Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An Oregon Eden


The days are longer, the sun shows up now and again, but it still isn't really Spring. My restless heart yearns for the sweet green shoots of newly planted seeds, the first tentative blossoms from peas, the riot of color that erupts from the flowering plums; but I must be patient. For solace I take myself on virtual strolls through my favorite parks and gardens; remembering what everything smelled like, hearing the birds and water, letting my minds eye settle on every delightful nook. Inevitably I end up at Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon.

Lithia Park is my Eden. I grew up on a dry hillside in Southern Oregon, and every now and then my Mom would swing by Lithia Park when we had errands in Ashland. It was always green, cool, and lush. Plants are crammed into beautiful tapestries. Paths snake through the woodland where the mallard ducks rush out of the undergrowth and demand you feed them. Ashland creek was always inviting and there was a little area where you can go wading. If you stand in the right place on the footbridge you can watch the trout swim by. There is a small playground where I would play on the swings (okay, I still do at every opportunity.) In the 60's there was even a zoo. It has two duck ponds; the lower often had swans.

I've had many life events in that park. My first sighting of a naked hippy, my first memory of my grandpa playing in the Old Time Fiddlers group, my many swigs of that awful Lithia water, my first honest to goodness picnic lunch, my high school graduation, and countless walks with friends and family from one end of the park to the other. Heaven. Please go there if you are in the area, but don't forget about the ambushing ducks - they get really cranky if you don't have treats for them.