I get the itch to take off for other places by late February-early March. Despite my appreciation (on the good days) and acceptance (when the drear feels too murky and confining) of the insular winter months of Portland’s chilly rainfall, it gets a bit tiresome by then. And Marc is also ready to take a break from work once more (since his yearly one at Christmas). We make our first travel plans for April or May, as I have gotten in the habit of celebrating my birthday (and/or Mother’s Day) by travelling. We usually choose a place where 1) it will be, if not warm, at least brighter with cheerier, more interesting landscapes than drenched city blocks and muddied emerald lawns; and 2) we can travel via car and explore for 7-14 days out.
We are about to embark on another trip–this time flying to San Diego, California and surrounds, a first time for me if familiar territory for my businessman hubby. I started to get excited while checking photos of past trips. I was perusing those of a satisfying, gorgeous exploration of southern Oregon in 2006. It was pleasant to take a short virtual hop there so thought to share pictorial impressions.
We first headed down to Ashland, OR., located 16 miles from the northern CA. border. It is the home of Southern Oregon University and the well known Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We did see a play but I regret I can’t recall what it was though it was a fine performance, no doubt! I do oddly recall the OSF theaters and campus area were very attractive. The college town is a lustrous gem within rolling hills and a backdrop of the Siskiyou Mountains, a part of greater Klamath Mountains.
From there we drove to the border of OR./CA. and on toward Mt. Shasta and the redwoods. Mt. Shasta is within a southern part of the Cascade Range, which stretches across Oregon to British Columbia. This particular mountain is considered sacred by Native Americans and is one of the Pacific Basin’s “Ring of Fire” volcanoes. It is an awesome presence to behold at 14,179 ft. and covered with a brilliant crown of snow. At first its peak was obscured by a topknot of clouds but as we got closer, it appeared for a short time like magic. I felt humbled being as close as we were.
There are many other decent shots of this longer trip but these are some I like the most from the first leg. I may post other photos later. I was less engaged with digital photography then; almost all shots are landscapes. There are two of our charming accommodations and its back garden. I also included one of Marc and myself for the heck of it. How times flies–we both have changed (he got bigger… and works even harder while I got smaller as I began more creative endeavors once retired; we both got greyer over 12 years). But our love of experiencing interesting places and people has not altered–perhaps this has even grown.
In a couple weeks I will be posting pictures and musings gathered or formed while in beautiful, dry southern California!
Spring will claim then take you.
It may seem to ease in, inch
by inch, clamor softly at your edges
like verdant chimes ruffled by a breeze.
But eyes open to a baptism of clear light,
nose to a phantasmagoria of scents,
hands to satin petals amid a flurry of tiny wings,
ears to a scherzo of birds, frogs, bees.
Admit it, there can be no illusion of control.
Without your consent, renewal waltzes the body,
slakes a deep thirst from chalice of sky so
you rest in the palm of earth, amid a bounty
of countless, stirring perfections
as the world still plots, hearts grieve,
dreams founder, long stray aches
bind up the night, and phantoms of need
cast furtive shadows across the dawn.
Human life will always bruise, bleed, require
stitching even as we labor to make it safer.
We tend to its frailties but we want for peace.
So let another spring just now take you into
its nucleus of wisdom, its molecular beauties.
Its unprejudiced, forgiving, unerring welcome —
what else does this without your unbelieving retreat?
Say yes, hallelujah and your own sweet amen.
Last week-end, Marc and I made our first early spring trek to check out Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge in Washington State. We visit at least once a season to investigate the bird activities and walk among the marshes and grassland, as well as absorb partial view of the Cascade Mountains and portion of the Columbia River. I grew more excited as we neared the turn-off; this nature preserve shares small surprises each visit as well as peaceful beauty. Many people flock here to enjoy the wealth of the offerings; they are always friendly and usually share what they have experienced.
There is almost more water than trees but alder and fir trees as well as groves of stark black cottonwood are attractive in fields and along the river. We will return when they are fully leaved, but before the summer sun bears down upon us with fiery heat.
Far from being accomplished birdwatchers, we still try to identify our sightings. This time we noted a bald eagle perched high above, blue herons in the marshes, Northern harriers hunting as well as red-tailed hawks, watchful kestrels and a bold scrub jay, and the elegant outlines against brilliant sky of charming swifts. And scores of Canadian geese as well as the requisite mallards and buffleheads. We enjoyed many I could not quite capture on film or name. The harriers were majestic and powerful and flew very low over land, then abruptly rose and rose above treetops countless times. I could barely move for the awe I felt. You’ll find the harrier in the 3rd, 13th and 14th photos. They tend to hover right, almost seeming still, before diving to kill their prey. (Unlike red-tailed hawks which ride the thermals, spiral up and then execute a very rapid dive to prey.) The smallish kestrel stands atop a post. I suspect you all know a bald eagle and heron.
I find the high wild grasses stunning, and love to listen to and watch them sway, shimmy, rustle, sigh and bow in the strong Columbia Gorge winds.
You can see shining Mt. Hood a few times, a dramatic beacon to those of us who live here (though one of many great peaks we can see on a clear day).
There were also a couple of interesting outbuildings beyond the enclosed refuge as you can walk for miles and miles along the rushing river.
Legendary king of rivers moving to entwine with the great salt sea,
generous, brawny, demanding, enigmatic, indefatigable, crackling,
monstrous, mystical, ancient, unpredictable, transformative, spellbinding
anadromous miracle, water to water, life to life, power to power