White Oaks

Large ancient white oaks (Quercus garryana) with their broad, rounded canopies are one of the Willamette Valley’s most profound residents.  Their deep incised bark, lustrous green-colored lobed leaves and stout gnarled limbs make for a beautiful and majestic tree.  Thin strands of lichen drape from their branches, their upper canopies are often filled with bunches of mistletoe, and thick vines of poison oak cover their lower trunks which adds to the image of an organism that is primal and deeply rooted in the history of the Valley.  On fertile soils, the trunks of some legacy oaks may be 5 feet in diameter.  Occasionally when a Read More

From Tree to Lumber

This year for a birthday celebration 15 members of my family went on a tour of Hull-Oakes Lumber Mill (we like to think outside the box with birthday parties – just go with it) located in a small valley’s end outside of Monroe near Bellfountain. Hull-Oakes was, until very recently when it switched to electrical operations, one of the last steam-powered mills in the country, and going on a tour there is like stepping back in time: think Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion. Our boisterous bunch was led through the Mill, watching as a hefty log, fresh off of the truck, was plopped into the mill pond and Read More

A History of Water

We don’t seem to know exactly how water originated on earth.  Some scientists suggest that extraplanetary sources (comets, meteoroids etc) might have brought water to the earth’s oceans.  More recent data indicates that water was likely present during the early formation of earth or approximately 4.8 billion years ago.  When the planet’s surface cooled some 3.8 billion years ago, the gaseous form of water condensed into rain to form the oceans.  So earth was borne as a wet planet.  Regardless of fully knowing its origin, without water, life would not exist on earth.  Our body is mostly water (60-65%).  Our blood is over 80% water, Read More

Achieving Clarity

This week we are fortunate to have Kerry Bliss as a guest blogger with Greenbelt Land Trust. Kerry blogs over at ‘Ed and Reub‘, giving readers a glimpse into her life through delightful photo-essays, musings on all things large and small, the adventures of living with 2 dogs and 2 cats, and enjoying a world of music and family.   Achieving Clarity I have been re-reading Oliver Sacks’ recent short essay “My Own Life,” in which he describes his feelings after learning that he has terminal cancer.  It is not a morbid piece of writing, which is great, because the ponderous face of mortality is Read More


Current varieties of domesticated pears likely originated from wild pears that grew in the hills of western Asia.  Pre-historic humans consumed wild pears as evidenced by dried slices of wild pears found in cave dwellings in northern Europe.  Humans have cultivated pears for thousands of years.  The fruit was grown in China for over 3000 years and ancient Romans and Greeks grafted pears to create multiple varieties several hundred years prior to the birth of Christ.  Homer described pears as a “gift of the gods” in The Odyssey and Pliny wrote about stewing pears with honey in his Natural History.  Theophrastus of Eresos (370-286 BC) described Read More