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Updated 4:21pm - Jul 26, 2016

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Gopher Gulch: The art of going out just to play

The Gopher Gulch column is being written early this week. If I have surgery Friday I may not be able to write, and if I don't have the scaffolding removed from my right arm, I’m going to be wallowing in self-pity. In either case, it’s now or never.

I want to go out and play so bad I can hardly stand it! And play is exactly what I’d do now. Time was when every waking moment of lovely spring days was chock full of what seemed to be important, even urgent, duties.

There was the winter’s mulch to remove and compost to be incorporated into beds. There were weeds to pull, seeds and seedlings to be planted in neat blocks. There were slugs to be fought and conquered.

There was grass to mow and blackberry briars to pull. I’d stand waist-deep in briars with a scraped knuckle in my mouth and contemplate all the work to be done.

In the heart of a beautiful spring day, I was trapped by blackberry briars and self-imposed martyrdom. I would stay here and get the work done, or else. And I did.

By the time spring warmed and softened into summer, I’d eradicated hundreds of square feet of weeds. I had turned over a million pounds of dirt and planted enough food to feed half the neighborhood.

But I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.

I’m not sure what started my escape from adult responsibilities. Maybe it was my 50th birthday.

Perhaps it was the number of my hard-working, responsible contemporaries that began to show up in the obituaries before they got to the fun they were preparing for.

In any case, one spring day a dozen years ago I was seduced by the scent of new cottonwood leaves.

I was lured away from my chores by the siren song of a fresh breeze and the sight of Raven doing a barrel-roll in a blue sky. Somehow the work never seemed so important again.

No wonder April is the month when we honor the Earth, our mother. There is so much life going on outside that it’s amazing anyone ever gets anything done inside.

I’ve loved the very idea of Earth Day since its inception. On that first Earth Day I stuffed the politically correct two children into their stroller and joined the parade. We wound through a park near the University of Oregon and ate organic oranges while a happy hippy painted a flower on the baby’s face.

Each year I plan for the day. I find some new project, some opportunity to join with folks of like mind to celebrate living where you can actually make close, personal contact with the Earth.

This year the group from the Universal Heart Center will be collecting trash on Highway 101 North, and while I can’t be there, my heart is with them.

 Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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