Sunday, November 29, 2009

At Home on the Water

The crew of Indigo is taking an extended break from boat travel. Unexpectedly, we have washed up in temporary digs on the shore of the Willamette River in hometown Portland. Although we are most definitely land based, we have a daily dose of water as we overlook the sweep of the river south of downtown Portland.
I have scorned bloggers who go months without a post, but now I am one. We beg forgiveness. Since tying Indigo to the dock on Labor Day, we have been busy. We have moved into new digs, rearranged work and living spaces, seen our son Sam married to his entirely wonderful partner Kate, and renewed old friendships. The Captain has become the proud owner of one artificial knee, and the mate has resumed a schedule of painting in the studio, outdoors, and now from our 15th floor apartment.

A word about where we are living. As you can see from the photo above, the "South Waterfront" is an entirely new neighborhood, built on land that was previously industrial just south of downtown Portland. Our first Portland house, a hundred year old Victorian, was in an neighborhood a half mile from here, but infinitely further in concept. Our current neighborhood is entirely planned, and five highrises were mostly complete when the economy tanked. Adjustments were made, new construction put on hold, and some buildings intended to be sold as condos - like ours - were converted to apartments. This is a weird place, but oddly convenient for us: I bike or walk a mile to my studio at our son's house; the Captain walks four minutes to the aerial tram that takes him to work at the medical center. The same four minute walk takes us to the streetcar, which gets us downtown in a flash.

What I like best is that we live here on the 15th floor much like we did on the boat, watching the weather, the water, the sky, and the activity around us. We always have the binoculars at hand, and again see eagles, cormorants, herons, and gulls. Now the winter storms are beginning to sweep up from the south and west, and we have the sense that we know the oceans and patterns from which they come. Sunrise and moonrise demand our attention, and we are absorbed by the shift in color as the cottonwoods turn to gold with the onset of winter.

But - new place, new spectacles. Hummingbirds come constantly to the feeder on our fifteenth floor terrace. The odd Coast Guard or Police boat comes by, although we can never imagine why. The Fire Department saunters over and tests its hoses. Recreational boaters come by - rowing, sculling, kayaking, dragon boating, Polynesian canoeing, even a few paddling surf boarders. We relish the few bits of commercial boat traffic, and wonder why there isn't more. At some point the river traffic nearly died, and resuscitation hasn't yet been effective. Could we help breath a bit more life into this urban river landscape? Do we know something about waterfronts and boats and living marine landscapes?