Alan's birthday is as good an excuse as any to gather family at the beach. We've been together forty odd years (both meanings, yes). It all worked out somehow, and here we are, with a family we love, in a new state we've learned to love, and a coastline we've loved since childhood. Now I've discovered my new favorite Oregon beach town. Manzanita is the perfect ratio of beach to town - seven broad miles of soft pale sand, flat and firm, and a short few blocks of town.
I've been trying to write about our anniversary hike up Cascade Head for a week, trying to strike a balance between the joy of ascent, hard work, and achievement with pain, suffering, and aging. It was a beautiful hike and all's well that ends well, I just didn't like how hard the hike was on my body, and I waver between "suck it up" and "badassery" and "when did I get so oooold? It's made me rather grumpy I must say.
As self-appointed nature guides and outdoor fun seekers with the grandkids, we recently drove out to a new nature park... Rosa was not thrilled." Good luck!" her mama called gaily, closing the front door firmly.
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. What a difference a few days makes, when we were just dodging hailstones and driving through hail and slush!
Spring colors have been vamping it up all over town. The gaudy celebratory technicolor blossoms bring unfettered joy. You can't not notice, no matter how grumpy or anxious you're feeling. Then I began noticing the backdrop of the quieter plants, the greenery, the natives. They're doing a happy dance of their own, their desire on parade, just not as flashy as the flowers...
Tryon Creek State Natural Area is a place I go back to for the re-balancing of life's delight and anguish, the glory and the suffering. I find all that amongst the second-growth trees, native plants, birds, and a babbling creek, and most especially, among the spring trilliums.
Powell Butte has wide open spaces alongside forest that gives you big sky and a fat dose of trees and meadows. An oasis amidst gritty city commerce for birds, animals, and humans. And clouds. So many clouds.
Washington in February may have been a misguided vacation plan. Sub-freezing temps, every layer of clothing I own, more miles of walking and more sitting in the car than is good for me - I kept hearing Little Feat's Old Folks Boogie: "And you know, that you're over the hill, when your mind makes a promise that your body can't fill."
When I first heard of geocaching, I thought, Boy Scouts. Then I thought, compass happy orienteering enthusiasts. Then I thought, rugged outdoor individualists. Then I thought, isn't this the perfect activity for a covid-cautious family of screen-enthusiastic treasure-seeking pirate-loving map-fanatical mystery fans?
A pink sunrise and calm seas was an auspicious start for our return trip home, with stops at churning, restless waters, grand bridges, stunning viewpoints, and a steep muddy hike.