Saturday’s Words & Photos: Life and Hoyt Arboretum

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Photos, Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2018

Blue sky and sunshine gleam at me, the autumn colors becoming richer day by day. I am looking out my open balcony doors; the October air lately has been soft and inviting. How fortunate I feel to enjoy such a lesisurely afternoon.

And yet, it has been a challenging week, first dealing with a second knee injury that occurred a week ago on another nature walk. Ah, the importance of strong healthy knees! A greater worry is my one remaining sister being in hospital with heart issues (family health legacy, unfortunately). The past couple days I have been sedentary –a big challenge for me–and very concerned for my sis Allanya. One by one, each of us surviving siblings deal with ongoing heart health matters.

I wasn’t going to post today. Then I recalled a slew of pictures from another recent woodsy foray (not the hike during which I tripped on a piece of hidden rebar sticking up from muddy creek-side earth…a shock out in the woods). Yes!– I can relive the happiness of hiking even as I rest and ice my swollen knee. And take even more good will to my sister, bedside.

The Hoyt Arboretum, on a high ridge of the west hills of Portland, OR., was established in 1928 as a way to conserve endangered tree species. Within the 189 acres are over 6000 specimens of trees and 2300 species, of which 63 are considered endangered or vulnerable. There is a huge collection of conifers, magnolias, deciduous trees…far more than I can note here, and other plants including bamboo. There is also an Herbarium, a natural sciences collection museum for scientists with many samples of plants.

There are 12 miles of hiking trails within a a place of serenity and many wonders. Please enjoy part of our 7 mile hike undertaken one partly sunny/partly rainy afternoon!

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Friday’s Quick Pick/Photos: Good Earth, How You Move Me

Photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson, copyright 2018

Last week-end, Marc and I made our first early spring trek to check out Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge in Washington State. We visit at least once a season to investigate the bird activities and walk among the marshes and grassland, as well as absorb partial view of the Cascade Mountains and portion of the Columbia River. I grew more excited as we neared the turn-off; this nature preserve shares small surprises each visit as well as peaceful beauty.  Many people flock here to enjoy the wealth of the offerings; they are always friendly and usually share what they have experienced.

There is almost more water than trees but alder and fir trees as well as groves of stark black cottonwood are attractive in fields and along the river. We will return when they are fully leaved, but before the summer sun bears down upon us with fiery heat.

Far from being accomplished birdwatchers, we still try to identify our sightings. This time we noted a bald eagle perched high above, blue herons in the marshes, Northern harriers hunting as well as red-tailed hawks, watchful kestrels and a bold scrub jay, and the elegant outlines against brilliant sky of charming swifts. And scores of Canadian geese as well as the requisite mallards and buffleheads. We enjoyed many I could not quite capture on film or name. The harriers were majestic and powerful and flew very low over land, then abruptly rose and rose above treetops countless times. I could barely move for the awe I felt. You’ll find the harrier in the 3rd, 13th and 14th photos. They tend to hover right, almost seeming still, before diving to kill their prey. (Unlike red-tailed hawks which ride the thermals, spiral up and then execute a very rapid dive to prey.) The smallish kestrel stands atop a post. I suspect you all know a bald eagle and heron.

I find the high wild grasses stunning, and love to listen to and watch them sway, shimmy, rustle, sigh and bow in the strong Columbia Gorge winds.

You can see shining Mt. Hood a few times, a dramatic beacon to those of us who live here (though one of many great peaks we can see on a clear day).

There were also a couple of interesting outbuildings beyond the enclosed refuge as you can walk for miles and miles along the rushing river.

Good Earth, how deeply you move me…

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Friday’s Quick Pick: Oh Pacific Ocean, You are a Grand Sea

All photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

Carry me along the rim of this world,
through capricious magic of sky-lit
waters where formidable tales are made
of labor, beguilement, exploration, survival.

Take me to heights and depths where life
shines, burrows, vanishes; light shadow dances;
gold and greens, silver and blues are silken
transparency and density of salt, fishes, shell, plant.

Bring me to the uncertain edge of capriciousness,
rapture of the seventh wave; cover me with lace of spray, sand and stone beneath feet. I will sing a song
of kingdoms built of the tumult and peace of the sea.

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Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: A Small Ballad of Beauty and Fortitude

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Photograph by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

The freshening darkness sings and snarls.
At the window she rests and waits for
that loft and heft of air that carries
all four directions into her emptying mind.
She doesn’t need to move an inch from the
extra wide bed (nor can she) that cradles her

smallness like a bird wrapped within
skeins of a variegated night.
It is a waiting that brings pleasure
as all the light is turned down.
Things that were hiding or resting
take their places, reveal wondrousness.
It’s all a giant music box that pops open as
last shards of color soon pale and vanish.

Why and for what must you wait? he complains
as he nudges her bones away from his heat.
To be friends with life, she tells him.
He utters noises that suit the hollow he makes;
she watches beyond a narrow window, senses keen.
An easy enchantment as earth shifts, sighs;
wind brings sonatas to her strong teacup of a heart.

Everything living in the far-flung night is
larger, far more than she knows, but this is
a comfort: cats ferocious in hunger and desire,
handfuls of birds all glide and whisper,
squirrels and spiders that burrow and spin.
The moon glows without prejudice as the man
creates distance, keeps safe his importance.

Once when she was a brave child
she sat at night under the peach tree.
Savored flesh of tender fruit as twilit sky
stirred with a flurry of bat wings,
each no bigger than her fingertips.
Insects joined in chorus, brittle and bright.
Warm were the rocks, smooth beneath
her failed legs; night crawlers scaled her toes.
No one knew she had dragged herself out
until morning and they found her asleep
by a den of foxes. She had dreamed
she’d stood up, raced in fields behind them.

She grew but her legs did not lead where
she begged them to go. Later, more useless
than when she was certain of healing. Romance.
She has been more at home in breadth of bed
day and night. It has become less to bear.
Fine night creatures circle under the stars;
nature’s design makes room for her in the
unnatural world of trivia. Useless tears.

Night breathes on me and I am freed of it all, she says.
He snores on, head under quilts, blind and safe
from the dark while she floats, heedless,
toward the salvation of this in-between time.

Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: Mount Tabor After Thanksgiving

 

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Photos © Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2017

So after all that other–the absent family,
the breathtaking near misses,
and such uncertainties carried in
the heart like burning sticks or
the mind with its curtain of denial
and, too, prayers resonant with gratitude–

we come for relief and climb the volcano,
sucking air between our teeth like
sustenance, visitor sunshine relieving
wintry chill, earth sheltering us
with no effort a day past the feasts.

We are kinetic with hope, trudging
and running and cycling, leaning
into drapery of pine branches and
the pendulum of no-time, a ticking
of joy rife inside life-pulsed veins.

No one curses or weeps beneath ancient trees
atop the long-sleeping cinder cone, once
so powerful it revised all contours of life.
We understand, have our own potent geology.
Each of us tethers our souls now fluent
with scarce purity, heart-mending moments,
exhilaration under wilder, sweeter skies.

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