It is a bit hard to believe it’s still spring, as last night we had a significant snowfall. It still covers roofs and grass as I write. Late last night as it descended, I pulled potted flowers close to the exterior wall, under the eaves, to better protect them. Thus far they seem alright today, amazingly.
Just a couple weeks ago it was light jacket weather. When daughter Cait visited from VA. we enjoyed our springy meanders, including one here: The Bishop’s Close Garden at Elk Rock. I truly adore this spot along the river. A spattering of others were on the paths–so good to see smiles. I’ve often posted pictures of this garden over the years. This time I’ll leave out its interesting Scottish origins and Portland history, and only share shots I managed while talking and walking. A few blooms had opened; it will become more lush and colorful. But Cait was enchanted. I’m happy we experienced this special place together, at last.
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…
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.
I’ll close with another outing from yesterday. The outdoor mall was only one stop among several. The second photo is of my youngest daughter and me earlier, masked but pleased to be out (sunshine beamed so bright for this shot). We tallied up Christmas gifts, ate a light lunch at sidewalk tables, shopped more, had a cookie and coffee break–we were out from noon ’til night. This is a rare amount of time together (she works full time, has toddler twins) so we were very grateful for this day.
In late February I left our quiet, wooded suburb to set off for a walk around Portland’s riverfront area. My spouse was not thrilled with the idea–there were many months of protests and even riots in 2020 decrying racial injustices around the country and other sociopolitical issues. Things have settled down a lot, but it has all changed our home city–perhaps, hopefully, making way for needed, better changes. Yet all is not well in some ways. Additionally, COVID-19 has emptied city streets to a startling degree.
I have always loved downtown Portland. I lived a few blocks away for two decades and was very much an urban person. I didn’t want to lose that connection but the pandemic took over. I still miss “close-in” Portland and do drive over to visit the streets, the parks, other family.
It has been a long habit to go the huge outdoor Farmer’s Market, for example, on the campus green of Portland State University. And to roam the city for local shops–for clothing and jewelry and gifts for people. And to purchase too many books at used bookstores. And dine at excellent restaurants 2-3 times a month. My friends and I would meet for lunch and a movie on weekends. I would meet other family to attend the famed Saturday Market where dozens of arts and crafts were represented, and afterwards we’d eat Himalayan or Japanese or Bolivian meals from the line of food carts (we’ve had dozens of tasty menus from which to choose). The swirls of activity and throngs of people were part of the pleasure. I felt safe downton, with or without my husband, or with a friend as dusk arrived and things got even livelier.
Now–where are the people? At home, yes. Some became too ill and did not make it through… And too many are huddling under a bridge, an overpass, in a lean-to made of a grocery cart and plastic bags and cardboard. Likely others are working in some of the sky-swiping buildings, as some necessary businesses stay afloat. Others, like myself, come and go, wondering what’s next for Portland, aka Rose City. It was all a stark contrast to the southwest hills area I live in now, where there tends to be activity going on despite people social distancing, wearing their masks–parks are fairly busy, stores are partly re-opened, people are active.
The walk had a strong effect on me. The unprecedented stillness other than cars honking and roaring here and there along less congested streets. This has always been a vibrant and fascinating city in which to live in or near to, and walking down the riverwalk was almost eerie despite the beautiful day. It was as if there remained an undercurrent of anxiety. At times, an energy of forlornness. There are many, many more homeless encampments, and people who, perhaps recently became suddenly jobless, now wandering around, seeming unsure where to land, what to do next. But there were a handful of joggers, a few cyclists, too, and walkers. I still felt glad to view the Willamette River and fondly revisited spots along the way we’ve long enjoyed. The sky was so radiantly blue, buildings gleaned. I kept snapping away but was aware of people’s need of privacy in these times–after surveillance by the FBI due to demonstrations/riots, and arrests made by police.
I am hoping against hope we get our city back–with changes that include far more justice for all and help for businesses that have been shuttered or nearly so. But I surely don’t know if it will truly come back in “full dress”–as the buoyant, open minded, easy-going, entertaining place it has been for decades before such troubles. COVID-19 impacts us all, and likely will have more trickle down effects. But I offer one view from a person who loves Portland, who at 19 decided I one day would make a home in the Pacific Northwest-I have been here 30 years now.
I plan on visiting city center returning more as warm weather returns and greater numbers are vaccinated and…well, maybe our great city center will brighten up, lively once more. I’ll then share pictures of all I did not or could not see that February day.
The marina, shops and restaurants above are usually teeming with people.
An imperturbable demeanor comes from perfect patience. Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune and misfortune at their own private pace like a clock during a thunderstorm.—Robert Louis Stevenson
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