Monday’s Meanders: “Wishbone” Island

Mary S Young State Park

A major wind storm is stirred up– no rain, just warm, parched winds off the Cascade Mountains east of here. This is really not the usual. This high wind warning may last for a couple of days. A red flag warning is also up for fire danger, which is usual at this time. The gusts might reach 45-65 mph. An acrid haze of smoke from fires in our many forests covers all–the fires ar not close and we hope to keep it that way. I had to shut windows before writing, as my throat was getting sore, eyes burning. We live among very tall trees, near the top of an extinct volcano; here’s hoping nothing topples!

On a cheerier note, here is an array of photos from a recent day jaunt to Mary S. Young State Park, 128 peaceful acres along the Willamette River–and rather close to our place. I love the color in these, as the day was bright and hot. Many people were enjoying family water fun. The island was something we stumbled upon as we followed a path farther than usual on our mini-hike.

We were greeted with an abundance of flowers that favor bees and butterflies as we entered.

As we headed out, someone’ small dog, at left, seemed keen to follow.

It took only about 10-15 minutes to spot water and we followed a mostly rocky shoreline. The happy voices of folks big and small were sweet to the ears–and nature’s music, as well, of birds. There were small skittering creatures, four-legged and no-legged–a snake, slugs, fish–and so many birds and dragonflies and other bugs.

Leaving this stretch of river, a family skirted us as we moved away. (Many were not wearing mass–when near water they seem to abandon them, but we place our back on whenever we note people coming close. Rather safe than sorry…)

We followed a path we hadn’t taken before when visiting and were surprised where it led.

A very small, wishbone-shaped island! We do have many in the Willamette River, just have not been to this one. More sunbathers and swimmers lounged and gallivanted–and kids romped! There was a canal, I would guess to call it, around the island.

We crossed the metal bridge to find a ramshackle sign admonishing us to follow all rules. Then we continued to the other side, a quick trip through woods and brush.

Flip through the slide show to see more of what I saw as we checked things out and headed back to the other side again.

It was another very hot day in the 90s (Fahrenheit) so it was time to head home after an hour and a half exploring.

The way back was steeper at times but mostly flatter–still good exercise as we kept the pace up.

A satisfying day in the state park! I will end with another shot of that curious pop–this was a dog run area, it turns out. We all enjoy our outings as summer comes to a slow closing in the Pacific Northwest. But when these smoky winds and fires ease up, it will be much better again…Have a good week, everyone!

Wednesday’s Words/Nonfiction: Samhain, a Celtic Festival and Local Heritage

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I went to a Celtic Festival last week-end and had a grand experience with their version of Samhain. A Gaelic festival, it is thought to have been initiated about 2000 years ago, at the end of harvesting and beginning of winter. Thus, it notes the changeover from summer to winter, from lighter to darker months. and occurs about halfway between autumn equinox and winter solstice. It is believed that the veil between this world and the other world is thinnest on October 31-November 1 and spirits pass through. Ancestors were honored and spiritual or other harm was hopefully warded off with costumery and vivid masks. This, as one can see, relates closely to our Halloween when folks dress in scary or fun outfits and venture into the night for a bit of revelry and treats.

I am part Irish (the common “Kelly” is my mother’s father’s family name) and feel kinship with the traditional music and dance. So, when I discovered a Celtic festival was taking place an hour away I was all in. One of the first things noted was a flag depicting six Celtic territories of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany–and the seventh noted is Galicia,  (Spain), which apparently has been disputed. I would enjoy learning the definitive conclusion on this, if anyone knows.

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The festival took place in the Spinning Room located within the Willamette Heritage Center, created by the Mission Mill Museum and the Marion Co. Historical Society.  The old woolen mill was established in 1889 by Thomas Lister Kay, and has been well-preserved. A few more buildings from a missionary enterprise (that sought to convert the Native American population during 1834-44) were relocated from a site 13 miles north along the Willamette River. Those photos will be shared later. You will note a life-sized sculpture of a sheep, the creature whose lush wooliness underlay the booming business.

These are a few initial pictures of the grounds.

The buildings and grounds are  marvelous; we enjoyed exploring all day in between festival events.

Marc and I wandered about the cheery gathering, shopping for a few goodies at the marketplace in the Spinning Room of the Mill Building. We looked at the wool and noted the processes required to make the yarn and enjoyed watching a friendly woman spinning.

And saw kilt folding by Eric Chandler as he demonstrated how men traditionally folded and put on their kilts. He noted that his shirt was on backwards–so he righted that. I lack technical language to explain all this so will simply share what was observed. (A last picture of it being draped over his shoulder did not come out well.)

Entertainment was enjoyable, from Gordon Munro the enthusiastic storyteller to a singer and dancer (Brian O’hAirt and Maldon Meehan) who performed sean-nos, a more casual, free and intimate style of Irish dancing and singing, if I understood correctly. They are quite accomplished. And I am ready to take classes!

Even though I’d hurt my knee recently it has been healing well so I impulsively joined in as the ceili dance got underway. The fine band Biddy on the Bench played for us. It was well worth the effort it to meld with the cheerful crowd, people helping one another learn. I have been to one other and hope to attend Portland’s monthly ceilidhs. This time, after 15 minutes the tender knee required me to sit out the rest, though I tapped my happy feet and bounced about!

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This is music and dance after my own heart. I wished my mother was alive and could have been there with us. Edna Kelly Guenther loved a good gathering and merriment and told stories about big and little things in life that I feel no one can match.

Afterwards we strolled about and looked at and in the mill and missionary structures.

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A few pleasing shops shown below are in the above building; we ducked in to get out of rain. Our favorite was the bookbinder shop and Spencer, the book binder’s son who now runs the shop, shared some of his trade and how much he loves his work.

Buildings that stand to the right of the mill area include houses from the 1840s and Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church from 1858.

We have come to the end of our Samhain Celtic Festival outing and a big thanks to the Ceili of the Valley Society.

But the real Samhain starts tonight. Have a safe and happy one (or Halloween) if so inclined. And welcome a good winter–our rainy season has begun in earnest here!

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(PS You might take a look at a re-post of last week’s neighborhood sights with a touch of Halloween, since the photos then were a bust–sorry for that glitch. Now they can be seen!  Friday’s Passing Fancy: Historic Irvington Fall Mosey )