It feels funny to swing wildly from the leap I made last week to the beautiful mundane pleasures of this week. One of the lessons of this year-long project has been to see how as soon as a new place is visited or a new thing accomplished, it quickly fades into the background or settles into the slightly shifted landscape of my day-to-day. Not to dismiss any of it. I’m not just hoarding checkmarks on some arbitrary list, but the cumulative effect has been a quiet one. A life made a little richer, not suddenly dramatically different.
And so on to a new week and a new mini adventure. This time it was a lazy, sun-bright day spent south of Portland, hopping from one place to another: The Tulip Festival. The Alvar Aalto Library at the Mt. Angel Abbey and a stroll around Champoeg Park. On a gorgeous day, I sometimes find it hard to leave the familiar beauty and ease of my neighborhood and get in a car, but this day was a good reminder that a short drive with a good friend can be fun and easy and can land you in a delicious spot of unfamiliar beauty.
There’s not much to say about the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest. If you take your kids, you can make an afternoon of it. If you are two single foul-mouthed adults who have a hard time having appropriate conversations in public, your trip might be a little shorter. Still, I’ve never seen fields of color like that. Plus sun. Plus bare arms. Plus mountains.
Next stop was the library at the Mt. Angel Abbey. Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was commissioned to build the library which was completed in 1970. I know very little about architecture, but walking around a well-designed building, especially a library always delights me. My friend and I were good at keeping quiet while we wandered around the tiny structure, but we knew once we were back outside on the hushed grounds of the abbey to make a speedy getaway before our foul-mouthed ways got us in trouble.
With the afternoon still early, we decided to head to Champoeg Park for a lazy walk along the Willamette. I didn’t know that the park used to be the site of an early Oregon town, the first to vote in a provisional government in the Northwest in 1843. In 1861 a huge flood wiped the town out. I liked the stone markers along part of the trail that marked some of the old street names. A sign near the end of our loop showed the level of the water when the Willamette left its banks in both 1861 and, more recently, in 1996.
By the time we’d looped through the woods, down by the river and through the fields, my friend and I had nothing foul or inappropriate left to say. We drove back to the city drowsy, kind of quiet and soaked in good spring sun.