Saturday, October 11, 2008

"It doesn't get better than this!"

I almost bagged my morning walk today, since yesterday was pretty exhausting (we had new windows installed which meant no rest/nap/sleep all day), but the sight of the sun shining and the gorgeous blue sky lured me out. I threw on a hoodie that I won at an MS Walk a couple of years ago (which I thought was highly appropriate), stashed my cell phone in one pocket and a plastic baggie filled with dog biscuits in the other, and headed out to do one of my longer routes (almost a mile, but not quite). I was thinking how lucky I am to live in such a gorgeous place when a woman I've seen before passed me as she was jogging. "It doesn't get better than this, does it?" she asked. "Nope," I replied, "it really doesn't. Enjoy the day!" "You, too!" she said, as she rounded the block ahead of me.

Autumn has taken hold here in Portland, no doubt. We've had evening temps down in the high 30's, and the combination of colder nights and shorter days is having the expected impact on all the deciduous trees in our neighborhood. I find more and more deep, red maple leaves in our driveway each more, and the changing colors are more obvious every day. Mornings like today's are my absolute favorites: crisp and chilly, sunny and blue-skied, and so clear it feels as if you can see forever.

As I headed up a hill towards SW Hamilton Street, I could hear the sound of children playing in the field adjacent to Bridlemile Elementary School. As I got closer to the field, a little girl in a blue outfit ran over to the fence, retrieved a soccer ball, and headed back to the game. Yep, it's definitely autumn.

There's a home across the street from the school with Halloween decorations adorning on of their trees - small, orange plastic bags with black pumpkin faces hanging from the branches. I noticed several more houses with Halloween decorations set out, and several with carved pumpkins, as well.

As I was headed back home on the final stretch of my walk, the jogger passed me again. "We have to stop meeting like this!" I said as she passed. She laughed and said "I could do this all day!" "I wish I could", was my response. "It's just as good to walk", she replied, as she rounded the corner ahead of me.

I thought about that as I labored up the final hill that leads to our street, always a difficult process at the tail-end of a walk. She's right, I thought. It is 'just as good to walk', even if my pace is slower, my distances nothing to brag about, and my 'lazy leg' starts acting up as I head down our driveway. As long as I can walk on my own, and be grateful for a beautiful autumn day in Portland, OR, it's good enough.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Autumn begins in Portland

As I readied myself for walking this morning (mainly ensuring that I had my cell phone and a few dog biscuits in the pocket of my slicker), I thought about a friend's advice, given a few weeks ago. I'm paraphrasing, but it was essentially "Don't stop walking because of the rain", and that's very good advice when one lives in rainy Portland, Oregon.

It was drizzling a bit when I left the house, but most of the drips and drops and plops I was hearing came from the trees and bushes, not the sky. I don't much care if my hair gets wet (right now, it's so short, it dries in moments), but it's a real PITA wearing glasses in the rain. When I was a kid, maybe in third grade, I told my father someone needed to invent little windshield wipers for people who wear glasses. I still think that would be great idea. In any case, the day turned clear and sunny as I was walking, so I got the best of both possible worlds: everything washed clean by the rain =and= sparkling in the sun. Not a bad combination.

Autumn is taking hold all over the place, although we're not yet in the thick of it vis-a-vis falling leaves (no pun intended). I picked up a few beautifully colored maple leaves to press (and use in making birthday cards) and snipped the last two hydrangea blossoms from "Hertha's hydrangea" in our front yard and dropped them on the front porch to retrieve when I returned home. Took one of the half-mile walks, one that takes me to a fairly busy street across from an elementary school, so there were a lot more cars on the road than I usually encounter. I was acutely aware every time a car passed me; in addition to the noise of the engine, the smell of exhaust momentarily masked the fragrance of the rain-washed trees and grasses, and I found myself holding my breath every time a I heard another car approaching. It sure is different living nestled in this little neighborhood, surrounded by trees and very little traffic, nothing like working in a city like San Francisco or Boston, where traffic and cars are ubiquitous.

I'm noticing the trees and bushes as they begin to show fall colors, and have begun trying to picture what the landscape will look like in November, when the deciduous trees have dropped the last of their leaves, all the flowering plants have gone dormant, and the only green comes from grass, moss and conifers. It will still be beautiful, I'm sure, but I'll be noticing different details as I walk along, no longer focused on summer foliage. I'm actually looking forward to this.