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.

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 Photos: Under a Brief Pretense of Spring

Photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson copyright 2019

We are currently under a winter storm warning in Portland. I await enchanting first flakes– very few of which we have had so far this year. Perhaps it seems much ado about nothing for someone who grew up with four foot snow drifts to rollick about in, to play the brave explorer with three layers of clothing– but we will see. I know may parts of the USA have suffered very recently the bitter cold and dangerous snowfall.

In the meantime, enjoy a few photos that not long ago indicated a different change of temperature–as it often does here this time of year. I will have patience–both for a velvety swath of snow and for a flourishing of flowers.

A park where we will soon be walking more after our March move

And there have been hints of an unfolding of tender jewels of springy blossoms amid more hearty wintery ones…

Marc and I were going to the beach for a mini break before we move– but nature changed our plans. We are now immersed in the many and sometimes arduous tasks that go along with packing and preparing to leave one place for another–but there are hot teas and tasty treats to keep us going.

Daphne–what a fragrance!

Wherever you are, may your week-end bring safety and satisfying–even happy–moments!