July 4th–and An Isle of Biodiversity’s Pleasures

Beautiful farms upon entering the island
Farmland upon entering Sauvie Island

It was a good day, one made of cooling clouds that accompanied my morning walk. Voluminous fluff of grey and white soon parted to make way for sunshine, light turning all amber and toasty. Now it is a fading back light to the end of day. ‘Tis the 4th of July in the U.S.A. It has been a day of lazing about, grilling and enjoying tasty turkey burgers, my dill potato salad and corn, keeping company with some of our family. I can hear bombastic fireworks and can envision the brilliant displays. We’ve attended countless displays over time so opted out since most grandchildren were elsewhere this year.

Tangential thoughts linger, though. Independence Day: what that heralded and how it happened, what it still means. It’s complicated to consider and a demanding a topic for a short post. I think of the real implications in juxtaposition to Native Americans as my mind tosses about divergent responses. There is much to ponder just as there is much to study and question regarding the history of the world, how land and culture is altered repeatedly so that entire peoples have been impacted on every continent. Became changed and also became change makers. Americans were once–and still often are–immigrants, by and large, a topic rife with conflict these days so many places.

I also think of the motley crew, that bunch of aristocrats, scholars of various means, visionary ragamuffins and assorted trail blazers who fought for and won self-rule. And managed to create a document called the Declaration of Independence that made it all official in 1776. England watched and must have wondered what on earth next. Turns out, plenty during 240 years. American born (a happy mix of German, Irish, English, Scotch predominantly), do remain and shall be. I love this place and the diversity of peoples. I dearly hope for the better parts to gain firmer ground and more troublesome ones to improve.

That said, I find myself coming back to what I love here and now. All I really want to do is share pictures of a place husband Marc and I visited over the week-end: Sauvie Island, about ten miles northwest of our city.

It is one of the biggest river islands in North America, and the largest freshwater isle in our country. It is a rich agricultural area that supplies a large population with wonderful fruits  and vegetables, and flowers (U-pick, too). We saw many gathering armfuls of lavender, buckets of raspberries and blueberries. We find the best pumpkins there for Halloween and have had a blast picking strawberries and apples.

The island has a large wildlife preserve and a few sandy beaches along the Columbia River side (one clothing-optional–a surprise the first time we stumbled on it) and even a lake. Sauvie Island is situated within the Columbia and Willamette rivers, as well as the Multnomah Channel, where houseboats line up at water’s edge. On a clear day, you can see neighboring mountain peaks in Washington and Oregon, including Mount St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.

This time we took a two mile loop within Wapato Greenway State Park, part of a 12,000 acre Sauvie Island IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, having met an internationally agreed upon set of criteria). It lies within a one hundred year floodplain of the Willamette River. The landscape types include: open water, oak savanna, hardwood forest, upland prairie, riparian woodland, wetlands and grassy meadows. Each displays unique, attractive characteristics.

It was a very hot afternoon; I wore my wide brimmed hat this time and we took plenty of water and a snack. There were some dive bombing mosquitoes–not that common in much of Oregon and controlled in this area–but not enough to be bothersome if we kept moving along. (I used bug spray before entering, just in case; Marc seems oddly immune.) Bees were industrious and plentiful.We walked in search of even a few of one hundred species of birds that thrive there. Their wide ranging songs were startling and so melodic. We always carry binoculars but could identify very few as they flitted and hid, true to bird nature. There was a great blue heron. There were several kestrel nest boxes noted but no kestrels seen. We did see a lot of evidence of black tail deer. Coyotes apparently roam; I kept my eye peeled to no avail though they tend to nose about everywhere.

Here are a few photographs taken as we explored via winding, at times nearly overgrown trails for over two hours. We often return to this island as there are such wonders to explore. If there was more time I’d add more– but this time I hope enjoy a taste of Sauvie Island’s voluminous delights!

A sinuous insect-buzzing trail
A sinuous sunshine-and-shadow, insect-buzzing trail.
Sauvie Island and other 073
We trekked along a channel of the Willamette River for awhile.
Sauvie Island and other 065
The boating life– I am an aficionado, myself!
Sauvie Island and other 115
A very old, huge white oak on oak Savannah acreage.
Sauvie Island and other 055
There are numerous areas of marshland.
Sauvie Island and other 106
Grassland meadows studded with flowers and bees.
Sauvie Island and other 144
Marc: Isn’t that a warbler?
Sauvie Island and other 139
Peace: a moment of partial shady repose as temps hit 85 degrees F.
Sauvie Island and other 208
Mt. Hood–we call it simply The Mountain
Sauvie Island and other 174
An osprey nest, one of many. Oregon has lots of ospreys, a delight to watch fly, to hear the whistling calls.
Sauvie Island and other 170
Mount St. Helens is in WA. state but close to us–a volcano which famously blew in 1980, and has been agitated since. We have, I believe, 5 active volcanoes in our NW area. And one extinct right in our city that is now a beautiful park.
Sauvie Island and other 201
Multnomah Channel, past of the Willamette River. The Columbia and Willamette converge but the Columbia flows to the Pacific Ocean perhaps 90 minutes from Portland.
Sauvie Island and other 198
An idle day’s end fantasy: to live in a houseboat! I took far too many pictures of them with their tidy boats…

7 thoughts on “July 4th–and An Isle of Biodiversity’s Pleasures

  1. wow, I’ve always wanted to see an osprey flying in the wild… nothing in London but seagulls and pigeons!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. Maybe I will post a picture sometime of one flying. They are beautiful in motion, of course! This one was guarding its nest. I sure you must have more birds in London than the usual raggedly–but also needed–avian suspects!

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