When I was growing up my fondest memories were of coming to Oregon and visiting my Uncle Lee and Aunt Isla...and my cousins Lorrie and Cherrie (Cheryl). They are most likely the reason I ended up finally living here...and pretty much "How" I live here.
We were always met first thing with the biggest warmest hugs from Aunt Isla. It was like being surrounded in arms of love. She was the ultimate Aunt for a kid. Her home always smelled like something good cooking. And everything they had around the house just had so much..... hmm, Life, in it. It was like being tucked into bed by an angel, just walking through their front door.
Uncle Lee was a "Man's Man". I thought he looked like Dean Martin, only more rugged... He was an ultimate hunter and fisherman, and could track a butterfly on a stormy dark night. He took us on adventures where we got to cross a raging stream in a rainstorm with a human bridge...and he'd torch up an old sapwood snag and we'd all stand there feeling toasty and alive in the rain.
Lorrie and Cherrie were the ultimate "country girls"... like really really girly...but also Tom Boys. What more could I ever dream of in a cousin?
They had chickens in the chicken yard and a dog...and pet skunk layin under the porch... logger friends would come over and hearing them cuss out there in the kitchen as we were going to sleep.. (it's just part of the language....not like anything intense or really negative), but just the language, but it wasn't a language I ever heard, and it felt like, as we went to bed....that maybe we were pirates all on a ship on a great adventure, or maybe a hunting party going out to bring in some meat for our families....and for sure, as I fell asleep....I was excited about whatever the next days adventures would be..
There was always hard work to be done...and I loved that...cuttin wood, I love cuttin wood, probably did my first wood splitting there, and kindling making.... OMG, and the deer jerky Uncle Lee made was always the favorite thing I got for Christmas. Every year we got a package with incredible baked things (cookies, etc. ) and jams that Aunt Isla made. And in that package was a substance I would have been willing to kill, and die for...... It was that deer Jerky. Now I was about the most talented guy in the world when it came to taking apart Christmas packages (sorry Mom) as soon as they'd arrive...without leaving a trace. So every year I'd grab just about enough of that jerky to not be noticed as missing, and I'd lovingly keep it under my pillow until Christmas which was usually a couple weeks away. So I'd lay there at night smelling that smokey and salty smell of that jerky. I'd just peel off tiny slices and savor it.. "It was the Alder, and sometimes Vine Maple" , uncle Lee said made the diff. And I believe he was right, because that's been my experience.... Alder and vine Maple make such good Jerky.
I was a pretty old guy when Uncle Lee passed away, but I cried and cried...
Aunt Isla lives not really all that far from here, and it's funny....I've seen her maybe a couple or few times in the last 20 years....which is crazy because I love her so much.... But she has such a large presence in my heart....that I feel like she's always here.... it's kind of hard to explain.
I keep this picture of them on my work table so I see them alot, but I gotta get over there sometime.