I’ve been off-line for some time, in a deep and sorrowful funk.
We moved into our new house two and a half weeks ago, which was a joyous occasion, but it was also the day our youngest cat, George, ran off in all the commotion, and we haven’t been able to find him since.
He is microchipped, but no one has turned him in yet. I have put up fliers all over the neighborhood, talked to a lot of neighbors, filed a missing cat report with Animal Services, gone to the county shelter, and put an ad on craigslist.
How will I break new ground without my garden buddy to help me? Here he is in the old garden, taking time out from a hard day’s work to play with a walnut. (He belongs to the very powerful Feline Workers Union, which mandates no fewer than ten half-hour breaks throughout the workday.)
Fliers and staple gun in hand, I set off to plaster the telephone poles with signs, and explore the new neighborhood (Outer Northeast Portland).
Ouch. This was the first thing to catch my eye. I giggled out loud, though I could have cried. That poor, poor birch tree. It’s amazing sometimes how resilient plants can be, despite the terrible things we do to them.
This one was worthy of an outright chuckle. I guess the ladder only goes so far, and then you just call it done.
These flying saucers were strangely mesmerizing. I don’t know what they were crafted out of. The needles were very fine, like Alberta spruce, but have you ever seen an Alberta that would take that kind of shaping?
The top broke out of this spruce, and some wiseacre put some “geese” up there. Just the thing I needed to see in my time of sadness.
Cornus kousa is in full bloom all around town and some are giant wedding cakes of white. It seems as though they have been blooming for months.
Red-hot pokers (Kniphofia spp.) are strutting. Someone who really likes them a lot planted almost nothing but in the front and side yards. Here’s one little section.
This Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo) was sparkling in the sunshine. It was huge! The new growth is still fresh and vibrant, though the needles are beginning to harden off.
I am still seeing dead phormiums around town. Is anyone still holding out hope? It’s time to accept that they have left this world, people. The blue flower is lovely little Lithodora diffusa. It has been blooming for many weeks.
I also came upon one of the many Portland parks. I can’t explain what the parks are like here and how tall the trees are. Here, I’ll make you scroll ALL the way down so you at least get an idea:
There are many of these Douglas fir-bigleaf maple forest remnants. The understory is cleared, picnic tables and playgrounds are installed, and there you have it–another awe-inspiring park.
Those mammoth trees don’t let in much light, though–it’s dark in there! Kinda creepy, really.
Back home, I’m dealing with a 50+ year-old Norway maple that was in bad shape. I got it cut down and cut into firewood chunks for a steal (Thanks, MonkeyMan Tree Service!), but the catch is that I clear all the brush and split the firewood myself. Here’s what some of the brush looks like when someone (who’s a little OCD?) cuts it and neatly stacks it for kindling.
I also learned how to split firewood with a maul and wedge (from a youtube video!), and that’s next.
And here’s what a 58-ish year-old maple’s leaves look like when made into a compost pile. It’s cooking away and hot, hot, hot inside there right now.
At the back of the property, these weeds had taken over, but what did I find underneath?
A charming old stone wall, built no doubt from rocks on-site, deposited thousands of years ago by the Missoula Floods. I’ve always wanted a rock garden, but without having to go through the work of installing all those rocks. I will fill the crevices with goodies given to me so generously by new gardener friends.
But it is with a heavy heart that I embark on any of these projects without my good garden buddy George.
How I would love to see him take up residence in the bathroom sink at the new house like he did at the old house this past spring. We couldn’t brush our teeth for weeks.