Twists & Turns

The arms of a saguaro twist and turn with the ends of one covered in flowers along one of the off-map trails in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

The classic image of the saguaro is of arms lifted towards the sky, and many do grow that way, but the arms may twist and turn in all directions, even growing down, like this splendid old example along one of the off-map trails at Brown’s Ranch. I especially liked the unusual ones when we moved here as I could remember them and they helped orient me on a web of trails winding through an unfamiliar environment.

The Portland Farewell Tour

A dog runs up to greet our dog Ellie as the trees bloom in the background at Irving Park in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

Before we left for Arizona I wanted one more picture of Ellie at the dog park at Irving Park, the first stop on all our walks, and this lovely spring morning gave me the perfect opportunity with the trees blooming behind her. Ellie had many dog admirers, a handful who absolutely adored her, fortunately I had a chance to talk with all of their owners before we left so they wouldn’t assume the worst when our elderly pup suddenly stopped showing up at the park.

Goodbye Irving Park, I Love You

Our dog Ellie rests in the dog park at Irving Park in front of blooming trees in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon

As our move to Arizona draws close, let me say goodbye to some of the things I’ve loved about our time in the Pacific Northwest, starting with Irving Park. When we moved to Portland 16 years ago, we only had cats so we never considered how close the house might be to a dog park. When we adopted Ellie in 2009 and trained her to go off-leash, it was a delight to discover a dog park was only a few blocks away. After not stepping foot in the park until then we’ve visited twice a day, every day, since. In the sun, in the fog, in the rain, in the snow. Not the ice, Ellie hates the ice.

These days Ellie keeps her evening walks short so we go up to Irving Park but not all the way to the dog park, but most mornings she wants to make it up the hill. More to meet the owners than the other dogs, both because she adores people and because she never misses an opportunity to try to convince someone to give her a treat. After that we head out into the neighborhood, occasionally she wants to go straight home but usually she’s up for a longer ramble, even at 14 years old.

The trees started blooming a couple of weeks ago so I took advantage of a sunny morning to get one last picture of Ellie at the park. A variety of trees ring the paths of the park, some giants from long ago whose lives were spared when the area was carved from the forest. A handful of years ago I deliberately traded a lot of my hiking on the weekends for long walks with Ellie when I realized our aging pup would still go on long walks if they were in the morning, and while I miss the hiking I wouldn’t trade my time with Ellie for it.

Thank you Irving Park for many great memories with this greatest of pups. Thank you to all who helped create and maintain the park over so many years. Goodbye, I love you.

Spring Comes to Irvington

A wreath of flowers hangs on the cross on Easter at Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon

Easter arrives at Augustana Lutheran Church with a wreath of flowers on its cross and a tree in flower behind. Augustana is a neighborhood church, snuggled in at the corner of 15th Avenue and Knott Street between the homes of Irvington. Homes such as the one below, a short walk from the church, taken a few minutes later as Ellie and I made our way back home. There is much I love about this old Portland neighborhood, from the walkability to the old trees to the variety in the landscaping and the homes. And especially what you don’t see in the pictures but I see in my mind when I look at them, the faithful pup beside.

A house in Irvington in the spring

Spring Comes to Irving Park

Our dog Ellie sits in front of blossoming trees in the dog park section of Portland's Irving Park

A picture of Ellie from April in front of blossoming trees at the edge of the dog park section of Irving Park. As much as I love the rain even I was ready for such a glorious sunny day after a wet winter and a wet start to the spring. But then the spring got unusually hot and dry for a while and I was longing for the rain again. I was standing in line at the cafeteria the other day when we had a lovely warm day after a stretch of miserable hot days, and the cashier asked me if this weather was more to my liking since he knows I hate the heat. I said it was just about perfect but I’d love some rain and a colleague in line looked like she was about to have a heart attack and made me repeat what I had just said, her eyes wide in disbelief.

I post this as evidence that I do like the sun in addition to the rain, just give me the warm days, you can keep the hot ones.