Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Poetry, Dreams, Cats and Crows


When you have to leave a place, people you love, it can be so much easier if there's a plane to catch, a train to meet... it forces the departure, makes it a firm time that cannot be fiddled with. My "plan" was to leave the coast, Mom and Dad, early, because we had another long drive to make it to Portland, and to include a stop with Aunt Becky and Barry. Then I remembered it doesn't even get dark until after 9, and we didn't need to stop anywhere, not especially. So, basically, I started to fiddle with the time, with the "plan." We lingered over breakfast, folded some more laundry. I called my Aunt... no, I texted her. I didn't want her to go to any trouble, like cooking, or anything.

Here's something I haven't addressed in all of these posts about traveling from our home, north, to my Mom's, to my Aunt's, to one hotel after another: COVID. I don't believe we are out of the woods, yet. The variant is spreading, and even though we are immunized, I still have reservations, concerns. We kept to a conservative protocol, with masks and hand sanitizer, and not going into crowds. I was a bit anxious-reluctant about our stay with my folks, which is why we were extra cautious. And I had the same concerns for my Aunt, my cousin. It felt wiser to keep our visit brief. I think I have said it before, and I feel the same way... I would rather look back and think, Wow, we were overly-cautious, and that wasn't so necessary, than have any regrets about not taking care, especially when it is about exposing others to risks.

I love that in Northern California, in Oregon, pulling over for a rest can mean a chance to see beautiful natural sights, or novel things, like cranberry bogs, lighthouses, farmstands, rivers, meadows, giant lumberjacks! We had never seen the Umpqua Lighthouse, or any of the State Park. I love Oregon State Parks, and campgrounds. We weren't disappointed with this small break in the drive, getting out to walk around and take in a moment of the scenery. Truthfully though, I kind of feel like every stop and new spot only adds to the growing lists of places I want to return to, spend more time at, which is both lovely, and frustrating. The campgrounds, from this point and back to the highway were packed with families, and a narrative came to my mind about kids on the water in innertubes, canoes, about roasting hot dogs, catching tadpoles, fishing from docks, and how these were things that these families did every summer, at this place, with their friends, and I could smell the tents and sleeping bags, imagine the chill of first morning, mist rising off of the river, looking for a missing shoe, walking with a dog. We were getting just a glimpse of a thousand families enjoying countless summer stories, making endless memories, and enjoying our own, too.
Becky was already at her door when we pulled into the driveway. I could say something about our visit, like the things we talked about, or Barry's plans for the new deck and shade, or that Debbie was out in a cabin with friends, or that the house was cool and comfortable on a hot day. The thing on my mind is that I didn't take hardly any pictures. Maybe three, and only this one turned out. I feel so frustrated about this. I think they're going to love their addition, for sitting out with coffee in the morning, or taking dinner outdoors, after the sun settles down. It would have been great to see my cousin, but I was perhaps more glad knowing she had a fun outing to enjoy, time with friends, doing something special. Seeing loved ones is great, but confirming that they are well, or making the most of their time, being happy... that means a lot to me; it's what matters most.

Remember horse rings? I love these, and we found even more on this visit than our last.

And Hello, Portland! We started in an Airbnb, and it was everything they said it would be, and we were immediately pleased, comfortable, and eager to make the most of our time in a favorite city. I've had the privilege and pleasure of coming here a few times, now, and I always choose a new neighborhood... out of curiousity, to explore more, and maybe even to test an observation: There are a lot of great neighborhoods in Portland. We've never been let down.

First we unloaded the van. Then we walked to a recommended spot for dinner, falling in love with house after house, garden after garden, on the way. We were famished by the time we got to the promising looking corner restaurant, and they were closed. I should have thought to call ahead, I suppose. We walked back to our place, and got a little more assiduous about our dinner quest. I checked on the hours for a place called Nicholas, and we were in luck. And once again, it felt like we were right back in Portland. By the way, if you go... the strawberry lemonade with mint leaves is wonderful, so is the bread, falafel, and shawarma. We noticed they were short-staffed, but everything was worth the wait, and they were always hospitable and gracious as could be. We walked back to our car happily satisfied, and fortified for more exploring.
This was as fine, or better, a Portland walk as I have ever enjoyed. Portland walks are synonymous with invigorating, breathtaking, relaxing, pleasurable, good, stimulating. I love Portland walks. I love the houses, the stairs and sidewalks, the driveways, and porches, the trees, and moss, the fallen twigs, acorns, leaves, the way the homes glow in the waning light, the cyclists pedaling by, sidewalk chalk art and the many many things that make you glad you stepped outside... like Little Free Libraries, cats, Poetry Posts, and Dream Boards, like hydrangeas, fences, gates, doodles, fountains, sculptures, crows. Three cheers for Poetry Posts, for Dream Boards, and for Portland crows! I have every intention of adding a Poetry Post to our Little Free Library, and I will definitely consider taking notes on dreams, on flights of fancy, on sharing all such matters. But how will I, can I, convince some Portland crows to come and fill our trees? I want them to fly in black, shadowed, plumed flocks, to carry their cries across our sky, announcing the arrival of night, dropping shiny black feathers like cryptic posts, messages from a dreamland, like they did in Portland. Not since our days as novice ranchers, when murders of crows would alight in our pasture, sit on the roof of our ranch style home, have I enjoyed so much crow activity. They were like no others in their energy, in their pursuit... and what was their pursuit? They flew and called with such urgency of purpose. They were harbingers, and their tidings were glad, a bit mischievous. Their numbers seemingly countless, and vitality boundless. We could not have kept up, but we stepped lively to meet their summon.

In case anyone is wondering... Maria wears a witch hat. She also wears a beret, a Greek fisherman's hat, a fez, cloches, flower crowns. It's not because she is obsessed with Halloween, or collects newts in jars. She simply likes clothing, art, expression, and adhering to her belief that we should be free and comfortable to dress as we feel, to wear the hat or dress or shoes, or flower, or veil, or gloves, or pants that suit us, or the occasion, or mood, no matter who we are. In her mind it's both a simple matter, and nothing to fuss over, and also something she is aware is not so simple or comfortable for everyone. She would like to quietly, matter-of-factly, act in the interest of diversity and freedom of expression. Also, "Witch hats are fun."

We would like to thank some of Portland's finest, in this instance, her cats, for coming out to greet us. At this point we had already talked about how much we were missing Cairo, and Feynman, and Sakamoto, so it was a real treat to meet these two friendly kitties on this walk. Both kitties were super friendly, and in both instances we got a little bit concerned that they might follow us back to our place. The two kitties, each of them, were so sweet... I had to make another Reel. I wish I could post these Instagram Reels directly on the blog.

Such a long post! It was a long day. A good day. There is so much I want to remember, a way of holding on. There's more, like how beautiful it is from Florence to Corvallis, on country roads, going by farms, and orchards, following the river. And more about Aunt Becky, and my cousins, and family, and how much I treasure the good memories of childhood, and how much I miss seeing all of my family. I could go on and on about how I love traveling, and want to take pictures of everything, and only because what I really want is to drive a bus full of friends and family so we could see all of these places together, go on walks, eat pita bread, drink strawberry lemonades. All the walk long, when I wasn't gazing skyward at crows, or petting cats, I was looking for two or three, or five houses in a row, or around the same block, so we could all be neighbors... I would love that most of all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Miles Away

They live close to my heart, and many miles away.
On July 12th, we left to see Aunt Becky, and then to go on to Portland. The adventure continues, and we'd return for another quick visit on our way back home.

Monday, July 26, 2021

In The Woods

Mom and Dad love the woods, and the flowers and bees, and spiders and slugs and deer, and just everything that sings and grows and lives in the woods. So, where some homes might have a lawn, or poured concrete, or patio furniture, they have a meadow, wildflowers, bumblebees, blackberry brambles, and tall trees. Their home feels like a cozy nest in a pocket space between trees. Sometimes my Mom is a bit apologetic about the bits that haven't been mowed, or how Dad doesn't want anyone knocking down that spiderweb. I went outside to take it all in, and I saw beauty, which I tried to capture in this Instagram Reel. We almost always arrive too soon to pick blackberries, but we were in time to see the happy bees and bumbles gathering nectar.
On some visits we have gone into town, or visited area nature trails, and even an aquarium, botanical gardens. This time I only had one agenda... to be together, to talk, or listen, to putter around, to share things that don't translate as well on the phone, or in texts. It's "normal" stuff that I really miss, like heating tortillas, folding some laundry, lingering over lunch, just so we are together. When we did go out to lunch, I enjoyed the luxury of observing, of relaxing. We didn't bother with rushing around, trying to be busy. Maria recited some of her poetry, some I hadn't heard, yet. My Mom wanted us to see her beads, to help ourselves to some of her inventory. My favorite part of this was seeing the beads she wasn't ready to part with. She can't work, not like she used to, but I love seeing that she still has the yearning, the spark. I also loved seeing the displays of affection between Mom and Dad. I thought about how glad I was they have each other, and all that meant during the long months of lockdown, isolation, uncertainty. This was what I came all this way to see, for myself, that everything is ok, that familiar things, and dear sentiments are still there, still tanglible, accessible.
I stopped at the State Beach, drove through to where the Coquille River meets the Pacific. We let the wind chase us around, up and down some dune paths, out to the lighthouse. We admired the shelters and lean-tos on the beach, the piles of driftwood, like lumberyard building supplies. I think if we were more warmly dressed, we would have built a cabin of our own. I'm sorry we didn't go back and do just that, but I am happy to think of making a new list, and new plans, for next time. I made another Reel, adding Aurora's beautiful song, a favorite of Maria's, Runaway. It began to rain a little. I didn't want to leave.
And when it was 9 o'clock, the night was just beginning to overtake the sky. Birds called one another.
I felt fortunate to capture just a bit of their songs, without wind and microphone clashes. When night took over, it was very dark, and still in the woods.