Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallows Eve

In ancient Britain this date was the pre-Christian eve of the New Year (Samhain) and Celtic Harvest Festival, when the souls of the dead were thought to revisit their homes to eat and drink. People left refreshments on the table and unlocked their doors before retiring for the night, then bells were rung, fires lit to guide the returning souls back to earth and animals were brought in for the winter.

After Hallowe'en became a Christian festival, supernatural associations continued to thrive. But now the event falls on the eve of All Saints Day. The celebration has become a festival of costumes and candy, and much of the history and tradition has been lost in the aisles of Wal-Mart where children pick their favorite TV or merchandising characters to represent on Halloween.

Those willing to participate in the ritual turn on their porch lights and prepare large bowls of candy or, in some cases more healthy treats, to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Here in Portland, costumes involving umbrellas are popular and today will be no exception. Big storms last night and more to come so Goretex required.

My plan is to lock up the dogs and cat and dress as a little gray-haired old lady. At least the little ones can come onto the sheltered porch to receive their Snickers and purple grape bubble gum (every parent’s favorite!). To all of you…I wish a festive and trick-free Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Narrow View

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is an incredible place to live! Amazing scenery plus rich pioneer and Indian history make it one of the country’s most spectacular scenic areas. Commemorative sites and expansive parks abound.

My new home, Wood Village, is known as The Gateway between Metro Portland and The Gorge. It is here that the roadside steepens and the highway winds closer to the riverbank. A gorge, by definition, is a narrow place and this is no exception. All the east-west traffic goes through here so the Columbia River, Interstate 84 and the Railroad share the cramped ground space, and planes in and out of Portland International are in the air space above. A cacophony of sound results, urban music related to travel and thriving commerce and the comings and goings of people and goods.

Planes, trains, automobiles, houses, stores, businesses…we are all crammed in here together. We learn a different way of creating space for ourselves that is not measured by geographic square feet (or miles) but by mindfulness and purpose. My little spot is buffered from the constant flow of movement by sturdy fences and tall pine trees. Double pane windows filter noise. You learn to use the Bucket Approach to nature (one which I have often espoused) which is LOOK UP.

From here the ridges rise to the south and to the north across the river in Washington State (the small town of Camas). The sky is full of clouds and two nights ago when it was clear, I could see a crescent moon hanging and Mars sparkling as it passes close to earth (42.8 billion miles).

Outdoors beckons in Oregon. Amid the metropolitan busyness, nature is everywhere you look. Parks…parks…parks. Gardens and verdant spots tucked here and there. And just to the South, Mt. Hood rises in all her magnificence to guard this place. Two miles away, the Sandy River joins the Columbia and the Delta it forms is another conservation area. The pines and other conifers of the adjoining forest are part of Mt. Hood National Forest. Nearby Gresham has 240 acres of parks. Yesterday I visited Lewis & Clark Park and Blue Lake Park both about a mile from my front door.

Unlike Osceola, where I observed nature from the front porch, here I will have to get up out of my chair and move around. Although the porch and covered deck offer a chance to experience and observe the weather, views of my car and my neighbors’ cars are not too soul satisfying. But The Gorge is waiting and soon it will become as familiar as a front porch.

Friday, October 28, 2005

“The Rain in Spain…

stays mainly on the plain.” And in the state of Oregon. This is, of course, the first thing people said to me when I announced my move. Oh Oregon…the rain. Yes. There is a prodigious amount of precipitation in the Pacific Northwest. Quite a few people choose to live here despite that, and they learn to dress in Goretex and splash through their daily activities without a care.

After the long dry dusty drought of summer in Missouri, the lush verdant landscape and drenching rain here are very welcome. Last night I fell asleep to the steady drumming of raindrops on the roof of my new home. Even though cardboard boxes are still stacked to the ceiling, I feel warm and cozy in here and safe from the elements.

The sunshine colors of the walls make the place cheerful and it never feels drab or gloomy. This is the first rain since my arrival and with the Daylight Saving time change this weekend and Halloween next Monday, it signifies the start of winter. Today marks one week in The Hideaway. I am still amazed I am here. Ten weeks start to finish!

Soon I will unfurl my very large multi-colored umbrella and venture forth to run some errands and start getting to know my way around.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Trail’s End

The cross-country trek is over and the traveling party has arrived in the Columbia River Gorge. 2008 miles in Rider with Princess, Little Buddy and Lenny. Windy driving my car and Phil behind the wheel of the rented U-Haul. Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and finally Oregon. Thinking as we drove about the Oregon Trail pioneers who bumped along the route in covered wagons. An arduous trip no matter how you travel!

Kansas is not as flat as you might think, but more boring. One mile of rural farm scenery repeated 400 times. Colorado has mountains that we couldn’t see due to smog, fog, mist, clouds, rain. Back to monotonous rural scenery, ranch and rangeland this time, across Wyoming. All the way viewing stark evidence of poverty in the outland. Utah is Utah. Western Idaho and Eastern Oregon are high desert and have a certain charm at dawn and sunset, but otherwise offer little to look at.

When we arrived at the Columbia River and started the descent down the Gorge into the greenness of Western Oregon, it was a magic moment. The river on one side, forests and waterfalls on the other. We counted down the exits until Exit 16 Wood Village.

The end of the trail and of another long, strange trip. Unpacking is yet to be done. The next two months will be devoted to getting acquainted with the neighborhood and checking out all the urban enticements that are waiting.

My friend in Osceola bestowed a Travelers’ Blessing the night before we left and it kept us safe from all the untoward events that could have happened like bad weather or the ever-feared mechanical breakdown of one of the vehicles.

The Hideaway is just that. Tucked in beneath pine trees, it is a cozy and very welcoming place. Walls painted in shades of gold and sunshine, beautiful thick carpet on the floor, repairs all completed, thanks to my wonderful children. Now the process of settling in begins. Reassembling things that were dismantled for transport, unpacking all the items wrapped in newspaper, finding the “right” spot for every possession. This will take a bit of time. But the two months of deadlines are now past and we can all relax and take as long as it takes.

We made it to the Trail’s End.