Friday, June 21, 2013

Notes from Under the Oaks | June 2013

By Rachael Burbank '09
Outside Burbank's desk window | 9 a.m. 

I am fortunate to have a desk with a window at the Abbott Alumni Center. All year long, I watch the weather change by the hour.

I watch the rain pour down and try to predict the best time to run errands across campus. I watch flurries fall down in the winter and guess how many abandoned cars I’ll pass on my drive home. 

I watch the sun break through the clouds and smile knowing it’s finally the Oregon summer weather that’s worth waiting for.

Outside Burbank's desk window | 11 a.m. 
Growing up in Massachusetts, I didn't expect that reaching a temperature of 100 degrees in the summer would be bearable. I was acclimated to 90 percent humidity on an 80 degree day and lounging as close to the coastline as possible for cool down dips. Now, I relish in the hot arid summers in Oregon but I know I don’t have it that bad.

I couldn't imagine being in anywhere else in the Unites States right now because of the extreme weather over the last month. Oklahoma was blindsided by tumultuous tornadoes. 

Texas suffered both spectrums with twisters and flash floods with a month. West Virginia trapped in massive floods. Chicago struck by unforeseen lightning storms.

Outside Burbank's desk window | noon
Colorado and California fought forest fires early in the year than normal. An ice tsunami crept up on Minnesota and an ice wall formed in Alaska causing flooding. The Mid-Atlantic States were thrashed by wind and rain causing sinkholes and power outages.

The worst part is that these events aren't specific to the United States. We all know someone who is affected by the recent extreme weather.

I’ll say it again. I’m fortunate to be in Oregon where my only typical worry is rain clouding our summer skies—but know that I don’t take it for granted. Members of my family in New Jersey are still struggling to rebuild their home and their business after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Outside Burbank's desk window | 2 p.m. 
To the more than 26,000 alumni worldwide, please know my heart goes out to you especially if you have struggled with issues relating to these weather extremes this year. As members of the Pacific family, we care about your safety and your whereabouts. Please know we are always here to assist in any way we can.

If you wish to write about your experiences with the extreme weather for a guest blog for the Boxer and Badger Notes blog, please submit photos and your 400-word submission to

If you need to update your contact information, please visit

Be safe where ever you are and best wishes. 

Burbank '09 is the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Pacific Univer
sity. Notes from Under the Oaks is originally published in the monthly Alumni eNews. To subscribe to the Alumni eNews, email her at 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Farming Legacy

First Generation Farmers
By Dana Zurcher

I live on the property where my Grandfather, George, and Great-Uncle, Fred, started farming decades before I was born. In the Late 1940’s they purchased the property. 

Crops and cows were their livelihood. My grandmother, Gwen moved to the farm as a cook for George and Fred. Then she and my grandfather fell in love and married. My father, Gary and Aunt Sherry were also born and raised on this land. My father took over the farming for my grandpa when he became unable to.  

Zurcher's goats, Coco and Eleanor

Some of my favorite memories are of the times I ‘helped’ with the farming and daily chores. I would help my Dad feed the cows and ride in the tractor as he tilled the ground, planted seed or cut hay. My favorite time of year was harvest time, the cucumbers were ready.  My dad used to pick me a cucumber, cut the skin off with his pocket knife and hand it over! 

A cucumber from the grocery store will never taste like one straight from the field. The essence of my childhood summers was waking up to my mom working in her garden or riding her horses, my sister sleeping until one in the afternoon, roosters crowing, sun shining.

Today, nearly seventy years after my Grandfather started farming this land, I live here with my two dogs, Kayne and Travis and my two goats, Coco and Eleanor. My life is very different from my grandfather’s, but I see him in everything around me. 

Zurcher with her dogs, Kayne and Travis
A regular day for us is to walk around the property, to the pond and river; my camera almost always in tow. I am a photographer; it is wonderful to have such a wide canvas right at my fingertips. We look for signs of wild life; a Bald Eagle frequents an oak tree on the edge of the pond. 

The goats eat things along the way, blackberry leaves are their favorite. The dogs smell everything; they must see who’s been out since the last time they were here. Sometimes I take the canoe out on the pond, or take my fishing pole and lounge chair. 

Photo by Zurcher
The season I can’t wait to arrive; our summers are spent exploring the property, reading in the sun. Taking care of the garden; always looking for tips from my green thumbed parents. Mowing, endless hours spent mowing. Riding my quad on the trail by the river and cutting firewood for winter. 

The winter months are spent watching the flood waters change the landscape.  Trees fall, the ground washes away. It’s really beautiful when it gets cold enough for the pond to freeze over.

I've never appreciated something as much as the legacy my grandpa created. I like to think he and my grandmother are proud I didn't go far and still enjoy what they left behind. I feel very fortunate to have the history of my family right under my bare feet.  

Zurcher is the Gallery Director at Pacific University.