Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Search for Cherry Blossoms

It has undoubtedly been a sad week for the world, and it's been difficult to concentrate on anything but Japan for a while as the uncertainty continues...

The rain hasn't helped the mood much: Here in Portland we're having the rainiest March since the 1940s with over 200% normal monthly rainfall... and it's only halfway through the month.

So when we were met with some sunshine today and the forecasted promise of no rain until the afternoon, I thought it would be appropriate to head down to the waterfront to see if the Japanese Cherry Blossoms were in bloom and reflect a bit.

It's been a cold prelude to spring, so the long line of cherry trees right on the Willamette banks weren't in bloom yet. It was still nice to get outside and have a walk along the Esplanade.

[City of Bridges]

[Maritime Museum in a Riverboat]

[A Cormorant surfaces briefly ]

I did find some blossoming trees down by the streetcar tracks in Old Town, and some more in the South Park Blocks. As I made our way to them, I crossed paths with a mother and her young daughter, who said as she pulled her mom along "OK, keep your eyes peeled for blossoms, mommy!"

It was nice to see others doing the same thing I was.

One last stop I made was a park I had always wanted to visit, it being a Portland landmark of sorts. I had just never had a chance before...

...because it's two feet wide and in the middle of a highway.

[Mill Ends Park]

Mill Ends Park, at the corner of Naito Parkway and SW Taylor, is the "Smallest Park in the World." It was planted by one Portland resident and writer Dick Fagan (long-lost relative?) in 1948 because he wanted to see some green outside of his office... or, according to Fagan himself, because he caught a leprechaun, wished for a park, and received the smallest park in the world from the literalist, trickster imp (clearly a long-lost relative). Whichever story you believe.

A highway was built around the park in 2007. The plants temporarily uprooted and potted elsewhere... then replanted in the same spot when the highway was completed, so it's been in the same spot for 63 years as of this past Thursday. Visitors change it up every season with different little trees and flowers; today it held pansies, shamrock confetti, and a green plastic frog.

Portland has many quirky "World's Biggest," "World's Smallest," or "Most per Square Mile" claims that are always an source of odd pride.

Going to try to catch that Super Moon tonight and hope that the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere makes the world seem a little brighter.


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