When the sun comes out in Oregon . . .

even if it’s only for one brief and semi-bright and almost shining hour, this is what happens.  The people come pouring out of their doors and head for the park.  If you’ve never been to Oregon, let me assure you, we live in a large slice of heaven.  Here in Eugene, we are in the Willamette (pronounced like dammit, not the French way) Valley, and we are an hour and a half away from the coast and an hour and a half away from the mountains.  Eugene is just slightly southwest of the confluence of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers, and when the air is cool and clear, we generally get socked in with fog from the moisture of the two rivers in the mornings.  Sometimes it just forgets to burn off.  I really didn’t think I’d get to talk with you all about the sun this weekend.  We are coming up on my 33rd year here in Oregon, and I believe that in that span of time, we’ve had two sunny Memorial Day weekends.  Usually, it is our tradition to go camping in the rain, sit and drink beer or cocktails and eat barbeque under a canopy or tarp, and just make the most of it, pretending that summer has started, even though we know it’s a way off yet.  However, Ozzie and I seem to have timed our walk perfectly today.  We headed for Skinner Butte park, which is about a mile and a half north of our house.  I took the camera today, because I wanted to show my sister where there had been some major bank erosion and some trees had fallen into the Willamette.  We’ll start there.

We had just finished photographing this, and Ozzie took care of his business with the park, when I looked up to see this coming.

A break in the clouds!  Real blue sky!  Maybe I really wasn’t going to need those Little Hotties Hand Warmers that I had shoved into the pockets of my sweatshirt jacket, but for now, they were doing a good job of keeping my fingers from freezing.

We began to approach the Owens Rose Garden, and you could actually begin to see shadows on the ground.  This was very encouraging.

Ah yes!  As we came to this flowering tree (don’t know the name of this one) on our way into the garden, we could definitely see sun and shadow on the grass.  What more could you ask for on a Sunday in Eugene?

Some of the beautiful roses in the Rose Garden.

A rudbeckia with a bee!

California poppies and a tree near the center of the garden.

Lupines and real poppies (not Sears poppies).

The color purple.  I can’t think of the name of these flowers at the moment, but it made me think . . . “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”  There was a lot to notice today.

Foxglove – along with some more poppy.  Intoxicating color and a whole lotta lethal medicine there to boot.

We wandered back out of the garden and headed back up the river trail.  Soon we came to the place where the ducks and geese congregate.  If you look carefully into the grass in front of those Geese, you’ll see some goslings blending into the grass.

Continuing up the path

Kids coming out into the playground.  Did you ever try, when you were little, to see if you could swing hard enough to go up and over the bar?  We tried all the time!

Then you come to the community gardens.  This is a great place in Eugene (actually, we have several), where people who have small yards or who live in apartments can get a plot of land to plant some crops and grow fresh veggies.  Not only do they get good stuff for themselves, but gardeners share between the plots and excess is often given to the community food bank.  A great use of the land all around, if you ask me.

More gardeners gardening.

Here’s a shot of the map of the Riverbank Trail System at the foot of the Greenway Bridge.  We are so lucky to have this wonderful trail.  As you might be able to see, it goes on both sides of the river, and there are many bridges that span the river so you can cross in various locations.  It makes for a wonderful walk, even on a very hot summer day.

If you’re into working out and keeping track of your mileage (as many folks are in Eugene) you’ll find mileage on the map

and mileposts to let you know where you are!

Actually, Eugene is track town USA and the track and field trials for the Olympic team will be held here next month.  I probably could have taken a few photos of the athletes who are here to train for that already, but they were a little too fast for me.

More lovely green trail

People out biking on the trail

The Willamette from the Greenway Bridge looking east

Kids in the Skinner’s Butte playground (Eugene Skinner, by the way, is the man for whom Eugene is named).  Shadows not so distinguishable now, the sun is fading.

And, as we’re leaving the park, the Eugene War Memorial with some visitors

It’s this side of the memorial that makes me saddest of all.  I wish I lived in a world where it were not necessary to have all that blank space for the names of those who will perish to defend our freedom in the future.  It would be lovely if the dying were to stop now, but of course, that will not happen.

Thanks for taking our walk in the park with us.