Welcome to Saint Helens, Our New Home
Three weeks have passed since we moved Chickadee Gardens from Portland to our new two-acre home in Saint Helens, Oregon. Now that we are somewhat settled (meaning all of our stuff has been moved from point A to point B save for a few plants and "staging" furniture) we thought it would be nice to explore our surrounds a bit and share our new town with you.
Saint Helens is about 45 minutes from Portland down the Columbia River. It is a small, humble town that I am growing to love more every day. The people are friendly and willing to say hello and are genuinely helpful.
It's only starting to sink in, i.e., "We live here now!" On a few rare moments when we weren't unpacking, cleaning, organizing, driving, loading or unloading we paused to explore.
On Christmas Eve we took a walk down by the old town right on the banks of the river. This is the Columbia River, a mighty one that I hope we explore more by canoe one day. By the way, we're looking for a used canoe if anyone knows of one. Here are just some of the many boats and houseboats found along this stretch of the Columbia.
By the riverfront a tiny picnic area surprised me. I would like to visit this someday when it warms up, maybe on bicycle.
Much of the riverbank is fairly wild. The river is dotted by many islands, the largest of which is Sauvie Island, home of Cistus Nursery (yay!!). There are a lot of wetlands and birding areas, perfect for exploring by canoe.
The old downtown has its charm. The Columbia Theatre is one I think we shall go see the new Star Wars movie. I mean it has a neon sign so it's got to be cool. I'm a sucker for neon.
While window shopping along antiques row, a faux Tillandsia caught my eye. This is about as much gardening as I have experienced here so far, sorry to say. This will soon change.
The Columbia County Courthouse. A mighty building with a lot of character.
A polar bear spotted in downtown Saint Helens. At least he's in the holiday spirit. There were a whole menagerie of "caged" beasts dressed in their finest holiday outfits. Very strange but endearing.
Me thinks this is where Santa came to visit. I guess we missed him.
A bit of gardening whimsy in downtown Saint Helens.
A reclaimed area on the shores of the Columbia River where some kind of manufacturing plant once stood. A lot nicer now. It seems like prime birding land. I will enjoy watching this develop into a natural area as the years go by.
The town is named for the mountain in view, Mt. Saint Helens, which is actually in Washington State across the Columbia River. This logo shows the mountain in full form, that is to say before she erupted in 1980. Curious.
Speaking of mountains, we have a view of Mt. Hood from our home. This photo was taken at sunrise on New Year's Day from our back deck. Hood is behind the trees to the left.
Out past the deck into the field, a cold but beautiful view greets us.
Looking out towards the neighbor's horse pasture, the sun makes an appearance.
Very beautiful and moving. I find myself experiencing these moments in what is sure to be some of the worst chaos David and I have ever gone through. I really dislike moving for nesting is in my blood. I want to have a home and put all my energy into it and watch it turn into something magic. That's the hope, anyhow. Being ripped away from something I've invested my soul into was very difficult. Am I sorry I did it? Not at all. It was simply more painful than expected. Like ripping off a bandage very slowly rather than all at once. We've been going through this for 10 weeks now, longer if you count the days in September when David started packing.
We have been blessed (??) with snow three times in two weeks. It's not that Saint Helens is snowier than Portland, it's the luck of the draw. First of all, we moved in the rainiest month on record then once we were pretty much moved in the snow began. This day we decided to take a walk "to town" as we call it (really, people, it's only two miles down the road!) to the local Safeway. Not very country-like but we were going slightly crazy and needed fresh air. The trouble is this is not a walking town. There are very few sidewalks and people were out in force with their big, throaty pickup trucks. I was a little scared, to tell the truth. But we made it, our four-mile journey ended successfully save for a sore arm when David slipped on the ice.
Most of the homes here are of a typical suburban style. Every now and then you see something that says history -- this is one example that caught my eye.
Although it's difficult to discern where the gardens are in the middle of winter, I did see some hopeful signs.
This lovely sight is just across the street and down a bit from our home. We can't see it from our property, but I was quite delighted to see it today on our walk.
Upon returning home from our adventure, I noticed our deer friends in the east bramble. They run away from us usually but this day they did not. Their days are numbered in this garden as the deer fence goes in next week (hopefully), so for now they can enjoy what nibbles they find here. I do like them, I just wish they didn't like my plants.
On a side note, our boy cat Hobbes saw his first deer through the window the other day. I encouraged it thinking he might get a kick out of seeing her and start chirping like he does when he sees a bird. Hobbes growled for the second time in his life, and it startled me. He then ran like hell and hid under our bed for a long time. Poor guy, that deer-thing really frightened him.
Parting shot of our many Douglas fir trees.
It hasn't entirely sunk in that we moved because we're still in motion. When we slow down and don't have 29,000 things on our "must do now" list then maybe it will. For now I've kind of blocked out the outside world to save my sanity but I am looking forward to spring and the renewal of nature and of my connected-ness to this place.
I have some fears about plants that I dug up from the Portland garden, too. There was never a good time to do so (too soggy, too cold) but I did it in a flash last weekend and the weekend before that. It was emotionally painful, I must say. But now that I have all these goodies dug up, the very next day we had below freezing temperatures. Now it's snowing like crazy and freezing rain. Will they survive? I didn't exactly pot them up carefully when doing so in the hundreds. Speed was the priority and quality was lacking. I will have to wait and see which of the plants survived. It's heartbreaking as this is the main thing I'm moving and I may have ruined it and have to start over.
Whatever the plant and weather gods have in mind for me, I'll just have to roll with the punches and wish for a bit of luck. When the ground thaws I plan on temporarily planting a bunch of them for a little more protection. I fear the worst, however.
Well, that is the report from Saint Helens this first week of January 2016. I hope to have some greener plant photos to share soon and some good news regarding the moving of the plants and the sale of our old home which, by the way, goes on the market this week.
Thank you for reading and for hanging in there with us. Until next time, happy gardening and seed catalog shopping!