Monday’s Meanders: September River Light, with Love

I’d love to share a slew of photos of my wonderful twin granddaughters, almost 18 months old and running about, giggling and squealing, gabbing their twin baby speak. We spent two happy hours yesterday in a pretty park. Alas, I am not allowed so on to today’s topic: my love of rivers.

On Sat. I embarked on a brisk walk along the Willamette River–often a route to explore. That day, voluminous cumulus clouds and warmer fall light were quite lovely. Fall has begun to come into its own. (We still have temperatures in mid to upper 70s Fahrenheit after days of needed soakers –great for firefighters to help contain remaining Oregon fires.) This last wave of heat will end; chill rain will dominate by end of October or early November. Winter, grey and damp, and yet not without its charms.

Above, the top photo reveals people gathering above the beach area. There are stairs leading down to a partly sandy stretch, accentuated by large rock formations along and in the river. During summer, scores of people come to swim, kayak, and various boating activities. Kayaks are rented out of the two blue crates at left side of the second photo–now closed up for the coming winter. I regret I didn’t rent one–each summer flies by and I just don’t get out there…next year! Being in almost any boat draws me.

I’ve shared photos of this area with lots of folks swimming and lounging–even during this summer of COVID-19. Everyone has craved more outdoors and the river, it seems. Now groups are on the wane, though boaters will long commandeer the waterway. Fishing remains popular.

Below, up the stairs and near the entrance of the area, stands an old iron furnace operated from the mid-1860 for about twenty years. It was the first iron furnace on the Pacific Coast and turned out 42, 000 tons of pig iron. Oregon Iron & Steel failed as a business after the 1893 financial crisis, one of the worst in U.S. history.

From here there are pathways–one dirt into the woods and another paved. We often take the paved one for a longer outing, as it connects to Old River Road where few cars go by and walkers enjoy a walking lane–and earnest bikers speed by.

The walking lane is delineated by the white line but this gentleman took to and owned the road–as many do in order to keep good social distance.

Below is a spot we have seen deer, and to the right is a glimpse of an old white house I covet…

I was on the lookout for more leafy color but that is yet to come. So it was time to wind up the walk, back where I started, feeling content and happy…

….but wait—-a last gaze at the serpentine, peaceful river as clouds bunch about treetops even if, lovestruck as I am, I’ll return soon enough.

Monday’s Meander: Roving Along the Columbia River

Seen from the WA. side: Columbia River and OR.’s, Mt Hood
Steigerwald Wildlife Nature Preserve was sadly closed.

We started on the west side of the Columbia River in Washington State one hot afternoon. We had headed to a nature preserve but found it closed, so when we went on, seeking a different area. We found a small parking lot that with access to a walkway by the river. Since we’d not been on this southern part of the the river walk, we checked it out.

There is a reason why we hadn’t intended to stop there. The Captain William Clark Park (of Corps of Discovery, 1806–though we know Native Americans resided there…) is by a small city, Camas, so lots of people traverse that part of a very long, winding walkway. And we enjoy nature with far less people. But any river calls to me–I’ll stop at small or big ones, with or without parks or any path. Columbia River is one I deeply admire, am fascinated by–no matter how many times I visit it. At 1240 miles, starting in British Columbia and emptying into Pacific Ocean after flowing through seven U.S. states… mammoth. It also holds one third of our potential hydropower, so what a resource.

The photos attempt to share its softer nature that afternoon, and how people were enjoying it. We came to Cottonwood Beach which I did not photograph much; it was packed, to our surprise in this pandemic, and we avoided huge groups of friend and family gatherings–but they were having a pleasant time in the unusually warm sunshine.

It is hard to describe how big and deep and restless this river is. The often strong winds were were rather still; the water surface fairly calm. But when I see the boats out there with fisher persons, I wonder if they ever feel intimidated by the mighty currents that occur, the breadth and width and depth of it. It is one of the biggest rivers in the U.S. flowing by Portland as well as Vancouver, WA. metro. There has been. alas, flooding occasionally…

I leave you with a truer perspectives below, displaying both Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River Gorge as it rumbles, winds and sweeps toward the vaster Pacific. It was a relaxing afternoon on the WA. walk– but we do hope to hike in the Gorge soon again!

Monday’s Meander: Spring Keeps Unfolding Along the Willamette River

For some reason I have lately been having problems downloading iPhone photos to my Dell laptop. These few show a small array from the wonderful walk yesterday as it edged towards mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit. There were more shots of people fishing, of flowering bushes and 6+ feet tall graceful grasses and others… In any case, I am grateful we could get out and enjoy this. About a quarter of the sparse number of walkers had masks on. There was plenty of room to keep our distance–a little lonely for this time of year. Many cyclists of all ages sped by. Heartening to see kids on their bikes having fun.

Such a relaxing couple of hours outdoors! Spring perhaps means more than ever.

It was less empty than it appears…but in ordinary times, this area would be full of folks barbecuing (there is a covered picnic area just left of photo) and gathered in groups to chat. There were several dog walkers (I didn’t want to intrude upon snapping a pic) and a few couples and families on pathways alongside the water. We all found the relief of beauty and other peaceful moments, as well as friendly nods or greetings as best we can.

Until next time–be safe, stay connected to others, keep nurturing hope and spread small kindnesses.

Warm regards to all,


Riverine Sunday, A Walk for Life

Riverine Sunday, A Walk for Life

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution

The stillness within me is punctuated by vagaries of thought and sensation, an upwelling of feelings. They arrive following days of a deeper quietude, the sort that language cannot translate with succinctness nor a rudimentary grace. It all lives in a surround of consciousness, yet I am full of not-knowing. Limited. Time even seems defined by an existential awareness of separateness, not constant but clear. And then a sense of merging with humanity visits me and I am plummeted into a morass that also cradles in a primal way. This isn’t a new experience; it has become too frequent.

I have put this off, my usual mid-week essay, a genre that allows me to tackle and examine a variety of ideas, of internal and external interactions. A genre I love because of its strictures and demands. The words shape facts while the reality I experience gives rise to a flood of connections. Somewhere within this there is a brief communion as I strive to remain loyal to the truth as I know and understand it. Yet whenever I have begun to write of the facts of this topic today, either blankness or tears have marred my physical, intellectual and psychological vision. I have to leave to others the task of reporting and investigating acts of terror but still I want to put in words…something…and this is all I can offer.

On the last very early Sunday morning, a massacre occurred in Orlando, Florida. It is worldwide news by now. Such information travels across the globe so fast that we can know and yet not know really, so we hear, try to absorb and wait. I, too, have let information in bit by bit, even when not wanting to know. Then I stared at blank pages begun on my PC. I don’t much comment on national or world news; I am not writing a political blog. But this is also other than that.

While this will be repeated many times I will add my voice and my agony: why again all this violent death? The terrifying end of 49 human beings, leaving survivors–the wounded, the traumatized–to go on living with it every passing moment? This is again more grievous loss of life that seeks and cannot find a way to contain the keening. It seems stullifying, unfathomably so. A reminder surfaces at moments, a minuscule comfort: that people somehow manage to go on. To endure what was imagined as unendurable. To mine the treasure of love, anyway. To root out compassion even in the dark, thorny places. To grab onto a shred of hope and not relinquish it despite the poison that can render us exhausted. We still know how to put into motion an intention to become braver, stronger, wiser even as the rage against causes of suffering ebbs and flows.

On Sunday afternoon, despite the specter of fear that slips about, despite the stunning grief that descended on our country once more, my husband and I went down to our city center to the waterfront. We have a river walk along the Willamette River. The annual Rose Festival has begun and lasts a month, a time when thousands of tourists visit in search of not only our world famous roses but also our food and coffee and micro beer, arts and entertainment, and the extraordinary beauty around us. I wanted not to see the arts and crafts market or the festival midway fair so much; that has been done and done over the years. And I have often studied the big ships that set anchor in our port to be admired. I have also witnessed the dragon boat races many times, thrilled to do so, cheering on all vibrant teams.

It may seem selfish to go out and about, as if it could be just any walk after tragedy such as this. But it was hard to do–the weight of it. I needed to make my body a part of this world. Dawdle in the sunlight. To breathe the early summer air that was saturated with sounds, with natural and man-made smells. To walk and feel the muscles in my legs, the pumping of my heart. To feel the vivacity of life humming and dancing about and to join in. I wanted to be around people, just enough. To stroll through palpable laughter, hear strangers calling out to one another in fun and excitement. To see youth riding scary carnival rides only to soon be safe again; watch children climb into and wriggle out of their parents’ arms. I had to watch our river, friendly and commerce-busy and finally intersecting with the mighty Columbia–those miles north and south I have walked countless times over decades. To visit the cafes and little garden areas and the old and new architecture I know so well. I wanted to love my city as it has loved me, for Portland has been a nurturing and energizing home for my family. We just wanted to walk without a fear that blocked our curiosity, and we did. We never know when our paths will end so until then, we go forth into the moment.

And it turns out I did want to do all the things I’ve done. So I offer you a brief portion of last Sunday afternoon. After that news. After those taken had left us and as those still living were tended to far from here–this, my city which mourns, too. May we not forget either the living or the dead. May we find moments of grace amid wreckage, and share a balm of small kindnesses. And go into the world and walk with life, for life, despite the risks that always accompany this human living.


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