Monday’s Meander: Sandy River Fun/Time Out

Today I had another great reprieve from difficult times. I enjoyed a couple of hours at the Sandy River with some family–two daughters, a son-in-law and the twins. The river is at the west end of the Columbia Gorge, near Portland, and it is very popular for recreational activities. The Sandy runs 56 miles and begins its journey in the high glaciers of Mt. Hood, and finally joins the Columbia River. Steelhead and trout are readily fished, folks enjoy floating the river, and any non-motorized boating is popular. Hiking along the river and picnicking and, of course, swimming, are among the activities people enjoy. Lush surroundings with woodlands plus wildlife abounds along the running water–I want to explore more of it. It was a quick trip for the little ones this time.

We found an easily accessed spot along the shore with a small bit of shade nearby. It wasn’t the most picturesque or the quietest stretch but we saw other families having a good time nearby. The water was shallower and calmer; the two year olds could safely enjoy a new experience. The water tended toward chilly but didn’t deter anyone–it hit around 98 degrees at one point today. I’d love to share the varied shots displaying all the fun we had (being protective of grandkids) but wanted to share a glimpse. And, to the twins’ delight, a train sped over the river very close to us. They waded a bit and went out further on their mom’s or dad’s hip; threw small stones, played with wet sand, worked at picking up and throwing heftier rocks. One of the girls, Alera, was hugely satisfied when she managed to do so a couple of times, her face suddenly splashed, her laughter peeling out. They had quite a nice adventure. As did we all.

Above, a couple with my oldest and youngest daughters (six years apart). One dark blond, one with dark curls, different but much the same, as well. The one in the wide brimmed hat is the oldest, Naomi. (I realized they aren’t great shots but so it is this time.)

Naomi did an amazing thing last week. She is staying in Colorado for the summer–she lives in S. Carolina. I was grocery shopping last Thursday when I got a peculiar text from her. It said: I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by and say hi!

There was a picture of her standing at my front door.

I stopped in my tracks, then calmed down and thought, Well, Naomi does some quirky things, likes to play practical jokes. She knows I want to see her–but this photo must be from the last time she visited. I didn’t believe it and kept shopping. She had said she might not make it for a visit until next fall or winter as she was swamped with travelling, art work in progress, applying for tenure at her university. Yet there was a niggling thought…

There was not good reception in the store so I went outdoors in the garden area and texted her.

You don’t mean you are here, of course. That’s an old picture, right?

Nope.

What????

You are really at my door?

Yep!

Oh my gosh, no way!!

Yes!

And I about lost it right there among the pretty petunias and pansies, let out a squeal–and cried a little. (The plant guy stole a look at me, then nicely moved on.) I could hear tears in her voice, too. It has been one and a half years since I have seen her. It has been a trying year and a half with several losses. This daughter has called me twice a week or more faithfully, texted me every couple days, sent me little gifts. We are close in a special way, we can talk some foolishness or explore life intricately. This lovely creative person was once two and a half pounds born at six and a half months, a tiny preemie that was on the brink. She fooled everyone. I am always grateful to see her smile and hear her voice.

And there she was, waiting for me. I about skipped to the cashier, restraining myself as my grin widened, stuck across my face. Then I half-ran out of the store. Such a reunion! She had told her four siblings– they had kept her secret perfectly. Amazing to me, the whole beautiful thing.

She is due to move on this Friday. It will be hard to say “until next time”–as who knows when? But I shall be happy, content to have spent each day with her for a week as we shared time with others, too–we have had a few get togethers with her siblings.

In a couple of days, my one remaining brother and his wife–two professional photographers who have driven across the country with cameras in hand–are coming by. We will catch up. Just be together again.

This is what being vaccinated against Covid-19 allows us to do. It is such a gift to see all, to share meals and good talk–and, once more, hugs. As the long shadow of the pandemic wanes more and more, with the safety factors so greatly improved in Oregon and elsewhere, our lives are day by day resuming a more natural pace, and can include a myriad experiences. Not just sitting on my nice balcony, gazing at the woods and sky, listening to the birdsong, dreaming of better times. Not only taking long walks or hiking in drear or sunshine with faces masked, nodding cautiously at others, wondering what they are thinking, how they are doing. I have needed this hope, this improved living that allows expanded opportunities to reach out some, explore and breathe more freely. Everyone has needed a real turning of the corner, the possibility of more change for the good. Affirmation of life even in the middle of the tenacious precariousness of the world.

And because of all this, I am taking the rest of the week off from blogging. Some of us are headed to the beach soon, for one thing. So, until next time–and may blessings be upon each of you, be careful and caring. I can tell you after terrible loss recently that kindness truly heals and helps. Every one of us.

Monday’s Meander/Daydream: Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

What is on my mind is Colorado, and how awe-inspiring its sights are. It comes to mind partly because I saw exceptional footage of creatures on a PBS nature show last night, with mountain goats blithely climbing and jumping about in the mountains, and partly because a daughter is living there for the summer, as she has before, with a close friend. I visited parts of Colorado as a child, as an uncle, aunt and cousins lived in Greeley. And I travelled through the state and camped in my twenties. Then in 2018, I visited Colorado Springs. It was transfixing if occasionally intimidating to visit this important mountain range again. Altitude sickness began past 9000 feet as we kept ascending to higher points; the city is at a manageable 6000+ ft. But it was back in the city again that I fell most ill. Still, it was wonderful to see all that I saw. These rough hewn peaks put things in a certain perspective. They dominate the view, rim the horizon around the attractive, lively city. ( I also have enjoyed the Rockies in Idaho and Canada.)

Such bravery, ingenuity and heartiness–and perhaps audacity– of those who settled there very long ago, both Native and much later, non-Native peoples. Like mountain goats, one had to find sure footing, take constant chances and then go for it–or lose out. I admire that. And, of course, the landscapes about and beyond the city. (And those clouds! We also have fast-morphing clouds in OR., due to our own mountains, valleys, and different zones.)

Pike’s Peak (over 14,000 ft.) in the distance, this view magnified greatly from downtown Colorado Springs..
Here and below, on our way, bouncing up the roads in a Jeep to Pike National Forest, and eventually well over 9,000 feet. Wild, raw land the higher one travels. I wondered over the laborious lifestyle of ranchers that high up and so isolated.
Back in Colorado Springs, where everywhere you turn there are the Rocky Mountains towering over all. “Majestic” covers it.
A beautiful Broadmoor Hotel terrace–a luxury resort with lush grounds. More photos of this impressive place another time. My daughter, her friend and I sat and sipped tea overlooking this area as twilight transformed into peaceful evening.

I will return one day, better prepared for altitude changes (it was quite rough but ended in 24 hours) and ready to explore more wilderness, culinary and cultural gifts.

Monday’s Meander: Into Springtime Meadows and Woods

I am getting the itch–like so many others–to travel farther than a couple hours from home. But I admire both field and woods, and when you add a ribbon of river flashing here and there a simple amble is irresistible. Though we have many such areas to explore nearby, each displays a special character. This one is comforting and delights my eye with the many textures and shadow and light. Champoeg State Park was closed since a catastrophic ice storm in mid-February. We drove out in hopes of finding it re-opened (the website was confusing). We weren’t sure what we’d find, as forested land everywhere has suffered losses. And the ice not only immediately felled thousands of trees (one upon my car…), but did enough damage that they continue to crack, then suddenly break apart. So off we went and were pleased to find it open. Our last visit–with a post created–was in November 2020, right before winter’s chilling rains were steady and daily.

There were many trees down, with gaps that created enlarged new portals through the woods. There were broken branches here and there but most damage was cleaned up. We’ve seen bare spots in other natural areas…and often huge mounds of chopped trees near the trails. But this was not so at Champoeg–they’d trucked broken and shredded branches and downed trees elsewhere (look for one picture with the fence and see a few piles in the distance). We could gawk at the river more readily. The meadow, dense with waving tall grasses, seemed broader and brighter than during last summer’s visit.

Since our granddaughter passed away April 16, and a grandson has fallen ill with Covid-19 (thankfully recovering after 12 days), we’ve needed greater restoration of spirit and body. Perhaps you will enjoy this look about as I have. It encourages happy thoughts every time we visit there!

Monday’s Meander: Cross Cultural Wonder

Come with me to Portland’s Japanese Garden for an infusion of tranquility. I was determined to experience a few good excursions with Marc before he started a new job–and this was top of my list. I have posted photos for this garden 1-2 times a year; springtime holds it own magic.

First designed and developed in 1961 and opened in 1967, it is a place of respite and fine delights. Long considered one of the most lovely, authentic Japanese gardens of the world, it sits high and lofty within Washington Park (within larger Forest Park). The relatively new Tea House is pictured above left. Further construction has expanded its offerings, with educational and event buildings. More may be learned here: https://japanesegarden.org/about-portland-japanese-garden/.

View of downtown Portland, in front of the above exhibit building.
Crushed stone has swirling pattern raked in it, not apparent here.

We completed our sweet almost-otherworldly walk, then took a look at the International Rose Test Gardens nearby. A small teaser below.

We will return when those majestic blooms show beauty at greater advantage, in full bloom. Hoping your week is full of color and light.

Monday’s Meander: Lilacs, Rhoddies and More at the Farm

I decided I must give you flowers, lilacs, specifically, but also rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, peonies, irises, viburnum, wisteria and more…I am not a current gardener–some years have passed since we had a nice plot of land to grow much. But I appreciate all green growing things, flowers especially, now more than ever. My balcony is loading up with more potted flowers each week. And junco pair already took over my hanging fuchsia plant for nesting activity…

But today I’m at a favorite spring destination: Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, Washington. I post pictures every now and then but not last year. It was a pleasure to be able to re-visit at last. We may have been a bit early to take in all the bloomed varieties but it was worth the visit.

The farm is located on 4 acres of land, purchased in 1877 by it’s namesake’s parents. Huldas work with her lilacs expanded in 1905, and she added 14 new varieties. After she died, the Hulda Klager Lilac Society bought and maintained the gardens. The home and potting shed were refurbished. No tours of the humble but lovely house due to the pandemic, but I have often enjoyed a walk-through. Altogether a stop in WA. we have to make each year when we can.

I hope you also find the tour lovely and tranquil.

Please click through the slideshow to finish.

(An empty chair is for everyone loved and lost. Love never ends.)