Beauty for Beauty’s Sake

Moni and I met up for our monthly jaunt into Portland to act like tourists.  Being that I’ve lived outside the city for less than a year and Monica just over we get to do all the things that you never get to cram into a weekend of tourism.  Even more fabulous is that Monica, being an awesome librarian, has access (which I guess anyone has access to in the Portland Library System) to ‘cultural passes’.  These are awesome passes you rent out and get free admission to many of the local cultural spots around Portland.  This Monday we went to see the Japanese Gardens.  Now I’m not a garden person.  I’ll enjoy and marvel at people who can manipulate their yards into green, flowering, sculptural art but mine?  My yard is run by a dog, wayward rabbits, escaping chickens and the occasional wily goat.  My yard is dotted with sunny yellow dandelions, a little overgrown, and like me…imperfect in most every way.  But you can sit out on my patio with a glass of tea or a beer and never feel as if you don’t belong.  My yard will never be too perfect to step on or frown at your dirty shoes and mud stained jeans.  My yard won’t care if you smell like a barn or you haven’t gotten around to washing your hair which is now tied up by a bandana.  This is my yard.  That said, I enjoy beauty.  I savor it like most artists do.  I stop and breathe it, smell it, absorb it into my skin and my subconsciousness in ways that I assume people feel about clothes, shoes, hair, makeup, or pocket sized dogs.  Everything is beautiful is its own way but I particularly love green spaces.  I love to be outside among trees that have dwarfed man for many generations.  I love moss covered ground and hanging lichen and hearing bird calls echo from unseen branches.  I loved the Japanese Gardens more than I thought possible.  Maybe mostly because it was green and unlike a western garden it shunned flowers.

The sheer amount of green was mind-blowing.  Japanese gardens focus on the green instead of the flower.  The aim is to have as many different greens as possible.  It’s stunning.  Adding to the day was that it was, as Portland often is, raining.  Thankfully I have finally gotten on track and bought myself a very Portland worthy Lands End rain coat which makes the rain as beneath my notice as if it were not raining. 

You could spend all day every day photographing at the gardens just to capture every light and every moment.  I know I would be bored of this fairly fast because I’m easily distractable, but I do really want to go back.  Maybe in the fall.

We wandered through the garden by ourselves first, photographing as we went.  At 1pm there is a tour and though I don’t do tours Monica and I decided to check it out. See, I’m not a joiner, I’m not really a team player.  I don’t like to be in large undefined groups where rules of civility usually aren’t followed.  This tour though was quite amazing.  Our guide was knowledgeable, entertaining, and fun.  The group was quiet enough but also interactive but not to the point to bore the other members.  Every bit of the gardens has a purpose, a reason for being.  Nothing is done just because.  It is a symbol, a chance to reflect, to meditate, to think.  It all seems very hard but simply easy and beautiful.  Frankly, it’s a whole lot of work to make something so beautifully simple.

I have discovered I need a portable tripod.  This would have turned out a million times better if I had a sturdy tripod rather than trying to steady this on the railing as I slowed my shutter speed way down to try to capture the sense of movement.

I love stairs because I love line and I love vanishing points.  I particularly love these stairs because of the moss threatening to overtake them and their beautiful stone fronts.  They were only a little tricky to get up for someone as unbalanced as me but thankfully they were close to normal stair height.

It was a magical day.  It rained just enough to coat everything in a slick jewel finish.  I think that rain makes just about everything look better and the smell is intoxicating. 

In other news (almost knitting/ fiber), one of my newly favorite wordsmiths has written a beautiful short story.  It called to me even more because of the weaving/yarn/ fiber content.  You should go check it out.  It’s super short and beautiful.

Arachne by J.M. McDermott


5 thoughts on “Beauty for Beauty’s Sake

  1. These pics are amazing. Especially those stairs. I’ve heard of the Japanese gardens there but have always thought that when I eventually make it to Portland, that probably wouldn’t be high on my list. But now, you’ve definitely changed my mind.

  2. darling daughter,
    you hooked me on the first picture, you know how i feel about ferns. what a beautiful place. you are right the rain makes it even more intense with color,. i am glad you are getting to know portland so well. monica is a woman after my heart using the library to find great places. i still perfer brochures and have a whole pile that we still need to follow through and see. i need to go to the coon hounds graveyard!!!!!
    love mom

  3. Oh my god, that garden is beautiful! I love green so much, and natural green in particular! How wonderful that you have a friend, who goes and shares this with you!

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