As we say slide towards winter, we are remembering the beauty of bright leaves on shiny roads and all the mysteries of the forest coming to the surface.
Laurelhurst Park is, of course, my favorite place in Portland. As cool and busy a playroom as it is in summer, it is a place of small life in fall.
Last year, around this time, we saw a fellow raking leaves into heart shapes and appreciated his art for art’s sake. Yesterday I may have seen his work again, as this wonderful “Yellow Brick Road” leaf installation greeted us uphill from the lake.
Walking today, I saw a plaque near the Pine Street entrance to the Park. It commemorates the planting of this huge oak tree in 1932 by the Wakeenah Chapter of the DAR (The Daughters of the American Revolution) to celebrate the 200th birthday of George Washington.
In a funny way, all the leaves falling reminds me of a speech from The Merchant of Venice, where Portia talks about mercy “blessing both he who gives and he who receives”.
Having given up their leaves, the trees show their beautiful branch structure, allowing us to see beauty that is hidden in summer. It also makes the ground more beautiful, blessing both the tree and the ground.
Fall keeps falling here. It is predicted to get near freezing soon, so I have brought Great-Grandma Billie’s geraniums into the house. They have a nice space by a window. Our little potted cypress, planted from seeds of the huge cypress that used to stand proudly over the Nob Hill parking lot in Salinas, is also inside.
On our walk yesterday, we saw more changes happening with the seasons. We are able to see more details of the houses on our street as the leaves fall away, Entire intersections are light and airy, almost empty, because the canopy of leaves is gone.
As we were walking through Laurelhurst, we saw something that surprised us. A young man with a rake was working on the vast expanse of leaves in the summer dog park section of the park. I wanted to warn him off, to tell him that one man with a rake didn’t stand a chance against the ever-rising tide of leaves. But he wasn’t trying to rake up the leaves.
He was raking the leaves into heart shapes, with spaces in between. We watched for a while, walked around the park, and watched some more. I made sure to holler “Thank you!” to let him know we had enjoyed his art and appreciated making beauty out of nothing but effort and ideas.
We are also hearing and seeing more Canada Geese, flying in loosely organized flocks or resting in fields, nibbling grass and bugs. They must be on their way south, and are enjoying some of our fine parks to make the long journey more enjoyable.
Much like I am doing, using Portland as a pleasant stop on my journey through life.