A Shining Presence in Duke’s Valley

Home and Garden

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. — Buddha

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea

Gleaming Buddha looks over the Harshbarger home

in Duke’s Valley south of Hood River.


News staff writer

July 16, 2005

After a long journey from a shop in northern Thailand, a brass garden Buddha sits peacefully in Paul Harshbarger’s garden in Duke’s Valley. The Buddha statue, which weighs more than 500 pounds, was set in place by a crane last week where it looks out not only at Harshbarger’s beautifully maintained garden but at Mount Adams in the distance.

“It’s got a nice view, so the Buddha should be happy,” Harshbarger said.

Harshbarger, an investment representative with Edward Jones, has been looking for the perfect garden Buddha for years during annual trips to Southeast Asia. He spotted this particular Buddha two years ago in a shop in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. He didn’t pursue it at the time because he didn’t think he would be able to get it home. Last year, he saw the Buddha again and decided to look into shipping it to the U.S.

“The first shipper I talked to said no,” Harshbarger said. Buddha statues are considered religious items and, officially, an export license is required to ship them from the country. But the official government stance on the practice is loosely adhered to, and applies more to ancient statues from historic sites. Harshbarger found another shipper who said he could send the Buddha, and arrangements were made to transport the large statue to Bangkok, where it then was sent by ship to Los Angeles. From there, it was transported by train to Portland where Harshbarger picked it up with his truck. The whole process took about two months.

Harshbarger knew this Buddha was the one he’d been looking for as soon as he saw it.

“They come in all shapes and sizes,” he said. Most are sitting in a certain position, but “their facial expressions can be quite different.”

Harshbarger first went to Asia in 1967, when he spent 18 months as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village in Nepal. He hadn’t been back to the region until 1997, when he returned to the village to see it again after 30 years. The return trip rekindled his interest in Southeast Asia and its culture, and Harshbarger has traveled there every year since. In the past eight years, he’s traveled extensively in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma.

Harshbarger isn’t a Buddhist, but he’s intrigued by the religion.

“If I were going to be anything, I would be Buddhist,” he said. “It’s a very tolerant religion and a very relaxing religion.”

Harshbarger said he wasn’t sure exactly where to place the Buddha until he got it home, but he’s pleased with the perch he chose.

The journey is the reward, according to a famous saying. But for this garden Buddha, the destination is hard to beat.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners