Monday’s Meander: Willamette Heritage Center and Samhain

This is the second year we have attended the annual Celtic Festival for Samhain (which occurs 10/31-11/1) at the Willamette Heritage Center, held in Salem, OR. What an interesting, enjoyable afternoon we had once again. We also like to wander about the five acre grounds. It is a National Parks- designated American treasure.

Per Wikipedia: “Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.”

It’s a pagan celebration and though I am not pagan, I’m greatly Irish (my mother’s maiden name was Kelly) and also of a more inclusive spiritual attitude, perhaps reflective of that heritage. I am at home with Irish music and dance and the storytelling culture (to which my mother belonged, always entertaining or instructing with her expressive tales)…and I am still longing to visit Ireland and other Celtic nations. We did participate in one ceili dance–I so enjoy that and managed one rigorous dance before requiring a bit of a rest due to my ole ticker. All acoustic musicians were top notch, as before, and the bagpipe player was excellent, as well.

One can always sing along even when ignorant of the tune and lyrics. And though I learned a little “fiddling” (as opposed to my usual classical string musicianship) in my thirties, I would more like to play the Celtic harp and bohdran. Let that be prominent on my bucket list–and then get to it.

This year I offer mostly photos of the graceful grounds. (Last year I wrote of a more inclusive experience: https://talesforlife.blog/2018/10/31/wednesdays-words-nonfiction-samhain-a-celtic-festival-and-local-heritage/. ) There are fourteen historic structures to take at study and include the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill (1889, a water powered mill), a Methodist Parsonage (1841) and Pleasant Grove Church (1858), as well as two other houses from the 1840s–there are 14 buildings on the site. I love the lean lines and pure colors of white and red, the indicators of past industriousness and hints of lives once lived. Some places, one can sense and feel the essence of the past, the people who thrived and struggled.

T

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Photos: Crowns of Glory

During various walks, I have been astonished at the colors of those beauties, deciduous trees. Oregon has had exceptional displays to behold and absorb, eye and soul. Here are 6 of my favorite shots, taken on recent brilliant crisp days. The first was just amazing to see in person.

Wednesday’s Words/Nonfiction: A Hood River Gadabout

It’s perhaps misleading to post a photo under a title noting Hood River, for it is the muscular, much-loved Columbia River you see. The river and its famed Columbia River Gorge deeply impacts life in and around Portland, Oregon. We feel the its power as it surges and flows as well as its mountainous environs and are never unimpressed with the majestic beauty. And Hood River is a port, a lovely resort town on its banks and within the Gorge. We enjoy a visit a couple times a year. Summer sports thrive on the water and its surrounds, but autumn finds a sparser population with other sights to enjoy. The above view was shot from the perfect river walkway; the area is stunning. We took our time getting here and continued on to farm country called the “Fruit Loop.”

Before arriving in Hood River, though, we had stopped for a fine view from Mitchell Point in the Gorge.

Marc snapped a happy photo of me as I do love it out there. Marc mused that huge rocks often tumble down–note fence erected to perhaps keep visitors safer. Often the case in the Gorge and Cascade Mountains and it gives one pause when driving or hiking when you go around piles.

It is a casual, scenic town, and we always enjoy a coffee and sandwich at Doppio Coffee.

Down by the river, we take our time exploring a stretch of the Columbia. Bear in mind that I am shooting toward the Washington side of the Columbia River, north, and at other times northwest–it’s a fairly short boat trip to WA. The Oregon side of the river tends to be more mountainous and rugged in appearance; shooting from WA. shores would obviously render those pictures best.

Good fishing in the Columbia, usually salmon and steelhead, but fishing is quite restricted.

A favorite spot to gaze out over the river as it rolls and pushes toward Portland and then out to the Pacific Ocean. One can see some of both state shorelines here.

There is an ancient, powerful and wondrous energy that pulls me to the Columbia Gorge. I head out to explore and quickly am saturated with peace, as if my core being is infused with mysteries of earth and I feel the watchfulness of a vaster cosmos that oversees all. I have a love affair with nature, and the Pacific Northwest is perhaps the truest recipient of my unabashed adoration. When I first visited the NW at age 19–that time of intense dreams and yearnings (and lived in Seattle area a yr.)–I knew I’d permanently relocate here one day. It took me 20 years, and I am thankful. And I appreciate sharing my home territory in these posts!

Mt. Adams-seen in WA.

Next time: a visit to Oregon’s bountiful Fruit Loop!

Monday’s Meander in Autumn’s Palette: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Preserve

I had so many enjoyable outings over past week-end it was hard to choose just one to share today. Marc and I always look forward to roaming Steigerwald Nature Preserve in Washington and especially the fall. We had a perfect day for roaming and wildlife scouting. We were met, however, with changes in the habitat. Strewn about were large tree stumps and roots and logs, for one thing. (Slide show below for a panorama of beauty.)

We learned that this year begin a $22 million habitat restoration that will entail reconfiguring a floodplain of this Lower Columbia River area. The refuge will be reconnected to the natural ebb and flow of the mighty Columbia; 2 miles of US Army Corps of Engineers levees will be lowered to natural levee height. A major reason is to allow six species of salmon and trout as well as lamprey to better benefit. Nine hundred acres will be restored over 3 years. Placing woody debris is part of preparation and invasive vegetation management has begun. We are excited to hear of the improvements and partnerships that are involved in this huge project for supporting wildlife and for greater public viewing.

I hope you enjoy the walkabout and will visit if you can do so.