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Breitenbush Hot Springs logo

A Winter to Remember!

Published March 22nd, 2008 in Community Perspectives

lodge-snowDear Breitenbush Community; Thank you so much for all of your hard work keeping the Retreat Center open during this snowy winter! The students from OSM had a magical time and I, as their teacher, am so grateful we were able to come up. The shoveling you had to do was overwhelming! The caravans accommodated us all marvelously. Thank you again, ~ Lisa Garofalo, OSM Massage Instructor

I was out walking recently and came upon a flourish of new blossoms, wet with the mist of early morning. I leaned my face into them, then breathed slowly and deeply, inhaling the moisture and fragrance. All at once I found myself laughing like Rumi and weeping like the fool on the hill — the natural world finally expresses itself in colors other than white! What a relief!

This past winter, we endured a storm that lasted from Christmas into mid-February, dumping sometimes a foot of new snow per day on our village. The accumulation was so extreme that the Governor declared our area of the Cascades a State Disaster Area, and called out those members of the Oregon National Guard not assigned to the war zone to bring up heavy machinery to Detroit and move a hundred tons of snow. The International Red Cross set up a shelter and served free meals to the locals. Emergency Service vehicles were dispatched from all over to help the beleaguered townfolk open roads and driveways.

Breitenbush is 10 miles up the Breitenbush River Road from Detroit, entirely off the grid, and unincorporated. No one plows our road for us, or delivers food, even during a declared emergency—we’re on our own for all of our needs. But self-reliance has its strange, if hard-won, rewards. In the event, we reallocated community resources, spending many thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to dig out, keeping roads and trails open, and helping travelers arrive safely if they became stranded. We set up a caravan system to guide guests and community members safely between Detroit and the springs after the road was closed by the U.S. Forest Service, when it became a single lane meander between massive burms of snow and ice.

By industry-standards, Breitenbush is all about being in the hotel/restaurant business. But for me, both as a real-live person and in my role as Business Director here, it’s all about something much greater. Breitenbush is a human community with an interface to the wild natural world that is both intimate and mind altering. Good things happen in peoples’ lives here, and it’s worth the extra work on our part to keep the springs open during all of the seasons, to those who want to come here for that unique experience.

And it is great to get the response from real-live people out there in the greater community, as in the letter above, and in the letter below.

We at Persephone Farm would like to thank all of you in the Breitenbush Community for your hospitality, service, and warm welcome to the Northwest Farmer to Farmer Exchange Conference. This gathering has been an annual highlight for us, and has yielded communications, connections, and resources to strengthen our farm and the community of Northwest family farms. Your dedication to keeping Breitenbush open and your guests safely shuttled up and down the road is overwhelming in the face of all the extra work you must have endeavored to perform. Thank you for your heroic efforts and commitment to service. Great job everyone! – Persephone Farm