I take a walk around Clackamette Park on a cloudy December morning and admire the boatless rivers. I stop near the confluence, near a large pile of cottonwoods blown up there by a flood. A shiny purple bag on the ground arrests my attention. Resting near the bag, a syringe. I consider the syringe and its provenance. I consider the syringes encountered everywhere I go: beaches, woods, rivers, streams, streets, sidewalks, parking lots, parks, trails. I consider what this might mean for American culture.
An elderly man spooks me out of my consideration of the abandoned syringe. He has materialized from the standing cottonwoods, the ones with exquisite beaver gnawings, the ones about ready to fall. He says “Merry Christmas” in a Russian accent. I say “Merry Christmas” to him. He moves on. I watch him walk over the purple bag and syringe and stop at the river’s edge. He urinates into the river and then kneels over and washes his hands. I move along and talk to squirrels and geese.
At the Promenade later, I watch a lone smokestack puff smoke or steam or whatever it is. Two Japanese tourists snap photographs of the falls and the sprawling and spellbinding industrial site. The Elevator beckons me to ride, but I don’t have time, although I still have my lifetime pass somewhere among my memorabilia, things from my past that I would dearly love to have around me again. I have lived some great stories on this Promenade. I have been in love with someone here, many, many years ago. It’s a great place to walk and talk with someone you love.
I find another syringe.
I see a transient wearing a striped poncho standing on a rock, talking loudly to himself. He yells something to me. I wave and keep walking. I see the I-205 bridge, easily the ugliest bridge in Oregon, one without a shred of grace. In its foreground, I see the old Conde McCullough bridge, one of the most beautiful, graceful bridges in Oregon. I consider the contrasts between these two bridges and what it reveals about American culture.
The historic houses are decorated for Christmas. They get me in the mood.
What a place to hold a writing workshop, on this Promenade! The benches are perfect for writing.
Time to go meet an old Oregon City acquaintance in a dive Oregon City bar. Oregon City is still classic Oregon Tavern Age country and I hope a few of these joints will always remain.
One day, I hope to bring out my book about growing up in Oregon City in the 70s and 80s. I’ve got about 15,000 words on it so far, but it feels a bit formless. More visits to this unique Oregon town will help firm it up.