Monday’s Meander: Astoria’s Charms… with Smoke

We visited Cannon Beach at the Pacific Ocean, then took 101 north to Astoria, at the northwest tip of Oregon. Views leading into the city were a bit eerie and oddly mesmerizing to me. Fogginess mingled with light smoke from California and Oregon fires still burning south of us. These scenes feel painterly to me, and different than what I usually am able to photograph.

I always enjoy this deep water port town. The oldest town in Oregon, it was established in 1811. It grew along southern banks of thColumbia River which joins the Pacific there. Named for John Jacob Astor, the entrepreneur, his fur company was established here. I always meditate on the mysterious power of a huge volume of fresh water meeting such vastness of salt water–a melding of two potent forces. Fishing and canneries were prominent businesses there; a last cannery was closed by 1980. Fishing, however, remains important to the economy, as well as tourism for those interested in area history and the town’s placement.

Below, entering from the south side with its smoky, almost vintage, coloration as dusk fell. The Columbia was surprisingly, perhaps deceptively, peaceful. It holds mighty currents and depths.

Although the city is interesting–it boasts several historical museums, a bustling arts scene and good restaurants, about which I’ve posted before–I concentrated on Columbia River scenes as we walked by railway tracks. The faint smoke in the atmosphere–not too discernable to the nose– gives an added yellow-orange tinge here and there. A moody series of views.

The man below arrived in his bright boat at the dock and got off with his dog. They then had a game of catch the stick thrown in the water–a pleasant scene to witness! You can see here and in other shots the Astoria-Megler bridge that connects our two states, and which we have taken a few times to visit a few of Washington’s coastal areas. (It is different and less accessible much of the coastline.)

According to Wikipedia: “Opened 54 years ago in 1966, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.”

Hard-to-see seals on long docks farther out by ships were a raucous bunch!

It was a good end of another day out and about–hope you enjoyed it, as well! See you at “Wednesday’s Words” post.

Saturday’s Poem: Put Me Outdoors

Put me outdoors, into the arms of evening.

Let pungent winds enfold me, lift me to a hiding moon.

May birds whisper sweetness, cougars lie with paws close,

deer stir inside pearled twilight, eyes bright as honey.

Put me on a saved trail, into satin cloak of dark.

Let the sky find me, Cassiopeia and Cygnus, loyal Venus.

May waters ruffle and mirror, fish tip into blue hush of sleep,

river otters float among dancing grass, muddy stones.

This useless poem is trying to find itself,

is an urgent dream

as demon fires kidnap, possess

flailing branches, a tapestry of roots;

to punish the life-giving dirt;

smother forsaken ones, their dwellings of love.

How does one sleep in a night like this?

How does one rest when I cannot

step outdoors to take in a breath,

am not to trod the trails first

shaped by God’s mastery, of holy

regard for all? Days and nights

are sleepwalkers, are at the mercy of raging

otherness that covets the beauty.

Nothing but ash and tears track the stinging hours,

the birds silenced, the cougar screaming softly,

the deer racing and wandering lost, the fish–

the fish who float somewhere, waiting,

small sleek bodies shimmering

in garish light of ambush,

this curse of wildling fires.

My heart pounds the heavy drum of me

as forests fall, let go, are defeated, gone.

Please, put me outdoors into the mourning night;

grant me one prayer for gifts of the emerald life–

for healings to lift up all creatures once more,

to allow more worship in the arching realms of leaves,

under maps of a trillion stars, light messengers of hope.

Soon release us of this beast’s dominion

and teach us to become wise, how to live in these times

o God o God o God amen

(Close to a million acres have burned in Oregon in unprecedented firestorms. They burn near me. We wait for containment, for victory over them, and a long recovery.)

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Among the Others

It was this: gauzy breath of things, a wild perfume

settled on grass and leaf, and whirring wings about me,

the wash of light sheer raiment falling to earth.

Saltwater marsh, wetland woods, mudflats spread out.

Stepping down the path, heart’s beat pulling me along,

and different tattoos of footprints wound about stones.

Mountains rose up, far off as loved ones.

The tableau revealed the paucity of what I knew

and was trying to learn but always, a simpler woman stirred.

Water rested, shone of myriad worlds above,

below, beyond to deeper, deepest waters. The greenest life.

I was as a twin, outside while also still myself:

to sense all that drank, rested, snarled, predated,

slipped into murky green and blue, fur and hooves,

tails and claws that flew and teeth that tore and ears

that pricked long before any small knowing

came to such as myself, a lesser being,

neophyte of nature’s finer absolutes.

Struck dumb by love for all I do not comprehend,

lost to amazement again–I took it in, held it close

Elderberries, bear-berries, salal berries

leaned this way and that. And my legs went weak

as I recalled their bounty meant for wild things.

Day’s revealing light began to cool,

water lulled each side of a narrow path.

No sound followed but a sigh from within

family of grasses, scrunch of bushes.

Trees gathered up shadows and light

like gatekeepers of that country.

But I felt the others. Tell me not otherwise,

they were there and noses lifted, paws stilled,

ears came awake–

black bears, a cougar or bobcat and coyote.

And this was not–despite my adoration–

our common hunting ground.

Not my moody sky to cover

my differentness in the coming night.

(Belated) Friday’s Quick Pick: Hawk Eyes

Spring signs, hawk 034
Photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

What was it you sought,
ecstatic heart pounding,
heroic wings bringing you to earth
amid city’s wilderness?
You wait for the denouement,
crows circling, black wings
cutting into sky with cries that can wound.

I want to be the one to rescue you
but there seems not one way out.
To leave in search of help may
sooner bring down crow strategists,
precise, swift against your loss of power.

Your eyes seek mine as I leave you,
a pawn in nature’s game, beyond my reach
but not without this moment of sudden recognition.

(This is a juvenile red-tailed hawk. I have never been within about 3 feet of one, able to study it, then wait with it. The deafening crows were arriving en mass. I have seen crows harass an owl to the point of exhaustion and one assumes, to death. I wonder what happened to this exquisite bird. The Audubon Society was called; I was too far from home to help it in time and I am hoping the Society was able to send someone out to soon retrieve it and care for it. But I will never forget this encounter.)

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Hold On

Grey walk at L.Park 014
Photo by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

To be caught and barely held fast!
Drifting through without direction
and without needed restraint,
then to be found before finding,
held without holding, full in the balance.

It is no common or easy thing
to land in the tangle of living
and be content to rest, ashimmer
in elements and shifts of wind,
a being amid beings, simplified, whole.

The broad road feels safe, well trod,
yet in the narrows there is a rise
and spin that takes all higher when
one makes way through thorny places:
go on, blood that’s shed can turn to radiance.