Monday's Meander/Photos: A Growing Urge for Spring

I walked longer and faster than usual, enjoying the surprising visitation of sunshine and blue skies. I was looking for signs of spring, yet did not see more than a few promising if tightly closed buds and a couple of flowers here above the city. But I well recall my old neighborhood’s abundant offerings so will share a few. May we always have flowers about us…and find peace and joy among them. I will await this year’s bloomings or will go in search for more before too long.

Monday's Meander/Pacific Beachfront!

Call me lazy today but rather than sort recent pictures I have taken, I spent time perusing my slew of beachy pictures. I mean, it’s February, it rains all the time–then today as I was walking as I do daily, there came a flurry of bits of rain that soon morphed into hail-like stuff–an attempt at Oregon’s Willamette Valley snow. I kept on, invigorated–and appreciably more damp.

When I returned I began to think of the beach…and located a few decent older shots to post today. Ahhh. Of course, the reality is that it is usually very windy, chilly and wet at our Pacific Ocean beaches this month– but we always love it. Time to go again soon–if there isn’t too much real snow in the mountains to close passes we need to cross. Meanwhile–enjoy with me!

Monday's Meanders: River Park Walks in Winter

Willamette River view

A recent Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of spending hours by myself along the Willamette River. I head to the water when I feel less inclined to tackle significant, frequently ascending and descending trails close to our home. It is not far to the river paths, happily. The deeper truth is that I love bodies of water and this river (as well as the more powerful Columbia River) has drawn me from the day I moved to the Pacific NW in 1992. It is close at hand nearly everywhere I go in this part of Oregon.

I offer these shots from that afternoon of delights. It was cold and windy and partly sunny—perfect for power walking or loitering, pausing to admire various sights. The rolling, changing river as it grazes or gouges the banks of earth pulls me toward it like a magnet. The rushing or slapping sounds it generates; the reflections of light and shadow on its currents; the birds and other creature activities; the interplay of the elements and the people (and dogs) who come to benefit from its restorative beauty year around: a place of pleasure, wonder and meditative opportunities.

I also enjoy public art works and a stop at viewing platforms at the three parks I visited (George Rogers, Foothills, Roehr)

Monday’s Meander in Autumn’s Palette: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Preserve

I had so many enjoyable outings over past week-end it was hard to choose just one to share today. Marc and I always look forward to roaming Steigerwald Nature Preserve in Washington and especially the fall. We had a perfect day for roaming and wildlife scouting. We were met, however, with changes in the habitat. Strewn about were large tree stumps and roots and logs, for one thing. (Slide show below for a panorama of beauty.)

We learned that this year begin a $22 million habitat restoration that will entail reconfiguring a floodplain of this Lower Columbia River area. The refuge will be reconnected to the natural ebb and flow of the mighty Columbia; 2 miles of US Army Corps of Engineers levees will be lowered to natural levee height. A major reason is to allow six species of salmon and trout as well as lamprey to better benefit. Nine hundred acres will be restored over 3 years. Placing woody debris is part of preparation and invasive vegetation management has begun. We are excited to hear of the improvements and partnerships that are involved in this huge project for supporting wildlife and for greater public viewing.

I hope you enjoy the walkabout and will visit if you can do so.

Monday’s Meander/Photos: Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

We crossed a small bridge over railroad tracks and meadow land, and entered into wonderful Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This is a wildlife preserve of around 5200 acres west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. It lies close to the great Columbia River channels.

There flourish marshes, grasslands, upland forests, riparian corridors, oak woodlands. Many of the Oregon white oaks have survived hundreds of years. There are dozens of bird species with thousands of wintering birds, alone; 23 species of mammals live on this land.

We came upon a full scale replica of a Chinookan Plankhouse, called the Cathlapotle Plankhouse after the Native American village of the same name. It is built on an archaeological site that was encountered by the Lewis and Clark expedition as they headed west around 1806. Unfortunately , it was closed that day. We will go back to learn more when it is open.

The Oregon white oaks are massive and beautiful in their scrubby, ancient way. Some of the branches can be seen growing back into the earth. The one first pictured below is over 400 years old.

To give you a better idea of the size of branches and trunk, here are two more shots. I admit I have a thing about trees and still climb them a bit, if possible–in this case, only felled branches!

Branches growing back into ground.
Marc checking out plants.

A truly beautiful day on the trails around and about a portion of the refuge. I came away saturated with peace and contentment.

We’re looking forward to going back soon and bringing binoculars. My only hesitancy is that mountain lions’ presence has been verified (usually it is cougars I’d mind meeting–I am okay with bears at a decent distance), but nature offers so much wonderment one has to get out there to see things, and that means taking a few chances…Next time: new trails, deeper into the refuge we will go!