Monday’s Meander: Astoria’s Charms… with Smoke

We visited Cannon Beach at the Pacific Ocean, then took 101 north to Astoria, at the northwest tip of Oregon. Views leading into the city were a bit eerie and oddly mesmerizing to me. Fogginess mingled with light smoke from California and Oregon fires still burning south of us. These scenes feel painterly to me, and different than what I usually am able to photograph.

I always enjoy this deep water port town. The oldest town in Oregon, it was established in 1811. It grew along southern banks of thColumbia River which joins the Pacific there. Named for John Jacob Astor, the entrepreneur, his fur company was established here. I always meditate on the mysterious power of a huge volume of fresh water meeting such vastness of salt water–a melding of two potent forces. Fishing and canneries were prominent businesses there; a last cannery was closed by 1980. Fishing, however, remains important to the economy, as well as tourism for those interested in area history and the town’s placement.

Below, entering from the south side with its smoky, almost vintage, coloration as dusk fell. The Columbia was surprisingly, perhaps deceptively, peaceful. It holds mighty currents and depths.

Although the city is interesting–it boasts several historical museums, a bustling arts scene and good restaurants, about which I’ve posted before–I concentrated on Columbia River scenes as we walked by railway tracks. The faint smoke in the atmosphere–not too discernable to the nose– gives an added yellow-orange tinge here and there. A moody series of views.

The man below arrived in his bright boat at the dock and got off with his dog. They then had a game of catch the stick thrown in the water–a pleasant scene to witness! You can see here and in other shots the Astoria-Megler bridge that connects our two states, and which we have taken a few times to visit a few of Washington’s coastal areas. (It is different and less accessible much of the coastline.)

According to Wikipedia: “Opened 54 years ago in 1966, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.”

Hard-to-see seals on long docks farther out by ships were a raucous bunch!

It was a good end of another day out and about–hope you enjoyed it, as well! See you at “Wednesday’s Words” post.

Monday’s (Imagined) Meander: Caves of the Mostly Brave (or Trying to Be)

Out of the belly of the earth arose exquisite contortions of rock and urgency of shadow, dampness that imbued spasms of light, the innards powerfully compacted and faintly acrid, and much was bright with echoes. But there were footholds to be found despite precarious twists and narrows.

It was a testament to primeval life, and we were foreigners who somehow knew to find our way unless we allowed defeat. We dug in our heels, squeezed through one cavern to find one more confoundment, a puzzle of clefts and tunnels, and we clawed our way as necessary to some distant denouement. The frightful possibility of newness, that exhilaration at the ends of somewhere else that told us: home again.

It had been there before–the wild abundance, the thrumming heart of the living, the aptitude for miracles. It could be discovered again, no matter the hunger and thirst, the dead and dying, misbegotten missions and twisted greed, the terrible paucity of compassion and the careful support without which the way can never be navigated well. One stumbles and falls, one needs hands to at least begin to stand.

Why was this all known to Symsha, the scout who scrambled ahead?

It was written in the cool brilliance of the vast pulsing of stars and the fiery core of deepest earth. In their own blood and bone. It was the code, the pass key, the gift that unlocked it all. From dis-ease to revelation, they could find their way if they’d only pay attention.

But if ever there was a need for a potent sign to hear, a saving word to hear, it was now. And Divine Love waited for all to still, empty of self interest. For the world to reconnect to its own wisdom and its people to wake and rebuild outward and upward once more. To understand: they were meant to exist even higher than the angels– but only if humbler than all else. That was one part, a necessary start to a victorious endeavor, a fight for true freedom.

And so on they crawled and groped and scraped from belly to mouth of the claustrophobic, mesmerizing caves.

There was more to this than they could imagine but Symsha knew it was well that they did not. Greatness was greatness only when unaware. And Symsha was only a guide.

Monday’s Meander: An Oregon Riparian Wildlife Refuge

On Saturday we returned to a place we explore each season, the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. The riparian forest, wetlands, and lowlands comprise over 1800 acres that are home to over 200 species of birds, 50 of mammals, 25 of amphibians and reptiles and a large assortment of insects, fish and plants.

We had our ears attuned to birdsong as eyes sought out critters among lush greenery. We heard more than saw wildlife–a snort of a black tailed deer, the sleek fat body of a river otter, the rustlings of perhaps a snake through the tall grasses. I was hoping for a bobcat but have never seen one, and may have sighted a coyote and beaver.

It was a peaceful mosey among groves of old great white oak trees, which support 800 kinds of creatures there. We missed the bigger groves but there are many other trees to enjoy along the paths. Small lakes amid the wetlands were luminous, dramatic as the sky darkened and brightened with sunshine alternating with rain clouds. The river itself was hidden much of the time–several areas are off-limits to humans to protect migrating birds.

Rain became a fickle companion, the sky feeling low and then high again.

Rain increased but it was a mild day and we are Oregonians…we kept on. At the end of our walk, the small lakes and swooping vocalizing birds captivated me. I could have set up camp there right through dusk and nightfall.

Clouds scudded off; the landscape flushed with honeyed light once more.

It was a soothing while also stimulating afternoon, and I always feel happy photographing nature. We will return when more paths are opened to our eager feet.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: This World

Not the sea but the salt

not the sand but a grain

not the sky but the blue

not the cloud but the vapor.

Not the tree but the root

not the lilac but a bud

not the cave but a rock

not the lake but the fish.

Not the storm but the brightening

not the mountain but a peak

not the trail but the dirt

not the valley but the meadow.

Not the sickness but the healing

not the grief but the weeping

not the terror but release

not the hunger but the charity.

Not the moment but beyond;

not despair but keeping on;

not the end but regeneration.

…Not ailing world of bruising dark

without a rainbow bursting dawn;

not any street, alley or byway

without your waving at the windows;

nor the ragged thrum of hearts

without holy currents running

a rescue boat with nets and light

to gather and bind our wounds:

not this world but better with

an emergent covenant of care,

and not the blades of discord but

our human voices singing

bless you, amen amen amen

Monday’s Meander: Spring Keeps Unfolding Along the Willamette River

For some reason I have lately been having problems downloading iPhone photos to my Dell laptop. These few show a small array from the wonderful walk yesterday as it edged towards mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit. There were more shots of people fishing, of flowering bushes and 6+ feet tall graceful grasses and others… In any case, I am grateful we could get out and enjoy this. About a quarter of the sparse number of walkers had masks on. There was plenty of room to keep our distance–a little lonely for this time of year. Many cyclists of all ages sped by. Heartening to see kids on their bikes having fun.

Such a relaxing couple of hours outdoors! Spring perhaps means more than ever.

It was less empty than it appears…but in ordinary times, this area would be full of folks barbecuing (there is a covered picnic area just left of photo) and gathered in groups to chat. There were several dog walkers (I didn’t want to intrude upon snapping a pic) and a few couples and families on pathways alongside the water. We all found the relief of beauty and other peaceful moments, as well as friendly nods or greetings as best we can.

Until next time–be safe, stay connected to others, keep nurturing hope and spread small kindnesses.

Warm regards to all,

Cynthia