Eugene, Oregon is not only the fulcrum of all that is Track and Field, but next to San Francisco, it is the closest one can get to the walking, breathing, living incarnation of the Grateful Dead and the Hippie movement. Hundreds of people from around the world and the nation somehow end up here, camp, park, smoke out, and play with their children. Their modes of transportation are usually a motor home that others would’ve relegated to the scrap heap, but with finesse and duct tape all things are made new.

On a single random street I wandered on to, I encountered 10 such caravans. The inhabitants of which were mostly white, dread locked, dirty handed, and with mismatching clothes. They are also kind, generous, inviting, amiable, and happy hearted for the most part. I sidled up to one such abode outside of which the occupants had strewn the chairs to take in the evenings cool. I saw that they had some children, and I asked if I could draw some pictures for them.

They generously offered me a chair, and asked their children to come out. The shy middle boy poked his head out first, not sure what to make of this stranger, his rig, or his getup. But, the younger brother, Russel, showed no such reserve and immediately requested, demanded really, a Teddy Bear. I drew a teddy bear holding a potted flower and he squealed with delight. He had me emblazon “Happy Bear” above it.

The middle sibling, Royal, now warmed up to the power of the pencil at his beck and call asked for a dragon, storming a castle, with a mote and a draw bridge. I was more than happy to oblige, and he ran off to show his prize to his mother.

My final drawing was for the shy older sister, Deedra, not wanting to impose when I asked for her request, said that I could just draw the same thing that I did for Royal. But, I asked her what she really wanted. She bit her bottom lip and shimmied from side to side on her hips, and then blurted out that she wanted a shack. Her father described the shack she wanted in detail to me. Apparently she has a fascination for the type, and he new it well from many previous conversations. I did my best to make her happy, chickens and all, and in the end her shyness had turn to smiles.

This thing called art, it really is magic. The truth is that I made something out of nothing. I made a teddy bear, a castle, and a shack out of my head, almost as if they just appeared upon the page. An older and wiser sage was sitting in the circle with me, and he began to do magic tricks with a coin for the kids. He too knew the power of delighting children; he too knew the power of kindness and compassion. Happy.

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