Dear Liza, Yesterday afternoon, after many false predictions, it snowed!!
Well, it was precipitation and it wasn’t rain, so we will call it snow. It bounced when it hit, making steep pitched roofs and driveways look like Pachinko games. And of course, Grandpa Nelson and I walked out in it! (He said we were really going down to Zach’s Shack for lunch, but I know better).
Before we got to Zach’s, there was quite a crunchy layer of little ice balls (okay, it was hail) on the sidewalk and covering roofs. It lay on hoods and hatchbacks and surrounded fearless daffodils.
It was cold and lovely, like all winter beauty is when you have a warm, dry place waiting for you. Which we did. At Zach’s we ate some fries and watched the weather change, from heavy hail to damp grey skies to blinding sunshine. Then it was time to head home!
In March, for my birthday, you and your family came up to help me keep a long-overdue promise to MY parents, to put their ashes into the ocean. We all drove over the mountains to Seaside, made a sand castle, and placed them in it. High tide would take them where they wanted to be.
I started baking with more skill, with new equipment and confidence.
The summer came, and fall…
In September we took the train to Vancouver, BC, and Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed what those cities had to offer.
Auntie Bridgett kept painting, working hard as a member of SideStreet Arts.
This year also saw the young people growing into wonderful ‘older’ people. Cousins Kyle and Jasper got to know each other and became buddies, bonding over Dungeons and Dragons and video games.
As for me, I am still working on my story. It has grown from being a story about a CITY to being a story about a girl living IN a city.
I never knew writing a book was so complicated, but I am learning, and I think that as long as I take time and don’t give up, it has promise.
Last year, I kept my promise to my parents. Maybe this year, I can keep my promise to me.
So far, I have gotten to be here in the spring (for just a week), and the summer (for two months) and the trees and bushes keep changing and growing.
In the spring it was very wet and cool, with only the blooms of azaleas and rhododendrons making big wads of color amid the dark and damp. It seemed like the wet dirt was napping, just waiting for sunshine.
And it’s a good thing the ground was so damp, because we haven’t had rain for two months, except for a short, dramatic thunderstorm. The larger trees are doing well without help, but we see a lot of people out watering their gardens to make sure the plants stay healthy. Summers weren’t always this dry, but because of climate change we are seeing more drought conditions here.
Over at Sunnyside Environmental School, there are watering crews that come in once a week. They have even made signs which crack me up!
This part of town also has lots of food growing. There are apple trees weighted down with fruit and even grapes hanging on fences.
I love sharing my new city with you. I hope your new year at school goes well.
On Father’s Day it was hot! Auntie Bridgett and I needed to sell some books back to Powell’s, so we went early and spent the hottest part of the day indoors, reading, practicing French on Duolingo, and researching.
By about six it felt cool enough to enjoy a walk in Laurelhurst Park, so we all three put on sun hats, and sunglasses, and headed out. There was blinding sunshine in the western sky and ominous dark clouds to the east. We kept an eye on it.
The park was full of families and dogs, people in hammocks and on blankets, playing frisbee, guitars, even a fellow practicing his accordion by the pond. We sat down to listen and enjoy the sun on the water, when WHOOOSH! a wind came through and blew leaves, seeds, dust and even small branches past us at eye level.
The families packed up, called their dogs, making a small exodus out of the park. I took videos and photos. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett just wanted to get home before the rain hit. On the way home, I noticed a big branch that had fallen across the road about a block from us. I went up to see, and met a lady who had come to see, too.
Turns out, the big branch was really several very long branches, and they had fallen across a REACHNOW car, a rental business like ZipCar. The lady, and some other folks who stopped to help and I, managed to lift the branches off and get them out of the road, without doing further damage to the car.
I got the business information from the sticker on the window and let them know they have a damaged car.
Once we got home, I settled in to watch the storm as it progressed. Listening to the thunder was wonderful! We even got to sit out on the balcony for a while, until the wind shifted and brought the rain straight at us.
By eight o’clock, when we were meeting Auntie Katie for a post-Pride Day Father’s Day drink, the storm had passed and the sunset was pink and lovely.
Spring in Portland is an exciting time. You don’t know, hour to hour, if you will have sun or rain. Trees that have been bare all winter get dusted with petals before their lacy green petticoats come out.
The ground smells alive as the rain and mosses work together to create life.
Each Rhododendron bloom looks like a perfect bouquet.
Wild roses and strawberries burst with buds and fruit, bright red against the dark shady soil.
The state flower, Oregon Grape, which isn’t a grape, can be found putting on its tiny sour fruits.
I remember walking around this very neighborhood, just about a year ago, apartment hunting. I saw a yard with its just- out -of -the -flat zinnias and thought how optimistic the gardener was, planting heat loving zinnias in what I thought was the perpetual damp of the northwest. But last summer’s heat set me straight, and I walked by the zinnias everyday, being reminded of how much I still have to learn about my new home.
Being in our old neighborhood, I got to visit the flamingos! They are all decked out for Pride Day next weekend, lead in their own parade by their friend duck playing a kazoo. I smiled to see that our gnome is still lurking in the bushes, chuckling as people spot him.