Day 96: The Northwest Nature Shop

11 Jul


Triple Berry Pie

A few weeks ago, I wanted to bring a pie to the Northwest Nature Shop and I called to see if Kathy, the owner, was in that day. As it turned out, she was at a trade show and so I decided to give the pie to someone else. I knew that I would have another chance to see Kathy and honor her and her husband Mike.

Mike Uhtoff was a noted conservationist and he was an outdoor educator for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and the Portland Zoo, and he was also President of the Portland Audubon Society before moving to Ashland. He and Kathy opened the Northwest Nature Shop in 1985.

Though I lived in Ashland in the late 80’s, I was not familiar with the Nature Shop. It was not until we returned to Ashland as parents of young children in the mid 90’s, that it became one of my favorite places to shop for gifts. I loved the beautiful rocks, the incredible books, and the science behind the toys that they sold. When my son received a birthday invitation, I would go to the Nature Shop and buy a gift certificate because I wanted his friends to see the amazing things that this shop had to offer.

And from the “it’s a small world” category: A number of years ago, my husband and I spent a night at the Sylvia Beach Hotel at Nye Beach along the northern coast of Oregon. We found out that if you choose to eat dinner at the inn, you must eat at a table with other guests and play a game called “Two truths and a lie.” We dined with six other guests and when they found out that we lived in Ashland they asked if we knew the Uhtoff’s and told us about Mike’s work with the Audobon Society. I felt so lucky that I was able to say that I knew Mike and Kathy – even if only as a customer.

Today when I went to deliver the pie, I was told by Kathy’s son Chris that she was doing paperwork and that he would go and get her. I waited on the porch of the store and gently touched one of the wind chimes that they have hanging outside. It made a lovely sound and a moment later the wind picked up and soon all of the chimes began to sound off. It was truly a magical moment.

I would like to offer my thanks to the Uhtoff’s for the gift of this wonderful store, for their continued support of our community, and for the lasting legacy that Mike has left. Ashland is a much better place because of their presence.

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