Monday’s Meander: Daydreamy Travel, a Weekend at Edmonds, WA

Today I’m returning to a Pacific Northwest community I immediately loved. Revisiting from the comfort of my home is not the way I’d like to do it, but the times are what they are. Edmonds, Washington, is a community 15 miles north of Seattle, comprised of 40,000+ people. In October 2017 I attended “Writers on the Sound”, a writers conference. My husband and I had ample time to explore after workshops were done. Though I learned a few writerly helps and enjoyed being with other writers, I was, honestly, more deeply impacted by the area’s natural wonders– including Olympic and Cascade Mountains and Mt. Baker, as well as waters of Puget Sound. (Some are more invigorating than others; some years they are just more useful to me, also.) But the walks and visual beauty provided me with with plenty of inspiration. And the boats! I love to be on a good boat, any size… a rowboat, canoe, sailboat, ferry– or a medium-small yacht. (I will try to locate old pictures of a 2001 family trip on the last sort. We travelled through the beguiling San Juan Islands for 5 days and made fun stops along the way.)

I offer some glimpses into enchantments I discovered that weekend. I plan on returning in person, of course. I suspect you will see why as we spend a few hours around Edmonds and its waterfront along Puget Sound, within 60 miles of the Pacific Ocean.

As the sun lowered, its vibrance charged the lands’ contours, the water’s undulating surface and damp autumn air with sunset’s energy. Such peaceful, awe-inspriing magnificence prevailed.

Monday’s Meander: George Rogers Park, a Winter River Walk

It was sunny yesterday after a week of unremitting rainfall, during which time the Portland area has had over 4 inches of rain. This is about one inch less than the normal amount for the entire month of Jaunary. Flooding in low areas, a few rivers reaching flood stage due to rains plus rapid snowmelt in the mountain ranges, then several landslides–all have impacted people and travel. In Lake Oswego, the Willamette River runs swiftly; it is high lately. But during our Sunday walk, there was no evidence of flooding and no warnings. Folks were walking, running, and cycling alongside the swollen river, and we remaiined above the river’s banks. The day offered higher temps at 50 degrees Farenheit. I have been nursing a repeatedly injured right knee (goes back decades), but enjoyed a simpler mosey. George Rogers Park is very popular, expecially in summer for swimming and kayaking, etc. It has flat paths so that helped with the knee issue. We always continue past the proscribed path and down the roadway for another half hour or more. So much bright beauty after drizzling, wind-tossed, often hammering rains!

Above in the foreground is the shaded side view of a corner of an old cement building. It is likely left over from the old iron ore business here, with ships delivering and picking up ore. It is empty and open in some parts; it’s used by teens getting into mischief and for swimming along the shore (they jump off the building from top floor), but on Sunday it was quiet. The bright sun hit the back of the building facing me as I walked. I snapped pictures that show tagging and open windows, below. It is hard to discern things clearly, but I liked the texures and colors; perhaps you get an idea of the structure in the second shot.

As we finished our walk, we noticed an artist painting en plein air style, thoroughly enjoying himself despite late afternoon sunlight dimming under trees. He didn’t turn around, yet moved aside a bit as I paused to snap him, affording a view of his work-in-progress. Note, too, the pink high heels atop a grill, left side of this shot….now, there’s an interesting story! I might come up with one…

Monday’s Meander: Pittock Mansion, Holiday Dressed

It was cold and drizzly; the air was a haze of fog. A little snow had even fallen before we visited yesterday, as well. But despite being chilly, the weather cast this historic site in a mysterious presence. We’d come in anticipation of a relaxing and bedazzling hour.

The gift shop in front. People enter and see the mansion, almost dreamlike, just discernable in the fog.

I have visited here many times over the years, in all seasons and often at Christmas when it is decorated even more beautifully. This year’s theme was lighter and unique: “Critters Make Merry.” The place is transformed in two days with over 70 vountyeers. This grand home was in the Pittock family until 1958. So before we go on a colorful tour, let me add some history.

In 1860, Henry Pittock, a London-born and Pittsburgh, PA.-raised typesetter at The Oregoninan (our city’s primary newspaper) married Gerogiana Burton and became the owner of that newspaper. He shaped it into a thriving paper and invested in a diversity of businesses, amassing wealth. Both of the Pittocks were well-respected in Portland, engaging in many community endeavors. Henry was an outdoorsman and, in fact, one of the first to climb Mt. Hood. Georgiana was a fundraiser and community organzier who established or supported several charitable and social enterprises, one being housing designed for single, self-supporting women. But it wasn’t until early 1900s that Henry drew up plans for and later began construction of his home. It was was completed in 1914. Regrettably, both of them died four years following, though family members lived there for decades. A major storm damaged the mansion in 1962; it was bought by the city in 1964 wth help from fundraisers for $225,000. Restored to its former glory, it opened the next year to the public.

Let’s step out of the drear and into warmth and soft light to look around interesting rooms. Many spaces were closed off due to the pandemic; we all wore our masks, with timed entries into the edifice. The staircase certainly is grand, and is immedicately seen at the right upon entering.

It was hard to imagine what it must have been like to live amid such opulence–both the Pittock family and the servants who took care of tasks and their emplyers’ wishes. But it was a pleasant interval in a busy time and the architecture is impressive. Before we left, I insisted on snapping some more shots outside, and Marc snaped me feeling happy– if half-frozen–before we hightailed it home. I will leave you with these and wish you a safe and kindly week–and a dash of good cheer!

(I’m hoping to write a short post Wednesday…we shall see how it goes!)

(P.S. Some of these were taken with my new iPhone 12. and some with my cannon EOS Rebel T6. The clarity of a few shots taken by the iPhone is unnerving if noteworthy. Makes me think about my not-too-fancy camera and also what I need to improve technique-wise. That phone is too easy.)

Monday’s Meander: Looking Back at a Snowy City Christmas

Yes, native Portlanders do consider this a major “snow event”! And most who live in the Willamette Valley (and not from northern states) are quite skittish about going out into it. I love our rare snowy times, no matter how light the snowfall is. It might be lovely to have a brilliant white Christmas again. I grew up in snow each winter and have been thinking of the way it changes things, makes the landscape more mysterious and perks up senses and mind. And toughens you up with it’s frequent subzero temperatures, tiny “darts” of pelting snow and howling winds–and treacherous icy roads and sidewalks. There are times I am nostalgiac for the beauties that it can offer. But not too often.

We do get a few days of “dustings” or even more interesting winter snows in Portland metro area–a bit more so where we live, 700 ft. above sea level. (These shots are from our former neighborhood, close-in city center, taken a few years ago.)

I came across these while brwosing my photos and wanted to share them today. It has been raining a great deal–the more usual case–and suddenly snow looks wonderful. But only now and then. I lived with knee-and-thigh-deep snows in my childhood, youth and young adulthood. I more enjoy our temperate weather of the Pacific Northwest. I can just drive to mountains to enjoy fresh snow. I think we have the best variety in Oregon–the ocean, mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes, and the high desert.

The most beautiful snowy sight, perhaps, is Mt. Hood’s shining peak–seen from a city viewpoint!

Friday’s Poem: Breathing the Breath of Winter

(Photo by Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2021)

The breath of winter is flung upon all

and the walk is scented with promise of frost that

may visit or transmute, warmed, into rain.

I am hoping for rain but planning for frost,

even ice, prepared for what comes.

Or I want to think so. I grew up in a land

of dense, deep snow; even birds and branches

were bitten by its ache, shaken by zero dregrees.

The beauty held me. I thought I was lucky.

Being alive was spectacular,

eyes watering, cheeks crisped, mouth puffing breaths

that floated, friendly clouds, in air that stung.

Today I am not afraid of much at all,

knowing I have lived through things like

water pipes freezing, the fire going out

so burning furniture to keep us warm,

cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner,

being thought a nuisance or failure

so later harmed and forgotten.

Suffering threaded through my passion for living.

Now I suffer with those who have shared such troubles,

and those who know danger and brilliance of snow,

the wonder of slow warmth after sheen of ice.

It is not easy learning to navigate

the wind’s vagaries.

But today I am lucky, still. I know where

I am going, to the broad river and home.

And this wind may carry a long, low moan

but it releases a ribbon of song in between–

and that is what I listen for, and that is what I hear.