Monday’s Meander: The Big River Calls

Yes, Oregon’s numerous rivers hold me in their thrall, and I miss visiting far more of them. This shot is of the Columbia River. Last week I posted a Columbia Gorge hike and, prior to that, a visit to the Fruit Loop resulting in three heavy bags of amazing apples (we’ve eaten most–though we did share). Today it’s blustery-rainy where I live. So it’s good to wrap up recent sunny treks out there with a last revisit of a visit in and around the town of Hood River, a major stop for water sports enthusiasts. (Consistently high winds coming down the Gorge encourage their activities.) We often stroll the streets, visit shops, enjoy coffee or lunch. But the Columbia and surrounding landscape are the draws for me. And great athletes out on the water. This is a prime spot for water sports. I’d have loved being out there a few decades back!

A bit of trivia: the actual Hood River, originating from Mt. Hood’s wilderness in the Cascade Range, joins the Columbia here. And a side note: Marc was offered a job there not long ago…it was very tempting though too far from family if we relocated. And not an easy commute from our home. So here we remain–but it’s beautiful there! Sit back, enjoy the views.

Can you see the adventurers? The camera is pointing at the Washington State side of the river.

The above slideshow: I tried to keep up with the para glider and taking as many shots as I could. He/she struggled a bit so there would be a return ot the shore– but about the time he/she cruised closer out the person went again.

Farewell, Hood River and Columbia River Gorge!–until we meet again.

Monday’s Meander: Chinook Landing Marine Park

Just a turn off winding NW Marine Drive, close to the suburb of Fairview, you will find Chinook Landing, one of the largest boating facilities in Oregon. It is a 67 acre marine park with six boat launching lanes into the muscular Columbia River, which rushes and skims by Portland on the way to the Pacific Ocean. Besides boating and fishing this is a good park for picnics, wildlife viewing and archery, and there is also river patrol station here. I came across these photos taken in 2015 that encourage me to return… while the sun beams down and river breezes are cool but dry. What a sweet place to sit and watch the boats go by, to walk and daydream.

The houses seen to the west in foothills of the Cascades are on the Washington side (likely Camas), a short drive over the Interstate Bridge.

Because I live among so many rivers and not far from the sea, I am constantly enlivened and delighted by the varied bodies’ daily changes and a plethora of water activities. It makes a difference, as I grew up surrounded by the Great Lakes in Michigan (and over 62,000 inland lakes, as well!), so would feel forlorn without water near by. In my hometown, I also played by the pretty tinkling Snake Creek and the swift Tittabawassee River (prone to flooding).

I stood on the long, usually rocky shores of Lake Michigan and never saw the other shore, it was/is that gigantic. As a youngster I’d stare toward the horizon and think: this is just like an ocean but fresh water, how amazing is that! In the Pacific Northwest we are lucky enough to enjoy both fresh (but only about 1400 lakes here–but there are 110, 994 miles of rivers) and saltwater of the Pacific Ocean. (I need to rent a kayak and get out there before winter rains arrive!)

I hope you enjoyed the photos. Chinook Landing at the Columbia River is a good spot for river lovers.

Friday’s Poem: Always the Rivers

Always in the middle of this-

the inside out nights,

tended flowers that do not bloom,

disappearance of two owls,

the muddle of mind as it twists

and turns back to grief-

is the river’s choreography, its genius.

I sense its compositions even at a distance

in my waking and sleeping and go to it.

The Willamette, Columbia, Sandy, Tualatin,

names thick with history that did not

include me, yet I may recline or

lope along its mucky, rocky banks;

I am not denied as it ripples and surges by,

a force on many missions, a lullaby, a dance.

And indifferent to me, I may think,

save that it hears my confessions and dreams

then offers up a gentling or scouring wind

and mirrors every skyscape, cloud, tree.

The river enfolds my secrets in its depths.

And answers to itself but lets me live in its glory.

It must know that if I had a boat it would be my house,

I would loosen the knots, slip off and go, riding its back.

But I can only give attendance to its

magnetic depths and elegant muscle,

the swirl shrug rush rise of water morning into night,

my ears attuned to telegraphed beats, vivace, larghetto,

its teachings subliminal and wise–

what I mean to say is

its songs and dances, its colors

sustain and salvage life, and

make me radiant and true, and it is like

sailing all the way to heaven and back again,

bearing witness to power as I

listen and do hear, look and do see,

seek and do find

Monday’s Meander: Sandy River Fun/Time Out

Today I had another great reprieve from difficult times. I enjoyed a couple of hours at the Sandy River with some family–two daughters, a son-in-law and the twins. The river is at the west end of the Columbia Gorge, near Portland, and it is very popular for recreational activities. The Sandy runs 56 miles and begins its journey in the high glaciers of Mt. Hood, and finally joins the Columbia River. Steelhead and trout are readily fished, folks enjoy floating the river, and any non-motorized boating is popular. Hiking along the river and picnicking and, of course, swimming, are among the activities people enjoy. Lush surroundings with woodlands plus wildlife abounds along the running water–I want to explore more of it. It was a quick trip for the little ones this time.

We found an easily accessed spot along the shore with a small bit of shade nearby. It wasn’t the most picturesque or the quietest stretch but we saw other families having a good time nearby. The water was shallower and calmer; the two year olds could safely enjoy a new experience. The water tended toward chilly but didn’t deter anyone–it hit around 98 degrees at one point today. I’d love to share the varied shots displaying all the fun we had (being protective of grandkids) but wanted to share a glimpse. And, to the twins’ delight, a train sped over the river very close to us. They waded a bit and went out further on their mom’s or dad’s hip; threw small stones, played with wet sand, worked at picking up and throwing heftier rocks. One of the girls, Alera, was hugely satisfied when she managed to do so a couple of times, her face suddenly splashed, her laughter peeling out. They had quite a nice adventure. As did we all.

Above, a couple with my oldest and youngest daughters (six years apart). One dark blond, one with dark curls, different but much the same, as well. The one in the wide brimmed hat is the oldest, Naomi. (I realized they aren’t great shots but so it is this time.)

Naomi did an amazing thing last week. She is staying in Colorado for the summer–she lives in S. Carolina. I was grocery shopping last Thursday when I got a peculiar text from her. It said: I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by and say hi!

There was a picture of her standing at my front door.

I stopped in my tracks, then calmed down and thought, Well, Naomi does some quirky things, likes to play practical jokes. She knows I want to see her–but this photo must be from the last time she visited. I didn’t believe it and kept shopping. She had said she might not make it for a visit until next fall or winter as she was swamped with travelling, art work in progress, applying for tenure at her university. Yet there was a niggling thought…

There was not good reception in the store so I went outdoors in the garden area and texted her.

You don’t mean you are here, of course. That’s an old picture, right?

Nope.

What????

You are really at my door?

Yep!

Oh my gosh, no way!!

Yes!

And I about lost it right there among the pretty petunias and pansies, let out a squeal–and cried a little. (The plant guy stole a look at me, then nicely moved on.) I could hear tears in her voice, too. It has been one and a half years since I have seen her. It has been a trying year and a half with several losses. This daughter has called me twice a week or more faithfully, texted me every couple days, sent me little gifts. We are close in a special way, we can talk some foolishness or explore life intricately. This lovely creative person was once two and a half pounds born at six and a half months, a tiny preemie that was on the brink. She fooled everyone. I am always grateful to see her smile and hear her voice.

And there she was, waiting for me. I about skipped to the cashier, restraining myself as my grin widened, stuck across my face. Then I half-ran out of the store. Such a reunion! She had told her four siblings– they had kept her secret perfectly. Amazing to me, the whole beautiful thing.

She is due to move on this Friday. It will be hard to say “until next time”–as who knows when? But I shall be happy, content to have spent each day with her for a week as we shared time with others, too–we have had a few get togethers with her siblings.

In a couple of days, my one remaining brother and his wife–two professional photographers who have driven across the country with cameras in hand–are coming by. We will catch up. Just be together again.

This is what being vaccinated against Covid-19 allows us to do. It is such a gift to see all, to share meals and good talk–and, once more, hugs. As the long shadow of the pandemic wanes more and more, with the safety factors so greatly improved in Oregon and elsewhere, our lives are day by day resuming a more natural pace, and can include a myriad experiences. Not just sitting on my nice balcony, gazing at the woods and sky, listening to the birdsong, dreaming of better times. Not only taking long walks or hiking in drear or sunshine with faces masked, nodding cautiously at others, wondering what they are thinking, how they are doing. I have needed this hope, this improved living that allows expanded opportunities to reach out some, explore and breathe more freely. Everyone has needed a real turning of the corner, the possibility of more change for the good. Affirmation of life even in the middle of the tenacious precariousness of the world.

And because of all this, I am taking the rest of the week off from blogging. Some of us are headed to the beach soon, for one thing. So, until next time–and may blessings be upon each of you, be careful and caring. I can tell you after terrible loss recently that kindness truly heals and helps. Every one of us.

Monday’s Meander: Elegance of Trees at Champoeg State Heritage Area

Champoeg State Heritage Area is 615 acres is chockfull of delights. Since we are more used to forays through more densely forested trails, we were immediately drawn into wide open fields, wetlands and forests that fan out from the Willamette River. Many paths were paved, also not as usual for hikes, and some of the area was spruced up, likely due to campground facilities nearby.

It is known for its 130 bird species, including the western bluebird, and is a historical site. In 1843 it became the site of Oregon’s first provisional government. A small town flourished there until swept away by flooding in 1861. Now, well favored campgrounds offer many tent campsites, yurts and cabins as well as space for RVs to set up. The campsites were full up.

Closed Visitors Center.

We set out on a portion of the 8.6 mile loop trail. many were doing the same walk, as it was the quintessential autumn day, cool and bright. I was enthralled with the many types of deciduous trees, being more used to pines–and the rich light that sifted through branches and washed over open land. The colors were rust, yellow and orange as well as our NW green. A banquet for the eyes. The air was fresh–it was healing just to breathe that air, as is generally the case when walking in nature. But this was an exceptionally beautiful day.

We left the trails and headed up to the Manson Barn and Farmstead, with garden, from the 1860s.

I will return to this lovely place even when it rains as the trails make it easy to walk a good distance in any weather.

See you next time!