By Jill Hurst
Photo by David McNair
“Pay Attention. Be Astonished. Tell About It.”
THE LINES ABOVE ARE POET MARY OLIVER’S INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIVING. I COULDN’T SAY IT BETTER, SO I DIDN’T.
Ten years ago we fell backwards off a ladder in New York City and landed in Ferndale. When we staggered to our feet and looked around, we weren’t quite sure what to make of it.
One thing we liked from the beginning was the sunrise over the rail-yard at the end of our street. The rail yard runs parallel to Fair Park, which was a tiny, sad pocket of debris and graffiti when we moved here. In a gentle show of thoughtful progress, as opposed to thoughtless change, Fair Park has been freshened up over the years. Pine trees, a small art installation. Talk of a wildflower garden. It is a place of short meditative walks and friendly meet-ups. We have enjoyed watching Fair Park take a breath and own its unique place in town.
We were a little ragged back then, just like the park. There were those who looked at us with wary disdain because we are – eeeks – renters! And, yikes, look at the graffiti of bumper stickers on the back of our (paid-for) VW Passat station wagon.
Anyway, we learned to enjoy the raised eyebrows, partly because we found a small group of kind folks who took us in, gave us shelter. The landlady who had nothing to gain from renting to us, but said “I like everything about it,” the friend who sent me to my job at Bubble & Bark, which served as a haven and sanctuary for my entire family for almost nine of the past ten years. A sanctuary with dogs and pie.
WHILE BUBBLE PROVIDED SHELTER AND DAILY RITUALS, my other job with Ferndale Friends gave me a reason to walk the streets and fulfilled my need to become acquainted with every person and visitor in this town. I loved each meeting, I agonized over the writing and gained new respect for postal workers and paper delivery folks during my brief time as a “hurler.”
Bubble and Bark closed last Fall and Ferndale Friends publisher Stephanie Loveless hopes to retire after this year. Big changes. I will carry both in my heart and soul forever. I wrote about Bubble and Bark for this issue, but wanted someone who has known Steffie longer and worked more closely with her to share thoughts. I turned to my dear friend and former FF editor Jeff Lilly for this.
Jeff said, “Stephanie Loveless has always been committed to the ideals of small journalism – its importance in covering the local stories, the everyday stories, the quirky and challenging stories that larger news outlets ignore, the counterculture, the controversies, and the upcoming people, places, and things that are woefully under-represented. It’s one thing to be aware, to read and consume. It’s something else entirely to produce, with limited time and resources, beating bushes for leads, for revenue and advertisers, for supplies. Then there’s the problem of distribution! But on foot, or by bike, she made it happen. It’s an all-day, everyday, thankless sort of job, but Steffie has risen to the challenge, lived and breathed it, from the days of Jam Rag to Ferndale Friends, so many years of toil and trouble to create her uniquely strange brew. She’s enlightened her community, and for that we owe her many thanks.”
Thank you, Steffie and Sue. Yes, yes, I’m late. I keep looking for that e-mail “Hurst, you’re killing me!”. Okay. Hitting send.