Last weekend we did our last “Adopt a Highway” cleanup for this year and I’ve got good news to report. The “Adopt a Highway” program is a road-side cleanup project that is administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Some years back one of our Meigs County neighbors, Rick Adams, approached me with the idea of having the Fur Peace Ranch adopt a section of the highway as part of the program. Rick and I had a meeting with the ODOT folks and we filled out the necessary paperwork and made a commitment to stick with the program for atleast a three year period. This is a great program and I’m sure wherever you live you have noticed these signs on the sides of the highways …..ADOPT A HIGHWAY….with the name of the group or organization that sponsors the cleanup of that designated area of road. It was decided that the two mile stretch of State Route 681 where the Meigs County Line begins would be the part of the roadway we would adopt.

Well, our very first roadside cleanup was April 19th, 2003…..and on that day 10 volunteers went to work cleaning up creation …..and by the time we had finished walking our stretch of highway picking up thrash we had collected 88 bags (the big ones) of garbage, a window frame, a hot water tank,a car tire and tire rim. Man, oh man……it was unbelievable. Now that of course was our first cleanup and you’ve got to figure that this thrash had been building up over the years. Jump to March 20th, 2004 …..just about a year later…. and our cleanup nets us 60 bags of garbage.

The garbage we find consists mainly of pop bottles and plenty of Colt 45 big boys……lottery tickets ( a whole heap of those scratch off kind)….chewing tobacco tins…….Happy Meals, with everything but the prize…….and a multitude of what-nots and unmentionables. Vanessa on two occasions found money….one time a $20 that we parlayed into some after cleanup pizzas. It is really amazing how much garbage we have picked up from time to time. Sometimes we talk in disbelief about how people could just chuck this stuff out their windows.

We always have a good time getting together and getting down to some serious cleanup…..we clean the roadside 4 times during the year. All the employees have taken part in this effort and on many occasions we have been joined by friends and family who like to jump in and help. My sister, even on a short visit from California, took the time one year to join us…..and she still talks about it to this day….”How about that…..I go to visit my brother and he gives me a bag and has me with the chain gang out on the road picking up thrash.” ……She really did love it. SO………..(OK, Hurl….you’ve built it up…..lets get to the good news)………It is with great pride that I report on last week’s pickup… October 2009………On that day the gang scoured the road and the roadside to come up with 9 bags of thrash. We all were thrilled ….there was a kind of excitement and satisfaction with the results and a feeling of…..maybe we are making a difference and getting somewhere. As we all piled into Rick’s pickup for the drive back to where we all park……I started singing “It’s getting better all the time…..better …..better…. better…..” ……..and you know what…….it really is.

Thanks to people everywhere that pitch in to keep my favorite planet clean. Thanks to all the good folks I work with, that take the time out of their off weekend to come out early on a Saturday morning to be a part of the team. Thanks to JAH for this great place he gives us to live… may we all be good stewards of creation…….Give Thanks!

A Poet was Among us……

My last entry was about the Hurl’s Girls adventure during Couple’s Weekend 09. As I mentioned in that piece, the student performance that Sunday afternoon was just out of the ball park. The student performance was like a revolving door of stars, as each performer took the stage and played a selection to a very appreciative audience. One of our students, John Schuster, read a very cool poem that he had written about the Fur Peace Ranch. It was John’s first trip to the Ranch and I thought he had a very keen insight into the Ranch for a first-timer. So… made sense when I found out that he is the author of several books, an executive coach, trainer and speaker. I’ve asked John for permission….and he graciously gave me such……to print the words of that poem for others to read…….and……here it is……….

Guitar Garden Dreams by John P. Schuster

Forty years ago, Joni told us we are golden. We are stardust.
“Get back to the garden she said.”
Jorma built his part of the garden.

Those many years ago, lots of boys picked up the guitar with dreams. Boys don’t know part of their soul resides in a wooden six-string device. The boys grow up, set aside guitar dreams, attach themselves to a career.

“What are you doing when you’re not playing guitar?” I ask them when we gather, from all over kingdom come.
Build hospitals, the post office, a pressman, a pilot—they say.

The guitars whisper to them over the long years.
“I’m still here. We have more to do together.”
Building inspectors, flight instructors, retired marketeers, car painters, Hewlett Packard.

Soul work will not be denied. Jorma, Vanessa, John, Queen Deb, they know this—they craft “the guitar garden of dreams.”

After decades the boy-men finally give in, let go, take a chance. They renew
their journey. With true art, life’s higher energies, the force, shows up.
That’s why Jorma, Tommy, with Byron and Patrick, are gods.
They wield the fire.

The boy-men capture their fire again in Meigs County. The wives know this…
they know better than their men, what the music does for them

When we pick up guitars with intention, with teachers who care,
we become a truer version of who we are.

This guitar garden sprinkles stardust our way.