Last Tuesday I made plans to meet a friend for dinner. The restaurant we chose was closer to work than to home, so I had to deviate from my usual walking and writing routine. There’s a coffee shop near the restaurant I like to write at, so I decided I would just go there after work, park in the parking lot, and take a less-than-inspiring walk around the block.
I’d only gotten a few yards down the sidewalk when I spotted this gorgeous Sumac bush.
I’ve never spent any time with sumac, but I’ve always thought them to be lovely bushes. They turn the most fabulous colors in the fall!
Then I walked a little farther and saw this bench huddled in the shade of some trees on the corner. Nestled into this place full of strip malls and office parks was a tiny park-like space of grass and trees.
I went over to get pictures of the bench, and . . . found a trail. The trail ended up being very short. It followed alongside a semi-wet area, where in winter I’m pretty sure the big culvert diverts water into the ditch/trench/valley by the trail. Tall grasses and willow trees grew all along the edges of this indentation in the ground. the trail was marked with wood chips, so someone is definitely maintaining it. Though no one, thus far, has been picking up trash.
When I go back I’m taking rubber gloves and a garbage bag.
In addition to the willows, the ubiquitous western redcedars, hawthorns and doug firs stood along the path with big leaf maples and some kind of oak (I think it’s pin oak but I’m not 100% sure). There were more benches, too–the rest of them less weathered than the one I took a picture of. This little natural area was tucked in between a busy street and a strip mall, completely unmarked. Another unexpected little gift of the greater Portland area, where it really seems like making space for nature is still a priority on some level.