Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mt. Hood


Friday night my husband and I drove to Sunriver via the pass over Mt. Hood. As a native Portlander, I grew up with Mt. Hood always off in the distance. When I learned directions, it wasn’t with north as the keystone, but with east – because that’s where Mt. Hood is. As we drove along Hwy 26 with the light of the day quickly fading to twilight, there are a couple of places where Mt. Hood looms up over the road – and each time I saw it, massive against the sky of fading light, it took my breath away!

When I was 13 my family moved from Portland to the Washington Coast. The first time I returned to Portland, as we crossed the I-5 Bridge into Oregon and I glanced to the east and saw Mt. Hood – that’s when I cried. I had come home to my city, to my state, to my mountain. Jonathan Nicholas, a Portland journalist, once wrote:

Whether they are flying in from Bali or Bora Bora, Tacoma or Timbuktu, even the most jaded travelers press their noses to the windows as planes bank for the final approach to PDX. Newcomers are lost for words as the face of Mt. Hood looms into view. But Portlanders know exactly what to say, “Ah, home!”

Whenever I glimpse the mountain, whether it’s close up against the twilight as it was Friday night, or peeking through the clouds as I cross the Glenn Jackson Bridge, I feel like Pocahontas when she sings the song, Colors of the Wind:

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Somehow I am connected to Mt. Hood. I don’t understand it; actually, I don’t even try. I just am, and it’s a connection that gives me roots, satisfaction and wonder.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Child to Adult -- Three Weeks to Catch Up

Three weeks ago our oldest daughter was still our “child”. Sure, she’d turned eighteen and had just graduated from high school, but in the eyes of her dad and me, she was still a child. Curfew was the biggest source of contention. She’d tell us that she was an “adult” and shouldn’t have a curfew; we said that she was still a child living in our home and we should be able to say when she should be home at night. Now, there are, of course, two sides to this story, as there are to most. On her side, it was true, she is, technically, an adult and it is true that with the fall, she will be away at school and we won’t have control over her comings and goings. But from our side, we still look at her and see the little girl with her index finger stuck backwards into her mouth. As I explained to her, we need time to adjust to her changing status, just as we did when she entered her teenage years and wanted more freedom to go with friends to the movies or the mall. What we’ve always asked, during these times of transition, is that our children give us advance warning of their new found status (or the new status they believed they should be accorded). What had been happening with our oldest daughter, from our standpoint, was that she was pushing the status on us at the last minute. 10:30 curfew? She’d call at 10:20 to ask if she could stay out later – No! Then, three weeks ago, she went away. We sent her to Norway with our foreign exchange student who was returning home after living with us for the school year. Not only is the teenage lifestyle more relaxed in Norway, but we had no way of knowing what type of hours she was keeping – we just relied on her host mom to set the appropriate parameters and to keep her safe.

Now, our daughter is home and, when she asked about the ever-nagging question of curfew, I responded, “I don’t think it’s a big deal any longer.” During the last three weeks her dad and I have come to grips with the fact that, yes, she is growing up and, yes, she will soon be leaving the safety of our ever-watchful eyes and, no, there’s absolutely nothing we can do to prevent either of the first two facts from happening. So, three weeks – not so much a matter of her growing up as it has been a matter of us catching up.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bottom of a Dip in the Road or Sliding Down the Slope to Old Age?

As I’ve been whining about for the last few months, this past year has been the toughest of my life – in addition to excess stress from a variety of fronts, I had my first “real” surgery followed by five weeks without putting any weight on my surgeried foot, then three more weeks walking around with a big “boot”, two trips to the ER for surgery-related problems, thrown-out back from walking like a gimp with the boot, no exercise, weight gain – shall I go on?

This definitely hasn’t been my best year and, as it’s gone on and hasn’t gotten better, I’ve honestly worried that I’m just beginning to slip down a slope that leads to “old age”. The stress has taken its toll on my body and I look older. The surgery and back problems cause me to walk bent over and I look older. While my foot recuperates I have to wear “sturdy” shoes that only go with frumpy clothes and I look older. Add that all up and I feel not just older, but old. However, this morning I woke up and was able to stand upright for the first time in over a week. Then, as I began to walk around I realized that my foot wasn’t screaming with excruciating pain for the first time in over two months. I have always promised myself that I’d go kicking and screaming into “old age”, but, for the last few months, I haven’t had any kick or scream in me – only whine (along with some wine), but now I’ve decided that this slope I’ve been slipping down just goes down into a little dip in the road and that this must be the bottom of the dip because I’m now on my way up the other side. It will be a tough climb, but I will get out of this hole and I’m just so thankful that I can now see that it’s just a hole, not that “old age” slope that I’m not yet willing to slide down.