Monday’s Meander: Bend, Central Oregon Gem

We left quaint Sisters and moved further into high desert country, east of the beautiful Cascade Range. We arrived at Bend in late afternoon, happy with our views from the hotel on the Deschutes River, alongside which Bend, population of about 100,000, sprang up. It was one of the few crossing points along the river and was established as a logging town in early 1900s. Later it became a gateway for many year- around outdoor sports. The weather, typical of this elevation of 3623 ft. and semi-arid climate, tends towards cool nights and sunshine-filled days. Winter brings some snow; summer averages 65 degrees F. It was perfect when we were there, in the upper 50s to upper 60s.

Part of a view from our room.

It is easy to see why the population has increased the past 20 years and why a main business is tourism. Also, folks with some money can retire well here–we’d thought of it, but it got pricier. We got to know this area better 15 years ago when my son and his then-wife moved their family to La Pine, a smaller more rural town 30 minutes away. I liked the climate and different nature offerings. The clarity and freshness of air is, for one, pretty phenomenal; junipers, lodgepole pine, and sagebrush lend a pungent fragrance. And the mountains offer a view that never tire me. Mt. Bachelor is a favorite for skiing and more but there are several snow-capped peaks. Black Butte (noted last week, not well seen here) is another interesting peak. (I’d like to spend time at Black Butte Ranch.)

Below, views as evening fell around the Hilton Garden Inn in the Old Mill District. The stacks you see rising into the lovely sky are attached to a building that was originally the power station for the mill at this site. (It is now an REI outdoor store.) They nudged my eyes upward even in day, but then back to open sky and mountains.

The next day we walked along the winding and excellent waterfront path, noting birds and scenery. There is a somewhat upscale shopping district here, so I also browsed and purchased a few things. Marc found a local coffee shop that sold the Sisters Coffee brand and said it was great.

It was a good day out and about the area as well as meeting our 20 y.o. granddaughter, enjoying a a fish and chips lunch at her work place, basking in hot sunshine at a table outside. (It always feels hotter when the sun is out in high desert…) Avery has lived there with her mother and our 15 y.o. grandson for many years, and it’s a pleasure to visit with them whenever we can, in Bend or here.

I should note that the Hilton Garden Inn served a very good breakfast. Later we’d hoped to eat outdoors at an Italian restaurant by the water–but when night arrived it was quite cold for us. High desert temperatures change a great deal at night and again in the day. We got a few microwaveable items and “roughed it” in our cozy room, a fire going in the fireplace. But that’s skipping ahead!

A few of the day’s views below.

Above, in a shot from the hotel balcony: I watched marathon runners crossing a bridge and rushing down the paths. Mt. Bachelor is in the distance. You might note the two colors of the many bridge flags are in support of war-ravaged Ukraine. The wind at this spot is, incidentally, very strong at times.

We soon were off to explore the High Desert Museum for the afternoon. It has excellent informative indoor exhibits but we looked forward to seeing new developments outdoors. We last visited perhaps 10 years ago, during which time we saw rescued (from those who had caught and caged them) wolves up close. I also spotted a cougar paw print on a hike and have to admit I was not at ease tha rest of that trail…they are so sly.

It was an educational, pleasant meander there. A quick peek into a scene from museum grounds, below–I’ll post many more shots next Monday, so see you then!

Friday’s Poem: Our Tulip Times

It’s April so the flowers are talking to me
about a perfection of love, a medley of laughter.

They say that what feels empty is in fact brimming so
I walk under overripe clouds split by soft tearing;
radiance gilds each open and closed countenance.

Tulips swing and bob in breezes; daffodils have arrived and left.
Rows are tidy and proud, painterly with tonal harmony;
earthy scents arise, a potency of secrets and purity.
Country days explode from under winter’s heavy cape of rain;
every flower trumpets extreme beauty and I shield my eyes.

And then open my arms, breathe light in, let go grief.

Amid this paradise I imagine the vastness here for me,
though blooms gaze on those, too, who little care.
I bend to a cherry cup of tulip, taste its dew, recall a spring
we three strolled other acres ablaze, our words silky as threads
embroidering stories, each stitch freeing, tightening our family bond.

Even silences were resonant; we knew what we knew, it felt enough.

The tulips were a signal of more, better to come.

Who could know that such a wealth of happiness
cannot be demanded or hoarded, only known in moments with wings?
We had planned more visits, farther travels, easy
outpourings of words. A greater variety of flowers.
But if time has unraveled leaving two of us behind,
our sister heart will not wither. Though human-tender

it beats inside a whole and holy life as we stumble on,

or turn and depart; it braves it all, it will not stop.

Monday’s Meander: In Anticipation…and Travel by Mind

I ran out of time today to complete a post based on outings over the week-end. Between visiting my sister most of the day and then my son and daughter-in-law, the hours flew by. I am also in anticipation of a few events, including spring’s unfolding (see above), as well as our daughter’s arrival from Virginia on Fri. This coincides with several birthdays this month and in April, as well as remembrance of family death dates. I also just learned a sister-in-law is going on hospice care. Grief can seep into beauty, so spring can seem a mixed arena within which to live. I am beyond grateful for each bud, leaflet and startling bloom; the richer sunshine with longer days; fragrant breezes, chorusing birds and a kaleidoscope of colors that overlay the waning greys of winter and brighten the rains of spring. I’ve been walking more vigorously since a cortisone shot to knee and physical therapy. And I do look forward to farther-flung travels as spring and summer come into their glory–and the Covid infection rates dive.

Yet right now the jumble of upcoming birthday celebrations of loved ones coupled with losses can yank me into waves of sadness and tire me out. It’s the contrast of it, the jubilant yes rubbing against the droning no…I have to practice internal balance, and I want to support others, too. I need to strengthen and gird my heart, even as it softens and unfurls like a magnolia bud. I do have God’s presence to keep me steady.

One thing that helps is to travel virtually. Via photography books/blogs, computer or television options, sure, but I really mean mentally. It’s easy and free, after all.

Especially when I have trouble sleeping or keeping my mind on hopeful musings (as has happened lately), I take myself to places I have loved by visualizing them. I think we all do this, and perhaps should more often, as it helps supplant a challnegingt state of being with a nourishing one. For me, one such place is Interlochen, Michigan, where I attended Interlochen Summer Arts Camp (there were others, but Interlochen was the finest)) when growing up. When we visited a few years back, I looked out over Duck Lake and Green lake and thought: making music, writing, acting and dancing in this place infused me with lifesaving hope, enabling me to further pursue passions. The experiences brought revelatory moments with people, places, moments which gave mind and spirit a radiant new sheen, offering freedom to help build a better self, as well as work on skills and talents. I was, then, right at home in that world.

So– that is why I shared, below, the shot of me at Interlochen from that trip, enlivened by great memories, sitting beside a favorite lake in the sweet-summered open air. The scope of life enhancements was such that I could enumerate many blessings as a youth– when much of my world seemed frayed. I can close my eyes and be there…I tell myself: this is true life as much as the hurt of leavetaking; this is faith moving right in the center of troubles. Happiness can be kept holy in divergent ways, and may it be so as needed. This world is so traumatized. I humbly embrace any small gift, and pray for those who are aching and wanting.

I will likely write this “Wednesday’s Words” post, but not a “Friday’s Poem”, and may find it difficult to contribute posts next week due to family activities and several obligations. I will be back. Meantime, I hope you awaken moments of grace in your lives…and keep sharing good love every day. We all need both.

Monday’s Meander: Roaming Riverland

Not long ago, I took my still-sore knee and headed to the Champoeg State Heritage Area, an Oregon state park, after three months’ absence due to winter rains. A beaming blue day with temps in the mid-50s enticed us to ramble through woods, fields and wetlands that border the Willamette River. Campers utilize this park well and fishing is popular but we saw people only here and there that afternoon, with a few walking their dogs.

Spring is indeed stirring more in Oregon. Next visits will reveal even richer greens and brighter birdsong along the many rivers we utilize and admire.

Monday’s Meander: A Garden’s Glimmers of Spring

I’m not much of a gardener–though when I was younger we tended flowers and vegetables and enjoyed some good yards. But I have a deep appreciation for them and make it a point to visit as many as possible year ’round. When Marc travelled often for work, I accompanied him time to time and immediately located gardens (and parks) to wander. Last week as temperatures hit mid-50s, my older sister and I visited Crystal Springs Rhododendren Garden. Spread out over 9.5 acres, it provides a home for over 2500 rhodies, azaelas and other plants. It boasts over 100 types of birds and other creatures (including nutria, not my favorite: it’s a huge water-loving rodent). Waterfowl dominate two separate ponds amid grassy areas. I often post shots of this place seasonally. Spring is not here but I am teased by several flowers blooming by February in Oregon. One I always look for is a shrub of pink, overtly sweet daphne flowerlets. (A photo is below of a bush by a walkway, after a shot of Allanya). It was just enough to give me hope that it’s going to really happen this year–though earlier today it snowed for fifteen minutes!

Being outside with Allanya is fun; we embrace our time together. She has dementia; it can lately be a challenge to get her out and about. She likes exploring nature as long as we rest often. Though her short term memory has significantly worsened the last year, she enjoys a good conversation and offers a ready laugh. As she states: “My memory issue bothers other people, not me–that’s just how it is and goes!” It’s been an adjustment for me over the last 4-5 years. She for decades held executive director positions and was also a dynamo in her personal life. Her essential personality still shines, for now: ebullient, funny, incisive and fascinated by others and life. She is my only living sister now.

Off we went once more. Enjoy the views.

We enjoyed our meander. The sunlight was sheer on mostly empty pathways. There was a slight but edgy breeze, yet earthy fragrances wafted about and to our noses. The waterfowl were dunking and hunting for food, bathing and floating or bobbing about gracefully–and Canadian geese gathered overhead in huge numbers, making a wild good ruckus. In another month or so all will warm up more and brightly hued flowers will be popping out like mad. I’ll shoot more scenes to share when it’s truly springtime.