Thursday, September 29, 2011

Port | Land | Bridge | Town

Giant staples pinning together two pieces of land, Portland's bridges define the city and enable it. My favorite remains the Steel Bridge, a workhorse that serves trains, vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians and still jacks itself into the sky for marine traffic. I'll never forget a letter we received when I worked at the newspaper from a reader railing against the Steel; he wanted it torn down for its ugliness.

I look at some of the other bridges, newer and far less interesting (Marquam, anyone?), and marvel at the aesthetic differences, and our opinions.

Detail of the Steel, framing barge loading wheat. Broadway and Fremont bridges (see the flag?!) are in the distance.

Cycling along this rail made my bike commute.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This fresh in: Montana sweetgrass and animal hides

Such bounty awaits hunter-gatherers at the farmers markets in Montana! Sure they have fruits and vegetables (lots of it grown by the superfarmin' Hutterites), but what I loved was the fact I could pick up a bundle of animal hide remnants for $5 and then sweetgrass braids made by a woman from a local tribe.

She waved a slender wand under my nose and my eyes rolled up: Intoxicated, I slammed back into my youth, driving somewhere far and gorgeous with my dad at the helm, his elbow scooped in the car door's upholstery, the wind teasing our hair, clouds scooting across the sky, tawny hay stacked high against periwinkle blue, and the road so wide and spooling us forward. I could drive forever with my dad.

Back in Great Falls, I return to the sweetgrass farmer talking about how she and her girlfriends throw a braid in their cars, a natural refreshing alternative to the Kool-Aid-stained and -scented cartoon trees that you hang from the rearview mirror. This innocuous bundle of green-yellow grass packs come-hither hits of sweet mint, coconut, hay?—it would drive 'em crazy in Grasse, I expect.

It can perfume a room in a hurry, making your nose twitch in delight, and most important it got that smell out of the car. I won't go into detail but let's say it was the only hitch in our Mont(h)ana road trip and it involved a large quickly slurped glass of milk and a tunafish sandwich. Oh, and a road so luscious and curvy you could film car commercials on it.

But o the sweetgrass! I am enthralled anew.

I hope to have bigger news to share with you next time I post, but it looks like I shall have plenty going on in the studio soon considering all the recent inquiries. It sure gives me impetus to put the finishing touches on L'Invitation au Voyage and send it out to the world. Here was my view of it this week.