Posts Tagged ‘oregon city promenade’

I was cold. I was so cold, that I was in tears. It’s something that gets into my bones, my muscles. It might only be fifty degrees – not “cold” by any measure of temperature, but it has gotten into my psyche and I am in tears.

I don’t mind real cold: that icy, biting, sub-zero wind that freezes earrings and nips at the nose. You can bundle up against that kind of cold: gloves, muffler, hat, down jacket, silk long underwear. It’s the cold that seeps into your joints when you aren’t paying attention that cripples my mind and spirit. That’s a devil I have a hard time fighting with until my bones are warm again.

The other cold can be cured with hot cocoa and laughter.

I poured myself into that deep scouring I promised the house when I retired. My heart was not in it. Motions, just going through the motions – but my bones warmed and my muscles began to warm up. The zen state of cleaning emptied my mind.

He asked if I wanted to go for a walk. My impulse was to say, “No.” He tempered it with a suggestion:

“Why not drive down to the promenade and go walking?”

I needed to fire up my car anyway: it thinks cold weather is an excuse for the gas line to freeze or the battery to die. Luckily, it has a new battery and I poured an additive into the gas tank to keep it starting on cold mornings. Still, driving it every day is insurance against a frantic call to AAA for a jump – right? Even a drive as long as 1.5 miles.

We parked in a two-hour zone, behind a Ford Escalade. We walked down the street, to the elevator (we have a public elevator, outside, located on the side of a cliff). On down to where the walkway meets 7th Street and Singer Hill. We turned around and I adjusted my knit muffler to cover my ears as the icy wind was buffeting us.

Clouds were moving in from the southwest, but the view to the north was clear: Mount Saint Helens, Mount Washington, and other Washington State Cascade snow-covered peaks. Now, heading south, we could watch sea birds dip and dive beneath the wide Willamette Falls. No one else walked the promenade.

Graffiti marred some parts of it – I hope chalk was used. This promenade, the stone pillars and the concrete rails – these were created by artisans during The Great Depression. They have been renewed, remodeled, but the fact of the labor of love done by men who merely wanted to earn a dollar or fifty cents a day to feed their families remains. Perhaps some of these vandals could work that hard, knowing their labors would buy only a loaf of bread and a night’s lodging for a family of five. Respect is earned by understanding. By labor. By having our eyes opened to the struggles of others.

The promenade is scarcely a half-mile long. By the end, I unwrapped my muffler. My ears were still chilled, but no longer icy. We crossed the VA parking lot and walked the sidewalk over to The Highland Stillhouse, a public eatery and whisky house. We’ve been going there since they opened: situated across from a view of Willamette Falls, with a Scottish menu, beer, whiskey, and old homeland music piped in (Irish mostly, but we won’t tattle).

We ordered a plate of pretzels (two large pretzels, heavily salted) and two beers. Two more beers. I should remember the beers, but what I remember is the conversation and the connection between my husband and myself. The laughter. The serious pokes. The political differences laid aside in our united effort to change the world through discussion. The sense that my Scots mother was there (she was, after all, the person I learned how to drink and save the world from).

She was not first generation Scots. John Melrose emigrated during the Civil War. He had to sign papers agreeing to not choose sides in the American Civil War. But neither was my father first generation Irish: the Cusicks came across in the early 1700’s. We’re a mix of nationalities, identifying with those two primarily.

We talked about genealogy: his family is primarily German, but identifies strongly with the small bit of Irish. We’re both Germanic. I own two sets of wooden shoes from the Dutch family line – but no note on who owned them or why they were kept. Note to self: make notes for my heirs, Our heirs.

We walked back on High Street. There’s so much architecture to look at: clapboard homes and Victorians. Trim hauled around “The Horn”. Garden wonders – at least two gardens with “Pesticide Free” signs. We live in a temperate zone, despite the wintry chill in the air. February is our best chance at deep snow here, and it is rare. Green things are pushing up through the soil and Camellias are staring to bloom,

Perhaps we’ll get a few inches of snow on Saturday. Maybe we will be lucky and get over ten inches. If we do, we’ll go snow shoeing.

If we don’t, nothing is unusual. Life is beautiful.

Read Full Post »