There were no woods on Wood Street, in Braddock, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. Nor any connection to the natural world. Just one block of sooty homes, choked between the railroad tracks and the steel mill. Houses were so close together that if we shook the dust mop too far out the hallway window, it was in Mary Mihalko's living room.
Braddock was the home of the first Carnegie Free Library and I toted home armfuls of books whose pages took me on adventures I was determined to have when I grew up.
We studious sorts were encouraged by our high school headmaster to aim for college, assured that we would find scholarships and loans to see us through. It worked, and a degree in Journalism from Duquesne University gave me solid grounding for a life beyond anything I'd imagined.
Now I live on Sauvie Island, at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. After 23 years there in a forest house, I have recently moved to a floating home and those exploits are documented in my blog, http://MyRiverhouseLife.blogspot.com.
From this outpost I have travelled afar. Bali, China, Tibet, a summer bicycling across Europe, three week-long bike trips around Oregon, kayaking in Glacier Bay and the Fiji Islands, rafting, x-country skiing, tromping and camping through many a U.S. and Canadian wilderness.
I'm a founder of the Oregon Ocean Paddling Society and the Sauvie Island Conservancy, trained in Wilderness First Aid, a certified Schoolyard Wildlife Steward, on the advisory board for the Columbia River Water Trail and have worked part time for Audubon and as a sea kayak guide.