I’ve been busy watering baby hazelnut trees, our newest crop on Martha’s farm. The picture below shows part of the orchard, set in the lower field along the river, the timbered cliffs in the background. We’ve put in about 700 trees so far, which is about my limit for now, given our watering system. Our budget system. It involves a lot of hoses and me going from tree to tree.
A couple of years ago when we bought our first trees, I was in for a surprise.
I’d been working on Martha’s book, learning more about her history. She and her husband Garrett, my great-great-grandfather, came over the Oregon Trail in 1850 and settled on their Donation Land Claim in Lane County near what would later become Eugene, Oregon. But after several years troubles sent them south into the next county. They were still renting a place near Elkton in Douglas County when Garrett was killed and Martha made the decision to buy this farm that’s still in the family.
I had visited the Lane County property, imagined them there. Nice rich land.
One morning while at work on the first draft of Martha’s story I got a call from Dwayne Bush, a nurseryman in Eugene I’d called earlier, requesting our first hazelnut trees. He said he’d done his count and would have enough trees for us that year. We talked about when I might pick them up, and I told him I would need directions. “They’re at my River Road Farm,” he said. “Do you know Eugene at all?”
He said I would take River Road north from the Beltline, then turn right on East Beacon Drive. “It kind of curves around, then crosses Spring Creek . . .”
I visualized the map, the place, and felt a growing sense of familiarity. “I think I know exactly where you mean. I think my great-great grandparents owned a farm around there.”
“Really? What was their name?”
He recognized the name. “The Maupin DLC, isn’t it?”
I smiled. “Yes, it is. They had six hundred forty acres there.”
“Well, I own a hundred acres of it.”
I clutched the phone, beaming, and told him I was writing a book about them, that I’d just been writing the part where they lived on that farm.
So this nursery stock grown on Martha and Garrett’s Lane County farm came to be planted on Martha’s Douglas County farm. You couldn’t get away with writing fiction like that.