Eclipse At Laurelhurst Park

Dear Liza,

Today is the solar eclipse that has had all of Portland in a tizzy for weeks. Some people have planned trips out of town to see the eclipse while others have canceled travel because they are worried about traffic from other people’s travel. Hotel rooms and rental cars are booked, food trucks plan to close for the hour of the eclipse and then do extra business afterwards.

Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I are going to Laurelhurst Park, sit in the small forest there, and listen to what the animals do. Will the hawks go hunting? Will the squirrels freak out? Will we finally get to see the owl?

I wrote that part before the eclipse.

It is now after. Here is what happened.

When we got to the park, there were already some people sitting in the big grassy area. They were reading, talking, or playing with their kids, but as we have often seen here, not being obnoxiously loud. Each group respected the other group’s space and quiet.

People waiting for the eclipse

As the eclipse began and increased, the light changed. The white sunlight got yellower, then almost grey, and it made things look flatter. The temperature dropped a bit and a small breeze came up.

At almost 99% totality, (as much as we got here in Portland) we saw things called shadow snakes …shadows of the leaves overhead, but looking curvy. These happen because the light of the sun is bent as it comes around the moon and so makes curvy shadows. Weird and wonderful.

We also saw cloudy shadows moving across the pavement. They were so faint I couldn’t get a picture of them. I found out later they are called Schlieren lines.

Shadow Snakes

After just a half minute of not-darkness, the light began to increase again. The eclipse was ending and we would soon be back to regular light.

It never got dark enough for the animals to think it was night, so the owls stayed asleep and the hawks stayed quiet. The squirrels did their usual squirrel things. It started getting warm again. Grandpa Nelson said it felt like a second dawn.

He walked with us to the corner of Belmont and Cesar Chavez Blvd, where he turned right to go find breakfast and we turned left to go to the Belmont library for more books on Portland  history.

I am learning so much here. Looking forward to your visit!


Grandma Judy



Ice Cream Walking

Dear Liza,

Last night we wanted a nice long walk, and we wanted ice cream. We headed south, toward Division Street.

Just down our own block, we walked past the house where the flamingos are out in the yard. They were all wearing eclipse glasses!! This cracked us up. The whole city has gone eclipse crazy, with lots of visitors coming to Oregon to see next week’s solar eclipse. Hotels and rental cars are all booked. But these flamingos are ready.

Eclipse-Ready Flamingos

We walked through a lovely neighborhood called Sunnyside, with interesting gardens and all sorts of decorations, like the Giving Tree, where people are invited to write what they are thankful for and hang it on the tree, announcements of neighborhood picnics, and cats.



Tiny free library Photo credit:


We stopped at one of the tiny free libraries that are in many of the neighborhoods around here. They are smallish boxes, like a cupboard on a pole with a (sometimes) glass door. I had brought a book to share, a copy of “It was a dark and stormy night” that I have had for years. I traded it for a new copy of “Junie B Jones is a Party Animal” which I can share with you when you come up.


When we got to Division Street, about a mile south of our house, we stopped at Salt & Straw Ice Cream. This is a famous ice cream shop and there is always a line. We only waited a few minutes, time for me to decide on a tiny but delicious strawberry basalmic and pepper ice cream cone. Grandpa Nelson got a cinnamon snickerdoodle milkshake…he loved it! We sat in a nice shady patio and enjoyed our ice cream while happy kids ran around, giggling like goofballs.

Salt and Straw!!!


Auntie Bridgett prefers frozen yogurt to ice cream, so we walked just a block up Division to Eb and Bean, a tasty frozen yogurt shop. She had a peanut yogurt cone, which was very, very good.

Heading home, we walked up Caruthers Street, and the name was very familiar. The other streets around it are Lincoln, Sherman, and Grant, who are all Civil War heroes and Presidents. Once I got home I realized that I had just photographed Finice Caruthers’ grave in Lone Fir Cemetery the day before, and read about him in my Portland history book, “Portland: People, Politics and Power”, by Jewel Lansing. Caruthers was a pioneer in Portland, getting one of the first Donation Land Grants just south of the main part of downtown.

Finice Caruthers’ Grave

He was one of the men who made decisions that got the city started. He died young, with no children to carry on his name, so he is mostly forgotten. But this street, and now you and I, remember him! The history of this city is long and complicated, but I feel like I am starting to put some of the pieces together.
On our return walk, we saw more gardens, and cats. We had walked about three miles, so we were tired out. But it was a lovely evening!

Grandma Judy