48 hours in Bend, Oregon
12:30 pm, Saturday afternoon. Arrive in Bend and head straight to
because you are starving and hyped up on thermos coffee and excitement to finally be working on a project you first began developing five years ago, and you know you'll want some solid hours in the studio uninterrupted by hunger. Contemplate ordering a whole pizza to devour on site but opt for a turkey sandwich on a roll with everything on it, and a pickle. Sit outside even though it's overcast and threatening rain, because you know that even if it does, it will be drier than where you come from.
1:00 pm. Go directly to
and meet with Pat, the owner, who quickly shows you the ropes, sets up a press for you, and lets you set to work.
Even though you haven't got the specific pieces for your project to work with, you still have a lot to learn about the materials, and you're ready to let go of the tedious parts of your process, if only for a little while, in order to let things evolve through hours of work on the press.
4:30 pm. Look up at the clock and realize that you've been literally playing for three hours, and that you haven't felt this relaxed and carefree about your process in years. Clean up, which is quick and easy because you are working with water-based inks, and start thinking about dinner.
5:30 pm. Meet your mother at her apartment with fresh greens from your garden and a mixed six-pack of Deschutes Brewery beer. Cook dinner together and talk until 11:00, when you fall into bed and are immediately knocked out until morning.
7:00 am, Sunday morning. Wake up surprisingly easily, having slept the sleep of someone who has started something good the day before, and who looks forward to tomorrow. Shower, fill up a water bottle and slip out the door in under a half an hour. Pick up a scone and a bag of fruit at the nearby market, and head to Thump Coffee to catch the tail end of stage 15 of
and to check email. Be a tiny bit alarmed by the ease in which total strangers strike up conversation with you, and remember that Bend is still a small town. Drink a perfect latte and bang out an estimate for a client and knock off a handful of emails. You've been up for just a little over an hour and you've already handled the most mundane tasks of your day. The rest is yours.
9:30 am. Head back to the studio, where you will get so absorbed in learning the properties of the new ink you are using, in anticipating and being surprised by the results, and by just wanting to try *one more thing*, that you work two hours longer than you had planned.
2:30 pm. Find a pizza place with adorable young Central Oregon types who serve you with genuine smiles and inquiries about your day. Pass at least three drum circles on your walk downtown. Discover that the library is an excellent place to get the remainder of your internet business tidied up for the day.
5:00 pm. Go for a walk through the neighborhoods that were once your haunts. Take photos, take notes. Discover that things really haven't changed that much, and that Bend has really always been a hobbit town. Walk past a market with a friendly looking crowd composed of adults drinking pitchers of beer at picnic tables and children carousing around a play area with their families looking on. Decide on a whim to order a beer and sit among the crowd. Doodle an ill-formed contour drawing that tries to capture the wonkiness of the neighboring houses. Be invited into a conversation by a group of friendly locals.
9:00 am, Monday morning. This morning you'll take your coffee to go to the studio, maximizing your time before the
printmaking class will arrive, and you will have to pack up to go back to Portland. You're starting to find your rhythm in the studio by now, and you're starting to see a theme develop. You begin to feel excited about the idea that through three days of working, just working with your hands and your materials, not over-thinking, not belaboring concept, you've reached am entry point. You've begun to see a path. You're re-discovering your art through your hands, not just through the lens of your conceptual notions.
12:30 pm. Skip out of the studio having cleaned up just under the radar of the incoming class. You're packed and looking forward to going home, back to your own studio, and to seeing the Monkey. But you accidentally on purpose take a wrong turn, and you're heading toward
You keep going, and when you get there, you take your bike off your car's roof rack, you throw on your helmet and shoes, and you pedal across the river and up the bank on the other side. You become temporarily confused by the blacktop you encounter there, but then you're just as enraptured by the giant Salsify plants waiting for just the right gust of wind to blow them away. You carry on until the path returns to dust, and you ride the ridge, remembering every turn and dip from long ago rides, until you find the entrance to that other trail you used to love riding when you lived here. You climb the loose rock and are happy to find that your legs are up to the task on your single speed, even though you haven't ridden all year. Bend's dirt has given you wings. You fly back down the trail and across the ridge, back to your car, where coconut juice and a drive over the mountains awaits.