For the last few days, we have been in a river…. an atmospheric river, to be exact. This is a system of very wet air that has blown up from the tropics, bumped into our cold air, and is just dumping water like crazy. This is a lot of rain, even for drippy Portland.
So of course we went for a walk to lovely Laurelhurst Park. The hillsides are muddy and very slick, so I stayed on the path. The last thing I need from 2020 is a busted bottom. The puddles forming by the path made perfect mirrors to appreciate the majestic trees and gray skies.
Firwood Lake has had a particularly thick layer of duckweed this year, looking more like a soccer field in some areas. But at the east end, a surreal swirly effect is finding new ways to be beautiful.
And just as I thought the swirly green and black water couldn’t get more weirdly beautiful, a raindrop plopped in and created concentric circles.
Life is beautiful, even (or maybe especially) in the rain.
I woke up Tuesday feeling the need to take charge of something, to get out and DO.The weather was predicted to be cool in the morning and get really warm by noon, so whatever I was going to do had to happen early.
So, right after coffee and before Grandpa Nelson was out of bed, I headed off for a long walk through the Fall sunshine. I headed toward the river. This is sort of cheating because it is all down hill, but the neighborhood is wonderful.
I found this poem by Jellaludin Rumi framed in a safe place. I liked the sentiment, but also the way my reflection got into the picture. It made this idea of “being human” even more human!
I continued through Ladd’s Addition and into the more industrial part of the Southeast. This fabulous mural, with live plants for hair, was painted by Fin DAC and is called “Attitude of Gratitude.” The building houses a fancy Cuban restaurant on the ground floor and apartments above, and the main office of Solterra, a company that makes vertical planters like the lady’s hair.
The area by the railroad tracks and warehouses is a bit run down, but in the bright sunshine, with the river and West Hills just beyond, everything looked pretty.
After about an hour of solid walking, I found the Willamette River! On this sunny day, it was busy with kayakers, jet skis, and motorboats, all dancing on the sparkling water.
Tilikum Crossing Bridge is the newest bridge in the city and my absolute favorite. It was built in 2015 just for transit and pedestrians.The blue of the sky and the white cables made for a lovely sight. Mount Hood, just sixty miles away, was barely visible through the haze to the East.
I spent quite a lot of time on the bridge, soaking up the breeze and the sunshine.
During the shutdown, we are having to find new ways to keep busy and make the days fun. We are reading, painting, and learning. And sometimes, we go on a picnic!
Friday was National Teddy Bear Picnic Day, believe it or not. It was also the first really warm day here in Portland. So we celebrated.
Auntie Bridgett and I packed up easy picnic food like hard boiled eggs, tomatoes and celery, goat cheese and blueberries, and a few cookies. We also packed blankets and my guitar, and tiny dishes. And of course, the bears. Not ALL the bears, for sure, but four wonderful friends.
We carried our provisions and our friends up to Laurelhurst Park. We have seen the park be very busy, and we wanted a quiet spot where we could be distanced. We found a high bank above the main walkway, where we could see but not be too close to anyone. We set up a big blanket and real food for us, and a tiny blanket and pretend food (well, mostly drink) for the bears.
As we enjoyed our shady supper, a few folks came by and took notice. It was fun to make people smile at our silliness.
When we had eaten, Auntie Bridgett and I tried singing The Teddy Bears Picnic song, written in 1907 by Irish Songwriter Jimmy Flannigan. It was the first time we’ve played and sung together in over a year, and we were rusty. But the bears didn’t complain and we got better before we quit, so that’s something.
“If you go down in the woods today,
You’re sure of a big surprise,
If you go down in the woods today,
You’d better go in disguise…”
We even had a bee visiter who enjoyed the clovers right by our feet!
It was actually starting to get a little cool by then, and the sun was thinking about going down, so we packed up and headed home.
As the Corona shut down continues into summer, the world outside continues to get more beautiful day by day. We have had an unusually cool summer so far in Portland. I remember our first summer here, with temperatures of 111 degrees for a few days, and am grateful that we are enjoying mostly mid-70s . This, plus a few random showers, have made the flowers very happy.
Being inside most of the time, I have tried my hand at water coloring different types of flowers. I started with daisies and moved onto sunflowers, shading them with colored pencils as needed. The other day I found a great picture of some coneflowers online, and worked to paint them.
I was pleased with my first attempt, and am working on my second. The slight tremor in my right hand isn’t getting in my way as much as I expected and I am feeling more confident.
Then yesterday, or our way to the market, we met this fabulous specimen! A real, live coneflower! I took her picture and will use it for my next attempt.
Art imitating life imitating art imitating life….. It’s a perfect cycle.
Yesterday we got to do something normal! That is, something we have done since we have lived in Portland. We drove out to pick blueberries on Sauvie Island. Sauvie Island is the largest island in the Columbia River, and is a big dollop of farms and wild area just minutes from downtown Portland.
To get there, we crossed to the west bank of the giant Willamette River, drove north a bit, and then crossed the tiny Multnomah Channel, and there we were. Pastoral paradise.
Now, of course there were accommodations for Covid-19. We all wore masks, kept our distance, and used the farm’s boxes to keep from giving them any of our germs.
But the picking was the same. Pulling pounds of juicy berries off bushes, planning the dozens of cobblers and muffins, is very satisfying, in a hunter-gatherer sort of way.
Among the bushes, we listened to parents chat with their kids and smiled at our first post-Covid babies. We watched dozens of swallows swoop low to get berries, only slightly discouraged by the broadcast hawk shrieks. We reveled in just being outdoors, being part of the world. As the box filled up, we picked slower, not wanting our time to end.
There is so much of Sauvie Island we haven’t seen yet. There is a nature preserve full of water birds. There are farms that specialize in Marionberries.
But eventually, the call of lunch got too loud to tune out, and we needed to head off. Of course, this lead to another adventure! More tomorrow.
Every year, for my birthday, I go to the beach. In Southern California, where I grew up, it was always, always sunny. When we lived in Salinas, the beach at Monterey was often cloudy or even rainy and cold in March. I didn’t care. I went and walked in the wind and rain, loving the ocean. I’m sure it loved me right back, too.
This year we were shut down for my birthday, and Grandpa Nelson’s, too. We were both missing the ocean a lot, but all the Oregon coastal beaches have been closed to keep people from congregating and risk spreading the virus. Even when the beach towns like Cannon Beach opened, they asked people from Portland NOT to come, because Portland still had too many cases.
But now, our county and city are opening up! Restaurants are washing windows and setting up tables. And since our city is healthy, we don’t feel as though we are endangering the places we visit the lovely Oregon Coast.
The only problem is that we are now in the middle of our “second winter”. We had bright skies and warm sunshine weeks ago, custom made for long walks and taking pictures. Now, we have had three days of rain and cooler temperatures.
I don’t care! Tomorrow, we pack up Miles, our midnight blue Volkswagen Golf, with coats, umbrellas and boots, and head off for the beach!
This week I got to spend a day with the Cousins. I had expected it to be pouring rain, so I thought we would to catch the number 70 bus to Lloyd Center to watch the ice skaters and play.
But it wasn’t raining, and we didn’t go. Friends of Auntie Katie had been hit by tragedy and needed help.
A house fire had burned up a whole family’s things, including every stitch of clothing, doll and stufftie. Auntie Katie had collected some clothes that would fit the children and Kestrel quickly pulled out some of her toys to donate, including a Cabbage Patch doll from many years past. “Cabby”, as we came to call her, had only one flaw: she was naked. It seemed rude to give a naked doll.
Kestrel found a doll sized blouse in a box, along with some red fabric. We decided to make pants for Cabby. Kestrel, who is eight, knows the theory of pattern making, but needed a little help. We worked for about an hour and finally produced a presentable pair of pants, got Cabby dressed, and put her in the bag to join the family.
After we took care of a few more chores, it was time for me to head home through the very cold, darkening afternoon. The leaves are just about gone now, and many trees are loaded with fruit that will keep birds fed during the winter.
This pyracanthus tree will keep a whole flock fed for a month!
There were other sights in gardens that made me smile and happy that I live in Portland.
With fall getting grey and damp, I had sort of given up on sunny days. But yesterday I wanted a long walk and Grandpa Nelson wanted to visit the zoo, and we got to do both under piercingly blue skies.
We walked through the neighborhoods down to the river and across the Morrison Bridge.
Because of the elevated bridge approaches, there are a few blocks by the river that feel sort of spooky and underground… not places to be after dark, anyway.
But being there on foot gives great perspectives on new buildings going up. This colorful new building has huge flower-pot shaped planters attached to the outside with trees growing in them!
We crossed the Morrison Bridge, enjoying the brilliant sunshine reflecting in the Willamette. The stiff breeze made my wool sweater and leather jacket feel just about right.
We could have continued walking once we got downtown, but the climb to the top of Washington Park would have worn us out. We took the train and then the super fast elevator up to the top of the hill. ZOOM!
The zoo was practically empty, just the way we like it. A few groups of moms with small kids in strollers, some brave grandparents, and us. We got to spent quality time with the giraffes, talking with their keeper, Virginia. She told us that the zoo tries to never anesthetize giraffes. Becoming unconscious means falling down, which can be deadly for the tall, spindly animals.
While she was feeding the Masai and Reticulated giraffes their carrot treats, we got to see their twenty inch black tongues! It was adorable and creepy at the same time.
We got to watch as the cheetahs prowled their enclosure. We felt a bit anxious realizing that we were just one pane of glass away from becoming lunch. The graceful cheetahs could run us down like a rocket. It was delightful.
I wanted to go for a walk the other day., and Grandpa Nelson decided to come with me. It looked like it could rain, so of course we left the umbrella at home.
Walking through the Laurelhurst neighborhood, we kept a sharp lookout for early Christmas decorations. We had read about a family that got scolded by their neighborhood association for putting up trees and such “too early”. But we didn’t see any!
What we did see was evidence of Thanksgiving and football loyalties. This turkey looks bit puzzled, as though he suspects his owners are not committed to his long term good health. His family also supports the Washington State Cougars.
Down the block we found this house with an inflated Bernie Beaver out front, so there is a lot of college football love around here.
Going north, Grandpa Nelson showed me this nifty pedestrian bridge over the Banfield Freeway. It is very noisy, going over ten lanes of traffic, but gets you safely across, anyway.
What is odd that the little bridge transports you from the tree-heavy, arts and crafts neighborhood of Laurelhurst smack dab into the middle of the bustling Hollywood District.
By now I realized Grandpa Nelson’s hidden agenda: Fleur de Lis Bakery! Of course, I was a willing participant. The croissants were lovely.
By the time we walked back home, we had covered about 5 miles and were well worn out. But what a nice adventure into the fall colors!
I know winter doesn’t really start until December 21st, but it feels like it has already landed here in Portland.
The leaves have fallen from most of the maples. The ginkgoes are still blazing yellow, as if trying to hold off winter’s arrival. But it is cold. It is dark. And it is wet.
Inside where it is warm and dry, we are planning for Thanksgiving. The turkey will be bought pre-cooked from New Seasons Markets but the rest will be homemade…two potatoes, two breads, and maybe three pies, as Auntie Katie has offered two!! And cookies, of course.
Evenings are long now that it gets dark at five o’clock. I have gotten fabric out for another ‘Circles’ pillow. I’ve gotten some books from the library to read to help me with my Teacher Voice problem.
Scrabble games are a regular thing. Last night’s went wrong in a spectacular way….we managed to play ourselves into a corner and almost couldn’t finish!
And, although it seems a bit premature, Christmas movies are being listed, researched and pulled from their boxes. The Bishop’s Wife and Charlie Brown, We’re No Angels and way too many of the Christmas Carols. We have our priorities, after all.