Friday’s Poem: Time Undone

Time with its ancient cycles quits for no one.

I rest in homage by the river, sense the current turning.

I feel like a bouquet in wild grasses; living’s left me sweet-sour.

If only it was so easy–a woman in love with water and woods.

But I am pressed between have done and must do,

that wall clock grinning like a gatekeeper,

a metronome imposing rigid order in my life.

Nature’s messengers whisper about

the limits of a ready-made world where

I am running all day from plans to tasks

to desire to regret to one more distant goal.

How did time excavate my life, chew it up,

redesign and cast it to four winds?

I can’t quite catch it as it flies, despite my attention.

I must resume a position within the surround

of time–slipping back in, shouldering my way,

into the line dance of human life.

Wanting still to leap up, beyond constraint.

Every morning my skin blushes with tendrils of light;

night brings a spell of dreams or a wrestling,

and still I am primed for dawn.

There is not enough of time though it

tosses and pins me down these days.

I want to fight back; I am not weak.

But good progress slows, stumbles,

falls in the heat of the fight.

And yet–there is always a yet,

a supernatural response to puzzling things–

despite the lost or misused seconds, this:

walking the labyrinth of lessons,

finding a slipstream or traversing

the wild terrain of aging as it challenges.

Changes. Empowers and releases me.

Time steps aside and opens my eyes.

How much of everything is lived beyond me,

how do others transmute ache into love?

I lay my ego down, lift face and heart

to wind whistling in the trees,

quieted by a willing surrender again.

Monday’s Meander: Bend, Central Oregon Gem

We left quaint Sisters and moved further into high desert country, east of the beautiful Cascade Range. We arrived at Bend in late afternoon, happy with our views from the hotel on the Deschutes River, alongside which Bend, population of about 100,000, sprang up. It was one of the few crossing points along the river and was established as a logging town in early 1900s. Later it became a gateway for many year- around outdoor sports. The weather, typical of this elevation of 3623 ft. and semi-arid climate, tends towards cool nights and sunshine-filled days. Winter brings some snow; summer averages 65 degrees F. It was perfect when we were there, in the upper 50s to upper 60s.

Part of a view from our room.

It is easy to see why the population has increased the past 20 years and why a main business is tourism. Also, folks with some money can retire well here–we’d thought of it, but it got pricier. We got to know this area better 15 years ago when my son and his then-wife moved their family to La Pine, a smaller more rural town 30 minutes away. I liked the climate and different nature offerings. The clarity and freshness of air is, for one, pretty phenomenal; junipers, lodgepole pine, and sagebrush lend a pungent fragrance. And the mountains offer a view that never tire me. Mt. Bachelor is a favorite for skiing and more but there are several snow-capped peaks. Black Butte (noted last week, not well seen here) is another interesting peak. (I’d like to spend time at Black Butte Ranch.)

Below, views as evening fell around the Hilton Garden Inn in the Old Mill District. The stacks you see rising into the lovely sky are attached to a building that was originally the power station for the mill at this site. (It is now an REI outdoor store.) They nudged my eyes upward even in day, but then back to open sky and mountains.

The next day we walked along the winding and excellent waterfront path, noting birds and scenery. There is a somewhat upscale shopping district here, so I also browsed and purchased a few things. Marc found a local coffee shop that sold the Sisters Coffee brand and said it was great.

It was a good day out and about the area as well as meeting our 20 y.o. granddaughter, enjoying a a fish and chips lunch at her work place, basking in hot sunshine at a table outside. (It always feels hotter when the sun is out in high desert…) Avery has lived there with her mother and our 15 y.o. grandson for many years, and it’s a pleasure to visit with them whenever we can, in Bend or here.

I should note that the Hilton Garden Inn served a very good breakfast. Later we’d hoped to eat outdoors at an Italian restaurant by the water–but when night arrived it was quite cold for us. High desert temperatures change a great deal at night and again in the day. We got a few microwaveable items and “roughed it” in our cozy room, a fire going in the fireplace. But that’s skipping ahead!

A few of the day’s views below.

Above, in a shot from the hotel balcony: I watched marathon runners crossing a bridge and rushing down the paths. Mt. Bachelor is in the distance. You might note the two colors of the many bridge flags are in support of war-ravaged Ukraine. The wind at this spot is, incidentally, very strong at times.

We soon were off to explore the High Desert Museum for the afternoon. It has excellent informative indoor exhibits but we looked forward to seeing new developments outdoors. We last visited perhaps 10 years ago, during which time we saw rescued (from those who had caught and caged them) wolves up close. I also spotted a cougar paw print on a hike and have to admit I was not at ease tha rest of that trail…they are so sly.

It was an educational, pleasant meander there. A quick peek into a scene from museum grounds, below–I’ll post many more shots next Monday, so see you then!

Friday’s Poem: Our Tulip Times

It’s April so the flowers are talking to me
about a perfection of love, a medley of laughter.

They say that what feels empty is in fact brimming so
I walk under overripe clouds split by soft tearing;
radiance gilds each open and closed countenance.

Tulips swing and bob in breezes; daffodils have arrived and left.
Rows are tidy and proud, painterly with tonal harmony;
earthy scents arise, a potency of secrets and purity.
Country days explode from under winter’s heavy cape of rain;
every flower trumpets extreme beauty and I shield my eyes.

And then open my arms, breathe light in, let go grief.

Amid this paradise I imagine the vastness here for me,
though blooms gaze on those, too, who little care.
I bend to a cherry cup of tulip, taste its dew, recall a spring
we three strolled other acres ablaze, our words silky as threads
embroidering stories, each stitch freeing, tightening our family bond.

Even silences were resonant; we knew what we knew, it felt enough.

The tulips were a signal of more, better to come.

Who could know that such a wealth of happiness
cannot be demanded or hoarded, only known in moments with wings?
We had planned more visits, farther travels, easy
outpourings of words. A greater variety of flowers.
But if time has unraveled leaving two of us behind,
our sister heart will not wither. Though human-tender

it beats inside a whole and holy life as we stumble on,

or turn and depart; it braves it all, it will not stop.

Mondays’ Meander: En Route to High Desert Country

We started south from Portland but in a short while turned off I-5 toward the Santiam Pass in the Cascade Range. We were embarking on a three day weekend trip in Central Oregon. I was looking forward to the drive toward the 4,817 ft. high pass situated betwween volcanic peaks of Three-Fingered Jack and Mount Washington.

The weather was cloudy and roads were fine, with a spatter of rain now and then, and plenty of white snowy banks and forest floors at highest elevations. But soon we had to pass through countless charred remains of coniferous trees and through Detroit, a tourist town of 231 which sits alongside Detroit lake and Detroit Lake State Park. The infamous Santiam Fire in August 2020 began as three separate fires due to lightning strikes, merging into one horrific fire spurred on by 50 mph winds. It finally burned 402, 274 acres. We recall it well; it spread to four counties including a part of ours. Under fire watch for weeks, we remained indoors for ten days due to gathering thick smoke and gusts of high winds; bags were readied for an evacuation order. We didn’t get one, but thousands of others did. It was an unprecendented monster fire as it began to creep closer to Portland. I already had a healthy fear of fire; I tend to be very careful even when using candles. The smoke lingered for a very long while; there were many fires trhoughout Oregon that summer and fall.

And this was our first time in this particularly damaged Cascades Range area since then. And as we drove closer to the areas impacted, I had a window partically down–I could still smell the entrenched odor of old burned wood.

As we climbed, we began to see the black tree trunks and stumps. It was unnerving to drive from lushly green Willamette Valley into fire-eaten landscape.

Above, a view taken by Detroit lake which does show some greening of the forests; the darker and somewhat sparse areas of the mountains are not the worst damage, it seemd, but it was still apparent. Marc captured subdued feelings as I scanned blackened parts of trees beyond the camera, as I tried to imagine what it was like for residents to scramble for their lives amid an inferno…Any charred remains looked worse with each mile travelled. Five people died in the wide ranging fire. And all homes in Detroit were destroyed.

We continued into and past Detroit, gazed quietly at remnants of fire’s path–as well as hopeful rebuilding of homes and mercifully greener spots. Forest habitats heal and even can flourish, finally.

(Apologies for some poorer shots–I was shooting from a moving car mostly during this part.)

Below, a part of Detroit Lake with a view of Black Butte, left.

We began to reach the summit and then to descend.

Before long, we were entering the rain shadow side of the mountains–and into Sisters, OR.

Well-known for its touristy Western-themed atmosphere and shops, there are many reasons to visit, including hiking, fishing, horseback riding (lots of ranches in this area), mountain biking, skiing–as well as enjoying the Sisters Rodeo, a Quilt Show and the Sisters Folk Fesitival. Here are a few shots taken as we drove, then walked a little downtown. But it was very windy and cold and we wanted to get to Bend by late afternoon.

Then we were off and into sprawling high desert, a whole other experience and one of my favorite kinds– despite being a rainforest sort of gal…For one thing, the different types and fragrances of plants and the rocky, dry earth are fascinating, really lovely. And sunlight shines hotter; my skin’s rosiness after three days attests to it. And everywhere around the flatter landscape–easily seen mountains!

A sculptural group of wild horses.

It was just the start of a fun and relaxing trip. See you soon for upcoming posts–I have many more pictures from this Central Oregon trip! Next up: the bustling small city of attractive Bend and more of the surrounding environs.

Friday’s Poem: For the Living and Dead

(Photos by this writer. Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, B.C.)

For the living there are offerings of flowers rising,

embroidered throughout valleys and mountains,

and green things that shimmy in rainfall and wind

and zigzag calls of feathered, furred,

the sleek and shelled creatures as if

nothing was awry, and the earth is at peace.

For the dead, perhaps silence, and sudden dreams of beauty

that cover the past, rescue the present or design a future

we know nothing about; their gardens beckon in ways

only mystics can conjur when everything is torn inside out.

The living, the dead; what truth can be said of them?

What falsehood separates them and us?

My heart speaks to those here; eyes weep for those gone.

And the blood of earth recapitulates with clusters of

snowdrops, marsh marigolds, wild roses, tiger lilies.

Wars indict humans by the roots of resolute trees.

Thousands of years we have mastered, failed, fallen.

Bitter seeds attempt to take hold

but cannot flourish forever nor

invade realms of Power beyond our ken.

There is wisdom we do not seek enough,

nor decipher well when we most need it.

And yet bees still labor happily;

redwing blackbirds trill their stories;

foxes hide and seek, nurture new life in the den.

I cover my head. I toil in time until unable.

I await an invitation to paradise as I tire.

But today, prayers for sweetness

and mercy for the living;

For the dying and dead,

a crying out,

a plea for safe passage,

a benediction uttered into deepest night

into deepest everything