|This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.|
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest. This week I recall part of the legacy of a stump, yes, a redwood stump out at OFRC near Guerneville, California on the Russian River. Enjoy!
|Link to This week’s full list|
|Link to my Story Blog: Table of Contents.|
“Hello. Are you Mr. Wilson?”
“I am. What can I do for you?”
“I’ve been assigned to your team today. I’m not sure what I’m doing but the lady in charge said you’d tell me what we’re working on. This is the first time I’ve ever done one of these work days, so please tell me how to do this right. I’m helping my grandpa because he can’t work much anymore.”
“Ah, old age. Yea, I’ve heard that it’s going around and there’s no vaccine in sight.”
“Ha, well I’m only 22 so if you need a strong back, I’m your guy for the day.”
“Excellent! Grab your donut and coffee and let’s go meet the rest of the team.”
In 1928-29, my great grandparents; my mother’s mother’s parents bought into a club of sorts. A local group of Odd Fellows. I know, it’s a strange name but you can look them up and you’ll find this introduction:
“The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal order of Odd Fellowship. It was founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.”
Anyway, as a group they focus on helping improve their local communities in several ways. Just over 200 years later, they’re still around but not well known. Back in 1928 a local group of Odd Fellows and their families bought a large track of land from a lumber company. This land included some steep mountain roads through a thick redwood and bay tree forest but the best part was the northern edge of the property which was all beachfront, right on the Russian River in Sonoma County.
The way the club worked was members would buy or build a cabin up along those steep roads. They would not own the land as the club would retain it but all the things on the overall property would be maintained and run by the members. Some chose to live in those cabins while others preferred to come just for visits.
Some buildings were built, a store, a small restaurant, a teen center, a stage and club house with a large kitchen, all within an easy walk to the beach.
Smaller cabins remained from when the lumberjacks lived on the property and these cabins were fitted with what was needed to turn them into rentals and before long, the property became a destination for friends and family over the summer.
Today, Odd Fellows Recreation Club (OFRC) remains a private club that prides itself on being a place which welcomes and cherishes our children, makes amazing memories with great friends all in an outdoors, one or two steps up from camping. We go there to enjoy the outdoors, bocce ball, tennis, walking mountain roads while breathing some of the cleanest and most oxygen-rich air on the planet.
We pay an annual dues, some times special assessments to fix roads or water tanks and for 6 days per member per year, we work on the common areas to improve them for both our selves and our renter-guests.
“So, what’s your name?”
“I’m Case. What are we working on? Please tell me we’re not painting.”
“Oh no. I don’t do painting anymore. Been there, painted many of these buildings at one time or another so, no. We’re driving a dump truck today. We call it the brush truck. The winters can be hard on the park and we have lots of teams already out there making piles of branches and leaves that we load up and dump on the the burn pile – except we really don’t burn it anymore. we chip everything and reuse it around the park. I need at least one young guy like you to ride the Dumper up and help kick the load out.”
“Because the dump truck is a retrofit large pickup truck. It has wheel wells in the bed and the load always catches so even though the load is almost vertical. It always needs to be persuaded to slide out.”
So this is the job that I’ve done for my work days for years now. My kids, would come out with me and they were huge helps in getting the dead branches and brush up into the truck dumper and then riding up on the load over to the dump pile and loved – yes they loved – riding that dumper up into the sky and kicking the load out. They’re all older and off doing young adult things so rarely get to join me on work days any more. This last Saturday, Casey was with me and the team. He liked to ride up front with me and we talked about the park, what it was like growing up here. His family is 3rd generation OFRC while my kids are 5th generation. Our cabin has passed down:
- from my grandparents,
- to my great uncle and aunt-in-law, my Grandmother’s siblings,
- to my mother,
- to me and one of my sisters.
- We’ll see who from gen-5 takes over for us someday.
– – = = ( o ) = = – –
It near the end of our work day. I was spent. Casey looked like he would welcome a deep chair and a cold drink. The work was done and we were taking the truck and tools back to the tool shed.
“So Casey, you didn’t grow up coming here over the years?”
“No, we came only a few times because we live so far away.”
“That’s too bad. Let me show you something.”
“You see that big old tree stump?”
“The one in front of the teen center – yea.”
“My mom told me when I was 6 years old and learning to ride my bike that I could ride around that stump.”
“That’s cool. That’s one huge stump.”
“Yes, but she made it a point to tell me that around that same stump is where her mom learned to ride her bike and that where she taught my mom to ride hers so she wanted to teach her kids to ride around the same stump. So we taught our 3 kids to ride around it too. For us that stump is reminder of our heritage as an OFRC family.”
“Five generations around the same giant stump. Wow! That has to be a great memory.”
“But that’s not even my favorite part of the story. When I was done riding my bike around that stump. I decided to climb it. The top is close to 12 feet high and it was kind of rotted on the top and so you could sit in it like a secret fort and watch others ride around you. It wasn’t an easy climb so I mostly had it to myself. When I climbed up I noticed a small green plant poking out of the middle. I recall noticing it and almost pulled it out because I was a kid and that’s what we do, but something stopped me and I decided to leave it and check on it whenever we came back.
“And Casey, the darn thing survived who knows how many kids like me climbing up there. I was six, maybe seven when I first saw it. I’m 66 now and the year is 2021 so do the math. I saw that sprout 60 years ago, in 1961 — and look at it now.”
Casey looked back at the stump and realized that it was not just another stump. This one had a full grown tree growing out of the top of that stump.
“What kind of tree made that stump Casey?”
He looked and answered, “That’s a giant redwood stump.”
“And what kind of tree is that growing out of it?”
“He looked, and thought, “Oh cool! That’s no redwood tree, Is it an oak?”
“You nailed it, and now you accidentally know how old it is because you know the guy who saw it as a sprout. That is likely the largest oak tree in a redwood planter ever. Check out how the oak tree roots are slowly destroying the redwood stump.”
“This place is full of rich memories like this masterpiece stump. What do you think Casey? Is that tree up there ready for climbing?