This grove of trees is adjacent to the English garden at Shore Acres State Park, along the Oregon coast south of Coos Bay. The visitor center is to the right.
I am, as some of you know, fond of city eccentricities. Some of these are quite peculiar (think of my paintings of Plant 5 in the SE Light Industrial District) and some are just, well, down home SE Portland. To the dismay of many, I’m not much into grand houses, grand buildings, gorgeous historical features, or even bucolic scenes in the midst of city life.
So, here’s one neighborhood, neither Grand nor Bucolic, where I was hanging out the other day:
Looks sort of bucolic, but then… the Thrift Shop, the scabby fireplug, the mysterious artifacts here and there, the bus stop…
Look at those bay windows. I love those bay windows, even as they are part of a sorry-looking building with sorry-looking retail (or non-retail) and sorry-looking wires and sorry-looking graffiti. I still love bay windows. Or maybe, I love them even more.
And here’s the goose building. I’m not sure but I think the geese displaced a locally renowned greasy restaurant.
A couple new hoity-toity buildings, plus any number of older structures, just up or down the street:
The best part of the area, of course, is people watching:
Of course, there are other sights, because this is only a little city and this is a little neighborhood, and also because nature has its way with us:
And then, just because I couldn’t resist this sign:
In case you hadn’t figured it out, we are in both Beulahland and City/State country:
Restaurant Row, SE 28th Ave. All the photos were taken in that vicinity, where the Starbucks, just up from our dentist’s office, has a fine outside seating area to take photos from. Remember that when you go to La Fonda Rosa for your next Mexican food hit. Check out who might be hanging at that Starbucks.
The Buena Vista Ferry, near Independence, Oregon, is one of three ferries that cross the Willamette River. The others are at Canby and Wheatland. The Buena Vista Ferry, which can carry six cars at a time, is used by commuters as well as tourists like us. It operates from 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day all year round between Polk County, on the near shore, and Marion County.
The Lan Su Garden (formerly the Classical Chinese Garden) sits in an unprepossessing part of Portland, old Chinatown which is also home to various musical and night life venues and soup kitchens. The area may or may not get itself gentrified. But the Garden is the kind of gem that in, say, a European city would have tourists taking photos by the thousands. Oddly, I didn’t realize this about the Lan Su until I saw a set of my own photos, taken in pursuit of an art project which was entirely removed from the notion of the photo tour by an enthralled tourist.
The Lan Su Garden fills one city block, about 40,000 square feet. It is surrounded by an impeccably painted wall, with small openings, through which bits and pieces of the garden can be viewed.
Although the Garden is rightfully proud of its plants, particularly the lotus and water lilies in the central pond, the metal and wooden details and its architecture are what fascinate me.
Lan Su is result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, Portland’s sister city in China’s Jiangsu province which is famous for its beautiful Ming Dynasty gardens.
The garden was designed by Kuang Zhen Yan and built by 65 artisans (craftsmen who spoke no English, but who resided in Portland for months) from Suzhou on donated land. According to Wikipedia, 500 tons of rock, including Chinese scholar’s rocks from Lake Tai, were brought from China and used in the garden. The garden’s grand opening was on September 14, 2000.
The central lake has had a few problems: in addition to its liner leaking, eagles (or maybe herons, depending on whom you are talking to) ate the koi. Three visitors fell into it. Apparently most of these problems have been resolved, by deepening and relining the pond and crossing fingers about visitors.
The garden’s name represents the relationship of Portland and Suzhou, whose names are combined to form Lan Su. “Lan” (蘭) is also the Chinese word for “Orchid” and “Su” (蘇) is the word for “Arise” or “Awaken,” so the garden’s name can also be interpreted poetically as “Garden of Awakening Orchids.” (蘭蘇園) (Lan Su Garden Website)
What I was doing was looking at patterns that both frame and hinder views of interiors or foliage or other windows and doors with their own patterns. I found them. Many of them.
[While it may seem absurd that an American city should brag of its Chinese garden, such collaboration or insertion of other cultures into the great cities of world is not surprising. For example, the moors in Spain were as much outsiders as the Chinese in Portland: the Garden is in Portland’s modest Chinatown, which has its own dragon gates guarding it at Burnside. As a west coast city, Portland has benefited from its place on the Pacific Rim.]
Sunset Bay State Park is one of many parks along the Oregon coast. We visited this one and several others in April.