Monday’s Meanders: Walking an Aged (Suburban) Volcano/Giving Thanks

One view from Nansen Summit, Mt. Sylvania

Our travelling days are on pause, but we can walk daily into the embrace of nature within our neighborhood. If all trails were completed, we’d knock off a robust 8 miles. This is very hilly country with plenty of steeper ascents and descents. There are also several tributaries of creeks emptying into the Tualatin River and Willamette River and Oswego Lake. Walking carries us around/about an extinct volcano, our old-timer Mt. Sylvania. When we first moved out here, I was amazed every time out I discovered more paths that interconnected and took me pretty places. You can never get lost; the paths intertwine.

As a refresher for older readers and intro to new: Mountain Park is an award winning area of Lake Oswego, OR. designed in mid-to-late ’60s. It covers 200 acres of land–forest, riparian and wetland. And it culminates in the extinct volcano’s summit elevation at 975 ft. with panoramic views walking around the path. Well, that’s isn’t very high….but since Portland metro is in a valley, it is here. (Driving down to city center, my ears actually pop…a swift descent.)

I can’t take you to every park and greenspace today. But I’ve posted often about area trails. The photos here are recent–some taken today–and highlight parts of what I enjoy about living in this emerald paradise, on the volcano’s slopes. (Portland, FYI, has other volcanoes.) A majority of Mountain Park trails are paved and wide so it’s an easier time of it…especially appreciated during sodden winters with near-daily rains through spring–and handy for the mandate of social distancing, even outdoors. Let’s get walking.

I love the mossy rock walls along many paths.
This shot and the one below…show a part of
…the neighborhood’s largest greenspace, undergoing restoration and storm water management.
This view of another portion was taken a couple wks. ago–leaves were still hanging on more. Like taking a break here on a bench, wandering along the narrow tributary behind greenery.
Note the well-fed squirrel on the right of the wood pile. He looks…utterly stuffed.
The ubiquitous but pretty ivy…cannot keep it at bay for long.
A lovely park for dogs with their people. It is actually downhill to this fairly flat spot.
People leave painted rocks along the path for all to enjoy.
Glimpses of the Coast Mountains beyond foothills–1.5 hours from us is the Pacific Ocean.

Got to keep on moving! I pulled a leg muscle two weeks ago and it’s finally healing! It was tough to sit out the hiking I crave–state parks became more beloved this summer and fall. Now it doesn’t bother me to climb stairs and hills so I at least can relish faster, longer, more challenging walks again. Walking–and hiking– cures almost anything that ails me, keeps me wide awake to mysteries of this earth and the pleasures of movement. Marc caught me, below, as I crossed a favorite bridge.

We have several tunnels under streets for safe passage. Marc is making his way through one.
The other side–one for each direction.
I paused and considered this path. We like this climb up but it gets very muddy. Since it becomes quite steep, it is easy to slide back in spots . Waiting until it stops raining a couple days!
The view of the sunset beyond the living room window when we got back.

We were home in an hour, a common walk time. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our wintry neighborhood walks. It can seem overfamiliar at times, but I feel fortunate to have easy access to trails/pathways–I walk out our door, go uphill or downhill and take off. My long ago repaired heart has gotten even stronger since, according to my cardiologist, I am completing a kind of circuit training here–and longer, more arduous hikes in the country. Being 70 is pretty good–despite aches and twinges that come and go– as long as I can walk and hike nearly every day! It is that valued.

Looking forward: I hope to have time to write the post on Wednesday, as usual. But that depends on how my baking goes. Since we aren’t gathering our big family for Thanksgiving due to the state lockdown/risk of contracting the virus, I have baking plans to help make up for it. I’ll share the results with my adult children and grandkids on Thursday.

Well, be kind to one another, practice self care. Live in peace as much as possible. I am counting my blessings daily despite challenges. I know you will find yours, too. Despite losses and sorrows we must bear sooner or later, we keep on, kindle hope in any small way. It is better to live in good faith with gratitude–and I thank God for the breath to do it–than to give up and miss all the moments of splendor we can find or create.

PS I have an anniversary today: after ten years of WordPress posts, I still very much appreciate your presence. Thank you for being here, to partake of my life and to let me enjoy some of yours in return. I have gotten through many trying times and celebrated wonders and triumphs while creating and offering these stories of healing and hope. And I have had much fun participating in the blogging world! So many fascinating people living rich lives–and people overcoming huge odds and making the world a better place. From my heart to yours, do take good care. I sincerely hope you can feel the love for life and humanity that I mean to share with you.

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.

Wednesday’s Words/ Nonfiction: An Adoration of Trees, i.e., Solace and Safety

The solace and the beauty remained every bit as enchanting, of course, after our long hiatus from our urban forest. We went hiking to insert ourselves once more within its wonders. As we were away Monday (more on that next week), here is what I saw on Sunday’s foray–this, rather than a slated piece on love. Love is right in those trees for me, anyway. Not apart from Portland but in its DNA, Forest Park sprawls in the west hills right snug to the city.

Portland from the way up many rising hills; the forest is on slopes at base of Tualatin Mountains

It is a densely planted, textured, thriving 5000 acres, one of the largest urban natural areas in USA. It is home to over 100 species of mammals and as many birds, and offers 70 miles of trails. It is, then, a treasure, and I have waited for months to visit. Here you will see a small amount. But first we stop at the Oregon Viet Nam Veterans Memorial. Several sat on the slopes quietly talking on blankets or sat alone, meditating.

We headed into Hoyt Arboretum area. This part of the forest covers 192 ridgetop acres, home to 2300 kinds of trees and bushes. The trails range from steep to comfortable, a great workout in the bright, hot, open air. Lots of Douglas Firs and so many others.

If I recall correctly, above and below are paperbark maple. New kind to me!

And below as noted. The nest two are the trees coming and going.

Click through the slide show for a walk into and out of the redwoods.

A couple strolling hand in hand. Lots of couples!

It was a rewarding and hotter-as-we-climbed afternoon through hills, up to ridges and down again (about 4.5 miles)… appreciating fine old trees, scatterings of wild flowers and much other growth. (Usually we can see 3 major mountains in good weather but that day they were obscured by mistiness.) I also appreciated people here and there being respectful of space and quietness, ambling softly among the wide open spaces, feeling freer and refreshed in radiant summered air.

For me, there is almost nothing like a brisk walk or steady hike. When outdoors the inner and outer aspects of my life coalesce better, and somehow I feel more vibrant, and life more real. Yes, happiness is the word– for the rocky soil, reaching, entwining branches and grandness of blue sky above with a veil of shadow about feet. And all that enthralls and surprises in between. The trees teach us about endurance, flexibility, connectedness and symbiosis, efficient designs for thriving, usefulness, fineness of form, historical preservation, and of course, loveliness. They speak to me as the wind circles and rushes, as within trees the night’s deep stories come alive and dark flows into dawning light and then birds perch, flutter and sing among branches. I see how small I am and yet a part of the whole. And in this time, of all times, how fortunate to have such reminders, and a few hours’ glory of God’s diverse creations.

Monday’s Meander: March Scenes from the Pacific Northwest

Contrasting views from the country to city…I savor them all. My long walks have gradually become less rain-slogged with more rending of cloud cover, allowing longer stunning light and, finally, deepening blue skies and flowers abloom. The bees are out and hard at it, what a relief. We saw a hummingbird by the river zipping about and lots of birds singing, fluttering here and there with their lovely plumage.

Bear with me if I often post shots of the spring glories. I need nature’s mysterious and lovely offerings more than ever. I suspect we all are eager for the good land’s magnetic vagaries and welcome continuity as much as we can get. Sunlight’s always a refresher. Sky that is bright feels like open arms. I do hope you all take a good walk this week, short or long.