Having lived most of my life in Southern and Central California, home of evergreen landscaping, I am dumfounded every Fall by our colors. The intense yellows of the ginkoes, gold of the birches, the red of quince and the flaming maples, just knock me out.
Laurelhurst Park, of course, is acres of loveliness. But our neighborhood trees, some of which are a hundred years old, also make me understand why people who move from elsewhere to Southern California say “they miss the seasons”.
I guess I get sort of goofy in the Fall. Summer’s flowers and sunshine are so bright, it is almost blinding. In Fall, it is grayer, darker, and… wetter. The bright leaves are our last hurrah of color until spring, and I don’t want to miss it.
So, while I go walking and leaf-peeping whenever I feel sad or restless, I hope these pictures let you see why I love our Fall so much.
One of the many things I love about our Laurelhurst Park is that it is always changing. Old trees die or are damaged in storms and need to be replaced, so we get to meet the new babies.
Just after we moved up to Portland, this young Dawn Redwood was planted near the dog off leash area. We named it Willie, after my Mom.
Every time we walked through the park, we would check on Willie. That first autumn we were very worried. Willie’s thin, soft needles began to dry up and fall off! We looked up Dawn Redwoods and discovered that (whew) they are deciduous. That means they lose their leaves in winter. Willie wasn’t sick, she was just hibernating!
After a long nap, Willie woke up in the spring and looked fabulous! She was a good foot taller. She apparently liked where she was.
And she continues to thrive. This summer she is three years old and growing like a weed. In ten years or so, she may take on the look of her elders, which look sort of like the scary apple trees from “The Wizard of Oz”.
It has been a long, long time since we heard live music. Before the pandemic, it was one of the great joys of living in Portland: somewhere close, almost every evening, folks were playing music.
But before the summer outdoor music season even got started, the whole country shut down. Movies, concerts, even outdoor venues, were all closed for the duration. Poop.
While out picking up litter the other day, we saw this sign and confirmed what we had heard talked about: Jazz in the neighborhood!
Just a block from our house is a lovely front porch where a group gathers to play gentle jazz, for whatever people want to put in the tip jar. Lead by Gordon Leem, the ensemble includes a keyboard, stand up bass, trombone, drums, and some fine scat singing.
It was wonderful. “Blue Skies”, their opening number, celebrated the return to our clear skies after nine days of toxic smoke. Folks slowly wandered in, carrying camp chairs, wine, and snacks. The sidewalks and even Alder Street itself became seating, and no one seemed to mind. The sun started to go down and we all just reveled in being there.
Being out in the world, watching people with their kids and dogs, was as important as the music itself. It wasn’t perfect, of course. A group close by us were so happy to be out of the house they chatted a bit too loudly. But I realized that was part of it. We have missed the luxury of being irritated by strangers.
The tip jar got regular donations, and Gordon reminded us that a part of that money will go to the Red Cross, who is helping lots of people in Oregon who have lost everything. After an hour and a half, it was time to head home. We waved at neighbors ( hard to recognize after months inside and with everyone masked!) , packed our chairs and headed off to dinner.
It is still a week until Fall, but the weather is starting to change. The awful heat seemed to have passed, though I expect there will be one last Indian Summer heat wave before we kiss summer completely goodbye.
The summer flowers are still blooming…. wisteria, roses, and dahlias.
Summer fruits are reaching their peak… apples, tomatoes, and grapes.
And yet, we are getting rain, lots of rain, cooler temperatures, and it’s dark by seven o’clock. Fall is on its way.
Pumpkins are ripening in the Sunnyside School garden, reminding me that we need to use up the frozen pumpkin purée from LAST fall so we can go get more pumpkins!!
When I grew up in Southern California, all my relatives there lamented the lack of “seasons”. A friend from Oregon once said the bright blue skies of Salinas were “obscene” in January. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Now I do. The seasons changing are like breathing out after breathing in, or hearing the splash after you throw the rock into the pond.