I’ve lived these last 18 years on the Hill and remain periodically unsettled about how far I find myself from many things I love, especially walking in cities, the urban anonymity tempered by the small, warm connections with clerks, fellow walkers, homeowners, homeless folk. An urban walk is my church: where I find inspiration, joy, kindnesses, connections, peace and renewal.
My husband lived here when I met him, and I cannot picture him anywhere but at his McNamee Road heaven. He loved this place at first sight, back when it was a logged off nob. I have come to love it….hanging laundry out at 5 a.m. on a summer morning, skinny-dipping in the pond, lying on the grass and watching clouds in the spring and fall—so unlike Northeast Portland where I’d have to come out of my deep-eaved Craftsman and peer upward to find a patch of sky.
I’ve loved walking in the woods or along the roads, eating things I find, and knowing our kids have learned which wild foods they can eat. And the annual return of the redwing blackbirds, turkey vultures and swallows brings the same joy I feel when running into a friend in the city.
Though I still miss living in a place where I can walk out my door into the energy of a city, I do love walking our trails in winter when trees are dripping, the ground giving, and the ferns fat and plumy. I love leaving my home office on spring afternoons, putting on canvas pants, and plunging down the hill, pulling down deadfall, clearing out ivy, limbing up trees to enhance the park-like effect. I’m proud to be a steward, helping the land thrive after a few generations of logging. While we own the land, days in our woods will remain quiet and if not primeval at least heading that direction.
Out of the billions of humans on the planet, living here puts me in the tiniest group of the most fortunate. I often wonder who will love it, and how, after we are gone.