Lately, I have been feeling like my brain is empty. People call it Writer’s Block, but it doesn’t feel blocked, it feels like a big hollow hole where a bunch of happy ideas used to be.
So I decided to go out and fill it up.
I got on the number 15 bus and headed for Washington Park. As the bus was going up the hill on Burnside, though, I pulled the cord to get off. I saw something I’d only read about: It was Fireman’s Park, a monument built in 1911 to honor David Campbell, who was fire chief from 1893 to 1911 and died fighting a fire, running in to a burning building to get his men out safely.
The fountain is under repair, but the bronze plaque is handsome. There are also small plaques recognizing other firemen who have lost their lives on duty, from J. Hewston in 1892 to A. Berg in 1948. Firemen’s Park is on a very noisy bit of land, so I moved along up the hill for some contemplation.
At the base of Washington Park there are several entries. I took the ancient looking stone steps. There were signs, which kept me from wandering too far in the wrong direction, and I eventually found the Japanese Garden. I climbed up the new steps through a forested ravine to the new entrance. At last, the serenity I was searching for!
Well, no. Everyone comes to the Japanese Garden in summer. There were old men with walkers, active grandmas with all the grandkids, and young people walking past 100 year old Bonsais, staring at their phones. Not what I was after.
There was visual serenity once I waited for for groups to pass, but as a teacher, children’s voices cannot be tuned out. I either want to answer their questions, remind them of their manners, or suggest they go play somewhere else, none of which was appropriate. So, noise.
I enjoyed it as best as I could, enjoying a nice quiet lunch at The Umami Cafe in the new Japanese Educational Village and walking through the entire garden again. Better.
I discovered the Robert and Debra Zagunis Castle Wall, built here with Oregon granite by a 15th generation Japanese stone mason. It looked very formidable and gave me a first hand visual of the walls at Osaka Castle, which I have been reading about in Shogun by James Clavell.
But I wasn’t full yet. I walked down the ravine and across the road to the International Rose Test Garden. It built in 1917 to make sure the European rose varieties being decimated by World War I weren’t lost entirely. It is huge, beautiful, and, today, much quieter than the Japanese Garden. I visited here last summer with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, and it is still wonderful.
I will tell you more about my day tomorrow!