May Day Walksies

Dear Liza,

According to the statistics, this past month was the wettest April in Portland’s history. Sunday was the first of May, and we went for a long walk to enjoy what we hope will be a sunnier month.

Our primary target was Eb & Bean frozen yogurt, down on Division Street. It’s about a mile and we enjoyed seeing the dogwoods and wisterias blooming like crazy.

The frozen treats were yummy, and gave us energy to think about our next goal, because none of us felt like heading home yet. We wandered south to Clinton Street and Auntie Bridgett wanted to go over the new-ish pedestrian railroad crossing. This is how your cousins gets from their Dad’s house to their Mom’s. It is impressive, and just a little intimidating. Very steampunk.

We climbed the stairs because the elevator is permanently out of order, and got some nice views of downtown to the west and Mt. Hood to the east.

It was an interesting perspective.

We enjoyed the bits of philosophy imprinted on the paving beside the train tracks.

Once we were headed west, the next goal was the Tillikum Crossing over the Willamette. We saw lots of folks out enjoying the day, and one of them took our picture!

We even got to see the Dragon Boat team out practicing for the races that will be happening later in the summer.

By the time we were across the bridge, we were pretty tired and decided that transit would be our way home. We caught the Orange Line train to downtown…

And then the number 15 home!

A wonderful hidden moss garden on a downtown tree

Grandpa Nelson’s and Auntie Bridgett’s fit watches said we had walked over five miles! Woohoo!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Portland Oddities

Dear Liza,

After two sunny weeks of very unusual weather, we are back to the usual… rain, wind and cold. This is going to push my garden work back a week or so. But that’s okay, I have lots to keep me busy.

For this blog, I want to share some things I have found around town that are different, quirky, or just plain cool.

This beautiful pathway in a front garden is a combination of climate, pavers, and lots of time. The patterned concrete bricks were laid down flat to give traction on the gentle slope, where it can get slippery with our rains. To me, it looks almost like a green, fuzzy, stained glass window.


Here is another thing that is perfectly Portland. In this tiny free library down on Salmon Street, a box of Corn Flakes rests next to the books, ready to be taken by anyone who needs it. These little libraries are managed by the people who install them, who make sure they are stocked and kept in good condition.

While graffiti can be a nuisance in some places, these added words and letters on an electrical box in Laurelhurst Park made me smile. Delighting in my memories, and making new ones, is how I like to spend my time.

I hope you had a good day, and sleep well to have another one tomorrow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

It’s the Little Things

Dear Liza,

It is still Winter here, but my walks around the neighborhood show me life sprouting on every rock.

These hundreds of types of moss and lichen are always in the rocks, drying to a flat brown and biding their time during the summer months. But give us a few days of rain, and they green up, send out tiny stems, and look very nice beside the newly sprouting daffodils.

Besides being beautiful in their own right, the mossy walls, to my fanciful brain, look for all the world like fairy houses. A few little caves, some nice sunny porches, and there is a whole fairy community right there.

I love being able to let my mind wander in such lovely places!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Winter Sunshine

Dear Liza,

It is winter in Portland. It doesn’t officially start until December 21, but it’s winter. We have rain which may turn to snow flurries, bridges that are getting icy, and dark, dark afternoons.

But then you look up and the clouds are gone for a while, and the sun comes out! And you don’t care that it is 40 degrees F. You put on two scarves and a wooly hat, and out you go.

We are blessed to live in our Laurelhurst/ Sunnyside neighborhood, with its gardens and hundred-year-old stone walls.

Moss and evergreens glow nicely in the low angled light of a Portland afternoon.

Succulents in a wall resemble magic gardens.

Azaleas and rhododendrons put out buds, defying the seasonal cold. And even though we know that tomorrow will be rainy and grey again, our mammal brains are happy for the light.

Love,

Grandma Judy.

Wet, Wet, and More Wet

Dear Liza,

We are having our traditional Early February downpour. Our atmospheric river has cousins drenching California, the southeast, and everyone from Iowa to the East and Virginia to the north. So I thought I’d talk about moss.

Lovely moss carpet in the Japanese Garden

Auntie Katie posted pictures yesterday of her visit to our Japanese Garden here in Portland, saying she remembered walking there as a kid and trying to help me figure out how to grow moss in Salinas. I remember those trips too, wanting to bring that lush green to dry Salinas, and failing miserably.

Fairy wall garden

When you grow up in a desert (and let’s face it, anything south of San Francisco is basically a desert), the sidewalks are always grey, the concrete is always hard, the corners are always sharp. It’s like seeing Neil Armstrong’s footprints on the moon. There is nothing to erode them.

But in a rain-rich environment, corners get soft and sidewalks get green. Tombstones and birdbath become gardens. Walls become magical.

Mysterious wall art

And if you have the emotional strength to get into real clothes and shoes and go out to see these marvels, your day will be better. I promise.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Mossy Goodness

Dear Liza,

Well, it’s raining again. The past few years, Portland has seen drier winters, and we seem to be making up for it now.

All this rain allows for some lovely, if damp, walks. It thins out the masked crowds at Laurelhurst Park.

And it waters the moss. Portland is a city upholstered with fluffy green moss. I love it!

Walls around houses or office buildings become tiny gardens.

The most common materials, like red bricks, become abstract pieces of art or wondrous topographical maps.

Our Lone Fir Cemetery is especially blessed. This grave, already overwhelmed with a maple tree, is softened with a velvety soft green blanket.

The moss isn’t greedy, though. It shares the walls, bricks, and graves with all sorts of plants and animals . After the moss has softened the stone, it holds on to the rain so ferns can take root.

Tiny flowers and entire ecosystems sprout from the fluffy dampness.

Maybe I will bundle up today and go enjoy some rainy, mossy, goodness. Or maybe I will stay warm and dry in my new pajamas and just write about it.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Solstice Morning

Dear Liza,

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the beginning of winter. It was 30 degrees at 8 in the morning. So of course I went for a walk.

winter solstice fog.jpg
Freezing Fog

Two scarves, sweater, coat, fuzzy hat and gloves made the walking pleasant.

Our own tiny front yard has become soft and green with moss, and this morning it had a frosty white coating on it, so delicate it melted away when I breathed on it. There wasn’t enough water around to freeze puddles, except for a tiny bit near a lamp post.

frosty moss .jpg
Frosty moss

By the time I walked around the neighborhood, the frost was fading.

I noticed this very happy, mossy stepping stone in a yard, not far from some tiny pansies which ares till blooming in spite of the cold. These flowers are tougher than they look.

mossy stepping stone.jpg

 

 

Love,

Grandma Judy