Archive for July, 2009

The House Dog’s Grave – Robinson Jeffers, 1941

July 28, 2009

I’ve changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you’d soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read–and I fear often grieving for me–
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope than when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that’s too much hope: you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,

I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

Robinson Jeffers, 1941


Natural Brutality

July 28, 2009

I passed a sign displaying the time and temperature on the way home from dinner tonight. It was 95 degrees in Portland after 10pm. The high temperature today was 105. This is ice cold shower and sit around (as) naked (as possible) weather.

While I was passing through Washington Park, a squirrel jumped from the brush along the road into the beam of my headlights. Before I could worry whether it would get out of the way, a coyote bounded out of the woods and captured the squirrel in its jaws before crossing the road and disappearing.

At home in my scorching cottage, all of the windows are open. A few minutes ago I began to hear a barely perceptible vibration coming from an indeterminate source. It started and stopped every few seconds. As soon as I noticed it, the sound began to grow even more faint.

When I investigated further, I found it was a housefly caught in a small web a spider has built in the corner of one of my living room windows. The fly was flapping its wings in a vain attempt to escape the trap while the spider patiently wrapped it in a web cocoon. As the cinching became more complete, the sound died out altogether and the fly was transformed from living creature to meal-in-waiting..

Willamette Park to Council Crest Loop Hike

July 25, 2009

DSC_0398ResizeIn an effort to beat the heatwave starting this weekend, I got up early Saturday morning and walked an 8-mile loop hike from Willamette Park in John’s Landing (elevation about 20 feet) to Council Crest (the highest point in the city limits of Portland at about 1100 feet). Here are some photos.

I started at 7am and was surprised at how early it started to get warm in the direct sunlight. Weather forecasters predict it will be 95 to 102 degrees in Portland for at least a week. The average high temperature this time of year is 80. (I strongly prefer the lower figure.)

This hike starts along the river at Willamette Park, a popular spot with boaters and paddlers, where I saw a flock of Canadian geese grazing in the dew-covered grass. The route soon exits the park and crosses Macadam Avenue, quickly reaching the first of several long, steep staircases that cut through terraced backyards going up the hill.

The route changes back and forth from street to trail several times. It crosses under Terwilliger Boulevard and Interstate 5 before climbing up to Wilson High School in the beautiful Hillsdale neighborhood.

Continuing up the hill you can see nice vistas of downtown office buildings and Ross Island. (It was very hazy and humid today, so clear photos were difficult to get.) There is an amazing home called the Keller House that has a stellar view of the city and a cliff-side swimming pool. The home was built by a Portland philanthropist named Ira Keller.

This route visits the second peak known as Council Crest, which is not the same as the peak about a mile away with the famous park and the great views. I had considered going all the way around Fairmount Boulevard to that side of the neighborhood, but once I reached the top of the hill I decided to save that 2-mile extension for another day when the sky is clear.

Highlights of the trip back down the hill include gravity, more dramatic staircases and a trail through George Himes Park, traveling back under I-5 and returning to the river. Fulton Pub is a nice place to recharge with a burger and a fine handcrafted ale, if one is so inclined.

Here’s another link to the photos.

If you live in Portland or plan to visit, be sure to check out this online book (scroll down for free maps of 50 hikes) and this indispensable volume for hill walks and urban trails in every part of the city.

Vikingsholm Trail – Lake Tahoe

July 5, 2009

Vikingsholm Trail is a popular hiking trail along the shores and hills of Emerald Bay in south Lake Tahoe. I hiked it on a beautiful afternoon in June with my sister, brother-in-law and their two children.

Hiking Companions

Hiking Companions

The trail we were on starts at a state park campsite about two miles from the destination and meanders down to the water along a well-marked grade. The dusty trail ventures through full sun and manzanita.

13 - Trail by Lake

Around every corner is another view of the cold crystal water of the lake.

7 - Trail with Lake

Lake Tahoe is fed by sixty-three high mountain streams that keep the water a stunning blue. Only one river, the Truckee, flows out of the lake.

8 - Lake Green

Occasionally, the trail meanders from full sun into the refreshing shade of several species of evergreen.

9 - Trail through Trees

We encountered a gigantic tree that had fallen across the trail. Maintenance crews had sawn the trunk apart to clear the trail, exposing rings that show the tree to be at least several hundred years old when it fell.

Examining Rings on Fallen Tree

Examining Rings on Fallen Tree

Here is one of those sixty-three streams that feed into Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Stream

Tahoe Stream

At the end of this trail is Vikingsholm, a summer home built in 1929 by a wealthy landowner who wanted to replicate the architecture of the fjords of Scandinavia. I neglected to get any decent photos of the house because as soon as we arrived and sat down at a picnic table for a snack, our party was set upon by a large number of thieving chipmunks, ducks, geese and bluejays that mugged us for our food.

Our favorite was given the highly original nickname of Chippy. Someone gave up a large piece of PB&J, which he quickly dragged off into the bushes to devour.

Chippy the Chipmunk

Chippy the Well-Fed Chipmunk

Portland to Lake Tahoe

July 4, 2009

Working with all the photos I took during a recent amazing road trip from Portland to Lake Tahoe, California to visit family has proven a challenge. Finding time to transfer them from the camera card to the computer and share some around has been a bigger obstacle than I expected. In an effort to break the inertia, I hope to split them up in small chunks by subject and get them up over the next few days. A second 93-degree day in a row played a supporting role by keeping me close to home.

As a first installment, here are some photos taken quickly during the drive south, which I accomplished in a 12-hour push on June 21, traveling south from Portland on I-5 and taking a left at Mt. Shasta, then heading through Lassen National Forest and Susanville. Summer solstice is a good day to cover a lot of geography since it’s the longest day of the year. Apart from a few brief stops for gas/food/restroom/photos (and to pick sage on the side of the highway), it was all gas.

I was unable to get a decent photo of 14,000-foot Mt. Shasta from the car at 70 miles per hour, but I got this one of Mount Lassen. You can make out the distant peak through the trees.

Mount Lassen from Car

Mount Lassen from Car

I found a viewpoint of Lassen a few miles later and stopped to snap a pic and stretch the legs.

Mount Lassen

Mount Lassen

The highway from I-5 to Susanville has many different moods. I was in such a hurry to keep moving toward my destination that I snapped a few photos from the car.

Distant Storm Brewing

There was a storm off in the distance for many miles. Storm clouds on an otherwise sunny afternoon did wild things with the light.

Clouds over Mountain

Coming next: A hike around Lake Tahoe and an attack by ferocious chipmunks.