Archive for November, 2009

Art in the Park – A Bench Along the Willamette

Thursday, November 12th, 2009
Sculpture/Bench overlooking the Willamette River at George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego

Sculpture/Bench overlooking the Willamette River at George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego

The Clackamas Indians once occupied the land that later became Lake Oswego, but diseases transmitted by European explorers and traders killed most of the natives. This is the end of the Oregon Trail, with Oregon City just up river. White settlers arrived. Albert Alonzo Durham founded the town of Oswego in 1847, naming it after his New York birthplace. He also built a saw mill on Sucker Creek (now Oswego Creek), the town’s first industry. In 1855, the federal government forcibly relocated the remaining Clackamas Indians to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in nearby Yamhill County.

If I think about everything that is happening around the world right at this moment in time, it really makes a whimsical sculpture/bench in a peaceful park at the edge of a river teaming with migrating water birds and song birds stand out.

How is it that now this place has so much grace?

Eagles and Crows Over Lake Oswego

Monday, November 9th, 2009
Two Bald Eagles soaring over Lake Oswego

Two Bald Eagles soaring over Lake Oswego – photo by Maggie Volk

On Saturday morning the rains let up, the clouds parted to let the sun shine. The light was so luminous, the fall colors brilliant. I had to go out and take a walk, look around, rejuvenate my soul. The timing was special, because as I was strolling along the Willamette River near George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego, I looked up to see flying not very high above me a bald eagle, wings outstretched in a powerful glide. A single crow suddenly came swooping in upon the back of the eagle, hurling attack caws and striking down at the bigger bird with it’s beak. As the crow deftly maneuvered and continued it’s persistent pestering, the eagle dodged it’s head when needed but seemed fairly unperturbed, soaring ever higher in slow grand circles over the river. It was joined by another bald eagle which circled in the opposite direction, their white heads and white tails bright in the blue sky. With the crow taking occasional swipes, the three birds circled their way high in their air space slowly downriver towards downtown Portland.

I doubt that crow could have done much damage to an eagle in flight. However, earlier at the rivers edge I watched as a whole gang of crows were congregated on a rock outcropping, loudly engaged in encouraging attacks by a couple of it’s members upon some defenseless waterbird youngster which was making repeated frantic dives to escape under the water. Something diverted the groups attention, they suddenly flapped off together, and the terrorized diving bird was left with life.

Not to brag however, it was not the first time I have seen bald eagles in my neighborhood. I have seen bald eagles flying by while I was simply sitting in my living room on my couch looking out the windows. And one day a juvenile bald eagle perched in the top of a doug fir which towers over the stone patio. That eagle was also being pestered by at least three or four crows, which is why I became aware it was there, from all the annoying cawing and squawking going on. I went outside with the binoculars to look up at them. I have heard the news that there is a bald eagle nest for sure on Lake Oswego west of us and I believe it may be that nesting pair which I have seen visiting Half Moon Bay below, and perhaps this juvenile was part of that family. I certainly consider all these birds my neighbors. I don’t love the crows, but what can you do?

Maple leaves galore

Friday, November 6th, 2009
Looking out on November • photo by Maggie Volk

Looking out on November • photo by Maggie Volk

The old house in which I live has a beautiful view from almost every window. Looking out on the day, it is definitely FALLing – Big Leaf Maples dropping drifts of, yes, BIG leaves all over the yard. Some birds I did not see all summer have returned to the stone patio and the huckleberry bushes – juncos, the varied thrush, towhees. The regulars, particularly dozens of goldfinches, have been hanging out eating voraciously every day for months, also the hummingbirds, nuthatches, flickers, chickadees, bewicks wren. I love the sound of the Canadian geese as they honk on their fly-bys and cluck about on the lake with the quacksters. And the coots are coming back! Cootie Nation, I call them, hundreds of them gathering and churning about in one big undulating group of socializing bobbers and divers. Cute.

Some small comfort knowing I am not alone

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Some days, I just don’t feel very good about things.

“I’m not hopeful about the rise of civility.”
“The gap between hope and reality is very much a gap inside ourselves.”
Ellen Goodman comments on the state of events and the Obama administration at The Howard Zinn Lecture Series, kicking off Alumni Weekend on October 22, Boston University. Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize winner, has been writing about social change in America since 1976 – her column appears in more than 300 newspapers. Howard Zinn, distinguished professor emeritus of political science, social activist and historian, wrote A People’s History of the United States (1980).

Checking in with the news and my email on the Internet, I look out on the world incredulous at what humans choose to do to each other, and what some think or believe and try to press upon others. The whole state of the world seems driven by human choices I cannot imagine. It makes me feel fear, and great sadness. We wake up each day and start again, making choices. I can only speak for myself, so I am thankful when others also speak and I find their words are a match for me. So thank you Howard Zinn, and Ellen Goodman. The burden of it all is a shared experience. The zen of it is, even though nothing may ever change, we have a responsibility to act and think as if it will, as if there is hope.

As if there is ever hope that people will choose – To not be greedy. To not be selfish. To not be cruel.  To not be a bully. To not be threatening. To not be loud and obnoxious. To not spread poisons. To not be lazy. To not be slovenly. To not be perverted. To not be wasteful. To not be stupid at the expense of someone else. To not be in denial.