Sunday, October 22, 2006

Eleven Percent Bob

I spent as much of this weekend outside as I could. The weather was glorious—balmy, breezy, and irrepressibly sunny. The fall color was just superb and the leaves were luminous. On Saturday, I took one of my favorite Portland Hill Walks. I zig-zagged up, up, up through the King’s Heights neighborhood, gaining elevation quickly. It was one of those rare and unusual days when it was warm enough to not need a jacket, but not warm enough to make me sweat, even though it was uphill all the way. It was diamond-clear, too. I could see four snowpeaks: Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood.

I fell in love with this charming mossy brick walkway in front of someone's home.

Mossy Brick Walkway

Here’s a close-up of one of the bricks. That moss is very highly evolved and patriotic.

American Brick

Moss or fall color, which do I like better? Tough call. Luckily, yesterday I got plenty of both, as I nipped into moss-draped Forest Park, and hiked up to the Pittock Mansion, where the whole city was laid out before me, and Mount Hood seemed (almost) to hover ethereally in the distance.

After soaking up some sun on the Pittock Mansion’s grounds, I headed back down. One of the delightful serendipities of taking these hill walks, I’ve found, is that sometimes people on the street see the book and then stop to tell me that they have the book, too, and that they love it. The book seems to have a real cult following. It’s nice to meet other hardcore walkers who appreciate the book as much as I do.

As I was descending back down through the nearly deserted lanes and terraces in the vicinity of the Pittock Mansion, a mail truck pulled over and the mail carrier asked me if I needed directions. I held up the book and told her I was on a walk. And, what do you know? She told me she has the book, too, and—naturally—loves it. We chatted for a bit and she suggested an alternative route back. I figured, why not? Who knows these twisty, steep, and almost Europeanly narrow streets better than the mail carrier?

She joked that perhaps she should give me some mail to deliver. I laughed and told her that, actually, I’ve always kind of wanted to be a mail carrier (it’s true!). “Oh,” she said, “It’s like the army. At one place I used to work, there were more guys named Bob there than there were women. I counted. It was 11 percent Bob!” She assured me that things were “getting better” at the U.S. Postal Service, which I presume meant that the Bob percentage has dropped dramatically. But isn’t that hilarious? Eleven percent Bob. I liked her. She reminded me a bit of the Marge Gunderson character in Fargo.

I took some fall-color snaps yesterday and also today, when my friend P and I took a long, leisurely ramble through Hoyt Arboretum. (Guess whether any housework or yardwork got done this weekend?) If you are as much a fall-color enthusiast as I am, you may want to check them out. No pressure, but I will insist you admire this.



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