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.
The long drive gave me lots of time to consider, and go over lyrics of songs I hoped to lead in the jams. I immersed myself in the scenery flashing by, and realized as we left the urban boundary, that this was our first drive so far south on I-5 in 999 days.
The glorious Portland Japanese Garden was built after WWII to promote an understanding of Japanese humanity, traditions, and ideals, while creating an urban oasis here in the city. That bridge would be built through nature, something that needed no translation. Our spring walk was full of contemplative beauty.
You can't turn your back on nature around here. Even after a dozen visits to the same place, it's different every time. In Portland's temperate rainforest what's here today is gone the next. What wasn't here recently, unexpectedly shows up. We had the rainiest April in history and the only recorded April snowfall as well. Add in some intermittent sunshine, and Elk Rock Garden was again delightful.
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.
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?
We went for another glimpse of Sandhill Cranes, but everything was submerged in an opaque fog, and we could have been anywhere.... I listened intently for that bugling call, or the cry of the geese. Apparitions rose from the fog as I peered around, and my ears strained to hear