Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ode to Forest Park

When we go to Portland, Maya's favorite thing to do is to hike in Forest Park. She told me that Forest Park is her favorite place on earth. This most recent trip was no exception, and happily, Ted was able to join us this time, and I think he may be hooked as well. For Maya and I to enjoy hiking is definitely saying something, because we are two girls who do NOT like to get hot and sweaty. Sadly, there is almost no way to hike around here without getting hot and sweaty, because there are simply not enough trees to keep you shaded. So the sun is beating down on you, and instead of marveling at nature and enjoying ourselves, we're cranky and want to go home. Not so much fun to be around. In Forest Park, which is about a block from where we stayed in Portland, you can hike for hours and hours without ever feeling the cruel rays of the sun beating down on your head. The canopy of old growth forest is beautiful and soothing. You cross paths with fellow hikers, runners, and lots of dogs. We love it.

This is the Stone House. Looks kind of like something from Blair Witch (well, not really, but kind of...), but it's just an old bathroom structure that succommed to fire in the 60s.

It used to be that while hiking in Forest Park, Maya and I would play role playing games. On one trip, Maya had recently finished the Catwings books by Ursula K. Le Guin (who lives in that same neighborhood, coincidentally). So we played Catwings. She was Jane, and I was usually a woman who finds her, though sometimes I was one of her brothers or sisters. On another trip, Maya was very into Buffy the Vampire Slayer (not sure where she picked THAT up) (wink wink), so we would play Buffy. That usually involved lots of vampires getting 'dusted', along with cool sound effects. (Thank goodness 90210 was off the air before these roll playing games started...I would hate to have to play Steve to her Kelly or something...since Steve only had two emotions..."I'm rich and I'm about to get some" or, "Oh crap, I think I have anal herpes"... I'm not sure I could have pulled that off well...)On our most recent trip, however, I discovered that Maya seems to have outgrown this kind of roleplaying. Instead, she enjoyed imagining what Forest Park would have looked like millions of years ago, in the time of the dinosaurs. She imagined what trees would have been there back then, which dinosaurs would fit in well with the foliage, that kind of thing. She imagined tiny liptiptidium (that's my pathetic phonetic spelling of what she's saying...I have no idea how to spell it correctly, but it's one of our (very) early ancestors, an early mammal that lived in the time of the birds, I think...I'm not terribly well versed in this stuff...) eeking out a living among the underbrush. She loved it.
There are many, many things to love about Portland. That much of my family lives there is a big one. That it is a big city with diversity and liberal ideas is another. That they have the best bookstore ever, and a lot of truly wonderful restaurants is yet another. They have a thriving music scene, and seem to have a lot of artists and creative people. The housing is (comparatively) affordable. A great city. And still, were we ever to move there, I have to say that I would try very hard to be able to afford a house within walking distance of Forest Park, because it may indeed be the best part of Portland.

No comments: