I’ve heard that Steve Jobs used to spend hours walking around the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. It is located right across the street from his beloved Reed College. It took me 6 minutes to get there by car from where I live. I took a quiet walk there this morning. I’d never visited prior to today. After my daughter sent a text yesterday saying that she was there and that I should go because it was so beautiful, I decided to get up early this morning and oblige. She was right.
The entrance to the park is situated on a ridge. As soon as I entered the gates and began to descend the small incline, I could hear the sound of water gurgling down the rocks. It was a cheerful sound, a welcoming one, and my heart felt peaceful as I walked and this lovely scene came into sight.
Each time I rounded a bend, there appeared a scene more breathtaking than the one before it.
This is another of Portland’s “gentle places,” of which there are many. However, few are this beautiful. I am forever discovering new people, places and things in Portland that make me love the Rose City even more. This truly is a gentle city. The people in this park spoke quietly this morning, in soft voices, as if they were showing respect to the serene beauty of the gardens.
The path wove back and forth across the terrain, up and down small hills with rhododendron spilling over in shades of pink, white and purple. There were my favorite weeping willow trees and pedestrian bridges, and the sounds of the little crystal spring dancing over the rocks.
My heart felt so peaceful as I enjoyed the crisp, clean air and the gentle breeze that caused the willow trees to wave at me. I felt so thankful to be alive, and to have the honor and privilege to live in this stunningly beautiful city. I know how lucky I am to be able to have moments like these and to visit places such as this that are only a few minutes from where I live. I found myself smiling, and noting that the other visitors were as happy. I can’t even tell you how many people told me to have a nice day. I stopped to chat with another photographer, then, with a young father and his toddler son. I sat on a bench with two nuns and spoke to them about St. Mary’s convent and the weather and the beautiful flowers. Friendly place, Portland….and beautiful.
In addition to the manicured areas that make up most of the gardens, patches of less orderly shrubs, upland forest, marsh vegetation, and submerged logs attract wildlife, especially waterfowl, most prevalent in winter. The Rhododendron Society has counted 94 species in the garden, including grebes, herons, ducks, Canada geese, wigeons, gulls, thrushes, nuthatches, hummingbirds, and others. A few of the ducks said hello to me, but most were too preoccupied with the beautiful morning to notice their human friends walking by.
There was beauty everywhere! I sent some of these pictures to people that I love, as I walked. I wanted to share this place with them. Sometimes, I found myself wishing I could walk these paths with my parents. I know how much they would love it. The climate is mild. There are few, if any, mosquitoes, no cloying heat, no fire ants, no chiggers. It is a place that says, “Welcome.”
Visit this place. You will be glad you did. Take care of the earth. You will be glad you did. So will your grandchildren.