Thursday, August 11, 2011
If you've been enticed by the allure of a city and now find need of solitude, feel free to follow the little footsteps, bike tracks and tire marks I've been making around crowds recently. A mini NY guide will come (from an old expert at hermetic life there), but here are two free places to escape to in and outside of Portland.
International Rose Test Garden/Washington Park
The name says it, but it's worth repeating: this is a testing ground for new rose varieties. Isn't that enough reason to be here? There are many out of towners walking around with cameras, but it is so beautiful there must also be real Portlanders smelling a rose or two (try New Zealand and Easy Going). Maybe you will be lucky enough to see a middle aged Japanese woman giggling like a teenager while posing in front of a thorny thicket, making the whole experience worthwhile. I rode my bike with it's broken gears a grueling five uphill miles in the sun to Washington Park, where the garden is located. Arriving felt like reaching the Promised Land. My crumbly vegan/gluten free bread baking attempt was the manna.
The garden is wonderful but still too crowded for you?? I feel the same way! You must have a Subaru, so get in. Driving past Sandy and through Mt. Hood National Park the buildings are already a distant memory. Exit at the end of Highway 35,and follow the scent of orchards. Don't hold back from running into a field of lavender while exchanging knowing glances with other people's Grandmas, and from trying enough cherry samples to substitute for lunch. There's also 47 cent Nigella (picture on the left, Sarah from Saipua on the right! NY flashback) to fill out your garden, or a big empty pot.
On the trip back along the Gorge, take a windy drive up to the Vista House and see a world that looks brave and brand new. Gertrude Stein once said, "I've been rich and I've been poor. It's better to be rich". Forget about money for a minute, because you are surrounded by mountains, filled to the brim with berries, and have arms full of flowers. You are rich! She is right. Keep that thought with you back into the city, and goodnight.