Monday’s Meander: Historic Ice Storm (and a Cheery Walk)

It has been four days of snow and ice until, blessedly, last night around 3 or 4 am it began to simply rain at 34 degrees fahrenheit. I don’t have statistics for this post, but it is considered an historic event, and Oregon isn’t the only state so impacted. I’ll learn more about damage, hear some difficult stories here. We lost power twice for varying time frames. It got very cold so fast–within 3 hours– in our townhome apartment. Last night was the worst, lying in bed and hearing greatly amplified pop, crackle, creak and snap and such explosive noises as weighted trees groaned then fell, and transformers ceased to work. Branches broke off, skidded across roofs and ice chunks rapidly followed, crashing onto buildings, balconies, patios, cars. I worried about the grove of pines on a small hill across from our place. We moved downstairs to the living room. But bangs and thuds continued just past our widows from the many pines and alders lining a steeper hill below us–many branches overhang homes.

Still, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of damage when we finally went outdoors this afternoon: countless trees had fallen, branches were strewn in odd places, a few cars had been bashed. And mine, included. Turns out I had a good reason to worry about the trees last night–but it wasn’t pines, afterall. It was a weakened alder tree way past my car that crashed, hit first one vehicle’s hood then my trunk.

Below, an end of our balcony overlooking thickets of trees that cover a steep descent–and this is before the thick ice layers.

I grew up in Michigan; snow was nothing much to be concerned about, even days of thick swirling snowfall. It go down to zero degrees often. But I haven’t lived in MI. for decades and snow in this Oregon Valley isn’t usual–and rarely with snow, ice pellets then sleety rain and more snow falling for days. This area is simply not prepared for events of this scope, nor for for so long. And we live on a steep side of an extinct volcano. So we were trapped with others who live in these SW hills. We did have candles and flashlights and lots of blankets–we had cheese and crackers and bread and peanut butter when all else failed!

Below: a corner of our power-less living room; other views just beyond LR windows. The branch to the left was displaced-due to icy weight-by about ten feet, but it didn’t break yet, surprisingly!

We had to empty the refrigerator and freezer of unsafe food but we can b uy more tomorrow. My car is driveable; the trunk can wait for repair (insurance will likely not cover it–it’s an act of God/weather disaster). It could be worse, yes. But it has been quite enough. We had frightening wildfires in the fall that kept us on edge, were locked indoors due to smoke and threat of fire. And my husband’s sudden job loss. And the virus which seems to be ever with us even as we hope for at least containment (no vaccinations for our age group yet).

It takes alot for me to get bone tired and out of emotional steam. I have a history of persevering despite many roadblocks, as many do. We are resilient creatures. But I write this with such weariness. I need sleep, and to take a pause mentally and spiritually. Life will keep happening, bitter and sweet. We weep, we gripe. We clean up and then go on. And this morning before our power came back again and even rainfall ceased, Marc heated water on the gas grill on the balcony to make tea. I was so grateful for that; my chai was so delicious with a bowl of cereal. I felt rejuvenated with that mug in hand.

Off we go.

Several folks were out chatting a couple blocks away with mug or beer in hand—like an impromptu storm party!

Most pictures posted were taken a day before the worst of it, so it was still not so hard to walk carefully. We admired iced bushes and trees and snow-softened landscape, enjoyed families out playing. Great exercise! I’m glad I have these to look at in the future, the Oregon snow and ice storm of 2021, even if it pales in some ways to the old Michigan blizzards.

I did not see the guy or gal who was to be shoveling…
Awestruck kids and mom–I like the bear ears on her hat.
Above, Marc captured me in a picture. More families at play–and typical heavy, low-hanging boughs.I found the grass lovely.

The pictures above are of my paisley Velvety Gloves (yes, they’re have a name…a story told before in posts), displaying more crystalline twigs and needles.

A glimpse of how steep our neighborhood is in many places.
Dog walkers coaxed most dogs along.
Marc is patiently waiting for me. The road seemed another walking option, as very few cars came by, and slowly.
Next time we pass by, perhaps the crocus and snowdrop blossoms will be bobbing in a gentler breeze again.

Monday’s Meander: Winter Solstice and a Crystal Springs Wintering

I won’t see the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn tonight; the skies are cloudy, air is clogged with rain, and 15-20 mph winter winds howl. But the Winter Solstice with its longest night and shortest day of the year holds meaning for me. It is reminder to be quietly patient as we wait with the darkness for the coming of more light. Winter will give way to greater sunlight gradually and with it, rebirth. Such cycles of nature comfort and instruct. They deepen my sense of unity and wholeness both within and without.

That said, I once more turn to Mother Nature’s offerings. It has been too long since I wandered through one of my favorite local islands of peace and beauty, Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. The last visit was in late summer, but usually a family member or friend and I visit each season. Therein grow such lush flowering plants and trees–as well as omnipresent “rhoddies” and azaleas. And, as well, a pretty larger pond plus smaller one and a musical waterfall. There are ample nooks and crannies to sit and meditate. Waterfowl settled in there live quite cushy lives.

Every season has its attributes. It is attractive in winter, as well. These photos are ones taken years past; they were chosen for some good winter memories. There may be less variety of color, and more water from the heavy rains that dominate late fall to spring. The tones are soothing with a softer palette. Some were taken in November, others in January. Several kinds of flowers begin to bloom in later Dec. I’ll be glad to also share the garden in full splendor by spring and next summer.

May this coming week be kinder and strength of hope keep you; don’t forget to find solace in nature’s ways.

Monday’s Meander: Elegance of Trees at Champoeg State Heritage Area

Champoeg State Heritage Area is 615 acres is chockfull of delights. Since we are more used to forays through more densely forested trails, we were immediately drawn into wide open fields, wetlands and forests that fan out from the Willamette River. Many paths were paved, also not as usual for hikes, and some of the area was spruced up, likely due to campground facilities nearby.

It is known for its 130 bird species, including the western bluebird, and is a historical site. In 1843 it became the site of Oregon’s first provisional government. A small town flourished there until swept away by flooding in 1861. Now, well favored campgrounds offer many tent campsites, yurts and cabins as well as space for RVs to set up. The campsites were full up.

Closed Visitors Center.

We set out on a portion of the 8.6 mile loop trail. many were doing the same walk, as it was the quintessential autumn day, cool and bright. I was enthralled with the many types of deciduous trees, being more used to pines–and the rich light that sifted through branches and washed over open land. The colors were rust, yellow and orange as well as our NW green. A banquet for the eyes. The air was fresh–it was healing just to breathe that air, as is generally the case when walking in nature. But this was an exceptionally beautiful day.

We left the trails and headed up to the Manson Barn and Farmstead, with garden, from the 1860s.

I will return to this lovely place even when it rains as the trails make it easy to walk a good distance in any weather.

See you next time!

Monday’s Meander: Woodsy Walk in Carmel-by-the Sea

During the visit to mid-northern coast of California, daughter Alexandra and I walked quiet, narrow streets of Carmel-by-the Sea during her lunch break from work at Sunset Center. I so wanted pictures of the quaint but splendid, substantial homes (even much smaller ones) but this is a place where there are no numbers on houses or mailboxes–only names. It was clear a “cottage” here is not like a the cottages where, as a youth in northern Michigan, I frolicked about woods and lakes. I mean, Doris Day But in 2020, deceased…she owned the Cypress Inn Hotel) and Clint Eastwood lived somewhere around there. And the place felt like a movie set…So, not the time to point and shoot away. ( I sneaked a very fast shot above; though too exposed you can see a house in the back ground…)

The sunshine began to diminish as we walked along and the thicket of trees grew. We followed a pretty pathway through an opening. The light became more diffuse, soft as heat lessened, and the silence– save for bird songs or rustlings in branches–hung in crackling dry, fragrant air. Eucalyptus is ubiquitous; its sharp, pungent scent intoxicated me.

The flowers that appeared were lovely, and perhaps the best were lilies…

…though this was a marvel. Captivating.

Back to town, and a few days later, back to Oregon after our lovely California respite.