Monday's Meander/Pacific Beachfront!

Call me lazy today but rather than sort recent pictures I have taken, I spent time perusing my slew of beachy pictures. I mean, it’s February, it rains all the time–then today as I was walking as I do daily, there came a flurry of bits of rain that soon morphed into hail-like stuff–an attempt at Oregon’s Willamette Valley snow. I kept on, invigorated–and appreciably more damp.

When I returned I began to think of the beach…and located a few decent older shots to post today. Ahhh. Of course, the reality is that it is usually very windy, chilly and wet at our Pacific Ocean beaches this month– but we always love it. Time to go again soon–if there isn’t too much real snow in the mountains to close passes we need to cross. Meanwhile–enjoy with me!

Wednesday’s Words/Nonfiction: Living a Peak Life

Photos, Cynthia Guenther Richardson 2019

This morning I sip from a mug of Chai tea on our expansive balcony above terraced land, looking around and down the sudden slope, then beyond to shadowy foothills. I close my eyes. This resident wind is tender or sharp, easy or pushy. My hair swirls about; dashing along my neck a tingle of coolness is ruffled with warmth. The rising land still holds its rocky, earthy muskiness–out of which a coyote or skunk may emerge as if from hideaways–and floats upwards. A brighter fragrance–far-drifting new cherry tree flowerets?–joins in. Air currents are full of promise and mystery–palpable power–as it weaves through firs and red alders, grazes ubiquitous ivy which climbs over hillock and gully.

A hammer contacts wood in chirpy rhythmic fashion. The drone of a circular saw thrums beneath hammer’s affirmative strikes. Someone is stapling shingles, another broadly mowing. Soon a dog, then two and three voice approval or perhaps dissent. Robins and crows compete, flit and swoop then call and respond. Mourning doves utter throaty yet subtle refrains. Squirrels chit and chatter, rush along tree limbs. Of which there are so many my mind feels forested with greens and browns. The woman next door is sweeping her balcony, long strokes that make me think she is distracted by the horizon. My eyes fly open.

Two orange butterflies dance a romance in mid-air. There is, as ever, a veritable feast for the vision. Verdant land, with more to be revealed by the looks of budded limbs. A gleaming blue sky paints space above Coast Range foothills; they proudly reveal simple elegance. In the distance, a motorcycle–Harley-Davidson cruiser?–speeds up, drives on then downshifts, rounds a curve for steep descent to the valley, belches a satisfied growl. Soon a child spirals across a street, there is hard contact and response of a basketball, while a father’s laugh is reassuring of his love.

All of these spring signs have given me joy for as long as I can recall. Contentment is close to follow a shock of giddiness. Spring was not very gentle in my childhood Michigan and could be problematic despite the dreamy fever it brought. In Oregon, it sneaks into being, a balm spreading upon day and night, a surprise of sunlight here and there, a slow drying out of air and dirt and then more colors popping out. Blooms never really end here, but they prevail with more gaudiness and grow bigger in heat.

March in 2019: the advent of spring arrives after last acts of spotty snowfall or icy drizzle. It follows, for me, more death knells, then illnesses and pain which riddled my psyche as well as flesh. Added to the mix was a frustrating moving experience (and costly), undercut by rounds of sleeplessness. Spring is a relief even when it seems overdue, even if it feels lean. I can wait long no matter what. I rub the cocooning wintry dark from dim eyes. I reach for rejuvenation and find it. I look, behold.

But I studied the mirror the other day (not recommended after hard winters). Deeper and more lines bracket eyes and mouth from all that gritting of teeth (those left) and squinting of bloodshot eyes, a daily praying for strength and courage, shameless pleading for a truly good rebound. I am looking–becoming–older. And I am moving on, if not free of body’s complaints then pleased with more upsurges of energy. And a deep motivation to embrace our new home as well as the future and what it will offer (our daughter’s twins, for two wonders; care of both soon to be nervously/attentively/happily experienced…). I can do anything I must do, believe anything I desire to believe in. I make my own life become what it shall. The aching inside and out will lessen or be accepted, managed. Not only the great scheme of nature is resilient. We human animals daily take part, too, and we try hard until the very end, even excel at the labor of it.

So, spring arriving like an exquisite hope come true has made the demands of winter worth enduring–as it is for any who dwell within a land that brings chilly/rainy/dark/snowy winters. It is the soft singe of heat that is longed for, a soothing flutter of wings, the rustle and sweep of things growing in designs and hues that break through after hibernation.

When I walk here, I see snow-capped Cascades on the eastern side of where I live. At this surprising 800 feet–after living at sea level for over two decades–it feels like we reside in a grand high place. I see: resplendent Mt. Hood. A reshaped-by-volcanic-spews-yet-lovely Mt. St. Helens. And is it Mt. Baker there, too? Glimmering white crowns above jagged granite blues of enormous ranges. One cannot help but be raised up by peeks into beauty while moving through sunshine.

There is a system of trails atop these undulating hills. I explore them daily, pull on trail or tennis shoes and take off as if I know where I’m going. I trust that I will find my way. I have a good inner compass, am not floundering in wilderness. I recall landmarks as I go. There are fine houses interspersed among pathways and briefly admired, but trees and creatures captivate me. Swing of arms and squared thrust of shoulders, two light feet and an elongated back take me where I care to go. Mind as clear as spring water follows this beat; chest fills with heart’s power. I clamor my way up and up winding, steep ascents and then I rest, gulping piney air. I hope to find musical brooks; there is a lake and the meandering river nearby. I lack nothing much, if anything. (Perhaps the sea, a short drive away.)

My well-seasoned body is regaining strength and new boldness with daily forays. My spirit is flooded with pleasures. I sink into bed with thankfulness. How much can the flesh and being hold of sorrow and elation and wonder? So much. So much. We need to welcome it all, open the windows and doors of home.

Who could have known what we needed was such a change, then guided us to such a good place? In the core of my being that constant hunger for forested land and wilder creatures with an outdoor life right within my reach rang loud and clear. My husband, Marc, also believed more nature with its authenticity and intrigue was needed. Now. So here we are. The city is close enough, while we awaken each day feeling far from it.

I came home the other day sweaty, my hair tangled, hands a little dirty, my brain and camera stuffed with ideas and images. I will take you with me as I learn the places and ways here. Enjoy now a little of what I have just begun to know.

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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Fridays’ Passing Fancy: Winter Light Festival, Soul’s Balm via Arty Fun

Winter Lights Festival and 101

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How to beat the winter blues? Easy: welcome to the third annual Winter Light Festival in Portland, Oregon and get ready for a quirky experience!

Because I can’t describe it any better, here is a brief description from Wikipedia:

“The Portland Winter Light Festival is an annual winter light festival in Portland, Oregon, in the United States. Each year has been presented by the local nonprofit Willamette Light Brigade[1] and powered by Portland General Electric. The festival is always open to the public and free to attend.[2]   The event, first held in 2016, featured over 40 light-based art installations, performances, and other activities, and took place exclusively around OMSI. ”

OMSI is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, a wonderful place to visit. This year it was held at other venues as well, but we stayed around this spot as it was so lovely. There were 40, 000 attendees in 2017–likely a couple more thousand this year. But it was the first year Marc and I attended. By February we truly NEED more light to dispel the the usual winter rain-drenched gloom. But during our evening out there was no rain and it was warmer than usual.

The festival was held along the waterfront of the Willamette River. We had wonderful views from  the Tillikum Bridge, designed for cyclists, pedestrians and the popular transport, our Max train. This first bridge (we have 14 in the greater valley area) seen here is the Marquam Bridge as the sky darkens.

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Below, three views of the Tillikum, and a look beneath my feet. The rest are a few shots of what I saw. Enjoy! (As always, click on pictures to view larger sizes.)

Winter Lights Festival and 110

Winter Lights Festival and 150

A giant metal dragon entertained an enthralled crowd of all ages.

Winter Lights Festival and 215

Down to the riverbank for some quiet.

And back into the happy fray to end the cheer-filled evening.

Walking My Neighborhood

Today I moseyed rather than took off at my daily power walk pace. It felt right to pause and savor anew the attributes of our neighborhood, well aware how fortunate I am to live here. I’d appreciate taking you along with me this time and will likely share more in the future. It restores me with its emerald beauty and variety of scenes.

Irvington Historic District was designated as such and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. Substantial as well as more modest houses were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by merchants, doctors and lawyers, lumbermen and cannery owners, steamboat captains and civil servants, to name a few. The lots are expansive for a close-in city neighborhood. Even then, some barely accommodate square footage and yards festooned with gardens that tantalize mind and eye. Wide streets retain a sense of history even as improvements are made. Mammoth, diverse old trees arch over the streets. They offer shelter as well as beauty when I meander in rainy weather, cooling shadows when I move through summer’s blaze.

The varied architecture and landscaping include verandas and columns, flower- and vine-laden trelisses and fences, outdoor lounging/dining areas and even garages whose flat roofs accommodate potted flowers and seating with tables or a sofa. There are iron rings attached to curbs, once used to tie up horses–now there are toy horses tethered, a tradition of sorts. In addition, many display varieties of art or hang wind socks, banners or flags and create fountains or small ponds. I am often surprised to see the interesting things people want to exhibit, such as a full-sized giraffe on a patio; old windows hanging from a wire between trees; colored bottles upside down in the earth or on hung in a small tree; rock designs and mosaics; and groupings of rustic or colorful bird houses on poles or branches. And at the thick bases of several trees are miniature scenarios that seem created for fairies and pixies with teeny houses, furniture and pathways.

Does this sound at least slightly enchanting? It is. It is one reason I choose this spot, residing in the neighborhood 22 years. I don’t live in one of the fancy houses–there have been a variety of houses in my life and as we emptied the nest of five kids this spacious apartment has worked out well. There are many pleasing, some outright elegant “plexes” as well as houses divided into apartments, condos and townhouses, all tucked in amid stately residences. And we have a couple of streets with more modern apartment complexes shined up with abundant flowers and fine landscaping.

Each walk I take provides happy entertainment and causes for meditation, a revolving feast for the eyes. I have documented these walks for over two decades in all seasons and in many states of mind. I have a history of changes as well as a compendium of established Irvington District scenes as I have loved and walked it. Enjoy a sampling. I do use photographs from Irvington archives for various posts but this time have gathered a number of pictures showcasing autumnal-tinged scenes. You may note details like someone’s dry cleaning hung on  a massive front door of a large home; a sturdy birdhouse “B and B”;  an statement (or prayer) spelled out in grass and flowers; and a gnarled, proud tree–perhaps a catalpa, I’m not certain–but I’m happy to find it standing after each gusty rainstorm.

I didn’t include a rambling house with a big side yard devoted to a flourishing vegetable garden and several chickens. Or the dignified hand-carved eagle that presides over its corner. A mini bamboo forest I seek out, feeling as if I’ve landed in a jungle. Or another life-sized giraffe peeking from an upstairs window–who’d have thought to add it to one’s menagerie? Well, the numerous oddities and unique beauties will wait for another post.

What does your neighborhood mean to you? Do you cherish your memories of it, avail yourself of its surprises and delights? Take a long walk and discover it anew.

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