A Gardener Visits the Oregon Zoo

As I write this an East Wind is blowing out of the Columbia River Gorge and I can hear the Doug fir tree as it gently brushes the roof. This winter, those branches will finally be removed. It is late, and the emergency respite child is asleep in bed and I can now openly feel afraid of the dried vines scratching at my window. I wish I could be upset at the person who planted them, but I cannot do that to myself. I meant no harm at the time. The scratching noises they make though are really a bit terrifying. I must remember to trim them back.
Ah yes, this is really about the zoo. This past Saturday we were at the Oregon Zoo and before we’d left the house with our last foster respite guest, I’d already decided to see the zoo through the fresh eyes of a gardener, and not necessarily just the animal lover that I am.
This meant—of course—that the first photo was of a bear. I am horrible at these assignments but I was simply too excited since I have not seen the black bears in some time now.

Back on track, I noticed this along the pathway as we continued. These are what we call sheds or shed antlers and they are just sitting around to make the place look more natural in the Pacific Northwest Exhibit. This kind of thrilled me and brought back memories of a mostly horrible camping trip to British Columbia with my father for one month after I’d graduated from high school. I would have preferred a week in NYC to that month of misery, but at least I really did get to know the desolate feeling of true wilderness.

While I was there, I found all kinds of odd animal bones by wandering a bit into the woods but I stopped doing that the day I heard a grizzly for the first time. Back home in Oregon, even after all of these years, I still love to toss out artifacts into my garden for that surreal juxtaposition. This winter I hope to go to the coast to get some more great stuff—another bone or two would be kind of fun—but my mainstay are large oyster shells.

My husband was briefly home this past weekend. He brought home books and clothing from his seasonal wine sojourn in California, and is now wrapping up what loose ends he can before returning home for the next 5 months. The arranged respite for the weekend was very excited to see him again and I think that’s something he is beginning to enjoy more and more even if it is confusing or rough at times. He was happy to be back in what we lovingly call the Pacific Wonderland.

The lifecycle of the salmon is represented by art at the zoo. (You cannot really keep salmon in tanks so they have trout instead.) There is an amazing mosaic in the walkway near this sculpture that is a favorite of mine. Salmon fertilizer is one of our favorite fertilizers here at home, so adding salmon again to my blog I do with pride.

This is an owl I caught napping but I cannot imagine it sleeps much with all the kids around it all day.

Owls can be useful for rodent control, even in the city, so of course it gets a gardeners seal of approval. Living at the base of the extinct volcano that is now a forested park, we have some owls living amongst us. There are some bats too, but they don’t visit me down here at the base much. (We have them at the zoo too, but by the time we made it to the bat cave, I was too tired to take another picture.)

The native rose hips were really glistening and glowing. I didn’t get a full picture of this shrub rose, but it was lit up like a Christmas tree with all of its red hips. It made me crave my favorite black tea with rose petals for some strange reason.

Near the farm area, where they have the main petting zoo, this salvia was afire. I found it hard to believe that they were blooming away, but nearby there was a native Mimulus in bloom too. I mourned the fact that I was too late to harvest some of its seeds, but maybe next year.

I am not sure if this is the North American native Beauty Berry or not. It is planted between a viewing deck and either the hippo or giraffe and zebra area. This was a welcome sight since the colors are always so beautiful.

Temporarily the penguins have been moved into part of the polar bear exhibit. If you know any penguins, it should come as no great shock that their filter needs to be replaced at their house. This might take some time so they have made themselves at home.

They were sun worshipping while we were there and a few were swimming up to us as we looked through the glass. It was a great last stop and I am glad I pushed to see them and not the ice cream machine the foster respite was by that time obsessed with.

As we left on Saturday, this was the amazingly romantic weather we saw from the parking lot. Fog was settling in on the West hills, and down below, in the city, it was drizzly. Some folks feel that this kind of climate is heavy, or even depressing or sad, but I adore it. I might even want to add that it can inspire you to get some writing done that you’ve been meaning to get around to doing.

Today was mostly clear and sunny so we do have some good days around from time to time. I now have over 4,000 words written for this novel of mine, it was a great day, and a great weekend leading up to today as well.

4 thoughts on “A Gardener Visits the Oregon Zoo

  1. You have inspired me! I have some old bones, vertebrate of some large animal, acquired some time long ago, I don't remember how. Currently they sit atop the computer desk, but they will be wonderful in thegarden!

    Congratulations on a great beginning to your novel!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s