding was beautiful that evening.  Suzanne got up on her slalom ski and enjoyed cutting back and forth in the glassy reflections of trees and mountains.  As I piloted the boat I would often turn and look over my shoulder to see that beautiful smile.  Chris and Tracey both chose to knee board together, side by side, and clearly enjoyed themselves.  My favorite picture of this trip is the two of them arm in arm on knee boards together.  My turn came and I began my struggle to pull my wetsuit up over my chest and zip the back.  Now the wetsuit was not for warmth; I often would not use a life jacket so the suit provided buoyancy and some protection during wipe outs.   This may have been a flawed concept but as I indicated earlier, delusions of grandeur do not become what they are through sensible thinking.

B0000348Suzanne smiled at me over her shoulder and banked the boat hard in a left hand turn.  I cut the edge of the knee board in and leaned back hard as the rope snapped tight.  I started “the whip” out toward the first wake digging my edge in all the way.  I always wanted to clear both wakes in one jump; I let go of the rope with my right hand so I could do a “Yee Haww” buckaroo motion as I sailed through the air.  I know… and I most certainly understand now, how utterly insane I must have been.  Can you imagine what a slightly pudgy, mid 40 something, man strapped to a knee board must have looked like 5 feet off the water going about 40 miles an hour?  My son laughed; my daughter shrieked in fear; my wife stayed on the throttle.  I was quite literally a human cannonball, with my left arm holding the rope, my right arm desperately flailing backwards to counteract the front tip of my kneeboard from rotating down toward the water.
I felt this BIG, wet Mac truck hit me; my left hand snapped from the rope; my head drifted in and out of consciousness.  There was a distinct pinching pain in the middle of my back.  There was a moment in limbo when I opened my eyes and could see the bottom and the surface above.  I was not sure how deep the water was but I clearly was closer to the bottom than the top.  The buoyancy of my wetsuit began to lift me up; it seemed to take forever to reach the surface.  When I did surface Suzanne was still circling the boat around.  I located the board and managed to swim over to it just as Suzanne and the kids pulled up in the boat.

Tracey looked very upset while Chris was laughing… “That was the most insane wipe out I’ve ever seen Dad”, he said, his eyes moving as he relived it.  Suzanne gave me one of those “Are you OK?” smiles.  Tracey finally asked “Are you OK Dad?”… I splashed some water on my face as I lay across the knee board… “I’m fine, just give me a minute”.  Suzanne asks “You want to go again?”,  “Yup” I said, “Just one more time around”.  The big lesson here:  If you have an overabundance of stupidity, even a near death blow may have trouble knocking it all the way out of you… and it would seem this is a problem that mostly guys have.  I guess I was intent on being towed out of there with my pride, if not my body, still intact; especially with an audience on shore.  Why did that even matter?!!!!

“Hit it” I yelled and as I popped up on the board I could tell the left arm was not working at 100%.  This made strapping my legs in a little difficult.  Once I got situated I moved to the outside of the wake and gave the board a couple of test turns.  Then I shot back across the wakes again, this time not taking much air; timidity often has the unfortunate tendency to show up a little late.  As I shot out to the right side of the boat I pushed the edges for another 360.  The rope slacked and I spun around.  There was a very strange feeling in my left chest as I passed the handle from hand to hand during the 360.  Then there was a sting of pain; I let go of the rope, skimming slowly to a stop.

As Suzanne brought the boat about I could see the family smiling as if they were relieved that I was OK.  I shook my head as the boat idled up next to me; Suzanne shut the motor down…  “I’m done” I said as I pushed the board toward the boat.  “I think I broke something” I admitted… “Uh oh” Suzanne said, “Can you get yourself into the boat?”… “I think so” I said as I swam to the back of the boat.  As I lifted myself out of the water I felt things shift inside my torso.  Suzanne and Chris grabbed me before I fell back in the water and pulled me into the boat.  “I think it’s my ribs” as I slowly sat down on the edge of the boat.  Suzanne went into nurse mode and started the boat.  “Let’s get you to shore and check you out”.

Back at camp we tried to get my wetsuit off; I grimaced as Tracey and Chris pulled the sleeves carefully off my arms; getting a wetsuit off is hard enough when you’re not hurt so this was torture… “I could get the scissors and cut them off” Suzanne quipped. “NO!, don’t touch the wetsuit…” I protested with clenched teeth… “I can do it”.  Once the wetsuit was down to my waist, Suzanne set me in a chair and started poking.  “Raise your arm” she commanded as she poked down my rib cage.  “Oh my” she said… “That feels mooshy…  it shouldn’t feel like that”.  She looked up at me… “Take a deep breath”.  I obeyed and took a deep breath.  “No sharp pain; I can nearly take a full breath” I reported.  Suzanne put her finger to her chin and replied “Hmmm, you broke a rib or two for sure… I could take you into the emergency but there’s nothing they can do.  You can’t put this sort of thing in a cast.”  I looked over at the tent.. “I’m going to have a bit of a tough time sleeping on the ground tonight”.  Suzanne looked at the cooler and asked “How much beer do we have?”… “A six pack” I said.  “Alright then, here’s a hand full of Ibuprofen and here’s a beer” This suddenly was a new twist on “FFF”.  We still had 4 days of vacation left and apparently, we weren’t about to let it end because I should go to the hospital.  I looked at the tent, popped the pills and took a drink.

After my 3rd beer I started to feel like I could sleep.  The Ibuprofen was kicking in and the pain seemed to subside a bit.  I grunted my way into my sleeping bag and tried to find a comfortable position.  Suzanne and Tracey snuggled into their bags; Chris had his own tent off in the distance.  We talked for a bit and I finally drifted off to sleep.  When I opened my eyes again it was completely dark; the fire had burned down.  In the heat of the evening was this sound.  It was like a chirping cricket sound but with the quality of nails scratching a chalkboard. [squee… squee… squee…] and it was in a bush right next to our tent.  After about 3 minutes of this, Suzanne burst out of her sleeping bag, bumping me in the process, “ouch” I quipped.  “Sorry honey” she said as she fumbled the zipper and went outside.  The cricket bug shut up during the ruckus, but Suzanne waited.  When it started up Tracey and I heard the rustling noises of rocks, sticks and leaves.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  “I’m trying to scare it away” she said.  The dim outline of her body became evident on the wall of the tent.  Her shadow stooped down, picked up and tossed gravel on that bush until she was sure she had run the little critter off.  She came back inside, zipped up the tent and nestled back into her sleeping bag.  “Ok that’s better she said”…  [squee…… squee…… squee.. squee…]  “DAM IT!” she protested as she flipped open her bag, bumping me again.  Tracey yells out “Kill it”…  “I can’t” Suzanne said “I can’t even see it”.  Again Suzanne tosses half a truck load of gravel on that bush before coming back to bed… No sooner did she got comfortable… [squee….   squee…. squee…].  This time it was Tracey who stormed out of the tent.  By now my pain was coming back.  We hear some clunking around outside and then nothing… then we hear [shhhh… shhhhh… shhhhhhhhhhhh…]  “What… are you doing Tracey?” I asked…  “I’m spraying ‘OFF’ on him.”  Suzanne and I started laughing; then I realized, it hurt to laugh; I mean it really hurt to laugh… as I tried to restrain myself I said…  “Off is a repellent, not a bug spray” to which Tracy replied tersely “I KNOW that but it’s the only thing we have”  She madly went about covering ever leaf, every branch and the general area.  I closed my tear filled eyes and tried to find another comfortable position.  I think we made it most of the night before it started chirping again.  Tracey went back out and repeated her DEET assault.  Daylight seemed to come too early and too late as I desperately wanted more sleep but could not stand lying on the ground any longer.
B0000338The next day I quickly went through another hand full of Ibuprofen and drank up the rest of the beer.  The sun was hot again and the wind seemed to be digging for the last bits of moisture anywhere.  I was in no shape to ride in a bouncing boat so we spent the day waiting for calm water that evening. Tracey, Suzanne, Christopher and I were all sitting at the picnic table under our easy up.  The conversation was borderline snippy as the heat was getting to all of us.  Sitting there, I noticed Chris was using a fork to poke at a bug on the table.  “Chris, that’s not very nice” I say… Chris replied “I’m not hurting the bug, I’m just trying to keep him corralled on the table”… With that he started poking again.  “I think it’s bad karma” I said…, at that very moment, and I swear to God this actually happened; a very large, very colorful, flying beetle came streaking out of the forest.  With a sound like cards in bicycle spokes it zoomed in between us and planted itself on Chris’ left cheek.  Chris instantly brought his hand up and squarely slapped himself in the face, off the bench and onto the ground.  It was as if it were a scene directly from a Monty Python or The Three Stooges…  and the laughter began…  as the intense pain overtook my laughter I began to lose consciousness; It was my turn to fall off the bench and roll on the ground.

Now I would like to have thought that my family would rush to my side, lift me off the ground and try to calm things down, but that is not what happened.  Suzanne and Tracey started laughing so hard they bent over, holding their hands over their stomachs.  Chris arose from the ground to see me and he started laughing.  I started praying for mercy as the pain, tears and laughter left me writhing in a ball of pine needles and dust.  Finally as the realization of my pain became evident my family did pick me up.  But it was not over; not by a long shot.  The image kept coming back to each of us at different times and the laughter would creep back in.  The devil bug had done his work well.

The day before we went home we met up with some dear friends for dinner in Sisters Oregon.  Steve and Glenda happened to be vacationing as well; but they had the good sense to rent a nice hotel room; with a bed.  Oh god, how I needed to sleep in a bed.  We had a nice dinner and Suzanne let me order as many beers as I wanted because I still had to sleep one more night on the ground.  The visit was nice but it inevitably included the story telling…  about the wipe out, the [squee…squeee…squee] and the flying devil bug.  As I recall, it was a bitter sweet visit, as I cycled between good food, drink, friends, laughter and biting pain.  There was also the fact that Steve’s a bit of a “wisecracker” and he couldn’t resist making me cringe…  What are friends for?

Once we finally returned home I made an appointment at the Urgent Care facility and they sent me to the Imaging Dept. for X-rays.  I sat in the dimly lit room on a cold table and waited for the technicians to review the film for the Radiologist.  They sure seemed to be taking a long time and there were a lot of whispers in there.  Finally one of them steps out and asks “Just how did you do this again?”… “Ski boat, knee board” I replied.  He took his puzzled look and turned back to the room; more sounds of whispers and some snickering too.  They couldn’t talk to me about what they saw but it was clear my wound must have been impressive.  Later that day my wife got the call from the doctor. “3 ½ ribs!” he said… “What?” replied Suzanne…  The doc continued-“You’re husband has 3 broken ribs and fractured a 4th.  I’ll subscribe some pain meds but there’s nothing else we can do with this… so… how did your husband do this?”…

B0000358I had a day to get some rest before going back to work so I took my pain meds and relaxed to watch the news.  A series of fires broke out in the Cascades that would eventually merge into the fire known as the B&B complex fires.  Suttle Lake was now truly in the grips of hell.  Amazingly the cause of the fires was not campfires or other human causes.  Several lightening fires had been smoldering for some time; the wind picked up and with the heat and low humidity the fires had what they needed.  It was sad to see, and I worried about how the lake would fare.  The next morning I bent over carefully to tie my shoes and make my way to work.  I remember thinking about how we managed to persevere with our little family philosophy of “FFF”.  There were so many reasons we had to cut the vacation short; so many excuses to pack it in and go home.  As uncomfortable as I was, I remember feeling a sense of love and pride.  I remember feeling really good about our “Forced Family Fun” and how we all would look back and laugh…  Then out of nowhere… I sneezed…  and the world went black.

Copyright © 2015 by Darrel Boyd

Thoughts on the Swing

Prune Fest!

Hello Co-Op friends and family!

This Saturday is our first co-op day of the year.  We will be pruning the orchard, and planting a few seed babies, as well as hanging moth traps, and various other details that we hope to squeeze in.  Come if you can – should be a mix of ok weather. Start time is 9 a.m.  You are invited to bring food for our traditional pot luck lunch.   I’ll put something in the crock pot – not sure what yet.  Bring pruning tools and shovels and boots if you have them. Here we go!

Suzannamaria and Dario

Garden, Orchard, Planting, Uncategorized

Pruning Day!

Hello all!

There are still some openings for our humble little Co-Op this year.  If interested, come join us Feb 28 for our opening day.  We will be pruning, fertilizing, and prepping for our gardening year.  We’d love to see you!  If you cannot join this year – let a friend who might be interested know about the date.  Only $25 and one day of work for all the harvest you would like to carry away through the growing seasons.

Stay warm out there!

Suzannamaria and Dario


2015 Calendar

Hi Co-opers

The 2015 Calendar is ready for planning.  Just click on the calendar tab above or click on the calendar image below.  Looking forward to lots of good companionship and a great harvest.  Happy New Year.



It was time; the plan was set and I needed to get Suzanne outside away from the crowd and the music. No need to put our coats on because it was barely 30 degrees inside the rec. barn, even with all the stereo equipment and young warm bodies dancing; we were already in our winter gear. I waved at Roger and he took over the DJ duties while I grabbed Suzanne and headed for the door. As we stepped through the door I felt the ice crystals instantly form in my nasal passages. The snow crunched loudly under our feet as we made our way down a path to a quieter spot. The winter night was sparkling with ice crystals and the trees were all dressed in their own parkas of light fluffy snow. I knew Roger would be stopping the music for the countdown. It was New Year’s Eve 1978 and it was colder than anything I had felt up to that point in my life; It was a chilling -10 degrees as the sound of Dire Straights, Sultans of Swing pounded in the crackling night air. The music stopped and I drew in a breath. My lips tingled as ice crystals formed on the tips of my mustache and the edges of my teeth. I looked at Suzanne as she looked back, slightly puzzled and a bit irritated by having to stand in a random frigid storefront doorway. We stood face to face, our foggy breaths dancing together in the sparkling air. I had already gone over all of the prerequisites with her; where we would live, a budget plan, a roadmap for the future with diagrams and ledger sheets, so I was sure I knew what her answer would be. As the countdown began… I realized I was asking her to marry a guy who was partially supporting his way through college as a partner in a mobile disco business; what could go wrong?

The mobile disco, which was known as “Irving Enterprises”, was something my friend Roger had been doing since high school. He started by carting his home stereo from place to place, working out various methods of making home turntables mix out segues between songs. Out of high school Roger decided to follow his girlfriend Cristie to Eugene where she was attending school. Suzanne and I moved down there too, to the University Inn in 1978, to attend the University of Oregon. The UI was a dorm that catered to older and more serious students; Suzanne, who graduated high school with honors, was serious; I guess I was older. Roger lived in an apartment just a couple blocks away. There was just enough room for him, a couch, a table and two “homemade” exponential folding horn speakers; each one the size and weight of a refrigerator. There was also a crazy poster of dogs playing poker which lives in my mind, much like a faint scar.

One particular night Roger, Suzanne and I were having a little party in that little apartment, which involved Micky’s Big Mouths and lots of hand waving story telling; it was awesome. Roger spend a good amount of time telling about his mobile disco business and the intricate physics of his home made speakers, when Suzanne suddenly announced that she had to have a Dilly Bar from the Dairy Queen just up the street. Now Roger and I were not all that experienced at drinking beer but we had tons more experience than Suzanne; she had just finished her 2nd beer. As I recall, there was some discussion that the idea of walking 3 blocks to the Dairy Queen in our current condition was well, just bad! …but Suzanne announced her determination by proclaiming she didn’t need any escorts. She up and walked out the door and left Roger and I looking at each other. After about 2 minutes, being a couple of dorks drinking beer, we cooked up this idea to keep an eye on her, from a distance. We decided to spy on her from a parallel street one block north of her route in order to make sure she was OK; without tipping her off to the fact that we were making sure she was OK; point of clarification: nobody was keeping an eye on us. It didn’t take long to get to the Dairy Queen 3 blocks away. Using a shortcut, we caught up with her and found a spot behind a tree so we could survey the situation without being noticed. Soon we spotted Suzanne pacing up the street. She went to the window and placed her order, constantly giggling as she made Dilly Bar hand gestures. That’s when we noticed a security guard slowly walking up behind her. Now none of us are sure to this day why he took notice of Suzanne but he was definitely on to something. Maybe it was the hand gestures, or maybe it was the two spying, shadowy figures, behind the tree across the street? We just sat there trying not to giggle too loud while being “inconspicuous”.

About the time Suzanne got her Dilly Bar she turned to notice the shadowy man approaching her. She got spooked and immediately started down the street at a fast pace while looking back at the guard. Roger and I could see she was making pretty good time so we dashed back down our “parallel” street. We stopped at the first block and waited, looking down the block for her to cross… where was she?… “crap! she must be ahead of us”… Now in a bit of panic we decided to run to the next block and look down the next street. Just as we got there, we spotted her. She was moving quickly and was nearly back to the apartment. We had to rush in order to get back before she did. Roger and I sprinted across the dark street for an alley that lead back to the apartment. I ran like a gazelle into a dark shadow where a large oak tree blocked the street lights. I bolted behind the dim outline of a parked car toward the sidewalk. That’s when I felt the pain; sharp, tearing and instant, cutting through any benefits a few beers could provide… Then there was nothing. My left foot folded like a cheap card table against the curb and I instinctively tucked my shoulder for a summersault. Just like all those football drills in high school, I neatly rolled and came right back up running. As it turned out, the momentum from the roll caused me to take 3 very painful steps on my left ankle before I wildly hopped to a stop. Roger turned when he heard me squeaking and grunting. “what’s the matter?” he said… “I’ve twisted my ankle”… He grabbed my arm, “We gotta hurry if we’re gonna beat Suzanne to the apartment” he said, while giggling like a school kid playing hooky.

I hobbled up the stairs behind Roger and collapsed on the little couch between the two huge exponential horns. Seconds later Suzanne came bursting through the door holding her hands over her face. Sensing something was wrong we got up to help pull her hands down; Roger blurted, “Holy crap, that’s gonna be a huge black eye.” Suzanne started to cry and began her halting explanation… “I saw this security guard and he was following me.” She sobbed… “I ran… and I looked back to see if he was still following…” she paused for a halted breath… “and then when I turned to look where I was going… I ran into a sign post” she let out her breath in a string of sobs… “Do you really think it’s going to be a black eye?” she asked… I nodded my head as I turned to sit back down, but I had to hop a couple of times in order to do so. “What’s the matter with you?” Suzanne asks. “I twisted my ankle” I admitted. She looked at us both, like all smart folks do, when they’ve figured out they are in the presence of dumb asses. “We sort of followed you to the Dairy Queen” I admitted… with that there was no choice but to come clean. I detailed our stupid little plan to keep an eye on her without her knowing and she did her best to avoid blaming all the injuries on us; which was good because there was little we could do to defend ourselves. So there we sat, Roger looking at the two of us, youthfully inebriated and injured as a result. Roger suddenly starts pulling on his beard with his thumb and forefinger as if tugging for a smile; His eyes lit up. “You know, this was a lot of fun; do you want to be a partner in a mobile disco?”

That was how the mobile disco became part of our young lives. I would develop marketing materials while Roger would schedule bookings; then we drive to the venue, set up sound and lights, DJ the party, tear it all down and drive back. Suzanne came along but often would get bored watching everyone else having fun. There was however, one party we ALL enjoyed. Two to three times a year the Black Butte Ranch Recreation Department hosted youth dances in their rec. barn. They would put us up in the Rec. Room for the night, with pool tables and video games. We would also be treated to a dinner at the Black Butte Restaurant. It was a great time that included playing in the snow, and skiing at Hoo Doo Ski Bowl.

Suzanne and I had been dating for nearly 3 years which seems like a lifetime for people so young. But I knew in my heart that she was the one; and I was pretty sure she felt the same for me. I just needed the perfect setting. A snow covered setting on New Years Eve seemed perfect and a booking for Black Butte provided the perfect opportunity; I went shopping for a ring.

December 30th, 1978 the snow began to fall in Lebanon and as I mentioned before, I had a plan; I reached in my pocket to make sure it was still there. The snow was the light and fluffy kind that swirls, “oh so innocently” on the ground… which meant it was friggen cold. We needed a rig to haul our gear over the pass so we stopped by my folks place and borrowed my dad’s old 1971 yellow, two wheel drive Chevy pickup. We loaded the exponential horns and any other gear that could stand the cold under a tarp. My dad, Roy, was a very strong man that day. I could see the worry on his face as Roger, Suzanne and I piled into the front seat of that old truck; just as the ground was turning white. We were headed up highway 20, over the pass to Black Butte Ranch; Into the jaws of winter we were treading in stupid youthful abandon. This could have easily been the kind of thing you read in newspapers a couple of days later. With the heater on full, we moved steadily through the city of Sweet Home and beyond Foster Reservoir. The snow was coming down quite hard. Hard enough that we had to slow down so the windshield wipers could keep up. Just a few miles out of Sweet Home we began the slow steady climb up the pass. We made it about 5 miles past Sweet Home when we decided we needed to chain up in about 6 inches of powder snow. There was no other traffic, and we had 60 miles and 3900 feet in elevation to the pass.

In our youthful oblivion there was no panic, but there was an intense amount of concentration. The plows were not keeping up and soon our only guides were the snow markers along the road. I actually thought for just a moment, this crazy thought… “if we die up here my dad is going to kill me”. The good news and the bad news was, it was cold and the snow was light and dry. As deep as it was the snow kept blowing aside as we drove through it. It was slow going but we did keep going… all the way to Black Butte Ranch. Rather than sleep in the Rec. Room we hooked up with our friend Steve, at his girlfriend’s parent’s condo; they looked plenty surprised to see us. I guess considering how late it was, how cold it was, and the amount of snow coming down, they figured nobody in their right mind would drive up there that night. The underestimation of the ignorance of young people should have doomed mankind long ago. But hey, there we stood in that doorway grinning like it was no big deal; the headlines would have to find other examples of Darwin’s theory.

The next day Black Butte woke up under the cover of several feet of snow and a temperature reading that was so low single digits would’ve been describing it as bit warmer than it was. After a quick breakfast, Roger, Steve and I drove over to the Rec. Barn and started unloading equipment inside. It was cold in that barn but at least there was no wind chill. Roger was concerned about condensation in his equipment as it warmed up but there wasn’t much we could do about it. All the lights were strung up and the sound system was checked and rechecked. The kids started showing up and the show was on.

And so there Suzanne and I were moments before the stroke of midnight, looking into each other’s eyes. The countdown commenced and I took her gently into my arms. At midnight, this young man who could hardly know at that time, the magnitude of what he was doing, gave his love a very long kiss. The ice crystals glistened on our skin but that kiss was so warm and unencumbered of worries. As I pulled back, I smiled and wished her a Happy New Year. Then I bent down on my knee… sort of; it was too cold to put my knee all the way down OK? I reached in my pocket for the little box and held it up to her. “Will you marry me?” I asked. She smiled down at me and helped me up from the frozen ground. “Yes” she said, “I will marry you”. We kissed again for a long while in that doorway as the music and the celebrations released a rain of ice sparkles into the chilled air all around us.

As I think back on that night, I realize my luck in that particular pivot of my life. I suppose many couples can look back and say they were crazy in their youth, let alone in love. Many would say we were just kids and didn’t know any better; much of that is true. But I would tell you to this day that I cannot discount our feelings back then any more than I can now; and we did sit down and plan together beforehand; discovering we were compatible in the process. The secret to love is not based on magic spells or magical places; although if you pay attention you may see a little magic along the way if you choose to do so. The partnership that Roger and I struck up to run a crazy little mobile disco eventually faded into the past but it provided for one of the most magical settings of my life. When Suzanne and I look back on that crazy journey, we shake our heads and laugh. We were so young and so in love. No one can tell you for sure that if you pop that question, live your life and do your best, that you’ll remain partners for life. All I can tell you for sure is that on that very cold New Year, two teenagers braved a mobile disco adventure and made a bargain in the cold brisk air of a sparkling snowscape; I am still so very thankful, that in the midst of cheers for the New Year, she said yes.

Copyright 2014 Darrel Boyd db

Thoughts on the Swing