Wednesday Vignette – beloved Oneonta

Being a little sentimental this week. Or, perhaps one could say that I’m still in mourning. The stunningly beautiful and unique Oneonta Gorge, slightly east of the tourist icon that is Multnomah Falls is said to have been severely damaged. It used to be our go-to trail when visitors came to town, and we have hiked it many times. You can learn more about it here.

This photo is from 2012, when we explored the chasm with a visiting friend from Ohio.

I have not been back to see how it looks from the ground level – a recent report estimates only 46% of the perimeter of the nearly 50,000 acres on fire, is contained. Once the fire has been extinguished, it will probably take me a while to muster up the gumption to go back and see it. I imagine that feeling is akin to what disaster-stricken folks in various hurricane paths feel, when they seek out what used to be their homes – minus the personal economic impact. The sense of profound loss, though, is the same.

The tiny waders provide a good indication of the kind of scale we’re dealing with. Those vertical basalt walls are majestic as they rise upward through the mists from the waterfalls.

The walls are (were?) covered in a unique botanical feast of mosses, lichens, ferns, hepaticas, and other plants not found anywhere else. Somehow, I am secretly hopeful that the flames didn’t reach the bottom of the steep sides.

One can spend hours playing in the water below. Being mid- to late summer, the water levels here were rather low, and easily navigable, compared to earlier in spring when countless snowmelt tributaries filled the narrow channel. Oneonta was a gorgeous place, no matter what time of year one went. I wonder what it looks like now, but I’m not quite ready to face it yet. Not quite…


About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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28 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – beloved Oneonta

  1. Alyse says:

    Oh, Anna, such sadness, I am with you. Thank you for the KGW link, as I had not seen the fly-bys before. Still only 46% contained; incredible. Your pictures above are so lovely. I am glad you shared them. I also hold the secret hope that the fires did not touch the very bottom of the canyon. Is this a naive hope? I don’t know. I like that the water seems to be running clear, that is one good thing. It’s a start.
    My own worst loss was Spirit Lake–an extraordinarily beautiful place that I knew intimately–destroyed when Mt St Helens blew. It took me a L-O-N-G time to go back there. It will never return. But the forests of the gorge will, after our lifetimes, but parts will be in our time.

    My Wednesday Vignette is below. I apologize if anyone has already seen this, but I think almost no one did, as my mother-in-law’s memorial + work began to take all my time, and I did not advertise this post. I hope it’s OK. The vignette is the last photo.

    • annamadeit says:

      You were actually here when Mt St Helens blew? Wow… I can’t even imagine! Yes, healing takes time – and, when it’s on this scale, probably longer than most of us have. Those after us will know it as the new normal. Sorry to hear about the loss of both your childhood Spirit Lake, and more recently, your mother-in-law. I think the narrow depths of the canyon might have served to protect at least some of what lived down there. At least, that is the picture I will keep in my mind, until I experience the post-fire real thing. It will keep me hopeful!

  2. Very sad. I hope regeneration will offer different pictures

    • annamadeit says:

      I know they will, Derrick. And, in their own way, they will probably manifest some version of beauty, but just as probably, I will keep comparing the new face of the Gorge with the memories I have of its old self. It will likely take me a while to adjust enough to appreciate the new version.

  3. In some ways I think this may be worse than returning to a destroyed home. One can build again and even though many precious and sentimental things are gone, it does not seem like the same kind of loss to me. Destruction of the natural world feels much more tragic to me.

  4. Peter Herpst says:

    So sorry for the loss of so much.. Once the fire is out and the gorge begins it’s recovery, perhaps it’ll be healing to see signs of new life and rebirth. Although forest fires happen naturally, this one bears the added sting of it being totally preventable.

    • annamadeit says:

      Such a big sting it is! I’m still angry at the young perpetrators, and have not yet reached the blissful stage of forgiveness. But yes, as soon as it is safe, I will venture out to see for myself, camera in hand. Fighting back tears, no doubt…

  5. Anna, I was so sad about the fires. We were in that area earlier this summer on vacation and left right before the fires started. It is heartbreaking, I can only imagine what you’ve gone through. BTW, my husband and I are moving to your neck of the woods or thereabouts….either Portland, or possibly the Bend area. We aren’t sure of our timing, we may get there this fall, or we may detour to Sicily/Sweden/Europe for a couple of months. It depends on J’s job prospects/plans. I’ll let you know, maybe we can meet sometime!

    • annamadeit says:

      So devastating, I can’t even describe how hollow it makes me feel. But, I’m excited to hear you are moving west! Something you wrote this summer made me wonder if that wasn’t the case. I recall you were in White Salmon at the time, and you asked me to keep my eyes open for a rental. (I have, but have not heard of anything yet.) Would love to get together and finally meet you in person! And, if you go to Sweden, etc. I wish you a wonderful trip! My husband keeps telling me he wants to move back there. I’m tempted, but we have some work to finish up here first. We’ll see what happens…

      • I’m intrigued about your possibly moving back to Sweden – I wasn’t sure if your husband is also from there. Anyway, if we do make it to Sweden this year it will be my first trip there. I’ll keep you posted, I’d love to meet you!

  6. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening! says:

    So lovely! Natural areas bounce back so quickly after fire, especially if there are not huge, old trees involved. A wet, rocky gorge seems like it would bounce back as fast as anything.

    • annamadeit says:

      I sure hope there are enough undamaged spores floating around for it to repair itself quickly. As for the huge, old trees, well there were plenty of those around too, outside of the canyon. I think (hope) the chasm is where I can go to remember, whereas the parts along the Horsetail Falls trail, is where I have to learn to love the new, fire ravaged landscape.

  7. Pingback: Wednesday Vignette – A Moveable Garden

  8. mmwm says:

    Oh, no. Our county conservation commission just sent out a survey asking us about the most important natural resources in the county; I can only imagine the loss I’d feel if one of them were destroyed or severely damaged.
    My vignette is here:

  9. FlowerAlley says:

    I feel this pain. I hope the harmed areas recover quickly.

  10. We drove east on I-84 yesterday, I was amazed at how good everything looked going through the gorge, it gave me hope!

    My WV:

  11. For some reason, my comments on your blog periodically disappear into oblivion, as happened again this week, 2x thus far. I hope this one comes through. And I hope that the ever-resilient Mother Nature comes through as well and restores your beautiful gorge in record time. I posted a WV yesterday but I’m not going to attach the link here in case that’s what’s causing my comments to go astray.

    • annamadeit says:

      Hmm… that’s weird. Wonder why your comments get lost..? Anyway, I got this one, which is nice! 🙂 Loree’s comment sounded really encouraging about the way things are looking in the Gorge – what she said made me feel better. But it will indeed take time. First there will be lupins and other nitrogen fixers, then there will be…. Anyway, just reciting what I learned up at the Mt St Helens visitor center. Mother Nature is indeed resilient, despite the human morons that continue to disgrace her. She’s pretty amazing, actually!

  12. Tina says:

    My heart aches at this news. It’s one thing for fires to start naturally–that’s a paradigm in forest health, but this fire was not that. My hope is that the soil and seeds will, in time, regenerate and that those who oversee this beautiful area will aid and abet in the renewal that nature is so effiecient at faciltating.

  13. Pingback: Wednesday Vignette – be careful out there! | Flutter & Hum

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