Monday’s Meander: Rainy Irvington District

My daughter, Alexandra, had a day off from her work and, despite wind and rain, we set off for historic Irvington District, our old home spot for many years. Since moving to more suburban areas (that at times feel more like small towns) neither of us visits this area too often. I’m sharing today’s quick pictures not because they’re great–they are not; I was snapping away as we walked fast–but Because I don’t often post city shots. Plus, it is quite different from where I now live and I have fond feelings for Irvington. She and I also enjoyed a good time out and about–despite our half-soaked pant legs and shoes! (It has rained a huge amount the past three weeks, and some Oregon rivers are nearing or already have reached flood stage.)

One thing I appreciate about Irvington is that few home owners–despite the fact that they love their gardens and trees–seem bothered by good amounts of fallen leaves. They pile up tremendously before being removed–after they are all shed, usually, which is sensible. And they are so attractive, to me. Where I currently live, many men with deafening leaf blowers have at it 2-3 times a week, and most yards tend toward more pristine and seem less unique….and I do like to plow through colorful piles.

Below, note two abandoned hammocks, l. My daughter, right, moves on as I pause to snap photos.

Above, a turkey made of pumpkin to greet visitors.
A metal art work in the right front yard. The downpour can be seen easily at the blue house, and also below.

This is a desirable close-in neighborhood that offers some of the oldest homes in Portland, and there are Arts and Crafts homes, mini-mansions and cozier bungalows. I admire the variety, the homeowners’ personalities shown, only a smidgen of which is shared today. It was a thoroughly happy walk with Alexandra–we seldom have free time to share with only one another (she works full time, has the twin toddlers. And since she spent over a decade growing up in Irvington, it made our afternoon even more special. Until next time, Irvington….

Below: a parting shot from 11-11-2016– minus the windy, chilly downpour, and trees holding onto more leaves.

Monday’s Meander: Fall Beauty at Foothills and Roehr Parks

I’m grateful to live in a state and area where there are so many city parks. The last year or two have seen so many more visiting them, and that’s wonderful. Greater Portland makes it a priority to provide as much green space as possible. It encourages positive energy in mental and physical well being of all citizens. I also appreciate parks in our city of Lake Oswego, and visit one weekly if possible. Last Friday I wandered about to snap photos of vibrant late autumn scenes. It was near end of afternoon; the light held that gleaming gold in it. Foothills Park and Roehr Park unfold alongside the flowing constancy of the Willamette River. Fall and winter rains have returned often and remain longer, so I wanted to capture these moments while more dry and bright.

I may be absent from these pages until next Monday’s post. I’m getting my booster Covid-19 shot Wednesday and tend to have “a robust immune system response” as my doctor so nicely puts it…So I likely will be sleeping and sipping tea from bed a day or so. But next week I’ll take you along to the Pacific Ocean. We visited yesterday after time away; it was spectacular.

Good week to you all out there. I hope your lives get better despite these troublesome times. Stay hopeful, be kindly. We all need each other more, not less, and not a day goes by that I am not grateful for friends, family and everything I can do to embrace, explore and share in this unpredictable life.

Monday’s Meander on Tuesday: Bridal Veil Falls

The heart knows precisely what it knows.

It keeps account of every known and unknown,

hard and tender bits of the puzzling whole.

It fuels and honors the momentary life,

its voice a harbinger of all that is to come.

This heart gives up stories and when it

whispers our autumn trek, I listen.

Each year brings a pressing down, plowing up,

turning ’round the pungent, rocky trail, a critical affair.

Switchback to a bridge over chasm, steps,

coming to the second bridge under which

outpourings of water are freed

from voluptuous earth: a torrent of beauty.

A gathering of benevolence and majesty.

The journey is late this year, yet is done

before winter stalls me further.

And so, Cynthia with heart: to a commemoration.

Twenty years since my intimate friend

crowded against every rib,

throttled my strong knees,

yanked me to gravity’s dominion.

The ruby blood circled throne of heart,

stuttering, pressuring, then decreed

Enough, now.

Twenty years since I braced myself, crawled,

begged for release, half-stood, limped back up

a path of terror, leaned against Marc,

every breath a damnation, each step a warning.

Rescue came late, so much later,

and yet this heart and I carried each other

that far, then farther, farther yet.

I would not have it; this heart would take me back.

Or it would not know defeat; this heart wanted me back.

Today, like most years, the path is gentle

beneath my feet, and the small pumping muscle

and I sail up, around and over it.

To the bridge where water’s jazz erupts,

to the steps that nearly killed me, all the way up

and face to face with sweet Bridal Veil.

I tremble; heart flings open its gates.

O mighty waters above, below,

O Lord of heavens and earth,

I come to this wild altar of wonder,

my heart beaming, my life made right

with this water, these trees

At 51, I had a heart attack when hiking. How despondent it made me, but I worked to regain health. Last Thursday, I had a small heart event that kept me quiet for a day or so. But Saturday I hiked the path as I do every year near the date when I was felled. And I felt stronger; it always makes me stronger. Never take for granted the work of your gifted heart–how it keeps us wedded to this life, how it cares for us without ceasing–until we are done.

Monday’s Meander: To Hood River Fruit Loop for Apples

It was time to visit the Fruit Loop, a 35 mile trip that passes 29 member farms which offer produce stands. The orchards bear a variety of fruits, and acres of flowers or vegetables alongside wineries (tasty-looking wine, but we no longer drink) make up a cornucopia of delights. We go through the town of Hood River which sits on the Columbia River, and head out one Highway 35. The landscape is breathtaking; this fecund valley lies at the base of Mt. Hood in the Cascade Mountains. (One also sees Mt. Adams in places.) We were seeking apples and pears but the views alone are worth a leisurely drive–during any season, though I love the autumn weather and offerings.

We originally migrated from Michigan decades ago and still miss those big apple orchards, hayrides and up-close views of busy cider mills from our youth. Nothing quite as fine on a frosty day than a cup of steaming hot cider with a still-warm cinnamon sugared cake donut nearly melting in your mouth. This was (and is) a long tradition shared by untold numbers there, and when we grew up and later took our five kids, it was even more fun. There are not just the same offerings in Oregon, though close (apple strudel with ice cream and cider at Portland Nursery, for instance). But our fall outings make up for our Midwestern loss.

We’ll first stop by Drapers Girls Country Farm and U-Pick Orchards. We come here mostly because it has a quaint, almost worn feel and I find it inviting. A third generation farm now run by one family member and her three daughters, it offers ten different fruits. (The place below is a small rental house on the property.)

We wander about but purchase only a handful of apples here–we have a favorite orchard coming up next.

On we go, passing Oregon scenery I love so keep snapping pictures, even from the moving car.

Our destination is Kiyokawa Family Orchards, operating since 1911; their speciality is growing over 150 varieties of apples, pears, cherries, and stone fruit. And that means over one hundred varieties of apples, alone! We consistently find their operation clean, the staff knowledgeable and friendly, and the bounty exceptional.

We park amid a throng of cars; I try to avoid photographing people up too close. But there were a lot of visitors and apple tasters.

We wound our way back from viewing some of the orchards and, having decided to not pick our own but sample multitudes of choices, we found apple heaven as we expected. You pay $15 per bag, then fill them up with any type and as much as you want!
Below, our final indulgence, lugged to the hold of my car (a new compact SUV bought since our accident).

Happy with our many choices–whose names we have already forgotten–and munching on a couple different ones, our mouths watering with each satisfying bite, we start home.

Passed a old and empty, dilapidated country store that I had to stop and look over. It must have been humming with business once upon a time.

And we then followed the highway along the Columbia River within the Columbia River Gorge. Next week, I will take you back there for more.

Monday’s Meander: Yes to Dahlias, Darling!

For the second year Marc and I headed out to Swan Island Dahlias farm in Canby, Oregon to see what there was to see. A gorgeous sunny afternoon also seemed perfect to take my new compact SUV (replacing the sedan totaled in the accident a month ago) for a drive through undulating hills and fields. It was a relaxing, satisfying outing. (I do like the car pretty well, also–a Hyundai Kona in a cheery metallic red).

I love the big fluffy or intricate or delicate petal designs of the showy, hardy dahlia. And it’s a late summer/early fall flower, a change. Upon arrival, the farm overflowed with strolling folks. We noticed some areas were less burgeoning with dahlias where we walked (out of 40 acres, all open to the public). It seems likely the drought has impacted flower growers as well as other farmers. A great many also are cut for selling to businesses and visitors. But the fields were still striated with beautiful shapes and colors.

We whiled away more than an hour, though we sure got sweaty in the strong August sunshine. Some of the finest things in life are simplest pleasures, filling one with appreciation and peace. Flowering fields are one of those, to us.

This prolific business has been operating for 93 years, though it was bought in 1963 by the current successful farmers, the Gitts family. They grow over 370 varieties and introduce 5-15 new ones yearly.

Enjoy the shots taken as we moseyed about–may you, too, find flowers of joy.

I think my shirt has some dahlias on it…

We looked around the gift shop’s goods set up outdoors and people watched before buying three bunches of dahlias to take home.

Crazy Legs? Why not?–love it.

I got four bouquets from my three bunches and gave one to our youngest daughter, whose birthday was today. Altogether, a terrific day at the Swan Island Dahlias. They create the largest full color dahlia catalog in the US–and are proud to be family-owned after all this time. Give them a try!