Yesterday’s five hour drive to Portland went off exactly as planned (unlike the day before), and I arrived to the south of Portland about 3 p.m. Then, and I kid you not, it took me another hour to get to old friend Clarissa Smith’s house in North Portland. What? Portland is now like Seattle? Yes. According to Clarissa, two summers ago houses in her working class neighborhood were in such hot demand by Bay Area people that they would get 30 offers and sell for $100K over the asking price. This summer the demand slackened somewhat, so that houses would get, say, 6 offers and sell for only $50K over asking price. Which of course, means that renters have their rents jacked up or they are forced out, as gentrification takes over Portland.
On the way up, the effects of longstanding drought are very visible in the forests and bare yellow fields. On an early walk uphill yesterday I noticed that lots of folks in Ashland have converted to native perennials —
On my walk with Clarissa yesterday afternoon through her neighborhood, I was astounded by the number of neighbors she knows personally, all up and down her street and nearby streets. Portland is a very friendly town, despite the hustle and bustle. It took us a long time to do that walk, given that we had conversations with all of them. Fun.
Then, last night, a drunken orgy with wine and astrology, as I showed Clarissa and her goddaughter Renee, a budding astrologer and movement artist who runs the beautiful website embodiedastrology.com, a technique developed by astrologer Pamela Crane in England that connects four different charts of the same person: tropical, sidereal, helio and draconic. I’ve been experimenting with this four-chart approach myself, and had also showed it to Julia the evening before.
This morning I took a walk with Clarissa and her golden doodle Louie on a loop trail in a nearby old growth forest. Nobody there but us. An astonishing place in the middle of a big city. Forgot to take their picture, so this will have to do, from facebook: Clarissa at work (which she is now) at Jade Acupuncture, her business downtown — she is both an acupuncturist and a western and Chinese herbalist.
When we both lived in Jackson, we used to walk canyon trails uphill in the Tetons, Clarissa pointing out medicinal plants along the way. I remember glorious days when we would hit the trailhead in very early morning, and not descend until late afternoon. And, though now decades older (she is ten years younger than me), we both still practice what I call “physical culture,” requiring of ourselves two hours of physical exercise of some kind or another every single day. Both of us have always recognized that the body is primary.
Most people my age, 73, or even her age, nearly 63, do not live this way. Which becomes more and more unfortunate, as we age.
Much of our talk was about community. Living somehow in community as we get older, and yet recognizing the lack of flexibility that makes most older people unable to break increasingly intractable habits. I’ve found that, for myself, living with younger people is VERY GOOD FOR ME. That I’m much more flexible in all ways than I was five years ago, when I began to invite other people to live with me in my home. Especially love millennials, in their 20s. So terrific!
Later today, I meet, for the first time, with a long-term exopermaculture reader. (The two of us were going to meet, for the first time, with yet another long-term reader, but she was suddenly called away due to serious illness in her family — something more and more of us are and will be working with, again, as we grow older). I imagine my meeting with Colleen will bring to four the number of extraordinary women I have been spending short intense times with on my journey north from the Bay Area — Julia, Carol, Clarissa, and Colleen. To Seattle tomorrow, where I will “settle in” — at different people’s homes, coupled with several presentations — for the next ten days.
Best of all, between 10 AM and 4 PM today I am ALONE. Plan to pick up that beautiful new Starhawk book again, NOW.