First off, a heartfelt thanks to all my friends, family, and followers for your kind words of support and “Get Well Wishes” regarding my recent regurgitation of my little monsoon streak. I loved each and every one of your comments, and thank you for your support. I found it interesting how some read the post and felt my pain while others felt my weak attempt at humor. Then others felt reflective relief to have their own trials and tribulations in their rearview mirror. It’s like getting to read little mini blog posts in my comments section. Still all told, what a great life it is, this nomadic existence on the road, reminiscent of one of my favorite sayings, “If there were no hills and valleys, the scenery would be very boring.” So as long as I can keep rolling, I am happy…
I have often written about my occasional need for “infrastructure,” and there is no stronger need than when I am hobbling around on wounded foot. A week in Portland to be near a plethora of podiatrists (why does Portland have so many Foot Clinics?) readily available fresh and healthy prepared foods (ala food trucks!) and a long standing friendship with local Jane was just the ticket.
The original “Keep Portland Weird” campaign was adopted from Austin, a slogan coined by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses. Since that time, there has been a running competition as to which of the two cities is “weirder.” I’m happy to report that Portland is doing an excellent job at maintaining its “weird” moniker. On the day of my appointment with the podiatrist, I was running late and left for my appointment with rows of Velcro rollers all over my head. “Why not??” I thought. If people embrace purple, blue, and chartreuse hair color, or spike mohawks so high that they have to tilt their heads to clear the door frame, why not a few rocket rollers?? Embracing one’s weirdness can be so liberating!
My intent for my Portland visit was to spend some time with long-time friend Jane, hanging out on her great back deck overlooking the hills, drowning my sorrows in some stiff cocktails. I also planned to revisit some of my favorite stops from the 2014 trip, like the Saturday Market, and cover a couple of places I missed last time, one of those being Powell Books. How could any old fashioned bibliophile bypass a bookstore with the words, “City of Books” in the name? This trip, I visited not once, not twice, but what I figure to be a total of about nine hours amid “the stacks!” What better way to spend time nursing an aching foot than propped up in a chair with a latte and a stack of books to peruse?
My favorite happenstance in Portland was stumbling on to the Iranian Festival. When I visited the country of Iran back in 2009, I was blown away by the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people. Every single day of my 14 day trip, there was some offer of hospitality; invitations to someone’s home for tea, or just to stop me on the street to engage in conversation and talk of their fascination with America. I was also enamored with their deep cultural ties to music, poetry, and dancing, much of which has been forbidden under the current regimen, yet still runs deep in the hearts of the people. Visiting this festival in Portland brought back so many memories of that visit, as well as the lively spirit of the Iranian people.
My other quest was visiting the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. My gimpy gait now confining me within the 4.5 acres of roses, I was forced to slow down the hiking pace and linger longer along the tiered garden that looks out over Portland with Mt Hood in the distance.
Established in 1917, the Portland Rose Test Garden is the oldest continuously-operating rose test garden in the US. It’s primary purpose is to serve as testing ground for new varieties, but serves a dual purpose. From the Park brochure, “In the beginning, while World War I was raging, hybridists from around the world sent roses to Portland’s garden for testing, and to keep the new hybrids safe from being destroyed by the bombing in Europe.”
As I wander through the garden, I am awash in a flood of memories of the happy times and sad times marked by these harbingers of emotions. A wrist corsage from my grade school pageant. Bouquets of red American Beauties from my college sweetheart. The dozen yellow long stems left in the seat of my car for my morning commute by my former husband. Valentines Days of yesteryear, my grandmother’s garden, the Knock-out Rose bushes my Dad brought home to Mom each Mother’s Day. And most recently, the grief-stricken white rose from my brother’s grave, now dried and hanging over my Winnie door. Before I know it, I am weeping in the rose garden, awash with memories all triggered by the intoxicating fragrance of the rose. I spend the entire afternoon meandering up and down the rows reading the names, immersing my entire face into the cool, velvety blooms, breathing in the heady perfume, doing my own “test,” imagining ways to describe the subtle differences of their scents; always spicy and sweet, some with lighter citrus notes while others downright peppery.
It was a weirdly wonderful week in Portland, and I loved all eight days of it.