Plants in bloom, deer and squirrels everywhere, and the wild turkeys are in mating season (I think). Every time I see a spectacular tom strutting his stuff, I don’t have a camera… Their gobble is impressive and loud.
Mother Nature had her way with Oregon this week as plunging temperatures and freezing rain delivered havoc with an onslaught of fallen trees and damaged power lines. We love our trees but they come with a price. Beautiful icy vistas were the unexpected outcome of the treacherous weather!
My area in the south hills was without power long enough to get everyone’s attention. The severe cold coupled with the sound of falling branches and cracking, splitting tree trunks continues. Temperatures remain in the 20s to low 30s as we listen to the sound of occasional thawing icicles falling on the roof. It’s unnerving being surrounded by frozen, skyscraper-sized trees bending low from a heavy coating of ice.I ventured out yesterday and delighted in the beauty of dramatic skies and sunshine casting a halo-like glow on the ice-laden trees! It was like being inside a magnificent ice palace. Too dangerous to stop for photos while driving I managed to photograph a favorite area near my home – photography does not capture the magnificent show!
Cleanup begins as soon as things thaw out a bit. So far my roof and skylights have survived unscathed but maybe it’s too early to say. Can’t help thinking about the beautiful beaches and warm summer weather back in Cape Town!
Enjoyed a gorgeous Indian Summer day along the Central Oregon Coast yesterday! Since returning from my long trip to South America in June I’ve been hiking mostly nearby places – Mt. Pisgah and Spencer Butte. Yesterday I joined the Obsidians for a beautiful hike in the old growth forest above Cape Perpetua – it’s about a 1.5 hour drive. We hiked for almost 4 hours, first deep in the woods and then along a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The weather was spectacular!
This year the festival runs from June 25th through July 12th with a fantastic variety of summer concerts and guest artists, including non-Bach-related programs. The OBF focuses on a choral-orchestral repertoire and educational activities such as a conducting master class with participants from all over world and a Youth Choral Academy.
The concert last night was spectacular! It featured the music of three composers – Anton Bruckner, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Johannes Brahms. The Bach and Bruckner pieces featured several guest soloists, Strangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, and the Berwick Chorus of the OBF. Matthew Halls was brilliant conducting the orchestra. Each piece of dynamic music was performed beautifully!
The OBF began in 1970 led by German conductor Helmuth Rilling and Royce Saltzman, former president of the American Choral Directors Association. Initially, it was an informal series of classes and concerts at the University of Oregon. The concerts expanded to include full-scale choral-orchestral performances.
In 2007, the festival included concerts throughout Oregon, including Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Bend’s Tower Theatre. OBF collaborates with other regional arts organizations, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Eugene Ballet. The festival is a joyous event and an amazing venue for a small city like Eugene.
In 2014 British conductor and keyboardist Matthew Halls succeeded Helmuth Rilling as OBF’s Artistic Director. Halls has made “significant conducting debuts with the Houston Symphony, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Washington D.C. National Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Berlin Radio Symphony, and Frankfurt Radio Symphony, as well as founding and leading the pioneering Retrospect Ensemble”. Halls has an impressive career and these are but a few of his engagements in North America, Canada, and worldwide.
Halls is known for “probing, vibrant interpretations of music of all periods”. In his mid 30s, Halls is one of the most brilliant and interesting conductors I have ever observed. His passion and talent is visible and it’s such a joy to watch him conduct.
The OBF is donor-supported with activities primarily at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts and at the University of Oregon’s School of Music & Dance, Beall Hall. This June the OBF launched a new historically informed performances (HIP) orchestral academy led by Matthew Halls and guest director Masaaki Suzuki (founder/director of the Bach Collegium Japan). The three-week orchestral program is open to students and young professionals between the ages of 21 to 35.
Next week I’ll attend another dramatic OBF concert featuring a suite from Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, Mozart’s Symphony No. 25, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Masaaki Suzuki conducts the symphony and it’s sure to be another thrilling performance!
My Home – Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
This is the place that I love the best,
A little brown house, like a ground-bird’s nest,
Hid among grasses, and vines, and trees,
Summer retreat of the birds and bees.
The tenderest light that ever was seen
Sifts through the vine-made window screen–
Sifts and quivers, and flits and falls
On home-made carpets and gray-hung walls.
All through June the west wind free
The breath of clover brings to me.
All through the languid July day
I catch the scent of new-mown hay.
The morning-glories and scarlet vine
Over the doorway twist and twine;
And every day, when the house is still,
The humming-bird comes to the window-sill.
In the cunningest chamber under the sun
I sink to sleep when the day is done;
And am waked at morn, in my snow-white bed,
By a singing bird on the roof o’erhead.
Better than treasures brought from Rome,
Are the living pictures I see at home–
My aged father, with frosted hair,
And mother’s face, like a painting rare.
Far from the city’s dust and heat,
I get but sounds and odors sweet.
Who can wonder I love to stay,
Week after week, here hidden away,
In this sly nook that I love the best–
This little brown house like a ground-bird’s nest?
Home in Oregon for a few weeks now. Surveying the surrounding summer landscape it feels like living in a tree house. The only word that comes to mind is “green”. The deer, raccoon, squirrel, and wild turkey populations increased substantially during the 6 months I was traveling in South America.
Sadly none of them made it to the photo shoot this morning! At last count there were about 20 little turkeys following their mother and a large raccoon family with several new babies.
“The terrain in Eastern Oregon is completely different from Oregon west of the Cascade Mountains. Words used to describe it are desert, cattle ranches, wheat ranches, pine forests, wilderness, remote, sparsely populated to unpopulated, and in parts extremely rugged. You can drive for miles in some areas and not see another car, human being, or house.”
The description above is appropriate for Eastern Oregon where I recently spent time hiking, enjoying the scenery, and visiting friendly communities along the way. Mountain ranges in the area include the Elkhorn, Strawberry, Wallowa, and Blue Mountains. The area is popular with hikers, backpackers, cyclists, campers, and fishermen. The scenery has rich history and abundant wildlife and vegetation. My favorite – mountain lakes, streams, and waterfalls – are nature’s special jewels.
Eastern Oregon covers almost 40 percent of the State. Tourists enjoy big skies and unspoiled natural beauty in a peaceful environment which produces a never-ending feast for the eyes. Wildflowers include Buttercups, Mariposa Lily, Shooting Star, Indian Paint Brush, and Yarrow. Wild berries, including Huckleberry, Gooseberry, and Thimble Berry, are abundant.
Obsidian Summer Camp was about a 300 mile drive and we passed through Bend, Prineville, Mitchell, Dayville, and John Day. This year camp was at Logan Valley in the Malheur National Forest which is part of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. We took our time on the way stopping for lunch in Bend, visiting the colorful John Day Fossil Beds, and hiking trails of the spectacular Painted Hills.
The Strawberry Mountain Wilderness supports a native population of elk, mule deer, antelope, black bear, sheep, coyotes, cougar, pine marten, beaver, and other wildlife. Almost 400 kinds of birds are found there, including ruffed and blue grouse, woodpeckers, nutcrackers, eagles, hawks, and many more. August isn’t an ideal month for bird watching but the birders in our group spotted many birds and butterflies.
Hikers on the higher more strenuous hikes saw mountain sheep and goats. Curious California Big Horns surrounded one hiking group when they stopped to eat their lunch. The close-and-personal encounter delighted them and is a rare experience! One hiker saw a bear and many spotted deer, coyote, marmots, and chipmunks.
The weather was warm but pleasant with afternoon thunderstorms often accompanied by lightning. The days began with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. followed by hikes of varying difficulty. Accessing some of the remote trail heads involved driving on rugged mountain back roads. Because of the heat and altitude, I picked moderate hikes of around 6 – 7 miles. My favorite was to Strawberry Lake and Falls – both breathtakingly!
Several of us spent a day exploring nearby towns and historical sites like the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day. Most evenings we sat around a large campfire and listened to reports summarizing hikes completed that day. The gatherings included lots of laughter, making s’mores, and sharing incredible sunsets followed by clear skies and moonlight.
We just missed the phenomenal super moon that appeared on August 10th. According to astronomers it was the second of three consecutive super moons this summer. The first was on July 12 and the final show will be September 9. Super moons appear bigger and brighter and take place when the moon becomes full at the same time it’s closest to us in its orbit around Earth. A big, clear mountain sky is one of the best places to admire the moon.
After summer camp some of us continued on to the Wallowa Mountains and Eagle Cap Wilderness area near the Idaho border. We passed through small towns including Prairie City, Baker City, Joseph, Enterprise, Lostine, and Wallowa. The Wallowa tramway lifted us to the summit where we hiked the rim admiring Wallowa Lake and magnificent views of the surrounding mountains.
We missed the Wallowa County Fair in Enterprise and the Joseph Blues & Brews Festival but enjoyed outdoor markets and several live performances in local parks, restaurants, and pubs. Terminal Gravity Brewery & Pub in Enterprise is fantastic. During summer their outside seating in a grove of Aspen trees is a wonderful euphoric atmosphere.
Active wildfires in the area were the only negative aspect of the trip. We planned to visit Imnaha and Hat Point in Hell’s Canyon overlooking the Snake River but wildfire danger forced the Oregon Forest Service (FS) to close access to the area. A river hike in the Strawberry Wilderness and one outside Wallowa were also diverted when the FS closed several hiking trails and roads leading to trail heads. On the bright side, the smoky skies created extremely colorful, dramatic sunrises and sunsets!
Just returned from Crater Lake in Oregon’s Rogue River National Forest – one of the deepest and bluest lakes in the world! Our group of 16 spent time snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, and enjoying the lake’s extraordinary beauty.
The weather was stormy so views of the lake were rare and brief but the conditions were good and it was a fantastic and much-needed respite. We booked the rustic Union Creek Resort lodge and ended each day with food and conversation by a fire in the parlor.
During my last visit the trails were icy. This time conditions were better but my cross-country skills weren’t…. I turned back from the group ski early and spent the morning skiing easier trails along the rim. That afternoon I joined a fun and informative snowshoe group led by a local ranger.
On our departure day the sun came out and several of us decided to hike along the Rogue River. At this time of year the river is teeming with white water and the hiking trail was incredibly lush and beautiful!
The Pacific Crest trail passes through Crater Lake National Park and there are 90 miles of hiking paths and a variety of cross-country ski trails of various difficulties.
Inhabitants of the area include ravens, jays, nutcrackers, deer, ground squirrels, voles, and chipmunks. Elk, black bear, foxes, porcupines, pine martens, and pikas are among the other more reclusive animals living in the park.
Without a doubt Crater Lake is a natural wonder and one of Oregon’s loveliest attractions. The short trip was a refreshing mini escape.