Sunday, November 09, 2003

Barbara Drake - Yamhill, OR

Barbara Drake lives amidst the rolling foothills of far western Oregon, surrounded by vineyards and nut, really...nut farms: hazlenuts, walnuts, chestnuts.

Her pretty - and self-described "funky" - farm is crowded with sheep, chicken, one big rooster, and Guy, a large and happy Border Collie.

She and I walk through the farmhouse and I am buffeted by the smell of scones and hot coffee. She shows me the floors and ceilings that her husband Bill did himself. "They're soft wood," Barbara tells me. "The dog marks them up." They look terrific to me.

We sit in her sun room as the Saturday morning light floods in there.

We talk about her recent chapbook, a gorgeous limited edition offering full of earthy poetry, all of it rooted in place and the natural world. Barbara tells me about an old guy who showed up at the farm one day, a guy who had lived on this land almost 80 years ago. He remembered it as the place where he was happiest. They struck up some correspondence and he sent her a photo of the place from the 20s that showed some of the same trees that are there today. Barbara likes living here a lot, and a lot of that has to do because she knows the history, feels the history of the place. She knows that the spirit of the place is something that existed before her, and she hopes it continues long after.

We struggled to get Winnie Cooper up the dirt road to Barbara's place, and going down is the same. We knock a few limbs down as we go, but - as always - hope we leave the places as we find them.