Tom Bender * 25 August 2014
Doug Firstbrook photograph
I sat talking with Doug Firstbrook at Alder Creek Farm yesterday. We had both been through rounds of prostate cancer. My tests were zero for now. His weren’t. Debbie had just finished three intense weeks of cancer radiation in Portland.
We had become very aware of our mortality, and awaken every morning grateful for the gift of perhaps another day. Aches and pains – some we can do something about, others we just accommodate.
Doug had been through the Vietnam War, trapped like most military into something far beyond rightness that our government had shanghaied them into. Coming back, as many didn’t, he also managed to transform his personal emotional legacy of war. His passion for giving has always been quiet, but insistent. A passion for honoring and enabling the well-being of the rest of Creation, of restoring balance to our lives and our community of people, place, and all life.
He seduced us. Dragged us out into the mucky swampland of the estuary. Showed us the oily film on the water essential for the band-tailed pigeons to drink so they could digest the red elderberries whose fruiting directed their yearly migrations through our area. He shared his experience visiting land trusts up on the islands in Washington.
For twelve years, his verbal eloquence, photos and videos, hard work with shovel and hammer has been one of the core threads that has brought into life what is now the Lower Nehalem Community Trust.
We sat there in the orchard, in peace, immersed in the glowing energy that had been gathered and was bearing fruit – literally, just over our heads! His dream (or one of his dreams) achieved, though of course never “complete”.
Amazing how an experience as awful as war can be transformed into such beautiful action.
Peace. Fulfillment. Restitution.