Just three blocks from our house is Laurelhurst Park, which I have told you about many times. It is my favorite place in the whole city.
And in Laurelhurst Park is little Firwood Lake. It is at the lowest point of the park, of course. It is the natural place for a lake, but it hasn’t always been there. Back in the 1920s when the park was being developed, folks thought of filling in the bottom part of the park and installing a baseball field.
But even then, they knew about drainage and flood control, and realized a lake would be a better idea. And it has been.
Year round, we have ducks waddling and swimming and doing adorable duck things. Spring brings ducklings, who bob about on the lake like fluffy corks. And now the goslings have come out to play!
Geese are always majestic creatures, tall and arrogant looking. But give a pair of geese a few goslings, and they become positively ferocious. Walking through the park this afternoon, we came across this pair and their young ones. Several folks were already watching, keeping a good distance. The pair remained vigilant but calm.
But when a lady came by with a dog, the geese called their goslings to them and honked up a storm, hissing and telling the lady and her dog to get the heck out of the area. The lady and the dog, wisely, did.
For the last few days, we have been in a river…. an atmospheric river, to be exact. This is a system of very wet air that has blown up from the tropics, bumped into our cold air, and is just dumping water like crazy. This is a lot of rain, even for drippy Portland.
So of course we went for a walk to lovely Laurelhurst Park. The hillsides are muddy and very slick, so I stayed on the path. The last thing I need from 2020 is a busted bottom. The puddles forming by the path made perfect mirrors to appreciate the majestic trees and gray skies.
Firwood Lake has had a particularly thick layer of duckweed this year, looking more like a soccer field in some areas. But at the east end, a surreal swirly effect is finding new ways to be beautiful.
And just as I thought the swirly green and black water couldn’t get more weirdly beautiful, a raindrop plopped in and created concentric circles.
Life is beautiful, even (or maybe especially) in the rain.
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.
I haven’t been going to the park much this Summer, because so many of the folks who visit do not wear masks and I would rather stay safe. But I love Laurelhurst Park, and I have missed it. So, today I masked up and headed off.
All our favorite trees are still there, and some are even showing a bit of fall color.
But Firwood Lake, home to dozens of ducks, turtles and fish, is covered with GREEN!
A tiny plant called Duckweed is growing so thick, it looks like a soccer field…smooth and green. It is not dangerous to anyone, and the birds and fish like it. But it sure looks weird.
The only places where the duckweed isn’t growing are where the circulation pumps are, which disturbs the surface of the water.
In our three years visiting Laurelhurst Park, we have seen giant trees fall, new ones get planted, Shakespeare performances, and even Big Band concerts. So I guess an outbreak of manic duckweed isn’t surprising. But I wanted to share it with you.
Saturday morning we were WOKEN UP by a wonderfully loud and flashy thunder-and-lightning storm. We had seen the clouds wafting in Friday evening as we sat on our balcony, and knew it was only a matter of time.
I love thunder storms. The power and energy give me a sense of perspective, an understanding of my tininess in the face of universal forces. I can picture myself as one of the mice huddling under bushes or birds snuggling in their nests.
And speaking of tiny creatures, it is Spring, which means baby animals have been on my radar.
My friends Amy and Angela have gotten kittens, named Terri and Princess Zelda, respectively, who are keeping them company during the shut down.
At Lone Fir, I followed one young squirrel in his exploration of the sunny headstones, and another, more ‘substantial’ fellow perching on a monument.
And then there are the ducks! Laurelhurst Park’s little Firwood Lake is home to a few dozen ducks, and this week, most of them are guarding little flotillas of fluffy ducklings. It is an eleven out of ten on the cuteness scale.
This little guy got tired of swimming and followed Momma up onto shore for a rest.
And that is your dose of tiny animals for the day!
Saturday morning, we woke up to snow. It was just a dusting, and we went back to sleep. A few hours later, it was STILL snowing, and Grandpa Nelson decided it was time for a proper snow adventure, so we bundled up and headed off.
First, we saw our walkway, decorated with snow. The gnomes were wondering who put out the lights, apparently.
Then we noticed some tulips that had not seen the snow coming. I hope they can spring back!
Laurelhurst Park itself is lovely in any weather, but is a Narnia sort of beautiful in the snow. The Ravine always looks like Mr. Tumnis is going to show up any moment.
As we walked around, we saw dozens of families enjoying the snow. There were snowmen, snowball fights, dogs dashing around. It was a winter wonderland… in March. I will show you the snowmen tomorrow.
The lake was very pretty through the trees, as the snow came down and sat on the surface for just a minute before melting.
After our walk, we came in and hung our wet clothes up in front of the fire, and spent the rest of the day alternately watching TV and snow!
I am so happy to be back in Portland after our trip to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, all the water is pumped in and does what it is told. Fountains. Swimming pools. A tiny green oasis here and there.
But in Portland, the water comes of its own accord, from the rains and rivers, wandering about with its own agenda. It is planned for, accommodated, and appreciated.
Our Firwood Lake in Laurelhurst Park is a natural low spot in the park, and catches all the water that falls in our lovely, hundred year old forest. The Park planners were wise enough to use the environment rather than fight it, to make the lake a focal point and ecosystem instead of a muddy ball field.
The leaves are still falling, but the trees are running out. The small building in Laurelhurst Park, which houses the bathrooms and maintenance office, is graced by the nearby gingko tree.
In the neighborhood, Christmas is going up in eccentric ways. This Japanese maple tree’s leaves haven’t been raked in two years…but it has lights.
This majestic house, which we can see across Cesar Chavez Boulevard through the now-bare trees, has very conservative decorations, which seems suitable to its old fashioned style.
In case you missed me and my blog over the weekend, I have decided that I will only be posting on weekdays, and taking weekends off. I am feeling like I’m so busy writing about life, I’m not having time to DO life. But for now…
We are at the part of Fall where it can be warm during the day, cool in the evening, but still light enough to walk after dinner. If I am quick to get out and careful, I can take some nice photos.
In the neighborhood around Laurelhurst Park, there are signs of Fall everywhere. Leaves changing, seed pods doing amazing things, squash and pumpkins swelling and getting fat for Halloween, crows scavenging.
Sitting by Firwood Lake, the pond inside the park, I kept seeing reflections and shadows, trying to channel my inner Monet.
Dahlias, one of Auntie Bridgett’s favorite flowers, are still blooming, catching the lower light in their dense petals.
And, of course, chestnuts! The scary-muppet looking ones that you can eat, and the studded-motorcycle-jacket ones that you can’t are both falling like rocks from trees all over the neighborhood. Keep your hats on!
And, as Edith Ann used to say, that’s all I have to say about that.