Our Garden Home After 1 Month Away

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It’s always nice to come home. Normally I would have freaked out at the mess in the garden and all the work I needed to do but one month in Italy has performed its magic. My Italian side still has nothing but positive, wonderful, and charming things to say about the place.

“Look at all that green? Where did that come from? It’s fantastic!”

“It looks like a lovely cabin in the woods. Who lives there? I do! What fun!”

And lastly, “Let’s straighten things up and have friends over. We must have something to celebrate, right?”

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Home Sweet Home.

From the plane I’d been able to see roughly where I’d grown up just outside of the city, and then I saw one of the few Italian family farms left in the area. Not too long ago there were so many more and all of the large Italian families in the city had one of their own.

All of this was quite emotional for me. In the space of a generation or two so many had disappeared as Italian-Americans were able to become so many more things because we do have that ability here, or at least we did. Now I’m not so sure about the American Dream, but I know for many of the immigrants in my family, it was real.

Having just returned from Italy were there are so many small farms, it made me sad—but proud too. Oregon is a great place and I am so happy to live here. It’s not always comfortable for me, but overall, after this last trip to Italy, I feel like both of my feet are firmly on the ground now. Funny I find myself wanting to sell produce or plants or even food more and more, but I know exactly where that impulse comes from and I am proud of it.

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Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon.

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Rossi Farms on NE 122nd Avenue. One of the few Italian family farms left in the area.

After passing out for a few days I was able to get up the energy to walk through my garden to see how things were going.

So many of my favorite plants were blooming, and thanks to friends, all of the seedlings were doing great too.

The plane rides had been really hard on me and my swelling was very bad initially but it got better and eventually I saw my doctor and we discussed where I was at concerning my health but I will get to that in another post. I just wanted to emphasize, it really took me several days to get out and walk around and when I did it was quite painful.

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Rosa “Sombreuil”.

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Clematis “Jackmanii”.

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Unknown Dutch Iris.

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Unknown Dutch Iris.

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Rosa “Golden Showers”.

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Rosa rugosa.

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Billbergia nutans, Billbergia Bromeliad, Queen’s-Tears.

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Fave blooms.

The fava bean plants immediately excited me—even though I was in pain. As much as I’d loved being in Italy, I missed my kitchen and while there I’d wished I could have spent more time just hanging out in kitchens watching people cook. I have so much to learn and often feel like a pokey and useless creature but what comes out of my kitchen usually makes me proud. There was so much I didn’t see in one month. There were so many words I didn’t get to hear.

Back home I recommitted myself to cooking more difficult things and I’ve set out to learn more skills.

I also decided that my war on the edible garden is over now. My distaste for my former life is done and I’m ready to move on and I knew I badly need to do the garden renovation dance.

So, during the last week I’ve attacked the front yard with a great gusto, but I have a few big projects to get through before I can say the kitchen garden is up and running as it should be. I am renovating and clearing several areas at the same time with particular goals in mind. Yes, I want more food space, but I also need to dedicate my time and energy to plants which produce seeds I can sell. Maybe I can even get to some plant selection of my own in time. I hope so. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

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LuLu gained a little bit of weight while we were gone. I hate to call her neurotic, but she has her issues. Overeating nervously is one of them. 

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Maurice wanted us to know we were missed. Many stern looks were tossed our way between naps.

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Mona was happy to see me and couldn’t sit still. Even at her age she’s still Miss Wigglesworth.

The cats were happy to see us—as you can see. At first LuLu was in shock and hid from us but she continued to look at us with a pinch-me-is-this-real? look. After a few days we all settled in again. I think that’s in part due to the fact we had a great house sitter who really cared about the cats. Additionally, I think that we have 3 cats now who like one another. Mona getting along with LuLu has been a welcome surprise.

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Sweet souvenir: my new Bialetti.

We brought back a few things from Italy. Since we had to carry everything, I wasn’t feeling quite as generous as I wanted to be but my back survived.

My first gift to myself was this lovely little coffeemaker. Now I can make a quick shot of espresso just for me. Or, I could make one for you, the garden visitor. It works perfectly and makes a great cup of espresso.

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Not sure yet where we will hang this up.

The second gift to ourselves were these terra-cotta pieces for the back garden. We had to have St. Mark’s lion, and for me, well, something more historic.

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I mentioned LuLu is a bit neurotic, right?

That first week after we returned this is what always greeted me when I left the house or when I returned home. She melted my heart all over again. We immediately went on diets together too and I’ve been enforcing strict activity goals for her. Ok, maybe not that strict, but both of us have lost some weight.

More of the Garden Makeover and, well, Reduction Mammaplasty

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Damask Rose aka Rosa x damascena.

Last time I didn’t mention why I was rushing. I’m not even sure that I said I was trying to hurry through a pile of mulch, but I was and I’ll get to that in a bit. I can’t believe I chose to have another surgery at this time of the year, but I did, and I’m glad that’s over now.

Next year I’ll be able to harvest the Damask roses for edible purposes. This year, they had to fade and their petals were sadly trampled by rain but at least I smelled them frequently as the clock ticked on my impending procedure last week.

IMG_2630 IMG_2635Just in time we cleaned up the front area but there is much left to do. I finally was able to move the Aucuba ‘Gold Dust’ and I hope that it’s happier beside its companion next to the fence.

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Lord Quincy between scenes of the Bug Ballet. He’s quite a dancer.

The day after my surgery was glorious. After resting and before returning to the surgeon to be checked out I wandered around the garden high on pain pills and the miracle of sudden weightlessness from my chest. (Don’t fret. Mom was driving me  back downtown.)

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I walked around the garden rejoicing too that this recovering would not be nearly as bad as back surgery. I was already up and walking and was even able to pull out a few weeds here and there.

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Yes, there was still a lot to do, but I thought about the victories we’d achieved before the surgery.

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I had just moved this Aucuba on the right.

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Rosa ‘Julia Childs’.

Last week I spent wandering outside for a bit each morning with my coffee before I returned to bed for a long nap. IMG_2706

Each day was full of surprises like discovering vine weevils in my  Dranunculus vulgaris.

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Although they might look a bit crooked in this photo I can assure you they’re not. It has something to do with how I was holding the iPhone.

Then there’s the whole getting to know my body in a new light kind of thing. Since this is a gardening blog I won’t go into my reasons for wanting this done, but I can assure you that they were medical, physical, as well as emotional. I wish I’d done this sooner, and if you’ve thought about doing it, do it. It really is life changing.

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After a few days of rest I ventured over to an elderly neighbor friend’s house last weekend. (Yes, it’s ok I did this. Walking is encouraged after this kind of surgery.) We talked, I admired plants along the way, took note of an arrangement she’d made in the house, and we both noted that this tiny broom she’d had for ages had finally bloomed. Of course neither one of us remembers where it came from but she bought it years ago with me.

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I also ventured out that night to attend a talk and potluck with some other hort-heads at Sean Hogan’s house. There is plenty more to tell you about that fun evening but I really wanted to show these photos of the Abutilon megapotamican. With some protection it’s hardy and I think it’s just lovely.

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With some improved weather the cats and I have been regularly going outside. Maurice only goes if it’s really warm, and well Quincy, he goes no matter what and we find him passed out in Maine coon mode in the hall on a daily basis now.

IMG_2809Just today I went out for an hour, and I saw that my Chilean guava (Ugni molinae) was blooming.

IMG_2812Before I came in to cook dinner I admired my Fuchsia splendens too.

There have been a lot of changes around here during the last few weeks and I’ve been feeling so much better. I still need time to rest though and to clear the pain. Tomorrow I leave for a weekend in the coastal woods and I’ll return to share some moments from that trip too. I’m really excited to get back to the Estancia.

(Next time I’ll also tell you a bit about having a garden acquaintance come over to help me in the garden. Oh, what a boost that gave me!)

Purge, Edit, and Delete

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Right now I should be outside moving more of the unit of rich, warm, and lovely compost mulch I ordered, but instead, I’m indoors recovering from moving a lot of it on Wednesday. Cars can technically move around it so I am not terribly ashamed I’m hogging a parking spot in the street.

It’s been a few months since I’ve taken on such physical work in the garden. It didn’t take long before it was clear why.

Luckily, I had some anabolic steroids to take for my uncommon swelling issues. They’ve helped.

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Working so hard on Wednesday made me realize why the garden has gotten so wild. It’s been a frustrating time for me because I love plants, I really love to garden, and yet I just don’t do it.

Just working out there briefly led to a whole long list of physical issues. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that by the end of the day, various parts of my body were swollen, covered in rashes, and were peeling where the skin had dried out. I had no idea how much damage gloves could do to my knuckles. I’d never seen such an epic purple rash all the way across my abdomen. That’s when you know you look swollen.

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Unknown rose. We’d thought it was a ‘Dublin Bay’ but now I’m not so sure.

The garden looks like it does because I’m afraid of the pain. After a day of it, I remember that now. I guess when I was at my worst, it didn’t hurt as much looking at the spectrum of what I was experiencing but now that I’m living nearly pain free, I see things differently.

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The asparagus that we didn’t eat and overgrown chard. Can’t wait to get to this area this weekend.

My husband has committed to helping me more but he’s not a gardener and he has very little experience with the tasks so I will need more patience. I also need to continue to purge, edit, and delete.

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The potting area where I have no room to pot anything up right now.

These parts of the garden have been shown off before and I am doing it again. Even in their overgrown state, I see them as beautiful.

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Some of the seeds I’ve been able to plant this year. I cannot believe how much junk I’ve crammed into this space. Must. Clean. Up.

All of these little corners and spots are safe and fun to me. I’m still really enjoying seeing the garden as it reemerges. Everything I’m doing now is easing the anxiety of the pain gardening can cause, but it’s still really difficult to accept. I’ve become old before my time and I don’t like it. Now I need to find the balance between all of the things I want to have in my life. I also need to embrace and care carefully for my health concerns.

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Working to convert this area into a gravel path and seating area under the tree. Little by little. We’re getting there.

The garden has plans and I am 100% committed to holding a few fundraiser dinners out back in the garden this summer. It’s all a lot of work but it’s how I’ve always wanted to use the back garden.

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The walkway I wish people would use to enter the garden by walking along the north side of the house.

Ripping plants out is the most difficult thing for me. I should practice doing so more carefully. I’d wanted to divide and sell more of it but I just don’t have the energy to do it all. Potting things up really hurts my wrists and fingers too. My fingers were so stiff yesterday with such swollen joints. Luckily the caregiving client I spent time with is incredibly understanding.

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This Rhododendron falconer is one of my favorite plants.

The garden is helping me again, but this time it’s therapeutic in a different way. As I transition once again—to building a life where I’m able to use my mind more again for work and my body less—I hope that I can continue to build the garden into the refuge I need for it to be.

Oh how I want to work from home again but first I must purge, edit, and delete.

The Fragile Spine: The Gardener’s Nemesis

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I’m baaaaack and feeling better than the last time I was here. Who knew that what this girl needed was a quick back surgery?

I certainly didn’t see that one coming!

It all started just after I walked to see my ill friend in my last post. I’d seen my doctor the day before and she’d scheduled an MRI for me. That Friday I went in, had the scan done, and then we waited until Monday. At the worst, I was expecting a cortisone shot or some pain medications and rest. But then she called and told me I needed to see a neurosurgeon. Wha!?! She explained that the scan showed some bulging and other irregularities and she hoped I could get in to see the specialist soon.

I waited through another long weekend. I’d made an appointment for early Monday morning and honestly I was curious about what was going on. By then I was experiencing constant pain, numbness and a pins and needles sensation in my left arm. The pain was making me miserable so I stayed away from blogging. Instead, I worked on the garden even though I was hurting so badly. It kept me busy and I did see some great results. (More on that in another post.) Maybe it wasn’t the wisest decision, but it helped with my worry too.

Dranunculus vulgaris looking lovely this year.

Now, all gardeners know back pain, am I right? It’s just what happens to us after hauling, digging, and sifting through the dirt. The pain is our Badge of Courage. We’re proud of our backs.

My back has been a wreck for a long time and I honestly cannot recall when it all began. What I can say is that it’s been getting worse and worse for the past few years and working outside has been exhausting for me.

The pain begins and I’m simply spent. I retreat indoors in defeat.

The front garden is partially a riot of color right now and I’m sort of in love with it.

Since my relationship with pain is rather complicated I didn’t really know if what I was going through was a problem or not. I blamed my swelling disease. I blamed falling down the stairs. I nursed it as best as I could but I just decided at some point that sometimes my back hurt—a lot.

I found this Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’ bloom in my garden the day of my surgery. It’s my first and I’m a proud Mama.
I also have high pain tolerance and that’s become detrimental, hence, back surgery. This past year I’ve been more regularly declaring my back issues to my doctor and she seemed to agree that as long as I walked and stayed active it would cause less pain. I thought I’d been keeping it honest so-to-speak but I guess I still didn’t describe my experience as accurately as I could have but I didn’t stay silent either. I tried. I honestly tried.
Even when I did these preventative measure though, they didn’t work. Or, I should say, over time they stopped working for me altogether. Things just kept feeling worse.
Lovely Begonia leaf.

Pain is already part of my chronic illness condition. Swelling causes pain. I know that type of pain though and it’s lessened a lot since I was prescribed my new medication several years ago.

The back pain I felt—especially after returning from Italy—was different. I could barely stand up and I just wanted to cry. It was excruciating. Thinking things through, this sort of explained the urgency, but I still didn’t really understand what was wrong with me and how it had happened.

Lovely Bletilla striata about to open.

On Monday the neurosurgeon examined me, then we looked at my scans together. When I saw my spinal cord being pinched by a collapsed spinal canal, I nearly jumped out of my seat. It was clear that my spinal cord wasn’t happy and the herniation caused by the narrowing in the spinal column explained the pinching pain when I moved my head. And of course, the pressure from this was pinching my nerve.

Ok, I got it. So I looked at him and said, “What do we do about it?

Lathyrus sativus azureus. 
Well, I recommend surgery,” he said.
I’d expected a cortisone shot and this far exceeded my expectations. I was surprisingly both shocked and thrilled. Then I wondered how much longer I’d have to wait. I’ve never heard of anyone getting back surgery quickly. I just did not think it was possible.
How soon will this happen?” I asked.
Right away,” he said and we walked down the hall to make the appointment at the front desk.
I was ecstatic when I found out I’d only have to wait 7 more days.
The front garden on the day of surgery. John and I both laughed at the lone orange lily in the boxwood hedge.

Well it’s true, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”

I had one week to prepare for 1 month of little to no upper body physical activity. For a gardener in the month of June this isn’t exactly easy when you’re the primary gardener in the household. I’m working hard to recover quickly though. I can begin going on nice walks again soon and I’ll focus on that first.

Many of my garden plans for this summer had to be folded up and put away but I didn’t mind. I’ve never been so desperate to feel better and I was truly at the end of my rope.

Flowers John bought from Quinn in the City Flowers. These were just what I needed during my overnight stay in the hospital.

It’s not completely clear to me when the debilitating pain began, but I suspect that when I fell down the stairs in the front of my house nearly 3 years ago I seriously hurt my back. At the time I was more concerned about my swollen ankle. Weeks later I discovered after the Fling in Seattle I’d broken two fingers too but I continued to believe that my back pain was only temporary and I chose not to have it examined.

The injury lingered and remained consistent throughout the divorce and remarriage. While working as a caregiver, it made my job impossible at times. I ended up quitting because of it.

 A box of trial plants from Terra Nova Nurseries arrived the day I came home from the hospital. It felt a bit like Christmas.
Ok, so what’s the takeaway?
Honestly, I just want everyone to take care of themselves and to use caution when they’re walking. I might be a klutz, but all it takes is some uneven ground and an unsteady gait. What I’ve also learned from this is that when I fell and broke my tailbone and two vertebrae many years ago, it’s likely I caused light nerve damage in my legs and feet. This is likely how my balance has worsened along with my gait.
This is what a Posterior Cervical Laminectomy looks like a week after surgery.
I’m fully committed now to returning to the gym to improve my life. I can’t keep this up. I don’t want to live like this anymore.
My nurse often sleeps on the job but he’s been with me 24/7 this past week.
There is no nerve pain currently in my left arm and my fingers are no longer numb. I can tip my head back to look at the ceiling and there’s no stabbing pain from the pinched herniation. I’ve been dealing with that sensation for years and I won’t miss it at all.
My view from bed could be worse.

These things take time to heal, and seeds of change must be planted, so as I lie here in bed, I’m just reading gardening and plant books. This is a nice time to reflect on the past and while moving forward to a healthier and brighter future.

I’m so excited.

My life just keeps getting better and better. I’m so thankful. I just cannot say that enough.

St. Expeditus.

A friend of mine returned home for a visit to New Orleans before we knew about the surgery and she didn’t return to Portland until after it had happened. So, she bought me this statue of St. Expeditus while she was there as a souvenir. Seeing as he’s the patron saint of emergencies and expeditious solutions he’s more than welcome to look over my garden and I until I’m well again.

So far, I think he’s doing a great job, don’t you?

Wordless Wednesday: Before the current heat wave it was still springtime…

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Paeonia tenuifolia. 
Unknown Syringa.
Iberis sempervirens. 
Clematis montana var. rubens superba.
Vaccinium ovatum.
Unknown Iris.
Dicentra.
Dutch Iris.
Clematis ‘Josephine’.
The confused Christmas Cactus.
Rosa ‘Golden Showers’.

The Alaskan Honeymoon: Part Two (The Kenai Peninsula)

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It’s a shame it’s taken so long to return to blogging about our honeymoon back in September 2013 but the installments seemed daunting. Alaska is a big place and is best experienced. I just didn’t know what to say and I still cannot find the words. 
 
So, instead, I’m pressing forward. 
 
When I look at these images now I feel a lot and it’s mostly silence, calm, and solitude. I’m not known to be silent, but I know what it is and what it means. In Alaska I felt it and I felt a deep calm I haven’t felt in a long time. The solitude was much needed and I had a lot of time to reflect. It felt better than any spa treatment. 
 
There was space to breathe. 
 
Even though I’m now looking forward to traveling to Italy in a few months, there will always be room in my heart for Alaska. We will return. 
 
These posts find me pining away for it a bit too…

After hibernating for a day in Anchorage we drove south on Highway 1 to the Kenai Peninsula. I’d chosen it because of the Kenai River and because a garden client of mine is from Homer. I met her just after meeting my husband and when I told her we were discussing Alaska as a potential honeymoon destination she became very supportive of the idea.

(I’m so glad she did because she was a great help in our planning. I only wish we could have stayed in Homer longer but more on that next time…)

There were some goats up on the rocks somewhere not far from where we snapped this photo—wild mountain goats!

This photo says a lot about the first day out on the road. The bride was still very tired and the groom was ready for an adventure.

Wild rose hips.

Sadly, we rushed a bit on our way to the town of Soldotna. I regret not having stopped to take more photos but I was too tired and we both had no idea what the day would be like at all. The drive south was beautiful though and the landscape was unlike anything I’d seen before and as we drove we talked a lot about what it reminded us of so I’m left with a memory of that free-association game.

How do we become acquainted with new landscapes? We often familiarize ourselves to new environments by associating them with other places we’ve been to before and that’s half the fun—at least for me. While John saw the Alps, I saw the Tetons.

After a week it became Alaska to us, but at first, we had to get settled.

(I suspect in the future we will be in Scandinavia talking about how it looks like Alaska to us, but I hope we’ll see more of Alaska again before that trip takes place.)

Along the way we passed Kenai Lake and we were driving along the Kenai River off and on too.
Considering I’d spent many years editing fishing books for my father’s company, I expected to see something familiar. My eyes scanned the landscape and it looked like any other fishing hamlet. Later Dad told me on the phone about the trout fishing on the upper Kenai and I’m kind of fascinated by it now. I guess it’s some world-class fishing I’d never heard about, but it’s probably why it looked so familiar to me. There was a lot of fly fishing and it seemed a lot like home.
My father’s love of Alaska was a big reason for my having wanted to go there in the first place. Each year during my birthday in September he’d always be off fishing for salmon. He’d return with tons of fish, great stories, and usually a stuffed animal or piece of jewelry for me. I hated Alaska for many years. I was jealous of her.
I’m the last of the Amato children to visit Alaska, but my purpose was as a naturalist more than anything else. It’s what my father and I share. During the trip he called me more than he’s ever called me in my entire life. Every other day he’d check in and he’d have me describe the weather conditions, the light, the surroundings, and I’d tell him about what we’d seen and done.
In my usual way, our tour was unlike any of the trips my father had ever taken. He’d always been treated like a king. He’d been flown into fancy lodges. He’d land in Anchorage and then immediately fly out to a remote location on a float plane. We hit the ground, rented a car, and toured. It’s the trip—I later found out—that my dad would love to take now that he’s older and I hope he gets to do so.
What interested him most was our access to good food, museums, and wildlife. He already knows about the fishing, but he hasn’t seen the culture other than remote Native Alaskan villages. Traveling cheaply, eating well, and making the most of what we spent really sounded like a fun adventure to him.
When we arrived at our hotel/motel in Soldotna, I had another moment of giggling. I loved this news advertisement.
Alaskans have a sense of humor and we saw it all over the place. They are matter-of-fact too. (Just wait until the next post when I show you what makes news here.) Coming from Portland, this was such a relief. Nowadays Portland residents take everything far too seriously and they are so sensitive so it was fun just to live simply without any “major issues” being shoved in our faces.
Not hearing about sustainability, livability, or seeing a hipster on a fixed gear bike for one whole week was another big part of the vacation for us. I don’t think we heard the words “California” or “Bay Area” once. We didn’t see women in yoga pants or a single Prius car. I’m not saying that it was Montana or Wyoming or even Idaho. It was just Alaska.
Again, let me remind you of the silence we felt there. There was no hype. What you saw was what you got. We just were. The other people just went about their business. People were polite and friendly but there were no cultural agendas or lifestyles. I haven’t felt that free in a very long time.

Once at the hotel, John rested while I walked down to the river. It is a well-known fishing river and there was an elevated walkway with multiple fishing platforms for town residents and visitors. I’ve never seen a river so prepared and well-planned for salmon fishing. Since the season had ended, I had the walkway to myself. I walked along and watched spawned out fish corpses float by me.

The river was alive.

To my left was the riverbank. It was grassy and wild. There was also a small park with access leading down to the river. Looking up at the park bench it felt more like spring than late-summer.

As I walked along the river I could hear the ever-buzzing sound of small planes in the sky. It’s another strange thing about certain areas in Alaska. You get used to the sound. So much so that when you return home you think that every car or truck you hear in the city is a little bush plane. You begin to miss the little tin mosquitos in the sky.

You also realize why it’s the first thing you see hanging up high in the Anchorage airport—loud and proud. Those little planes are so important in this state.

The river was to my right. That day, it was a silent river that had overfilled its banks due to the heavy rainfall before our arrival. While I was there I was texting with a friend from high school who lives outside of Anchorage and she felt so badly that we’d arrived to Oregon-style weather. I told her we didn’t mind, after all, it was our honeymoon.
Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church in Kenai. Founded in 1840.
After we grabbed a quick bite we went for a drive to the town of Kenai to see this old historic site. The daylight hours were longer then and that day we experienced our first day of what I can only call prolonged nightfall.
In the plane—as we’d flown north—I’d noticed how the light had changed. I hadn’t really thought about prolonged daybreak and prolonged nightfall but they are wonderfully slow things that again need to be experienced to be understood.
The world feels as if it’s slowing down. In the morning, you don’t feel like rushing. The one morning I watched the sunrise, it took what felt like hours to be fully light outside. It felt decadent. I felt powerless to the powers that be. I felt small in the grand scheme of the universe. That felt good and I was ok with it.
Witnessing the light was something quite incredible. It was a light show. I’ve seen color bursts in the sky plenty of times here at home, but not light shows with colors fading in and out, blending with one another, shifting and then fading into another shade. This process simply goes on and on for several hours. Then when you think it’s dark, it’s not. There are still slivers of light in the sky. They fade out slowly like embers in a fire. Before you know it, you’ve lost track of them, and fallen asleep beside them.
When you awake, the slivers of light are in the sky again. The embers brighten and heat up the sky, you feel warmth from the darkness, and then it is morning. This whole process takes a few more hours. It is happening all around you as you go about your travels. It becomes a big part of how you experience the place.

On our way back we passed a nursery. Even though it was closed, I had to stop and look. By this point I was fascinated by the climate, the light, and I wanted to find a gardener and ask them all about it. I didn’t get that opportunity, but I’d like to explore gardening in Alaska more in the future.

Their display garden was really pretty. I didn’t poke around though because we had to get back. I was fading. The gardens I saw during our brief visit were utilitarian, but not Spartan. I only saw things from the car though, but again, it’s something I’d like to read more about in the future. As always, I have a lot to learn.

In the parking lot, we saw many more of the poppies that grow so well in Alaska. Papaver nudicaule is meant for this place as are many other poppies.

After another long day of adventure, it was becoming clearer to us that Alaska is a really big state. As we drove and talked about this, we realized just how much we wanted to see more of its beauty in the future. One long week in Alaska is nothing. We estimate that it will take at least 5 more trips to see every climate Alaska has to offer. Sure, this is true of virtually anywhere, but most places aren’t surrounded by that much wilderness, with such extreme climates.

To be continued…
(Next stop, Homer, AK.)