Hand Rails for Laurelhurst

Dear Liza,

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First section of rails is in!

As I have told you, Laurelhurst Park is my favorite place in Portland. It is 26 acres of grassy slopes, majestic maple trees, picnic areas, a lake, paths for walking and biking, and even places to hang out with dogs.

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Auntie Bridgett and Willie

 

 

 

In our short year here we have seen old trees fall or lose branches,  and new ones get planted. We have gotten quite attached to some of them. Auntie Bridgett has a favorite, a young fir tree she calls Oliver. She gives him a “high five” whenever we go past. He recently got his lower branches trimmed, so she has to reach higher for the five!

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A High Five for Oliver

There is a new tree, a Dawn Redwood we have named Willie because he has a snake-like wiggle near the top. He is still young and we look forward to watching him grow.

And Laurelhurst Park is now getting even better! The wonderful brick steps that lead from the deepest part of the ravine up to Ankeny Street are getting hand rails.

Last January, when I chatted with a fellow working on the plants near the steps, he mentioned that handrails were in the plans, but that I shouldn’t hold my breath.  Now they are becoming a reality.

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Leveling the new rails

A few weeks ago we noticed holes cut in the edges of the steps. Tuesday, Grandpa Nelson noticed the caution tape as we walked home from the movies. Wednesday, I met some of the men installing the beautiful rails. It is quite a complicated process.

Inside each hole is a steel sleeve, so the rails won’t put stress on the old bricks. Then the rails are set 4 feet into the sleeve with concrete and pea gravel and leveled in all directions. The concrete is smoothed and then painted with sealant so it won’t crack.

When I asked when the rails would be ready to use, the man answered, “Depends how hot it gets. We can’t pour if it’s over 100 degrees.” I will drop by the park later today to see what’s up, so I can show you!

Always looking for more goodness around here…

Love,

Grandma Judy

Goodbye, Old Trees!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Salinas is an old city, as I was reminded of yesterday at Salinas History Day. It is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and some of the houses still standing were built in the 1890s, over 100 years ago. Back then, Central Avenue was a street lined with expensive, fashionable, Victorian style houses; two story wooden houses with pretty gingerbread details and delicate paint jobs.  Central Avenue was also home to hundreds of trees, planted when the neighborhood was new.

In recent and not-so-recent years, these trees have gotten too big for their parkways. Their roots have cracked sidewalks and lifted them up to 45 or 50 degree angles, making walking hazardous, especially for the elderly. On walking field trips, when crossing University at Central, I always directed my students to cross the street and continue “until the big tree, you’ll know it when you see it.” And they did.

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Pile of chips from ancient tree

But not anymore. As I was walking to Roosevelt School yesterday, my path was blocked by a pile of wood chips on the sidewalk, marked with caution tape, and a BIG place where the tree was NOT. This carnage was recent…I could smell the fresh wood. I stopped and stared. How could it be gone? I took some pictures and continued on my way, thinking about how long that tree had stood there, how many field trips it had seen, how many birds had called it home.

As I continued west on Central, there were more…dozens of trees, some four feet in diameter, no longer there, damaged sidewalks removed, sand laid down for pouring new ones. The destruction  was systematic and thorough.

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Four foot diameter stump

I noticed evidence of the damage the trees had caused…streets and driveways uplifted and distorted, pipes damaged, branches that had grown through power lines, still dangling when their trees were gone. I know why the city arborists needed to remove the trees. I understand, really. But I will miss them, anyway.

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Street Repairs

I also noticed a pattern. Magnolia trees were mostly left intact, with just their invasive roots trimmed when the sidewalk was removed. Are the magnolia trees younger? Are they more amenable to having their roots trimmed than other trees?

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There was a spot where the repairs had been completed and the sidewalk was clear and fresh. I am sure the people who walk down Central everyday to get groceries or to walk their children to school will appreciate the easier path.  And I hope they remember the old trees fondly, as I will.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Fresh, safe sidewalk