A Little PDX Summer Nostalgia


Despite the 90 degrees broiling up outside, I’m aware of fall creeping in like never before. Without kids to send to school the seasons usually pass seamlessly, one to another, year after year, me glued to a computer 12-hours-a-day. Like everyone, I’d wake up periodically to, “Oh crap, Christmas is in four days and I haven’t bought anything.” Or, “If we don’t get a dry day soon I’ll need to add a fourth raincoat to my repertoire.” Or, “Hmm. Mid-July. Perhaps time to swap the shorts’ box from the basement with the sweater drawer in the closet.”

But this summer’s been different. Except for a slight Twitter and blog addiction, the computer’s been a choice, and I have been aware of every blissful long, warm, sunny day. And the occasional stormy one. I didn’t do a single house project that I should’ve, but we had a steady flow of guests, parties in the backyard, countless bottles of rosé. And the dog and I bonded. Almost every day we’d walk through the quaint streets of Sellwood, along the train tracks, through the ‘forbidden field’, under the Springwater Corridor, through Oaks Amusement Park, down the stairs to the beach, along the water, up into the Monkey Trail, out to the dog park, back up along Oaks Pioneer Church, and home. We’ve watched green turn to gold, gray to blue, brown to purple, and every day I’m amazed that this is my neighborhood.

So one day not long ago I grabbed my camera in an attempt to capture a little bit of this urban oasis that my stubborn, socially inappropriate, bully of a dog has forced me out into. Thanks Koko.

P.S. I’m a terrible photographer and I don’t even have the rudimentary ability to crop. If you want great photos, go to my friend Leslie’s site…holy mama! But this is my story (and I’m sticking to it).

P.P.S. There’s not a crumb of food in this post. And I’m breaking a self-imposed rule not to talk about my dog. Next thing you know I’ll be sharing feelings…God help us all.

Since Koko’s not great with other dogs it’s best to burn off some energy before she mingles. Walking along the tracks and into the Forbidden Field (so named because of the giant Dogs On Leash signs…but Koko never, er, hardly ever, chases the birds) is perfect for this. Plus the ever-changing wildflowers and weeds are always amazing.

A quiet moment in the forbidden field before…
…Koko passes through like a bullet train. “Lab mix” my ass, dear humane society. She’s half pit, half jack-a-lope.
Great cloud action, turning the sky from brilliant blue to gray in the blink of an eye, one minute illuminating the newly-frescoed Mausoleum, the next turning it hulking and ominous.
Across the field I got a flash of purple from the Oaks Bottom wetlands and walked through the trees into this. Surrounded by a six-foot-tall forest of purple, the stereoscopic buzzing clued me into the teeming bees. We delicately backed out.

Then under the trestle to that magical white-trash wonderland that is Oaks Amusement Park. I particularly love it in its abandoned winter state, but summer brings its own treats too…..

Like this Little Miss Sunshine moment.

But now to Koko’s amusement park, where she can run off-leash again. Downtown’s on view from one end of the beach and the Sellwood Bridge anchors the other. Did I mention this is all one walk from home? It amazes me every time.

And looping back up to the chapel, again with the iPhone because at this point Koko was in the doghouse and we were booking miles.

I have no idea what this couple was doing. She’s in jeans, with ribbons and a veil. At one point he was on one knee. Gotta love this town.

And so we end. This is my thanks to you Koko, for getting me out every day to enjoy the summer and this amazing neighborhood. We have our battles, you and I. Your sense of loyalty is severely misplaced. I despair of you ever learning what, “Get your kong!” means, or learning to fetch. And some day your bullying ways will will land you, not just me, in hot water. But you do have your moments.


  1. Christine Martell Said,

    September 13, 2009 @ 10:59 am

    Lovely how life shifts when we allow it?

    I’m going to have to disagree with you, with some amount of energy behind it, however. This premise you have put forth about being a terrible photographer. Sorry babe, not going there with you. You don’t need cropping. You have an innate sense of composition. There is tension in your images that bring them alive, you are capturing the essence of the moments. Seriously— you might want to open yourself to the idea that some of your creative gift might be in this visual realm…. really!

  2. Richard Said,

    September 13, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    You’ve captured a glowing sense of idyll, Denise … I love this, the gorgeous photos, the casual ramble of the walk-story … just SO Portland, that I’m suddenly feeling a bit homesick. :)

    (“Get your Kong, girl, get it! Get it! Your Kong, it’s right there, go get it! Get … aw, the heck with it. Come over here for a belly rub.” :)

  3. Mary Said,

    September 14, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

    Agreement with the comments above, Denise. Your photos are beautiful; its no suprise that you have such a good eye.

  4. Leslie Said,

    September 17, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

    what they said!!!
    well done, my dear :)
    now let’s get you a dslr and some lenses to play with, eh?! :)

  5. Jill Said,

    September 18, 2009 @ 11:07 pm

    Thanks for taking this preggo, couch-confined, stir-crazy friend on a lovely walk! I needed that!

  6. KAB Said,

    October 7, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    This brought a tear to my eye! I, too, am thankful for my furry, at times frustrating, but always endearing companion for getting me out and about when I’m focused on less important tasks.

    And that’s a great shot of Koko flying!

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