Gardens in Winter

Dear Liza,

With the shorter days and colder temperatures, I thought that gardens in Portland would sort of shut down in January…but I was so wrong! The color palette has shifted from pinks and yellows to mossy greens and soft browns, but the beauty goes on.

I love that people decorate their yards here with things that age well, and that they let them age. Concrete animals get darker and sprout moss, wooden fences go a little darker and tilt a bit.

There are still some flowers blooming, as well. Some hardy dahlias keep the camellias company, brightening up the moss and damp on even the darkest grey days. Snowdrops come up cheerfully,giving a concrete duck something to talk to.

I know it is still months until Spring, and that there will be days when I get tired of all the moss. But for now, I enjoy petting the wonderful velvet covered walls and stones as I go by.

Love,

Grandma Judy

January at the Park

Dear Liza,

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Promising Shoots

It is winter in Portland, wet and pretty chilly most days. But it is also beautiful. After a really rainy night, I went for a walk in Laurelhurst Park.

Oh, before I forget. I met a lady walking her dog the other day, and she says we should call it “Squirrelhurst” Park.

I guess if you are walking a dog in the park, the squirrels become much more of a focus. Leash-training is a good thing.

Even though the calendar says it is mid-winter, not all the plants are shut down. These green shoots are promising jonquils, or snowdrops, pretty soon. I will keep my eye out for them!

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Careless Camellias

The Camellias are beginning to bloom, both red and white, all over the park. They don’t worry about freezing temperatures, diminished sunlight and buckets of rain, apparently.

Puddles become a real thing in the park after a rain. The paths need to be walked with care, and the lowest parts are really muddy. Another reason to keep your dog on a leash!

 

 

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Puddles

 

 

 

There is a stone wall that runs along a bit of the Cesar Chavez side of the park. Because of its shape, I call it The Wallosaurus. It has gotten a nice sweater of ferns and moss which makes it even more charming.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wallosaurus

Another wall I love on the way to the park. Cast in concrete decades ago, it sort of looks like an aerial photograph of Oregon’s Willamette Valley…lush and green with a few roads and rivers running through. Very Pretty.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Mossy Wall? Or Aerial Photo?

Dodgin’ Raindrops

Dear Liza,IMG_1874.jpeg

Today I took a walk through the neighborhood, on my to Collage. This arts and crafts shop is about a mile away, on Division Street, but is the closest place where I can buy embroidery thread. Besides, I love seeing how the neighborhood changes every day.

Rain was predicted, but, as my Momma used to say, I’m not made of sugar.

Today I met a fellow taking a picture of this persimmon tree. The tree has no leaves at all, but is full of persimmons, just too high to reach!

Along the way I noticed the retaining walls. Most old houses in Portland have basements, so the house sits above the street. The yard is made flat by these walls, which can show a lot of characters. Some are just mossy, but others have decorations or are practically their own gardens.IMG_1859.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was also this pile of mulch, leftover from someone who bought too much. The sign says: “OMG!  Please Take Some!”

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Collage didn’t have any of the color embroidery floss I was after, but Henry, the manager, took his time matching the color to his online order form, and it will be in next week so I can finish my project.

When I got home, this shadow of Mouse was on the wall of the landing….IMG_1807.jpeg

Another nice day in Portland.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

New Decoration

Dear Liza,

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Shelf fungus

No, I don’t mean Christmas! Well, not totally, and not quite yet.

Auntie Bridgett has gotten her boxes down, and there are candles and angels perched here and there…but what I’m talking about today is the change OUTSIDE.

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Happy Moss

Since we got home from Thanksgiving in San Diego, the wet weather had kicked in.

The rain has knocked most of the remaining leaves into tall, soggy piles in gutters, waiting to be hauled away on neighborhood “leaf days”.

The branches left behind are architectural and magnificent.

Moss is blooming, mushrooms are sprouting. I am in awe of the amount of life on every inch of stone wall and tree trunk.

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Deciduous vines on a wall

I love our wet weather. Of course, it means a few more layers and a fluffy hat under my brimmed hat, but it’s all good.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

Cloudy with a Chance of Legos

Dear Liza,

The grey has settled in pretty well today, a slow solid rain. Lucky for me, I have hot soup, fresh bread and music, and writing to you, to keep me company.

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Mossy cobblestones

Now that almost all of the leaves are down, I am noticing the houses more. In summer, it sometimes felt like the houses were being eaten by their landscaping! 100 year old trees, bushes, fruit trees and annual bulbs exploded and covered everything with a heavy swath of green.

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Noticing the houses

But with the leaves, even the brilliant yellow ones, gone, the houses are emerging to be appreciated in their own right. Lovely pointy Victorians, square and true Craftsmans, even mid-century bungalows are coming into their own. It allows me to see the yards and shape of the houses and wonder which type of yard and house we will move into!

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Bare naked Street Sign

After a nice walk out, Grandpa Nelson and I met Auntie Katie and cousins Jasper and Kestrel at The Lego Minifigs place I told you about during the summer. We were there to have the kids choose a bag of Legos each as their gifts for Jasper ‘s birthday.

Actually, we offered Jasper two bags and he said Kestrel should get one of his.

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Pixelated Lego Art

I love that boy!

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Lego dude made out of Legos

After an hour of hard choosing, including Auntie Katie finding a great book with design information and advice for the budding lego-engineer, we headed over to Blackbird Pizza for dinner and pinball. This nifty place is on the corner of 20th and Hawthorne, right next door to Dr. Locke’s House that I wrote about the other day, so Grandpa Nelson got to see the stepping stone.

Off to bed and dream of coming to see you!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Changes

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Moss getting fat and happy in the bare branches of trees!

Dear Liza,

I have been busy researching for my story about Portland in The Research Library to see where schools were in 1903, where the trolley cars ran, and what kids did for fun. It has been exhausting and exciting.

I am glad I have inside things to do, because it is very cold and wet outside. Today I went out for a walk and took some pictures so I could show you how things are changing.

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Trees last month

The bright yellow trees I send you a while back have now lost all their leaves, and are asleep for the winter. I feel a little sad seeing them black and bare, but I know they will come out green in the Spring, while I am down with you in Salinas.

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Same trees today

There is also something new growing: Moss, moss, everywhere!

Not just little green frilly bits in the sidewalk cracks, but big fat clumps on the newly bare branches of trees, and blooming on the trunks. I even found a small branch with moss growing all over it and brought it home. I have put it in a flowerpot with dirt and a maple tree seed. Maybe I can grow a whole forest!

 

All is well here, but I miss you very much. I will be happy to see you in January.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Moss and Lichen on bark
 

Adjusting to Change

Dear Liza,

So much is going on here in Portland! The rains have started for sure, with two and a half inches just this past weekend. As the leaves fall in Laurelhurst Park, what was the darkest part of the park is becoming the lightest, with a thin veil of yellow leaves creating a wonderful light.

The weather is getting colder, hovering about 48 degrees at night and 55 degrees during the day. All this means adjustments have to be made.

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Vacuuming the Lone Fir Cemetery
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Newly Light Forest

The city is keeping up with the leaves by using giant, ride-on lawn vacuums to clean the paths in our Laurelhurst Park, because all the leaves get slippery and really dangerous to walk on when they start to rot. This picture shows the difference between a clean path, and a not-clean path.

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Yes, there is a path there!

There is also a truck that drives through Lone Fir Cemetery and blows the leaves and chestnuts off the paths, and ride-on mowers that mow the grass and vacuum up the leaves off the graves.

At our house, we are getting ready for colder weather, too. We found some big saucers to put our potted geraniums on inside, because the freezing weather that is coming will be too cold for them to stay on the back stairs. These are Great Grandma Billie’s  geraniums, and I love them very much and want to protect them. We have also put matches, candles and flashlights on the counters, just in case we have a blackout from trees falling on power lines.

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Happy ferns

Plants and animals are adjusting, too. The old Labrador down the street is spending less time on her porch, ferns are growing out of the bark on almost every tree, and moss is blooming on stone walls,  sidewalk cracks, and tiny libraries. Mushrooms are springing up at the bases of trees.

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Mushrooms!

Oh, and remember the linden trees? They smelled so pretty and gave us shade? Well now, they are making berries for the birds. The petals, instead of falling off, have become thick and waxy, with beautiful blue berries in the center. Amazing!

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Linden Berries

All these changes are fun to watch, because I don’t know what’s coming next! But I will tell you about it, whatever it may be.

Love,

Grandma Judy