last time things

06/18/2021 0 By BuddyCushman

I went walking down the very steep hill from the Eastmoreland parking lot into Oaks Bottom today, this Friday. It’s a sacred place for me and it’s felt entirely sacred and generous in its natural abundance for all 10 or 11 of the last years I’ve been one of its visitors. I’ve probably averaged four or five times a season, June through September, after and before the rains. From up top, just at the edge of the tarred lot, you can see Mount St. Helens on a clear day. Today was clear. See:

The trail plunges down from the lot – and what goes down must trudge back up at journey’s end – and out into this amazing meadow. Up a ramp from there onto the famous walkway which runs from downtown Portland and right down from the house in which I lived 11 years and out east into the County. You walk that maybe half a mile with lots of bikers and joggers and fellow walkers and sometimes blue herons in the water to the right, sometimes a dancing hummingbird, and, with life “opening up” again, the sound of kids howling and screaming and laughing with ever-loving delight from over on the left in the Oaks Amusement Park. After a while you cut to the right under railroad tracks and on tar a little more until there’s a right into the woods and along the swampy, rush-filled, electric with red-winged blackbirds glory that is Oaks Bottom. I’ve been blessed with up close looks while passing through one of those so many times with an owl eight feet away and raccoons and deer and ospreys and eagles swooping, a zillion ducks, and dragonflies glittering – all within the ever-present aural background music of bird song. Eventually, less than a quarter mile from back out into the meadow and the steep climb back to the car, there’s a lookout place to the right. Today I stopped – longer than usual, which is usually long enough – and saw this:

I wasn’t fortunate to see the flash from the red of their red-winged blackbird wings today, but the unmistakable conversations between dads, moms, and kids was everywhere. Oh lucky me.

I took longer than usual on this walk today, stopping, staring, dawdling, hanging out with natures children, because I knew it was my last time there. My last time down into Oaks Bottom, my last time through the meadow I love, where so often hummingbirds have come to play with me – “He’s back,” I bet they say, and they join me for a while. My last time walking over the dirt and needle and stone path through those nothing really very special but still filled with wonder if you look for it woods. I looked today and I saw it today and while I was looking and while I was seeing, right there at the very front of my brain was the knowing – last time, Brah.

There have been many of those “last time” moments the past month. Some I was thinking this is probably my last time, even more I’ve spent my last time in or doing or with and it didn’t even register. Until later. But mostly I know it. Most of the things I love will be over in another couple of weeks because the Universe has a plan for me and my Higher Power never stops caring for me, and right now I don’t know or see the happily ever after part of it. But it’s there.

And doing last time things, like walking Oaks Bottom today – and making memories along the way – is part of the deal.