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on winter trees in northwest portland, oregon

Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light.  —Ernest Hemingway

Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit.  —Anton Chekhov

Once upon a time I lived in a two story house on the beach in a small community called Tierra del Mar, Oregon. I spent most of my time on the second floor, where a large window faced the ocean, looking out and marveling at my good fortune. Later, I hardly noticed the view. It was like the wall paper in the room. I did not pay any attention to it either.

Sometimes the weather changed dramatically and a storm welled up and bashed the coast. I took notice then. Or, maybe the sky cleared for a change and the sun would slowly descend in a glorious moment. We have seen them, even though it may have been in a photograph.

Portland is home and so is France. It has been a long time since I passed a winter in Portland. Normally, it would be on the coast in Antibes, a small coastal town between Cannes and Nice in southern France.

I have passed so many winters in Antibes that I ignore the Mediterranean Sea when I walk into town and then back again to the apartment at the Plage de la Salis.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Northwest Portland, where I live in Portland, has several districts—Nob Hill, the Alphabet, and the Pearl. I have often walked the streets there, mostly during the summer, when the trees are covered with leaves, and sometimes in November and December, when those leaves have fallen and are gathered by the street cleaners to be hauled away.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

I have in the past taken notice of the size of the trees but not really understood. I have often walked under them, through them, by them on my way somewhere and seen them more as a background decoration for a pretty quartier(Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Portland has many trees. They are a part of what we consider ourselves to be. They help us define Portland. Most of the neighborhoods close to the center have trees that edge their streets.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

Those trees devoid of leaves, open and bare, tower over us like giant creatures. They twist and turn sometimes, their branches do, for no explicable reason. Those branches, slim and dark, seem drawn against the sky with a fine point pen. Often, they stand there, silent against the sky.

I wonder how long it will take for me to walk and forget to stop and look up and wonder.  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jim O'Connell #

    Thanks for sharing the tree photos and your expression of their existential value to us all Michael. Great to hear from you!!!!

    16/02/2021

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