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?

Squirreling

Dear Liza,

Fall is falling in a delightful way here in Portland. The trees are blazing into yellows and reds, planting beds and paths are upholstered with leaves, the fog is setting in, and the squirrels are getting even busier.

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First fog

The little furry guys run along the power lines to get from pole to pole and tree to tree without bothering about traffic or cats, but they don’t seem nervous about people.  If one of them is digging or hiding, he pretty much doesn’t notice us. He will occasionally dash up a tree and call us names, however. Just to let us know whose park it really is.

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Whose forest is this, anyway?

There is something else up here that is new to me. Chestnuts! Big, fat, spreading chestnut trees dropping bushels of chestnuts. When they fall, the nuts are encased in a green prickly shell, like a studded leather jacket, but the squirrels are very good at peeling those off, leaving the shiny, deep brown shells showing.

 

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Chestnut just breaking out of its jacket
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Squirreling away for Christmas!

Yesterday on the way to the Belmont Library, Auntie Bridgett and I decided to collect some chestnuts, as well.

What is good for the squirrels is good for the squirrelly, right?

Once we found a few trees, our pockets and Bridgett’s backpack were full in minutes! The only hazard is that the chestnuts are about the size and weight of a golf ball and HARD, so when they come down, they hit cars and sidewalks (and the hats of gatherers) with a resounding THUNK. Quite the adventure in foraging.

I look forward to roasting these little nuggets of Dickensian love and munching during a particularly ferocious storm. Welcome, winter!

The cooler weather has us hunting up scarves and heavier coats, making the first soup of the season (turkey/ sweet potato) and inventing new hot cider combinations. Looking forward with joy.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy