Category: Newspaper Columns

Newspaper columns that I have written for the Fern Ridge Review in Veneta, Oregon and the Creswell Chronicle in Creswell, Oregon. I began writing them for the Fern Ridge Review on August 4, 2010; on December 6, 2012, the Creswell Chronicle began printing them, as well. I am still the Lorane columnist for both papers.

Sweet Lorane Community News, August 27, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
August 27, 2020
By Pat Edwards

As an author, at this time of the pandemic, protest movements and the upcoming Presidential election, it has been hard to focus on anything other than those events. The news of these events constantly swirls around all of us. I’ve temporarily given up trying to complete the third book of my “Early Lane County Settlers With Connections to Lorane” series that I began a year ago. I’ve done most of the research for it, but I just haven’t been able to concentrate on it since the first of the year. I’m able to write my weekly columns because I can share my thoughts and feelings about current events.

I’ve found I’m not the only writer who is having difficulty writing creatively. Each year for the past 5 years, Jennifer Chambers and I have been publishing an anthology of wonderful stories, essays, memoirs and poetry written by mostly local authors and poets called Groundwaters. Each year, we have included more than 150 stories and poems that have showcased the amazing talent we have in this area, but in 2020, when the deadline for submissions of August 15 was fast approaching, we had fewer than 40 despite the reminders that we had sent out to our regulars. I was ready to shut down our project after 11 years for the magazine and 5 of the anthology, but we decided to put out one more call for submissions at the beginning of the month. Since then, the stories and poetry have been flooding in. Our writers made a supreme effort to keep it going and I know, only so well, how much effort it took. So, we hope to have this year’s anthology in print by November.

This past week, one of my very favorite people in this world, Millie Graves of Crow, who is also a long-time contributor to our publications, posted the following on Facebook:

“Oh happy day! Received word from Pat Edwards and Jen Chambers that our voices/authors will NOT be silenced. They have decided, after all, to turn to the monumental task of publishing the Groundwaters Anthology which is like a lifeline for so many of us. Thank you for opening an outlet for our thoughts and feelings… On behalf of all your contributors and more to come, I am grateful!”

That’s a testimonial that warms our hearts and I just can’t help it… I have to share it. Thank you, Millie!

Labor Day is fast approaching and many people are trying to figure out how to celebrate the social end of summer in such a new type of normal. There are so many questions surrounding it: about school opening—or not; fall sports’ seasons starting—or not; a last camping trip—if you can find a place to go.

Well, if you have lowered your expectations this year to a one-day picnic along your favorite stream or at the coast, you might make a stop at the Creswell Grange on Monday, September 7, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., to pick up your pre-prepared “Picnic in a Box.” You will need to call ahead and pre-order enough for your needs and pick it up curbside at the grange at 298 W. Oregon Avenue in Creswell. Each picnic box includes a pulled pork sandwich, chips, a dill pickle, coleslaw and a mini cheesecake… all for $7.

To place your order, call Dottie at 541-895-2155 by Saturday, September 5, at 4:00 p.m.

Sweet Lorane Community News, August 20, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
August 20, 2020
By Pat Edwards

How can it be? August 2020 is quickly nearing its end. Normally at this time, I’d be telling you all about the fun time everyone had at Lorane’s big annual celebrations that we have every 2nd Sunday in August—the Lorane Community Picnic and the Lorane Ice Cream Social… That is to say, every year but this one. As with most of the annual events held all around the nation, we had to cancel ours, thanks to the COVID-19’s disruption to our lives. The highlights, beside the great food, of the noon-time potluck at the Lorane Grange, included visiting with old friends and neighbors, many of whom have been coming from out of town to the picnic for years to reconnect. Social distancing and the wearing of masks don’t work well with potlucks held inside the grange, unfortunately.

And the Lorane Ice Cream Social, although established as a later addition to the festivities in August has become an event that families in the area look forward to attending each year. In the past and present, up until this year, the Lorane Fire Department has set up impressive displays of its equipment and offered homemade ice cream and pies. There is usually a dunk tank on hand where many of our residents have been dunked by pitchers of all ages whose talents range from “very good” to “lucky.” Crafts and displays have also been added to the mix by the Rebekah Lodge and the Lorane Church on various years. Local singing and musical talent are usually on hand to entertain everyone as they eat ice cream and pie and visit with friends, too. Some of the most popular events are the demonstrations of the fire equipment and the free rides around Lorane in one of the red fire engines by young and old alike.

This year, it was not meant to be, but knowing our community and those who take an active part in helping us to get to know our neighbors and provide a fun experience for all, you can bet that it will probably be even bigger and better next year, providing we are not still dealing with a pandemic.

One of my favorite organizations that I’ve mentioned many times in my columns is feeling the pinch of having to cancel so many of its fun events. The Applegate Regional Theater, situated on Central Road near both Veneta and Crow, is trying to stay afloat until they can once again sponsor the drama and musical events in their beautiful theater and on their campus that have become more and more popular in the area over the past several years.
To try and give some of the residents of the area some entertainment while maintaining social distancing, they will be sponsoring a “Drive-In Concert” on Saturday, August 29 at 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on the grounds behind the theater. Two very talented musical groups will be performing… Charming Tempests will be singing and playing modern contemporary music and Cherry Hill is a Blue Grass/Folk/Americana group. Both have gotten fantastic reviews, according to Vicki Sourdry of ART.

Admission is $10 per car and social distancing will be required—no wandering around the grounds. Placing chairs or blankets next to your car, if you want, is fine as long as you don’t sit in groups outside of your own. There will be no concessions, so plan to bring your own popcorn and snacks. It should be a very entertaining evening and, for those old enough to remember, reminiscent of the days of “drive-in movies.” Please consider supporting ART.

They have been an active part of the community, providing a venue for the talents of so many people for several years. Let’s see if we can help them make this type of event fly during these difficult times.

Sweet Lorane Community News, August 13, 2020

Fern Ridge Review
Creswell Chronicle
Sweet Lorane Community News
August 13, 2020
By Pat Edwards

The Crow-Applegate-Lorane School District met on Thursday, August 6 and made some decisions about the upcoming school year. According to the report on their website at

“Students in kindergarten and grades 1-3 at Applegate Elementary School will begin full time, in-person classes on September 14, 2020. Students in grades 4-12 will start distance learning classes on that same date.

“…Crow-Applegate-Lorane’s startup timeline delays classes by one week to allow school staff to meet with every K-12 student and family in parent-teacher-conference style meetings.
“Teachers with students in grades 4-12 will offer students and families a chance to meet, checkout textbooks and/or Chromebooks, and discuss ways to help kids adapt to the elevated rigor of Comprehensive Distance Learning.

“Teachers with students in kindergarten through grade 3 will co-teach small groups of students in person, alternating with a designated classified staff member. These “stable cohorts” of students will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and simplify contact tracing should an exposure of the coronavirus be reported.

“Parents of K-3 children will have an opportunity to meet with their teachers and support staff to ask questions and review the process for arrival/dismissal, screening for symptoms, cleaning and sanitizing high-touch surfaces, meals and recess, and the delivery of instruction.”

Last week, I announced the birth of another little great-grandson, Hudson Ross Haxby. This week, I need to tell you about two very important people in my life who passed on the same day. Life, indeed, seems to be an unending circle.

One of our good friends, Marilyn Wenger Cooper, quietly slipped away on the evening of Saturday, August 8. She worked on and off for Jim and me at the Lorane Family Store for almost 40 years. She absolutely loved being part of our LFS family and she made many friends while there. Her health began failing a few years ago, but she fought to remain at the store for as long as she physically could. When she realized that she no longer was able to handle the work, she made the decision to quit, but it about broke her heart. Saying goodbye to her the day before she passed was extremely hard for Jim and me, but it was time and she was at peace. Rest in peace, Marilyn. We love you so.

A few days ago, I learned that I had lost another good friend on Friday, August 7… the day I was saying goodbye to Marilyn. Michael J. “Hoss” Barker was a good friend that I had lost track of during the pandemic. I later found out that he had been battling a rare form of leukemia for the past year. Hoss, as he liked being called, was a wonderful comboy/logger poet who brightened the pages of our Groundwaters magazine for many years. I worked with him on publishing his last book, My Time in Paradise, that he produced in 2014. It chronicled the six years he spent as the caretaker for Paradise Lodge in the wild and scenic Rogue River wilderness that he loved so very much. I helped him republish his other three books of poetry through the years of our friendship, as well. I send my condolences to Kris Barker, Hoss’ wife, and Eric, his remaining son after losing another son, Lucas, last November. You will be missed by so many, Hoss, but your poetry and words will live on.

The area granges are limiting their activities due to the coronavirus, but be sure to support them in any way you can. The Lorane Grange has begun meeting again while practicing social distancing and masks. They continue to welcome new members and their next meeting will be on Thursday, September 3 at 7:00 p.m. They have decided to postpone the return of their monthly dinner and bingo nights through September, or at least until the coronavirus restrictions have been eased.

The Creswell Grange has asked me to let people know that they are needing donations of clean canning jars, both quarts and pints, that they plan to fill with soup and bean soup kits to distribute free throughout the community to those in need this winter. In addition, both the Creswell and Crow Granges are collecting empty pill bottles which they will include in a program to benefit Third World countries. If you have anything to donate, please call Dottie at 541-895-2155 to arrange drop-off or pick-up.

The Crow Grange is collecting trial-size toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, soaps, deodorant, lotion, etc.), to put in ziploc bags to hand out when and where needed. They are also collecting paperback books to send to military troops overseas. The Crow Grange is also planning to start up their twice-a-month bingo games as soon as they can work out logistics under COVID-19 guidelines. Contact Connie Suing for more info at 541-556-2609.


Rogue Awakening

Holed up in a cabin on the banks of the Rogue,
I wrote verse and I pondered and I sighed.
I was ambling through canyons rugged and steep,
As deep into the wilds I plied.

I could feel the stare of someone not there,
As wearily onward I trod.
‘Twas adventure I sought, but instead what I got,
Was a glimpse of the wonders of God.

Oh Lord what a sight, in the summer’s twilight,
Watching the bats try to chase down the stars.
Those planes are so rude, how dare they intrude,
I wish they’d all fly off to Mars.

I never would care, to bring grief to a bear,
That never did nothin’ to me.
They rumble and tumble, then fumble and stumble,
In a race to the top of the honey tree.

Up high in the skies, what a treat for sore eyes,
Like puppets on angels’ strings,
Bald eagles soar, above the din and the roar,
Waving at all with their wings.

Held captive I stare, through the river’s bright glare,
At the salmon coursing below.
The wonders won’t cease, and offer a peace,
That only one humbled may know.

Through oak groves galore, madrones by the score,
Through fir stands tall and great.
She’s carved canyon walls, like cathedral halls,
Through miles of real estate.

Further I trekked, yet onward I pressed,
Crazed for the next mountain’s crest.
Through silver gray snags, over mossy-backed crags,
Undaunted, I harried my quest.

Razor backed mountains, too many for countin’,
Leap skyward and stand in defiance.
I’m so far from home, and I’m so all alone,
As the solitude shattered the silence.

Then once she’s got ya, she’s always got ya,
She’ll lure you, you’ll rant and you’ll rave.
Was this happenstance, my river romance?
Who knows, but we’re kin ‘till the grave.

~ Michael J. “Hoss” Barker