Monday’s Meander: Into Springtime Meadows and Woods

I am getting the itch–like so many others–to travel farther than a couple hours from home. But I admire both field and woods, and when you add a ribbon of river flashing here and there a simple amble is irresistible. Though we have many such areas to explore nearby, each displays a special character. This one is comforting and delights my eye with the many textures and shadow and light. Champoeg State Park was closed since a catastrophic ice storm in mid-February. We drove out in hopes of finding it re-opened (the website was confusing). We weren’t sure what we’d find, as forested land everywhere has suffered losses. And the ice not only immediately felled thousands of trees (one upon my car…), but did enough damage that they continue to crack, then suddenly break apart. So off we went and were pleased to find it open. Our last visit–with a post created–was in November 2020, right before winter’s chilling rains were steady and daily.

There were many trees down, with gaps that created enlarged new portals through the woods. There were broken branches here and there but most damage was cleaned up. We’ve seen bare spots in other natural areas…and often huge mounds of chopped trees near the trails. But this was not so at Champoeg–they’d trucked broken and shredded branches and downed trees elsewhere (look for one picture with the fence and see a few piles in the distance). We could gawk at the river more readily. The meadow, dense with waving tall grasses, seemed broader and brighter than during last summer’s visit.

Since our granddaughter passed away April 16, and a grandson has fallen ill with Covid-19 (thankfully recovering after 12 days), we’ve needed greater restoration of spirit and body. Perhaps you will enjoy this look about as I have. It encourages happy thoughts every time we visit there!

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!