On the right day, which was this one, Cooper Mountain Nature Park is a jubilation of greens and blossoms, prairies, wetlands and woodlands. Layers of texture roll out before us; trees are still bare, or still flowering, or in nascent leafiness, or are evergreen. The trail down the steep hillside displays a wide view of the bucolic fields, farms, and forests of the Tualatin River Valley. Beyond lies the currently snow capped Chehalem Mountains.
What a difference a few days makes, when we were just dodging hailstones and driving through slush! I was glad to have at least one clear day for my sister’s visit from California so we could get out and do something besides crafting projects on the couch with Rosa, although they both were happy as clams to do just that. Rosa is lucky to have a great-aunt who thinks like her in this regard, as my attention span wanes quickly. They both think CollagePDX is the best store ever, with its aisles crammed full of excellent projects and tools; myself, I like to hang out in the notebook section.
On this visit, Karen spent time with each kid making a different Passover dessert (yes, she loves to cook as well, thank goodness), a delectable flourless chocolate cake with a ganache frosting, and a sumptuous almond flour orange cake. Going without leavening does not mean suffering unduly. Alan cooked up a magnificent meal, and my daughter made a yummy newfangled charoses with dates and dried apricots and ground almonds and a whole lot of wine, that we spread lavishly on the dry matzah along with the hottest horseradish this side of the Dead Sea. Yes, our Jewish holidays are all about the food, with a nod to freedom, both our own and the hope for others, though the latter feels out of reach most days. It was our largest seder since the pandemic began, nine at the table, still paltry by our old standards, but it felt celebratory, all of us indoors, and around one table.
The infrequent days of sunshine makes each one all the more jubilant as I wonder if this frigging rain is ever going to stop. Our backyard is a swamp, the drainage systems and soil completely overwhelmed and drenched, bark chips afloat, water seeping downhill to the street ever so slowly, though thankfully we seem to be done with basement flooding (spitting three times as I write that). In the meantime the plants under lights – the overgrown lettuce in particular – were more than ready to go out, but better conditions were needed. It’s easy to lose perspective sometimes, but there’s something extra delightful about getting back up again, and Cooper Mountain had an extra marvelous punch to it.
I sometimes forget about this place in my quest to find new beautiful spots, but the nature park is easy to get to, on the other side of Beaverton (our suburb next door), and 3 ½ miles of trails on 231 acres of nature. We stopped repeatedly to listen for bird calls, searching in vain as they flitted in and out of sight. Our most insistent companion was a purple finch, and with great patience, Alan finally got a photo.
I was delighted to find some inspiring new plaque ideas along the path for my collection. A bench along a beautiful path feels like a sweet goal for my own maybe someday bench for my own maybe someday demise.
Karen and I sat on one for a sister photo, and it appears that we are truly related, though way back as a kid I was fairly certain my parents adopted me for the slave labor. Also, I got a haircut a few days after this pic. In case you were wondering.