Monday’s Meander: More Peaceable Estate Amble (Pt. 2)

I about skipped posting again today, then considered more colorful, unique places we have been. Still, it seemed reasonable to continue with last week’s meander. It was a satisfying outing despite variable light and chilliness. And the funeral is over for our granddaughter. Marc and I go forward a bit more each day, with the telltale heaviness of sorrow. We hiked-at a snail’s pace-over the week-end, visited at a coffee shop outside with family, played with twin toddler granddaughters at a river park. There are yet blessings noted in the midst of the wrenching away of Krystal from our family. (I suspect she’d demand no more drama or long interruptions; she was tough, frank–and vivacious, bright and adventurous. She would move on, too–and it seems as if she has. I no longer feel her slipping about at odd hours, in various places. I hope that doesn’t unnerve too much–it is a familiar experience for me when people pass on.)

But: our walks… They go a long way toward making life more orderly, inspiring, instructive and sweet. And keep the blood flowing. And keep body, mind and spirit in much better balance.

Though the Jenkins Estate buildings were closed due to the pandemic, it was pleasing to explore what we could. The main house architecture seems quintessential Pacific Northwestern, unassuming with simple lines, sturdy and well designed, a lodge-like feel to it–and blends with nature’s palette. My kind of style. It certainly would have been an impressive home and acreage in 1912. Several outbuildings were homey and well built. It is a loss that so many Dutch elms have gone, as noted below, but there are plenty of other NW trees.

We wound out way around the immediate landscapes, enjoyed rhododendrons, azaleas, and other assorted flowers here and there. There were not as many blooms as expected but spring has been fitful, and not enough rain for April/May yet–a surprise in Oregon.

From here, we mosied over to the Gate House of the estate, a lovely place. Please click to view the slideshow.

Though grief stills everything inside and out, it also leaves room for beauty that remains of our earth– and of those we have loved and lost to a far greater mystery than we comprehend.

Blessings on you all.

Monday Meander: Grief as Companion for a Birthday at Jenkins Estate

It has been 11 days since our family’s loss. I keep walking, communing with nature. It is the only place I get real relief that means anything, something tangibly good and cohesive, fascinating and reassuring. Something powerful that does not unduly distort or painfully challenge, usually, what arrives with each day. Someone somewhere wrote that beauty is in itself a wonder but in the end it means nothing much. Not so for me. Nature’s offerings–even homelier parts–reflect the strange, abundant and always numinous to me. A walk or a hike, and explorations via boat ride, train ride or flight, even a drive in the car, a spin on a bike…these open my view and mind, and instruct me in more collaborative thinking, allow me to reach far beyond those sharp borders of ego-centered self.

I like to move and see and find things out.

Today, then, because I awakened again with tears and because it is my birthday, Marc and I visited the Jenkins Estate which is on the National Registry of Historic Places, built in the early 20th century on 68 acres. There are several outbuildings as well as the house (which is only partially visible here) in a style common to the NW for country gentry. We saw only a little of the grounds–rain threatened–and we will return. But today there were brightly greened trees and plants with scattered flowers abloom in the redolent, damp April dirt. I had wanted to see a garden today, but I am in love with the woods; it was a good walk.

And I took with me the weariness of loss; my husband walked slowly, as well. Often we are silent these days.

Grief is collective over time. And at times–especially since the pandemic– it seems to vibrate under the surface of all. I have felt it all my life, everywhere and in everyone, within all tableaus of life. As a therapist once pointed out to me, I carry grief for all life even as I celebrate living. How can it be otherwise? I truly haven’t always felt it frightening or depressing or damaging–and not endlessly. I feel it as part of intense, continuous currents of life. It has made me scream out or has sent me to my knees. But it also echoes a song so ancient, so profound that its ethereal yet earthy call evokes recognition not only of inevitable dying but of the potency of living and mysteriousness of becoming…from the moment we arrive until the moment we take our leave. So we are ever in the process of gathering close and letting go. I know this. We all know this. It doesn’t get easier, really, each death. It gets more familiar, a visitor we recognize and so let in, if reluctantly and with eyes cast down at first. But looking at it in its center becomes perhaps less daunting, less unsettling. Perhaps. It is a reminder: the transitoriness, evolution of beginning to ending to secret beginnings. For we know what was, what is now, and only guess at the years, the vistas to come.

I am 71 today. Every day I live is valued and lived in tested faith and a shimmering hope. I live inside this blood and bone, and deep within the spirit of Love, despite my paucity of wisdom and unnecessary desires.

Our granddaughter was 28 ; she knew loss before passing on, and such vivacious life.

Next time I return I will share more photos, offer other experiences. I only wanted to put down a few words, say a small hello to my fellow bloggers and readers. I wanted to say Krystal Joy’s name, to honor her being. The funeral is very soon. I am as grey shadow with marrow deep sadness but, too, I know she is free of a myriad burdens of humanness. The tricky ache of it.

We have so much invested in life’s ongoing and often random travels–even as we know all is temporal in this world. It is so worth it to me. May it also be worth the effort to you.

The Gate House, my favorite spot so far.

Monday’s meander: Family Nature Park Outing

What a good adventure! We had a fine outing with two grandchildren and a daughter over the weekend. I am unable to share much of the delightful nearly 2 yo twins (I wish I could as their antics are camera-worthy, I have to say), but there is a glimpse as they explore. Children are so strongly responsive to nature and its myriad of wonders. One granddaughter followed, with nose right to a rectangular info plaque, the trek of an extremely tiny bug as it crawled across it. She kept up scrutiny of it from front side, around the edge and to the back. When it flew off, she was so surprised–then a bit annoyed! But there was much more to check out; off we went. The nature park is in nearby Tualatin, an easy meander with many different trails. It was great fun for over an hour though grey and chilly as it is so often in March. We did see lots more leaves unfurling, and flowers popping out a bit. After they left with their mother, Marc and I continued deeper into woodlands and wetlands for another hour or more.

Monday’s Meander: More Spring to Bless the River

It’s been awhile since I took you along portions of the Willamette River– as well as the smaller Tualatin River, which flows east into the Willamette. I’ve trekked many a riverside mile the last year and more–but in early spring it gets a bit more interesting. It always gives me a lift to see spring flowers poking up from the ground, the unfurling tree leaves and buds on bushes. Here in Oregon we have had the usual cold rains and then a terrible ice storm–it has also been an often glum winter, as it has been for us all to one degree or another. I’ve lately heard many more birds, and think they sing out differently. Today there was a “varied thrush”, it’s clear and seemingly random notes startling and lovely. Many hummingbirds are out and eagles and hawks. And a noisy bee buzzed right over the top of my head, despite the temp lowering awhile to upper forties today. (We had a mix of rain and sleet on the way home for a few moments.)

Well, spring arrives in fits and starts– for human and all others.

These photos are taken around various parts of the rivers near home the last two weeks. We start at the Tualatin Greenway Trail along the Tualatin River. Wandering through woods, seeing the muddy, at times swift water flow, spotting opening blooms as well as people out and about was cheering. Plus, there is greater evidence of fishing and pleasure boats about, as well as a marina with a couple yachts rocking dockside. But much of the recent walks were peaceful and quiet along the treed, often steep river banks.

People playing golf across the river at the Tualatin Country Club.
Wetlands by the Tualatin–spotting a white egret.

BELOW: On to the Willamette in an area we frequent often. Form a bridge, I noticed a grandfather and a grandson, I think, having a nice time offering food to the ducks. A fishing boat with two, maybe three, fishermen waiting wth rods in the water quietly beyond trees and bushes. (In MIchigan when I sort of fished with my first husband on a lake, we called it “trolling.”)

So many more trees have fallen or are being cut for reuse since the ice storm we had over a month ago.Below, someone is grilling or about to!
A surprisingly large hummingbird perched a few moments-then dashed off right in front of me.
A not-surprising number of people flocked to the river shores to kayak and wade in the water or just hang out with family or friends–but still cautiously, overall. Hearing children laugh and dogs playfully bark was a wonder.

Spring is coming, we can count on that happening in all its curious, beautiful ways.

As an aside, this Wednesday I’m supposed to get my first vaccination, so may not be writing a short story, as I do twice a month. Still… I may be writing like mad to get the story done before midnight, as usual. In any case, hope you find some spring –and see you soon!

Monday’s Meander: Home/What It Is

This photo of (Re)called, an installation work, shows Naomi J. Falk working on a quilt made of porcelain “bones’ and fabrics in an art exhibit. It is in memoriam of the American soldiers who died in Iraq. Naomi is my daughter.

It brings sudden tears to hear that we have now lost 500,000 people to COVID-19, more than both World Wars and the Vietnam War combined. In one year. I think of my own family–how I would feel if one of them died from this monster virus? Devastated. When considering today’s post topic, all I could think of was home. Where my heart is, family. I am listening to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”; it was played at my wonderful mother’s funeral in 2001. I’m glad she and several others missed this pandemic…they had lived through the influenza and/or polio pandemics. If you find and play Barber’s tender, gorgeous masterpiece, perhaps play it in remembrance of those lost this past year or whomever you love who is gone.

Below, some of my family, most still with me, gratefully, but many passed on. Life…so full of events and people –and so fleeting. I am grateful for all the pictures I take and keep.

In the first group from l. to r.: my oldest sister and my brother-in-law; my oldest brother playing flute–all now deceased; my youngest daughter and me; son with his son and a niece; my only surviving brother and sister-in-law.

Next, l.to r.: My only surviving sister, who has dementia; my husband; group shot of two daughters, a son-in-law and me; oldest and youngest daughters; son and me.

L. to r.: much older shot of a granddaughter with Wolfie; an old shot of another granddaughter as well as of two grandchildren, running; my big sister and my oldest daughter; son and daughter-in-law at their 2019 wedding. .

L. to r.: Marc, husband, with twin granddaughters; a daughter walking towards camera & another with back turned (we have 4 & 1 son); two daughter and myself during one East coast visit.

Thank you for indulging me. I have a tremendous number of printed and digital photos, as one might expect at 70. I write about my family at times, but today felt the need to go back in time and see them–face-to-face contacts are so much fewer anymore, as we know. All people have families of various sorts. You surely love them; I hope you tell them often, too, as we do to one another. Families are complicated because human beings are so amazingly complex…but oh, how they matter.

Marc and me. Grateful.