meeting the Pow-Wow Tree

Oregon Heritage Tree sign: Pow-Wow Tree

On the first partly sunny day in what felt like weeks, the housemate and I took his mom's dog for a walk down by the river. I forgot to take a picture of this photogenic shiba inu (though you can see her here a couple years ago), but I finally met (if you can say that about a piece of living wood) the Pow-Wow Tree, Gladstone's two-hundred-thirty-eight-year-old bigleaf maple tree that was a former meeting place of local native tribes and that also once hosted, so to speak, the first Oregon State Fair. My friend has lived in this town since August, so I'd walked past that tree multiple times while visiting without stopping and reading the sign, too distracted by the Tele-Tales sign to the right of it and unaware that this particular "Tele-Tale" was about the old tree since the Tele-Tales sign itself references Mt. Hood, which is not exactly in the neighborhood. (Sorry—nobody my age or under is going to dial a voice recording to access local history; phones are Internet-connection devices.)

Pow-Wow Tree, Gladstone, OR

The Pow-Wow Tree looks her age: gnarly, shaggy, craggy, mossy, and one-eyed. But she's still standing, and that's all that counts. 

The Clackamas riverside only a couple months ago was lush and verdant in jewel greens and blues and the wheat yellows of late summer. Half-naked people were jumping off cliffs into the swimming hole or wading in the rocky shallows to cool off. Now the trees and bushes are skeletal and the river is running high, fast, and muddy. Even the dog wouldn't go in.

PGE water level warning sign, Clackamas River

amputated tree, Clackamas River

I got extra miles in by zigzagging the entire trip to avoid getting caught in the dog leash because said dog was so excited to sniff and pee on everything on both sides of the path. (Seriously, how big can a dog's bladder be? She never ran out of the stuff. Oh, and she also doesn't like other dogs. She once picked up a smaller dog in her mouth and thrashed it around like a chew toy. How can a dog be antisocial?!) The sun raised the temperature by about twenty degrees (hooray for nuclear fusion!), but when the clouds blanketed the river, brrr, cold! Rain misted my eyeglasses, making it hard to spot rainbows, if there were any.

After dropping off the dog (Bye, dog!), on the way home we stopped into the local library for the first time, a tiny but friendly branch offering free candy for those who used self-checkout. (Too bad I hate Tootsie Rolls.) By then, having forgotten that I'd finally found my stash of gloves when unpacking that morning, my hands were so cold they felt more like claws, barely able to grasp a book.

Bright side: At least I got some fresh air and exercise while stumbling upon the locally celebrated Pow-Wow Heritage Tree. Dark side: I miss summer and dream about skipping town.

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