My Gypsy Heritage

Just the other day I was driving in rural Oregon through towns named Yoder, Molalla and Estacada and memories flooded my mind of times when I visited this part of the state when I was much younger. I had visions of Mennonite women in plain dresses and black, sensible shoes, long hair drawn up under a cap. I remembered sitting under a quilt stretched tight while women pushed and pulled needles through the cotton fabric.

I was raised by my grandparents and my grandfather grew up in a Mennonite household. The people I remembered were his family, my family, my heritage. My grandfather was the best person I have every known.  He taught me all the best things in life: to tell people that you love and appreciate them because you never know if you’ll get another chance, to appreciate the earth and all it offers and last but not least to get out away from town and into nature as often as possible!

When I was growing up, my grandfather would routinely take our family somewhere on an adventure. We might go rock hounding, or to the beach to gather driftwood, or cherry picking in an orchard.  One time we camped in a field and dug geodes out of the mud! Where ever we went grandpa always made it fun and he always made me feel capable and smart.

Following my grandfather’s advice, on this day I was off to find Bagby Hot Springs in the Mount Hood National Forest. I had been battling with myself for the preceding day as to whether or not I should attempt this solo adventure. Negative thoughts plagued me: Would I be able to find the place? Would the hike/walking part be difficult? (I had only brought flip flops) Would I be safe?

Luckily I was able to push all of the worries and negative thoughts aside and as soon as I started driving out of town a feeling of lightness overtook me. I wasn’t afraid anymore…..I was excited! There is a feeling that accompanies a new adventure….a slight tingly freeness, a feeling of possibility that is enchanting, exhilirating and addicting!

I drove through small towns, over metal bridges and rivers, through sun dappled shady roads, past tractors and walls of rocks, up into the hills and forest finally reaching my destination. As I walked the last 45 minutes to the site I felt proud of myself for making it here.  I thought about how I got here. I thought about my aloneness on the path and about how very comfortable I felt there.

I also realized that my gypsy nature – my love for travel and seeing new places, my love for adventure came from a man now gone. A man I love very much who always told me, “I’m not sure what you will choose to do, but I am sure it will be the right choice!” He would have loved seeing this place.

Dawn Jex/Yoga Gypsy



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