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: Menucha’s Rustic Charms

I went to the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center during early spring, and the serenity of the grounds was strong enough to linger several years.

The land was homesteaded in 1874 by John Painter, an English sailor. Situated above the Columbia Gorge with its namesake river, the property was bought in 1914 by Julius Meier, a wealthy businessman (Meier and Frank department stores) who later was a Governor of Oregon. The estate became well known following the first family residence being built in 1927. The property was a country retreat for family and friends, and political figures visited, including Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Meiers mostly took up residence in warmer months.

The home and land were originally reachable only by the river where Native American culture thrived (and salmon was abundant). Then the first Northwest highway was carved out of the Cascade Mountain Range in 1913. It runs 75 miles through the Columbia Gorge and past Menucha.

In 1950, the First Presbyterian Church of Portland purchased it with the family’s blessing. The estate was named by the Meiers, and since “Menucha” roughly means “still” or “peaceful” in Hebrew, the church kept it. The ecumenical center serves as retreat for about 400 Judeo-Christian groups (thought it serves not only these groups) per year. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (though the original home was destroyed by carpenter ants). Not grand but more rustic, the structures are sturdily designed in the Pacific Northwest style developing during that time. The primary retreat center’s interior is attractive but it is the outdoors that draws me. The grounds are rolling and green and forests encircle it. And it’s well kept with a small front garden; the land is 700 feet above the river.

In early spring Marc and I wandered around the grounds following an Easter week dinner and other events. The wind blew fiercely at times but steady sunshine warmed us. We were pleased to have finally visited a place we had only ogled from the car for years. Though not now attending the church we did then, anyone can book a room for their individual restful retreat. Perhaps when the pandmeic is well addressed we’ll look into that. Weddings are also held there, as well as conferences for nonprofits, family reunions and arts workshops.

In addition to this great fireplace where meals can be made–and hot dogs and marshmallows roasted– and served at nearby tables, there is a well maintained pool overlooking the Gorge.

There is an old stone labyrinth that we walked.

Some of John Painter’s fruit trees live on.

It is a good spot for meditation and restoration, as its name indicates. We finally bade farewell to Menucha–until another day.

Monday’s Meanders: Flowers to Chase Off the Gloom

I am in search of color and light today. Sometimes I need liberal doses of enchantment. An external jarring of vibrance that stirs my insides. Beyond my window, it is grey and rainy–after all, it’s winter. That is mostly alright with me. Just not recently. I am feeling wrung out by the trauma of my country and its people being harmed by the mobbing of our Capitol building and its results, the ongoing upheaval; struggles with chronic health issues; and life being lived on a somewhat dizzying edge during pandemic times.

We are all worn out. So, then: flowers. Who can deny their scintillating beauty, their bold good cheer? Such varieties! Their innate charms go far, and they have capability to offer hope of the steady seasons’ cycles and refreshed thoughts of finer human aspirations.

Cannon Beach

I feel better already. Hopefully, you do, too.

Monday’s Meander: The Emerald City

Seattle, WA.: The Space Needle, built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, and a Chihuly glass sculpture.

Because I am missing Seattle, here we go on a virtual visit. The name could be attached to the land of Oz….but it is not. “Emerald” refers to a preponderance of greenery–towering evergreens, among other plants and trees– displayed all year around. This was a last fun trip before the pandemic kept all more homebound. We have chosen the beautiful, invigorating Seattle for New Year’s a few times and it has always been worth it. We’ve also visited family in the area and at 19 I lived there so I feel quite at home, though it so much bigger than my hometown of Portland (we are very green, too). I was disappointed to not go up there this year.

If you’ve seen some of these shots before, perhaps you can enjoy them, again. If you have never been there in person I hope you’re enticed to explore the city, yourself, some day! With little commentary, let’s begin…

All glass art is by Dale Chihuly at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.

Above shots: Experience Music Project; architect, Frank O. Gehry. (Not easy climbing up and standing on a ledge… but fun!)

I have had a great time revisiting memories–one good reason to travel is that, with photography, you get to almost go there once more. But I am so looking forward to another in-person visit. In the meantime, more local day trips are good. I am hoping you also will hop in a car, ride your bike or head out on foot to open spaces, to be safe. It never fails to cheer me in all the ways that matter. See you for another meander next week!

Mt. Rainier

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.