Three wood ducks swim surrounded by fallen leaves on a serene morning in late October 2017. A few days later my team would get laid off, this was not only my last visit to Crystal Springs but I only went hiking once more before we moved to Arizona in March 2018. Partly because I didn’t feel like it at first, partly because the job search was time consuming, partly because I took Ellie for a walk each morning. I had romantic ideas about taking one last hiking tour of many of my favorite places in the Northwest but all I managed was one last visit to Ridgefield. I wish there had been more time but I wouldn’t trade those walks with the pup for anything.
I love this picture of Ellie in the leaves at Irving Park, taken in the fall of 2011, but I don’t think I’ve put it online before. Usually it’s because I get so far behind in my editing, sometimes it’s because I’ll write the post in my mind when I’m away from my computer and then forget to actually post it. I’m thankful for our time in Portland for a great many reasons, but walking through our Irvington neighborhood with my sweet pup will always be one of my most treasured memories.
Ellie waits for me to kick the ball in the fall of 2013. We spent countless hours playing in our backyard in Portland, either with one of her balls or one of her many hedgehogs. I’d either throw or kick them and she’d chase them down and bring them back and toss them at my feet. Over and over and over. She had a big black spot on her tongue, when her tongue was hanging out far enough to clearly see it I knew she was getting pretty gassed and it was time to call it quits. I think she would have kept playing until her legs fell off.
There have been multiple generations of Rosies in Yellowstone, a name given to a line of female bears that has stayed near the Roosevelt area. According to a park ranger on my fall visit in 2006, the previous Rosie didn’t appear to have survived the winter, she had lost a lot of fur before she hibernated. The new Rosie was a fine mother, looking carefully after her two cubs (who were following her just out of frame). She’d been tagged in her ears to help identify her, although its hard to tell in this picture since it matches the bits of brown leaves in her fur. The picture was a bit of a nod to wildlife photographer Nick Nichols, whose work in National Geographic inspired me. The light was low and the bear moving, so I tried to capture the movement with a low shutter speed and panning with the bear instead of trying to go for sharpness and freezing its motion. A technique Nick did well but I did not, but I still enjoyed the moment.
Ellie wanted to head east out of the dog park this morning instead of her traditional south, so we headed out along the leaf-covered Klickitat Street. This part of the street is closed to car traffic except for people with driveways here, so it’s a nice place to walk with your aging pup, especially when paved with fallen color. Eventually Ellie turned south and we continued all the way to her buddy Steve’s house. He wasn’t out so we took a detour west past America’s Noodle and then past the dialysis center with the mural, then doubled back to Steve’s (still not out) before heading home.
After a heavy rain, the sun peeked out briefly early in our walk after Ellie and I left the dog park on this Thanksgiving morning. The rain returned for the next hour as we meandered around Irvington, but that’s OK, we both love the rain, and we both enjoyed the walk. Ellie made two passes by Steve’s house but he wasn’t there. She tried bolting up the stairs, presumably to ring the doorbell, but I made her move along.
Ellie and I came across this example of life imitating art imitating life on our walk on a rainy November morning. I’m thankful for this old neighborhood we’ve lived in for over fifteen years, for the pup who’s led me out to explore it for nine, and to all those who’ve installed art around their homes for us to enjoy. We’ll likely have to move as I look for a new job but there is still some hope we can stay. Regardless I’m thankful for our time here, we’ve been blessed.