Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Portland: A Love Letter

Friends & family, 

If I were more the type to squeeeeee!, I totally would: right now, most days this past month and generally quite regularly. Our first month in Portland has been a glorious one and I'm pretty sure we couldn't have moved at a more perfect time. Summer in Portland is a truly marvelous thing; not to diss my previous cities and forests of residence but finally! a summer that doesn't suck. (To those who feel compelled to point out that's it's technically no longer summer and about to get rainy as fuck, my fingers are in my ears, and lalala, I can't hear you!)


Life has been marvelously full and busy, with the actual moving process accounting for more of that busy-ness than we'd have liked. We've now mostly settled into our house (which we're loving), despite *still* not being fully unpacked. We've sort of accepted the fate of endless unpacking and have prioritized steeping ourselves in the city (AKA: doing fun shit) over pretty much everything else. Buy, holy smokes, moving is a HUGE FUCKING JOB. You have no idea (unless you've recently moved in which case, holy fuck, solidarity).

Our neighborhood is super sweet and quiet and just a stone's throw away from all kinds of fabulousness. Our friendly neighborhood woodland wonderland (more commonly referred to as the local park) is super awesome and literally around the corner. An adorable historic commercial strip is 10 minutes away by foot and has pretty much everything we need. Most notably from Eli's perspective: burritos (or possibly the movie theatre that also serves up pizza); from my perspective: YOGA; from David's: jelly beans; and from Micah's: a rideable twirly doodad at one of the neighborhood's many rad playgrounds.

Forest park, which sits just across the spectacularly gothic St. Johns bridge, has become a home away from home for Eli and I. At over 5000 acres of fabulousness, it's a slice of woodland paradise etched into the city landscape. I was initially kinda blown away by its vastness (how can such a thing exist in smack dab in the middle of a city??) and a lil research confirmed that indeed, as one of the country's largest urban wooded areas, it is, indeed, an urban anomaly. One of its claims to fame, the wildwood trail, is hands down my favorite jogging/hiking trail of all time. It spans the length of the park and I'm determined to cover all 27 miles of it at some point (yes, yes, a 27 mile forest trail in the middle of Portland... it's glorious!).

Back at the urban homestead, the cats and chickens have happily adjusted to their new digs. While having chickens here continues to be a whole lot of fun, it doesn't exactly admit us to a small club. Portland peeps love their chickens (also: goats & in the case of one of our neighbors, a donkey). Our hens love the wide open yard and seem to have developed a love/hate relationship with the other critters who hang about (blue jay, squirrels, skunks, etc). Peeking out back is always a bit like watching an episode of animal planet. The other day we watched a squirrel bury a nut as a blue jay sneakily watched from a nearby bush -- as soon as the squirrel moved on, the bird hopped down, snagged the nut & literally flew off singing into the sunset. Suspicious trails of chicken feed also seems to lead from the coop to the squirrel's favorite sleeping spot...

I hope our critters don't get tooo used to the wide open space; come spring Operation Backyard Orchard is in effect! We're making fast progress in that direction, preparing the space for planting, and come spring, 40 fruit trees go into the ground! Our orchard plan is mapped out (thank you hyper organized engineer boyfriend!) and, currently, we spend our copious spare time mulching & amending the shit out of the yard! Hmm... the shit *into* it. ;)

Other Portland odds and ends: David and Micah have found kindred spirits at the Pokemon league, hosted at a local game store. Obviously a huge hit... especially for David :)  I'm getting a hiking group going for local unschoolers (Eli and I figure since we already hike so much, we might as well make a social adventure of it some of it at least the time). And by some crazy coincidence a new hackerspace is in the process of opening in our general neighborhood. David and Eli have contributed a layer of paint to the cause. Eli and I are looking for volunteer opportunities to get involved with. And the chiddlers, generally, are having a blast and absolutely loving big city life.

It's hard to convey the amazing energy here in Portland. It's just an awesome fucking place, filled with people who care deeply doing amazing, creative things. Always with an edge of freak to it. And kindness abounds! Nice weirdos everywhere!

We do experience bouts of missing the Rancheroo. Micah and I miss living in the woods, in particular. Eli has pointed out that he actually spends more time outdoors in the woods here than he did at the Rancheroo (it's true... he and I are literally hiking forest park for 3-4 hours, many days weekly). David is strangely silent on the subject of missing the woods. ;)

Mostly, though, I feel sad about not having done this sooner. It's been obvious for years that the Rogue Valley was not the right fit for our family. But major life changes were set back at least five years by undiagnosed illness, 3 brain surgeries, an adrenalectomy, recovery, and of course the inevitable recovery from the recovery. So I guess I'll cut us a lil' slack. It's good to be healthy and moving on. :)

Much love to all, 

Portland Lowe Clan
(Originally written and sent to family in September but just getting around to posting now)

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