"The city is most fortunate in possessing this park containing part of the deep, romantic, wooded ravine called Balch Canyon. Few people know and love this beautiful sample of the magnificent timber which formerly covered all the hills and ravines in the city. Aside from the luxuriance of the woodland vegetation there is the added charm of seclusion to a degree rarely found in a public park." John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., Report of the Park Board, Portland, Oregon, 1903On the last day of a hectic visit to Portland, Oregon, my husband, daughter, and I enjoyed a short hike in an unexpected oasis of an urban park. Just west of downtown, a hilly neighborhood street of close-built homes dead-ends at Macleay Park. Donated to the city in 1897, the wooded trail forms part of the 5,100-acre Forest Park, which ranks as the U.S.'s largest forested natural area within a city.
We walked (and skipped and dawdled and photographed) along the park's dirt trail, which winds along a creek and beneath a leafy canopy of old- and second-growth trees. Sunlight filtered down the steep slope of the ravine, backlighting a spiderweb strung between fern fronds and cottonwood fluff littering the creek. Green was all around us. Sycamore leaves waved fanlike above the trail. Clumps of moss clung like cloth patches to rough bark; lichen added a green patina to wooden railings. My daughter noticed a slime trail and discovered slugs the size of fat cigars resting on leaves in the undergrowth.
It was one of those perfect, soul-soothing walks, a much-needed rest after a very busy summer. I have been taking out little memories of that walk over the last few weeks. The moments of peace gathered in those green woods have helped me get through packing and moving back to our home after a year-long sabbatical.
I hope that you are all enjoying the last bit of summer. I'd love to hear how yours was, and if you managed to find a place of the heart that inspired you as that little moment in Macleay Park did for me.