Falling Leaves

our-house-1912

Our house is on the right. Photo taken in 1912, we think.

Our neighborhood is called “Old Town.” The trees that shade our streets and houses are very old. The oaks that surround our next door neighbor’s house, and stand tall on our property line, are over 100 years old. Their shade is wonderful in the heat of the summer, but they drop tons of leaves in the Fall. (My neighbor rolled down his window as he drove past us the other day and called out, “Leafageddon, again!”)  The sound of leaf blowers (which my husband hates) is deafening on the weekends. We use our big rakes, raking leaves the old-fashioned way, and despite an occasional blister, we enjoy the job. Once each month, October through December, the town’s leaf vacuum truck comes by and vacuums up the huge piles of leaves that are raked or blown to the curb. Watching for the vacuum truck has become a delightful Autumn ritual.

leaf-vacuum-truck

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A Summer Flashback: Goldfinch

Goldfinch

A goldfinch that landed on the mirror of our car while I was waiting for my husband in the parking lot!

 

Goldfinches

In the fields
we let them have-
in the fields
we don’t want yet
where thistles rise
out of the marshlands of spring, and spring open-
each bud
a settlement of riches
a coin of reddish fire-
the finches
wait for midsummer,
for the long days
for the brass heat,
for the seeds to begin to form in the hardening thistles,
dazzling as the teeth of mice,
but black
filling the face of every flower.
Then they drop from the sky.
A buttery gold,
they swing on the thistles, they gather
the silvery down, they carry it
in their finchy beaks
to the edges of the fields,
to the trees
as though their minds were on fire
with the flower of one perfect idea-
and there they build their nests
and lay their pale-blue eggs, every year,
and every year
the hatchlings wake in the swaying branches,
in the silver baskets
and love the world.
Is it necessary to say any more?
Have you heard them singing in the wind, above the final fields?
Have you ever been so happy in your life?

~Mary Oliver

The Tree Recycled

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The crews cutting up the huge oak tree that fell on our neighbor’s house over the weekend kindly let us have a load of wood chips for our garden. The pile is plenty big and we are happily sharing with other neighbors, but it was so nice to cover our garden walkways and surround our garden boxes with the last of the old oak. A fitting tribute to a great old tree that we will miss.

After the Storm

after_the_storm

Saturday’s big wind storm is over but the clean-up will take time. In our town, there were four or five trees that blew down, and the biggest and most devastating one was right across the street. So after witnessing the tree falling and calling 911 on Saturday afternoon, we have watched in fascination as the help arrived and started to deal with the aftermath of that 100 year-old-oak falling onto our neighbor’s house.

Three days after the tree fell, the crews are still working to clean up the tree debris. The crews that worked on both Sunday and Monday to cut the tree off the house and remove the huge pieces of trunk were truly amazing to watch at work! My photos will speak for themselves.

Today the tree is gone except for the broken stump. The wires are back up and the neighbor’s house secured. A small clean-up crew from the tree company is back today clearing the last of the debris from the yard and picking up the cut up pieces of trunk that weren’t moved yesterday. Pretty soon it will all be back to “normal,” except for a huge bare and open space that wasn’t there before. And then the house repair/restoration project will start, and that will be another fascinating process to watch. Who needs cable tv when there’s a lot more entertainment and interest right outside our window?

 

Fall’s Fury

storm01

The last 24 hours in our town and especially in our neighborhood have been momentous. A huge storm front driven by a typhoon way out in the Pacific Ocean took aim at the Pacific Northwest and brought devastating winds that hit our town yesterday.  A tornado came onshore in Manzanita, Oregon, and did considerable damage there. In our town, 60 miles inland from the coast, numerous trees were blown down, including a 100+ year old Oak across the street. I happened to be standing at the window when it went down and watched in horror as it fell on our neighbor’s house. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the damage is considerable.

We are humbled by Fall’s fury, and nervous about the 100-year-old oaks that tower above our house and our neighbor’s houses in this area. They are all old trees, nearing the end of their life cycle, and can be very dangerous as I witnessed yesterday. Although this area was originally a white oak savannah, these trees that make us nervous were planted by the next door neighbor a hundred years ago. Five of the ten big oaks surrounding that house are hanging over our property line and our house. We already had one very dangerous oak taken down when we first moved here a few years ago. (You can read about that tree here.) Needless to say, we will be having the other 5 carefully evaluated for safety within the next few days/weeks.

oaks

Around our Town: Spring Colors

Going for walks around our neighborhood in the Spring is a joy! There are so many beautiful spring flowers and trees in blossom. As we walked past one corner house yesterday with a beautiful Weeping Cherry tree in full bloom, I stopped a moment and talked with a little girl who was playing in the yard. I told her she had a beautiful tree, and her response was delightful. She said, “We’re growing flowers on it!

Back to the Garden

Spring is coming!

I took this photo yesterday at Jackson Bottom Wetlands. Spring IS coming!

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

It’s been a long time since my last post! The holiday season hogged my Focus, and the dark days of winter have been spent in a cocoon of reading, knitting, and spending time with the family. Not a bad way to pass time on these short winter days! But the new year is here, the days are slowly getting longer, and I’m back to my garden dreams and starting the planning process for Spring. It’s time to get back to the garden!

Winter here in the west of Portland, Oregon, area has been unusually wet this year. We are definitely feeling the effect of El Niño! There’s been a lot of flooding with many roads closed due to high water. We’ve had flooding in our yard, too, so we will be glad when the heavy, heavy rains end and we just have normal moisture levels for the Pacific Northwest! In the meantime, here are some winter photos of our yard and at Jackson Bottom Wetlands in neighboring Hillsboro.

Flooded walkway

Flooded walkway

Flooded hedge

Flooded hedge

Jackson Bottom Wetlands

Jackson Bottom Wetlands – Spring photo on top, flooded on bottom

Blind and flooded blind

Blind and flooded blind from a distance