Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Walk In Portland's Chinese Garden

We decided to introduce a new friend to our favorite Pittock Mansion hike. Everyone who lives in Portland should discover the beauties of Forest Park as soon as possible. Ked and I didn't know about Wildwood Trail for far too many years, and when I think of all of the lovely local trail time we missed I have to quickly change mental subjects, or risk sinking into maudlin despair and regret. Oh, the humanity. Anyway, this new friend (a very fascinating man from Egypt) does volunteer work as a greeter at the Classical Chinese Garden that is tucked quietly into downtown Portland. Ked and I had only visited the place once before, so, since our greeter friend was on duty at the garden right up until the time we were scheduled to pick him up for our hike, we and our friend Su decided to arrive early and take the opportunity to get more acquainted with this little oasis of peace in the city. I have pictures to share.

The garden is full of these amazing paths, with patterns of stone leading you onward.

I liked this picture of Su and Ked. Su can complain later about lack of picture-posting clearance, if she wants to, but really, since I already went to all the trouble of putting it up here, I think she should grant me retroactive dispensation, don't you?

This is one of those bridges that doesn't even have to go anywhere to serve a purpose in the world. Even if its only purpose was to stand there looking beautiful, that would be enough.

Don't you want to see where these doors lead?

I'm not usually big on such minimalist floral arrangements, but this scene is just plain pretty.

Isn't this a cool way to dress up a window?

Here's a lovely profusion of delicate spring color.

The Chinese sure have the whole "cool window screen" thing down pat, don't they?

All this shot needs is a butterfly or two.

Here is the tea house in which they serve a dizzying array (at least a gazillion varieties) of that Chinese staple. Really, there's a whole menu--maybe 8 pages--of all the different teas, with a description of all their flavor and scent characteristics, meanings and purposes. Clearly, tea is a far more complicated thing than I am used to considering it.

I really like the feel you get from this picture, where the garden takes its place in the context of the city around it. While you are wandering around, the city really doesn't call too much attention to itself. The garden easily remains the focus, but when you stop to connect the garden to its surroundings, the contrast can be oddly appealing.

Here is another one of those intricate paths, drawing visitors on to new vistas of pleasure and repose.

Aren't these windows simply beautiful? I love how you can catch glimpses of the garden in their reflections.

This last image is from a little later in the day, when we finally left the garden and proceeded on our hike. Having gotten a later-than-planned start, we didn't walk far (which is just as well--that no-migraine streak I was talking about last post broke this week with a vengeance. I'm on day four of a sometimes-off-but-mostly-on headache, and am actually using most of my energy reserves just to cope right now). However, by starting farther up the trail we still got to let our friend see Pittock Mansion. He was suitably impressed. On the way back we saw this charming little sign of floral determination pictured above. Since our new friend is a landscape architect, he was able to tell us that the intrepid fronds claiming a place in the branch of this tree are licorice fern. Looks right at home, don't you think?

That's all for now. Happy wandering to you.