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Oregon Pilgrim

writings on nature and travel

A Snowy Night

Last night, excitement visited me for the first time in a few years. It alighted upon my shoulder and fluttered. I don’t know why. There was nothing particular going to happen. Nor anything particular that had just happened. It was just Paul and I walking home in the snow. A common street in Redmond, Oregon, metamorphosed into an idyllic Park Avenue because snow buried it. There was a streetlamp. The snow fell within its light and outside of it. The street was lit by a full moon. Snow is a leveler, transforming the sordid into quaint and the ostentatious into subtle. The splendid places continue to be just what they are, splendid, but splendid with snow.

The trees remain splendid but splendid with snow too. The elm and maple branches are encased in hoarfrost, and the contrast between their black bark and white outlines are breathtaking. The trees that blossom in the spring, bloom snowy blossoms, their branches heavy with winter fruit which floated down from heaven.

As we walked through the snow, our boots caused the dry snow beneath our feet to squeak and crunch. We could see our breath but I was cozy within my heavy coat, scarf and stocking hat, my toes toasty in their wool socks and lined boots and my fingers snug in their gloves. I could enjoy the crisp air at 2 degrees Fahrenheit from my warm vantage point. We were returning from time with friends at Pig and Pound, our local British pub. We laughed together over our respective beers.  My Oakshire Espresso Stout was so superb I had a second. That second stout added heat too. We parted with one set of friends at the pub. We parted with the next set at the corner of 10th and Antler. Paul and I set off on our own.

I can dimly remember when excitement was not a remarkable visitor. Before we were plunged beneath the shadow of Paul’s cancer diagnosis. Melanoma, Stage III. Nodes compromised.

I was able to write through financial crisis. Through the losing of both our jobs. Through the losing of our house. I was not able to write through this. I could only get out a few notes on Paul’s progress to family and friends to keep them informed and to keep the prayers coming. My lover, my friend, my gemini was in danger and I could think of little else. Creativity was snuffed out.

I’ve looked excited since then. I’ve attempted excitement. I may have even buoyed near the top for a few moments. But excitement isn’t something you attain. It’s something that visits. It’s magic. And we are passive when magic happens. We watch and feel and are grateful. We don’t take credit for it.

Magic happened on the walk home last night. My arm in Paul’s. Our steps in sync. The snow, the warmth, the hoarfrost, the moon, the air, the flutter of excitement.

Thanks.

 

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Marching to our Destinies

It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that to feel. She gave up trying to understand herself, and joined the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy that matters — the enemy within. They have sinned against passion and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, their wit become cynicism, their unselfishness hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go. They have sinned against Eros and against Pallas Athene, and not by any heavenly intervention, but by the ordinary course of nature, those allied deities will be avenged. 

This passage from A Room with a View caused me to reread it repeatedly.

March to their destiny by catch-words — I think of twaddle on social media or the sayings people repeat and pass on as if it is wisdom though no one can recall who said it. Or prayers that don’t really speak to God but to the people who are listening. It is strange to listen to prayers to God that aren’t said to him.

Full of pleasant and pious folk. Yes, they are. Which keeps us from ever confronting them. Calling them liars. Shouting foul-play. They are harmless (are they?) Why shout? They are people who like to have their little world controlled and all people fit where they should. All people go where they should. In or out. Here or there.

Vain will be their strife after virtue. Because they have denied themselves (perhaps because they feel unworthy) what their hearts long for (perhaps they were tired of waiting, or didn’t believe it would ever come), they will always know they cheated their own hearts. It is hard to be really, truly good with a cheated heart.

As the years pass, they are censured. By who? Eros (love) and Pallas Athene (wisdom).

Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, Ah, the unguarded moment, the secret sin, the mask slips, the heart which is so guarded has stopped beating, it suffocates.

their wit become cynicism, and now they are taking pot shots at groups of people or someone who doesn’t quite fit, isn’t from the race of Joseph, doesn’t understand, doesn’t get it.

their unselfish hypocrisy, when they look like they’re doing something nice for you, but there’s always a catch, there’s something they want.

they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go. Oh, dear God, could this be me? Do I? Do I not follow my heart or my brain? Am I not being really honest and true? Do I love, really love, without hidden motives, and is it powerful — a force to be reckoned with?

I love literature. It crucifies me and ushers me into ecstasy. I’m undone and I’m resurrected.

 

Enjoying Nature in the City

On a summer evening, we went to Bend for the art walk. Although the art was lovely, we chose to stop for some natural views too.

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When I saw this sweet scene, I felt that deep love for where I live. It is a great place to be. The City You’ll Love to Hate

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We began to cross a foot bridge and paused to listen to the water, to the distant sounds of the city celebrating, and watched the bats wing across the water.

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Perhaps there are better places to live but I can’t think of any. I’m contented now.

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And I’m happy to find beauty in out-of-the-way places as well as in my backyard city.

 

 

Face Time

Recently, at my Summer Lake trip, I committed to spending less time on my phone or any technology, eschewing multitasking, and being present. Fulltimewritermom.com just wrote a post that made me feel like she’s been reading my journal. My thoughts exactly!

Full-Time Writer Mom

FaceTime logo

There’s a good reason why Apple chose “FaceTime” as the name of their video-calling product. Unlike a regular old phone call, it allows people with the FaceTime app to chat face-to-face. It’s something my husband and I used recently when our kids were out of town. I’m so grateful for the benefits of modern technology, but I also have to be careful not to let those same benefits turn detrimental.

I fought getting a Smartphone for a long time. My husband had a Blackberry for a while, and no offense to Blackberry, but it was a piece of garbage. I know now that it was just an inferior model, but its rudimentary GPS that only worked when you didn’t need it and super-slow Internet search capabilities left me underwhelmed. Not to mention that I would rather stay in the stone age than learn how to use new technology. Update the…

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Whiskey Springs

About a 45 min. drive and a few pieces of key equipment and …

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we reach birding heaven.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler, MacGillvray’s Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Western Tanager, Western Wood Pewee were just a few.

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They all congregate here because of this unassuming bit of water

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and all this protective foliage.

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Life is good on an early morning with a slot of time dedicated to see and hear birds.

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Huckleberry Picking

Some of the Harris family went huckleberry picking with some friends to a secret place which will remain unnamed.

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Greta picked and picked. IMG_1116

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Then, Greta realized she was the only one picking.

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Some of the pickers had eaten so many huckleberries they were suffering from huckleberry coma!

Paul!

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And Cash too!

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She stood up from her spot and wondered what to do. Should she rouse them from their slumber and get them picking again?

Nah!

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“Camping” in Summer Lake

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If this is camping …

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I could do it forever. Summer Lake might be in the middle of nowhere, but …IMG_0995

it has more than enough compensationsIMG_0972

When Greta saw our digs …

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she did a little celebration dance. IMG_0965

Yeah, it was pretty tough, camping with the ladies,

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but we managed.IMG_0985

We birded on the way home. Could it be possible that we got a glossy ibis? We’re hoping an expert would confirm our find. We startled an American Bittern from the reeds. This shy bird is a pleasure to see. Also on our list: Black-necked Stilt, American Coot, American Pelican, Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Northern Harrier, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Red-winged Blackbird, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Ruddy Duck, and Golden-crowned Sparrow. We ate cookies for every new species.

Wow. I shouldn’t have mentioned that.

Summer Lake was a delightful. I can’t wait to visit again.

Lake Shastina

The plan was to meet at Lake Shasta for a cousins reunion.

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But, Lake Shasta had warnings about a toxic bloom, so we detoured to Lake Shastina. Cousin reunions are so much fun because there’s catching up to do, lots of laughter, and hanging out is a requirement. We wished all the cousins could have come!

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We decided to catch the sunset,

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but Ingrid wouldn’t leave the slack line.

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Time for silly pics.

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After dark, I went for a walk down the quiet road and the bats kept the bugs at bay above my head. These solitary moments give me the space or time to feel alive, to feel my existence in this wide world.

Blue Pool

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Yep, it’s really that blue. That’s it — no filters. The downside is it’s a well-known destination. You have to navigate mountain bikers, lines of hikers, dogs, and people taking selfies as they jump into it.IMG_0742

Still, it’s worth it. The hike is shady most of the time, yet, the arrival yields that sense of accomplishment one always seeks on a journey.IMG_0747IMG_0743

We added a Pacific wren to our bird list to sweeten the deal. Lunched a la fresca. And said goodbye with a last, lingering look.IMG_0740IMG_0739

Goodbye, Blue Pool. You are beautiful to behold. I’m glad I saw. I’m glad I felt.

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