I love wandering around my neighborhood. I always see something unexpected.
This little sculpture, only about 6 inches high, sits on a big boulder placed along the sidewalk of Division Street. Placed close to the Philip Neary Church, someone has decorated this accordion player with a rosary. This is one of 8 such sculptures created by Crystal Schenk and Shelby Davis and installed in 2014. Collectively called “This All Happened, More or Less”, these pieces represent ordinary people calmly going about their business, reading, resting, or chatting.
A different sort of unexpected beauty is this graphically painted re-purposed school bus. I haven’t been able to find out what it is being used for now, but it looks like fun!
These bright pyracantha berries, a perfect winter food source for local birds, seem to glow in the sunshine.
And as I walked along, i noticed that the blustery wind was playing with my scarf in a very photogenic fashion. So I played along.
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.
It has been so pretty this Fall! The air is cool and fresh and the leaves are a million different colors. It was time for a walk to Lone Fir Cemetery.
Auntie Bridgett had a new friend she wanted me to meet, so we went there first. This narrow grave stone marks the grave of Emma Hawthorne. She was our famous Dr. Hawthorne’s first wife. She was twenty years younger than Dr. Hawthorne and died in 1862 after only twoweeks of marriage. There are a scant two lines about her death in the Oregonian, which seems weird, since she was the bride of such an important doctor and businessman.
Why was no more said about her, her life or her funeral arrangements, in the local newspapers of the time? Why is she buried in a sloping corner of the cemetery while the rest of the family (including the doctor’s second wife) have large monuments on a sunny hill?
We have heard rumors that she died by suicide, which at the time was considered a sin against God. While we have no proof, that would be one explanation for what seems like shabby treatment.
While we were thinking about young Emma and her lonely fate, we sat on a low wall and listened to the chestnuts rattle through the branches and thump to the ground. It is Conker season, for sure. The squirrels and Auntie Bridgett dashed about, collecting them, and I just love being part of it.
Further on, we found another new friend. Several years ago I wrote about a local drummer named Andrew Loomis who had a wonderfully down to earth epitaph on his headstone (Life is good sept the parts that suck). Now, it seems his younger brother Matthew has passed away, and has joined Andrew in his space.
There were more graves, which I’m sure have their own stories, but my eyes were so full of the beautiful leaves!
This time of year has a quiet, lovely melancholy which I find comforting. The nearness of death is not scary, somehow, but peaceful.
Maybe it’s because our summer has been so hot and dry, but Fall is falling hard here in Portland. Leaves are falling in piles earlier than usual. The change from heatwave to rainfall seems more abrupt.
In our lovely, funky Sunnyside neighborhood, the lush flowers of summer are dying back, waiting to be trimmed into their winter rest.
Plum, apple, and fig trees are all over the neighborhood, planted decades ago by resourceful homeowners. Some folks gather them up and share them, which is really nice. One house on Taylor Street even provides little boxes to take them home!
Other folks seem overwhelmed by the abundance and the fruit just falls and rots, smelling like a brewery. Not terrible, but a terrible waste.
Piles of leaves are everywhere. They make for a seasonal carpet and art materials, as well as pulling nutrients back in the soil. But I know once it rains, we will have ‘leaf slime’ in every gutter.
So it is when summer ends. There is a melancholy, especially when it feels like Covid has cheated us of another summer’s concerts, plays, and festivals. But I am ready for Fall. The inside time and contemplation, and the creativity that come with it, are okay by me.
We sorted through our garage sale treasures and then headed south to Division Street. The Richmond neighborhood is so pretty, with the household gardens in full late summer glory. Grapes, plums, apples and even Asian pears called to us.
A local knife sharpener named Sato was working his whetstone magic at Moore Coffee Company, one of our favorite places for an afternoon hang out. I had brought along my favorite knife, a gift from Auntie Katie 15 years ago.
We dropped the knife off with Sato and decided to try a new food truck for lunch. “Let’s Roll” offers bowls, burritos or wraps filled with poke, tempura, and other spicy delights. It was just what was needed!
When we were fed and happy, we walked by Carter and Rose to see their tiny planters with handmade ceramic snakes, and then back to Moore Coffee. Sato had finished my knife and had started his lunch!
We ordered iced coffee and tea and engaged in some serious Sunday loafing: Reading the Sunday Funnies, people watching, and enjoying the progress on the alley’s new mural.
Now in a state of total Portland bliss, we ambled home. It had gotten very warm, we had walked more than three miles, and I was pooped.
A long nap and a few chapters of Jane Eyre got me ready for the next event of the day. And that’s a story for tomorrow.
It is two weeks until the Fall equinox. We can see the end of summer from here.
In my garden, white powdery mildew has started taking a toll on my pumpkin plant, and because I didn’t recognize it early enough, it has spread to the zucchini. I have learned that watering too late in the day is a main cause of this, and will NOT be doing that again next year.
I did a big trimming the other day to try and minimize the damage.
I wore the rubberized gardening gloves your Mommy Olga gave me from her last visit to Russia, because they protect me from the zucchini plants, whose long, hollow stems have tiny hairs that give me an itchy rash.
I cut off leaves that had any mildew in them, so it wouldn’t continue to spread. Unfortunately, this meant cutting just about all the leaves off the pumpkin! I hope there are enough leaves to make food for the plant to let my second pumpkin finish growing!
The tub of leaves was so heavy I just barely got it home. I know there will be lots more to haul over the next few months, and I’m glad I have my trusty red wagon.
Meanwhile, I found this lovely handmade doll by a telephone pole in the neighborhood. I rescued her and perched her on my watering can, and she will be a protective spirit for my garden. I have named her Mlezi, which is the Swahili word for Guardian.
We had a slow walk around Laurelhurst Park on Thanksgiving, to settle our dinner and enjoy being out in the world. Laurelhurst was planted in 1913, so most of the trees are huge. It feels like a tame forest and is my favorite place in the city.
This Fall, Firwood Lake is covered with duckweed and looks more like lawn than a pond. It is oddly beautiful.
The old-fashioned lamps look beautiful against the trees in any season.
The bright yellow of birches and ginkgoes brightens up the darkest corners of the woods.
On a day when we were not with friends or family and were feeling a little sad, it was good to get out and be part of the beauty.