Monday’s Meanders: Salmon Creek, Late Summer

Salmon Creek, WA.

This Washington State recreation area, Salmon Creek Regional Park, is a place we return to at least once a season. Being only a 30-45 minute drive from our Portland suburb, it is an easy day trip. With over 375 acres of bottomlands, wetlands and forested hills, it also has a lovely greenway with three miles of mostly paved walkways. It is peaceful although well-utilized by many visitors. (We felt safe here, though people didn’t wear masks much, which our state of Oregon has mandated–and most people wear them outdoors, too, if there are groups of people or not enough room on narrower pathways to keep 6 ft. distanced.)

We start at Klineland Pond at the edge of lush acreage–one of the few in this area with many fun features for families–and then move on to more of nature’s delights. Families and groups of friends were having a great time out there. The scents of grilled food was enticing!

An area roped off; I have seen people fishing there. I imagine that house has a pretty view, if at times a noisy one.
Below, another part of the pond.
A view from a dirt trail in the woods above the pond.

Moving on, we made frequent stops creek-side–to enjoy the beauty and to stay cooler. It was closing in on 90 degrees Fahrenheit with no clouds.

As you can see, there were stretches with few to no people. Just sunshine, too-dry grasses and bushes. Trees set away from the water looked parched. This is fire season–fires are now often breaking out in the Pacific NW and California; one can imagine how fast this would burn–a sobering fact. It was very dusty and the air fairly crackled with dryness.

So, back to the creek and shadier areas. My water was getting low in my bottle–I need a bigger size I can carry comfortably. A visit to REI (outdoor gear) is due.

Marc debating whether or not there are any good rocks to find.

As I was snapping away, a family edged out from brush to wade with their grateful dog. I was feeling a bit envious–next time, I’ll come ready to take a dip, perhaps!

Pardon my turned back but I am hot and thinking: soon, a tall, super-chilled iced tea
Heron observing us observing it.

Back on the walkway, we headed for our car, waving to youthful skateboarders gliding along and stopping briefly by a women’s softball game–with a few folks watching. I felt for those athletes–but good for them!

After a last look about, the afternoon came to a pleasing end: off to find Marc a vanilla sweet cream cold brew and for me, an iced Passion Tango herbal tea. Heavenly day.

Monday’s Meander: A Day with Dahlias

What an afternoon out in the country! Flowers are always worth a half hour drive–and braving a strong bathing in August sun. And dahlias are one of my favorite summer garden offerings.

But I hadn’t ever been to a strictly dahlia farm, so what a pleasure to see the varieties and spectrum of color. I was amazed by the intricate, varying designs of petals and bloom sizes, as well as rainbow of hues. Dahlias look so beautiful and yet hardy, stems strong and topped by bright faces, camera-ready.

The white ones above struck me…they proudly thrust toward the sky. They seemed valiant, large flowers a bright yellow- white, swaying a bit in soft gusts of breeze–so at ease amid the strife in our world.

Long views of the 35 acres of this flower-producing farm were gorgeous, as below.

Moving among the rows, one is aware that life is far more wondrous than we can imagine at times. We decided to browse a smaller show garden area, as well as check out the gift shop area. A nice group of folks milling about, families having a good time. I got a couple bunches of blooms, too.

Some of the blossoms are showy and gigantic.

After over an hour of wandering, it was starting to feel a bit steamy…and I sought shade.

Marc thought better of entering–not enough room to socially distance. I sort of wanted that Bless Our Home outdoor mat, but it was pricey, anyway…!
Below, an angel, saints and a maiden for your garden guardians.

That wrapped it up for a wonderful afternoon outing. We will return!

Friday’s Pick on Saturday: Mama Love

The sweetness ripens in giving and getting,

touch like petals in hand, gaze spellbinding

as moon and sun, magic laugh no one

hears but trees, sky, you, her, her.

Life can stew and turn sour and

time pilfer much of value but this,

this will survive to sustain you,

a font of rich nourishment, a love

offered with abandon and returned

with ease and such small expectation.

Thursday’s Words/Nonfiction: The Better Deal

I went to a mini-country flea market a couple of weeks ago and was at first disappointed. It was a lark, something to do on a lazy July afternoon. I expected a vast array of fascinating items, pretty things, possibly antiques, as well–like the flea markets you see on TV, where most things look interesting. If I try again, I will have to research the best ones to browse–although I have said I’m not keen on collecting anything now. Possibly never again. Yet afterward I felt it was a satisfying, even cheery time.

I have written before of the things I managed to hang onto. But I haven’t even been a bonafide collector–rare books or other pricey specialties–oddities like intact fenders from 1940s trucks, say, or fine lacy collars from France. No, I am no expert or even wanna-be expert. Rather, a gatherer of bits and pieces: hand-thrown ceramic mugs; arty blank greeting cards; magnets depicting interesting places or people; excellent pens and mechanical pencils (not pricey–just a strong, smooth delivery). And more useless things, of course, like rubber bands and old glasses. Because you never know…

When we moved in March, we gave the heave-ho to those useless and many superfluous items. I kept thinking that I wanted to lighten my life load and also that I do NOT want my children to have to deal with extraneous items when I am finally gone. Lots of drawers and cupboards were emptied and sorted, memories no longer requiring vast material semblances. There was a whole storage area in the basement whose contents I didn’t tabulate. I don’t care what was there; it hadn’t mattered for decades. I didn’t watch those hauling, nor the truck being filled and leaving for the dump. The haulers sorted out any good stuff and did what they wanted with it. I was entirely relieved to see empty space.

So I am not wanting to replace the old with newish old things. I have done that for years–church rummage sales, garage and estate sales. I would stop in a flash to see what was good, or just to browse. You couldn’t imagine what might jump out of a dusty stack or a pile on a table. Something useful or lovely, all was game– though most of the time I walked away empty-handed, pocket currency intact.

Second-hand shopping was, in truth, the affordable way to manage our household’s needs for many years. It wasn’t about collecting good stuff. With five children, clothing and shoes were expensive to supply. My husband, a businessman, got good togs, but I was happy enough with hand-me-downs. (Appreciated Goodwill stores many times over.) So were the kids until they thought they knew better at 12, 13. Our four daughters shared clothing, anyway–even wore some of mine, since we were all about the same size for years. Our son was the only one who sometimes got brand new clothes. I’m not sure he even cared since dirt and sweat permeated all.

The same went for household things. I’d seek out decent pots and pans and replacement dinner sets and glasses. Another good bed frame. A usable lawn mower or cheap bike. A chest of drawers I could paint or a small desk to refinish. End tables for the den. Vases and picture frames and unused candles–always desired and useful, it seemed. Everything I needed could (and can) be gotten somewhere for much, much less. Back then I could not– and later, would not–pay full prices. All could be gotten for a song at any sidewalk sale opportunity. Why not go for it? One could always walk away with a shrug; on to the next possibility.

I also have appreciated chatting with the sellers as I searched, hearing stories of why they were clearing things out. Sometimes–like I had a few times early on–money was needed badly enough to sell their goods, say, to cover rent or a looming car payment. Other times they were revamping, hoped for a fresh decorating or fashion start; were moving and starting over far away. Divorce seems to always demand unloading much. Babies growing fast, children leaving home. Job losses, illness. Or just a desire to clear out the cobwebs, be free of their–they just faced it head-on– junk. (All situations I have been familiar with over decades…) It was clear if they were real collectors of valued items, they could even make good money. Then go out and buy more. What could I say? I’ve always adored books and had (perhaps) too many. Still do and buy them used mostly–and re-sell later.

I have to say it is hard for me to spend hard-earned money on new and costly items. I can see new computer or washer, for example, dressy shoes or beautiful handmade art or jewelry now and then from art fairs (have to support artists and crafts people!). But my forest green Laz-y-Boy sofa came from my sister’s years ago; it is still serviceable. As is the fine woolen tulip rug my other sister sold me for cheap. (She is gone; I think of her every day as I walk on it). And by the way, they have both been serious bargain hunters out of principle, my remaining sister far more than I. And she has been a serious collector of turquoise jewelry and Native American totems, old tools, musical instruments and more. She’d take used furniture discarded on the street, restore it to its gorgeous origins and sell it–she long had bought and sold certain items for a tidy profit. It must be in the blood, as my deceased brother collected wind instruments, silent and foreign movies and jazz records and motorcycles/cars and their parts– and more. My son salvages broken things, fixes them for fun, gives them away. We love to find hidden treasures, I guess, to keep or gift. And if we really save on a big sale or with smart haggling it is a happy purchase, indeed.

But I am, I believe, done with accumulating much more. I just like to look. I don’t need much, nor fancy things (okay, good clothing left over from my retired work life), though I’m sure some think I could enjoy better possessions than what we have. Truth is, I like our pared down belongings, and the emptier spaces that suit our current home. Less to take up my time fussing over, maintaining.

What matters more to me is the simpler life, a life swept of miscellaneous stuff and of absurd agendas (like cleaning fancy silver, which I was brought up doing–who needs it?). My mind grows more orderly, calmer, as if sunlight illuminates and breezes sweep in to freshen up my thinking. My heart is steadier and less constantly taut with life’s aches. My soul feels a stirring that can be overlooked or even lost when revved up with pursuit of this desire, that finery, that temporal need. I want to stand alone with myself and feel alive and quite alright, just as I am.

My husband and I gravitate more to the outdoors in drier, warmer weather. The rustling, nearly meshed canopy of leaves above, balcony overflowing with potted flowers, hummingbirds and bees flitting in and out: heavenly moments. I cock my ears at birdsong (and kids’ voices far off) while taking meals, reading a book, or practicing daily meditations and prayer at our outdoor table. My breath moves through me like silent music, filling and releasing me. What I have cannot be seen nor noted as admirable, but the joys and wonders are embraced within, absorbed and passed on, I hope, in living well with others.

I am less burdened since getting rid of much. I could live with even less. My spirit feels good. aligned with itself, not cluttered by irrelevant distractions. What matters even more to me is not what I own but if I inhabit this day and night truly and honestly. And what I can give of self and time.

But… having simple fun matters. Going to the country flea market was a brief stop during an outing on a toasty summer day. There was nothing for me but two new hand-stitched burp cloths for my twin grand-babies. Cost me five bucks. But we wandered about, anyway, conversed with congenial, interesting people. We enjoyed a happy hour with family, after which we had a delicious meal at a humble grill in a town we had never been to before.

One can wander, peruse odds and ends and share warm greetings for the simple pleasure of it, after all. I think we can use more of that kindly sort of thing, and less the actual material ones.