The Pearl

December 11, 2010

The way with which my favorite 9 mile trail run through Portland’s Forest Park  played out on this winter’s day could be a microcosm for life here in PacNW from beginning to end for me:

MILE 1: Head out, dressed and ready to go. Sky is clear – NOT blue = smiling. Turn on music to bop to, start watch, legs begin to move….we’re rolling! Through neighborhoods – so cute. Past huge trees – so grand. Past bicycles, coffee shops, amazing smells, hipsters, intriguing storefronts = smile getting bigger.


Brain: “yes, so it begins.”

Bod: “so it does.” Up up up up. Still smiling. Without warning – DOWNPOUR. Sky gets dark = not a cloudburst. Still climbing. Apparently climbing to the sun. Overheating no longer a concern.

MILE #3: Trail (YAY!) Mud mud mud. #1: This is going to be a slippery killer. #2: Gloves and tights are waterlogged and weigh at LEAST an extra 7lbs. Barf.

MILE #4: Woman with dogs. {LEAP!} Lone hiker. {SWOOSH!} Big puddle! {SPLASH!} Splash, splash, squish, slip, slap, squirt. {Smile increasing in depth and breadth..}

MILE #5, #6, #7, #8: MUD = FUN!!! Wet – not much fun. Trees —-> A M A Z I N G! So cold! Must keep running to stay warm! Eeee!

MILE #9: Home. Mud in ears. New PR set, glee visible on face to passers by on the street whom question the history behind my hearty mess-that-is-me-now. SUCKAS! Leap into hot shower. Devour soup, hot chocolate, and ski socks. Vow to head out again tomorrow, no matter what the weather.

Arriving in Portland two years ago, under sunny October skies, was a piece of cake; it appeared we had landed safely home in the U.S. from Japan, with whole new realms within our own homeland to explore. Restaurants, outdoor activities, and general fun abound. And winter arrived. And the rain became a constant. For 9 months. And this little sun powered soul did not fare well at the beginning. But, soon, I got into the swing of things – planned my runs around the rain (sometimes,) learned to enjoy rain boots, and months devoted to coffee, local spirits, and the largest bookstore on the planet. And MUD. I came to see that all of the good and beauty that we have to experience in Portland and the Northwest in the summer (the amazing farmers markets, fabulous riding through fields and hills of green, flowers bursting through every nook and cranny)With time, I have come to absolutely L O V E our little way of life in Portland’s Pearl District – my local haunts, rituals, patterns and walks/runs/rides. And now, that we are leaving Portland for larger places (perhaps with less rain,) I find my self surrendering to the sparking reality of this fabulous little city. I won’t miss the bittersweet rain, but I will miss:

Walking home to our apartment with my “Little Red Modernhood Basket,” filled to the brim with fresh produce and flowers from the PSU Farmer’s Market, and not needing any wheels to get my bounty to the kitchen.


Stumbling into Powell’s to search through the rare books and cookbooks, pass through the children’s sections to watch little people reading the stories that I used to read when I was small, and to lose myself in the stacks with a bit of Puddle Jumper Espresso


Spending the waning hours of the day in Tiffany’s class at Yoga Pearl, reversing Warrior I, practicing my handstands, and listening to the Stones.

Perusing the hand-selected collections at Lizard Lounge, Covet, and Canoe and Tumbleweed without any reason at all except to detour en route to the grocery store, salon, bank or puppy park.

Spinning on my bike through the Columbia River Gorge (along the historic highway, past blackberries and lavender in the summer) up Larch Mountain, out to Multnomah Falls, or the full Bridge of the Gods Century.

Drinking pour-over from Cloud Seven Cafe beneath the Jefferson Bridge as the morning fog clears to reveal Gunner and the other pups frolicking in the park.



Racing the clock with Derek in trail shoes to the highest point in Portland – Council Crest.

Coconut French Toast from Isabel, pumpkin pancakes at Bread & Ink, and the entire menu on offer at Tasty n Sons.

Waking up early enough to watch the sun rising over Portland with Gunner, from our favorite spot in the apartment on 14th and Irving.


Spending entire afternoons “working” at Lovejoy Bakers over an americano in one of their bright, sunny yellow mugs, enjoying the sun streaming in (or the view of the rain) and something from the pastry case with a side smells and the sounds from the bakery.

Walking with Derek and Gunner through the quiet streets of this little city; slow to start during the week, and still and slumbering till late in the afternoon on the weekends. We seem to have the entire city to ourselves sometimes.


Long runs past the fire roads in Forest Park; where the trail narrows enough that you must navigate the thicket, the only way around the obstacles is through the mud, and you can no longer hear anything but trees falling deep in the woods and your own heart pumping.

And, of course, the rain, that makes the green, and the bounty, and the culture that is this fabulous city; the trademark that is this part of the country.

I consider myself to be a lucky woman; while I hold places close to my heart, I do not feel bound by them and have never felt as if I needed to “flee” a place, moving freely between cities, states and countries when the time seems to be right. I have come to love Portland for all that it is and has been to me; perhaps a stopping place but a wonderful one at that. Derek says he doesn’t think that I/we will ever return here to stay and to that I say it must be a good thing. If we can continue to fall in love with places, and be determined that we won’t return, then the place that we finally land, FOR GOOD, must be all the more wonderful.

I’m not ready to make any assumptions about the future. A presto Portland!

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