Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rose City

In early July, I had the chance to leave hell and visit Portland, Oregon. I'm not even sure I was actually invited before I started packing my bag. Of course, Portland ended up having its way with me. I left on June 30; our flight delayed by thunderstorms in Austin. The next day Portland had its highest temps of the year--low 90s--while Austin was chilling in lower 90s.

"Are you serious?!" I yelled at the city. I had traveled half way across the country in search of cooler weather only to find myself hotter than I would have been had I stayed put.

Of course, the next day the temps in Austin were back at hellacious levels (tm Annie in Austin), and the temps in Portland were, well, less warm. If I'd wanted to, I could have even worn a jacket in the morning and in the evening. I didn't because I wanted to appreciate the novelty of being cold outside in July, as opposed to paying $8 to be cold inside a movie theater.

I'd only been to Portland briefly before so it was really nice to be there for several days. A couple of things about the city surprised me.

1) the food. Good god. These people know how to eat well and pretty cheaply. A lot of it inadvertently involved a lot of pork: pork belly, bacon, bacon, sausage, and more bacon. If you're planning a trip there, let me know, and I'll send you my personal list of recommendations.

2) Portland is the rose city. This really shouldn't have surprised me. The one place we did visit in our short trip five years was the International Rose Test Garden in Forest Park. But I thought the garden was a special place where people with magical rose-growing gifts that I do not have practiced their mystical art. Instead, everyone in Portland can grow a rose. Every yard, nook, and cranny had at least two varieties, healthy and in bloom. Roses grew around the city like weeds. (Or maybe they grew like purslane, Carol?)
We saw lots of roses at the Test Garden on our first visit years ago in late August, but the blooms were nothing like we saw this trip in early July.

Pink roses,yellow roses,
orange roses,
red roses, white roses, lavender roses, (the last time I saw a lavender rose was in a Buenos Aires rose garden)I took pictures of the hundreds more roses, but I think you get the picture. The roses began to blur together.Amidst all these exuberant blooms, two areas of the garden stood out because of their quiet beauty. Who knew that I would find a beige rose so beguiling?And then over in one shady area of the garden, I enjoyed the cool colors and textures of these hostas and ferns. I also enjoyed the shade, because even though Portland was 15 degrees cooler than Austin, 93 is still hot.(And now the poor folks in Portland are having 100-degree days! I'm sorry, I really am. I had no intention of bringing Austin's weather with me. I was supposed to bring Portland's weather back to Austin, but I guess I got my spells mixed up.)

Outside the entrance to the park I saw a couple of unusual things: this sign,
and these roses covering the fencing around some tennis courts.
Roses covered the fences around the courts but failed to muffle the curses of the older man playing doubles.

But the strangest thing is about this picture has nothing to do with rabid rose growth. The most unusual aspect is that there isn't a Subaru to be seen in the parking lot.

Seriously, people, that's funny.