Ken II, the (New) Oak Tree

Dear Liza,

Last summer I told you about the new oak tree planted in Laurelhurst Park. It was planted right at the roots of a huge oak that had fallen in a spring storm the previous year.

We watched as this new tree, which we named Ken, took root, got green, lost leaves during the fall, and came back this spring. We celebrated his new leaves.

Then, a few weeks ago, an unknown person, for unknown reasons, ripped the top off young Ken and threw the leaves to the ground. We were heart broken. I didn’t tell you about it at the time because it was just too senseless and sad.

I am telling you now because I have a happy turn in the story to tell. Ken’s sturdy roots have sent up new shoots to replace the damaged top! Look there, right at the bottom of the trunk. Oak leaves sprouting up!

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Amid all the petty lawlessness, war and climate change, it is nice to know that this tree has not given up.

Way to go, Ken!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Seasonal Poetry

Dear Liza,

I went out for a walk the other day to enjoy the colors and clear my head. Sitting with a cat on your lap, watching the fire burn, though very pleasant, makes me a bit fuzzy headed.

I bundled up, headed out, and got inspired. Here is my take on the seasons.

For The Leaves

The Spring brought us colors of blossom and bloom,

The beginnings of life, bursting forth, making room.

The summer brought jewel-colored fruits of the vine

Apples for a pie and grapes for some wine.

In Autumn the world became darker and cold,

The youth of the spring has grown up and grown old.

No longer bursting, it no longer glows

It flashes an instant before the storm blows

But just for this moment, the wind holds its peace

And leaves us to contemplate

This lovely release.

I hope you enjoy the Fall!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Fall is Whispering

Dear Liza,

And just as summer is kicking into high gear, fall is getting in line. The change in seasons is told in all the gardens in the neighborhood.

Lantern flowers glowing in the afternoon sun

The oranges and reds of autumn are some of my favorite colors, especially when they are backlit by afternoon sun. They make me happy for the summer’s glory, and for the coming of the cozy holiday season.

Leaves are starting to fade…

The larger than life leaves of my pumpkin plant seem to be fading. They are getting age spots and some even are getting yellow.

Linus the pumpkin is getting all grown up!

And Linus, my own Great Pumpkin, is getting more orange and hefty by the day. His stem still shows no signs of giving way and he seems quite content to ripen right where he is.
Love,

Grandma Judy

Marking Time with Sunflowers

Dear Liza,

We woke up this morning to some really cool air wafting though our windows! Fall is definitely on its way, and I am happy for it. With this endless summer finally ready to pack it in, I am assured that time is passing.

And if we keep moving forward, eventually we will get somewhere else.

So I celebrate the sunflowers. These magnificent beasts spend the spring shooting into the sky and the summer tracking the sun. And come fall, they lay their heavy heads down and make a feast for birds. One could do worse.

I know your world in Salinas is very smoky just now, from the fires in the hills west of town. I hope you have some sunflowers in your neighborhood, and I hope you get some nice rain soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Heading Towards the Solstice

Dear Liza,

It is getting dark really early here. This coming Saturday will be the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day (and longest night) of the year. Yesterday, it was pitch dark at 4:30. I am missing those long warm days of summer!

But winter has its own charms. Hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps… snuggling Mousekin by the fire… and the colors I see when I make myself get off the sofa, into three layers of clothes, and into the park.

There are just a few plants that are still green. Out-of-place transplants like magnolias and fuchsias look embarrassed, like they got into the party under false pretenses. Pines and firs keep their needles. Maples and birches drop their leaves in a well practiced dance. And ivy just hangs around, leaves intact, like it hasn’t noticed it is winter. Like if the ivy just ignores it long enough, winter will go away.

And guess what? This strategy works!

Every single year, the winter eventually GOES AWAY! So, I will try to emulate the ivy. Lay low, hunker down, and out last the winter.

Peppermint schnapps will help, I have no doubt.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Three Hundred!!

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Family

Dear Liza,

I started writing this blog as a way to stay in touch with you and my friends in Salinas after I moved up to Portland. I thought I would write a little, get bored, and quit….like I usually do.

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Fall

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Summer

But Portland is such an interesting place that I keep finding things to write about. Today, as a matter of fact, is my 300th post. Three hundred adventures. Three hundred stories.

Portland is a big city, and has big city problems, like anywhere. The housing costs are high and homeless people struggle to get by. Trash and noise can be a nuisance. And if you are driving, there will eventually be traffic that frustrates you.

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Spring

But there are also kind people and missions that help the homeless folks. Groups adopt neighborhoods to pick up trash. And transit is good enough that if you don’t want to drive, you don’t have to.

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Art

And the benefits of this lovely city are enormous. Art. Music. Parks. Art and music in parks! Food and drink and coffee and pastries.

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Winter

And the reason I can enjoy all of this is because I am not working. Working, besides being…well, work, takes up an enormous amount of time. Days and days of NOT getting to walk at random and stop when you feel like it. Evenings of being so tired you can’t even think of an adventure.

Being at liberty is such a joy and privilege that sometimes I feel like I’m cheating.

But maybe if I share it with you I can share some of the joy, and feel less selfish.

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You never know who you’ll meet at Lone Fir Cemetery

Love,

Grandma Judy