We’ve moved to Portland and are getting settled in our new home. Nearly every day I come across something that I think would be worth writing about on the Hen Waller. There’s so much to experience as a new resident, and so much to appreciate for people like us: the farmers markets, the co-op grocery, the bike networks, the bike stores, the weather, the mountains, the close-by ancient forests, and, not to be forgotten, the beer and the warm cozy pubs in which to enjoy it.
I don’t really know where to start.
A lot of times I think about writing about things that I haven’t written about here before, or not much, anyway. When we lived in Oakland, my writing on Hen Waller was nearly all about homesteading and home-based food production. And it was mostly about Holly and me, at home. I know there were organizations and groups that were doing what we were doing, but we were so busy making the rent that it was all we could do to keep a garden and make supper, it seemed. Here, time is not quite so tight, and resources are much closer in general, and we’re enjoying taking part in our local co-op meetings, for example, and able to visit the farmers market now and then, and able to appreciate the bike networks and local wildlife simply because we have more time to get out into the world. So I think about writing about bike stuff more often, or the small wildlife preserves scattered throughout the city, or the great stuff we got at the farmers market…
I am very much enjoying the human scale of the neighborhood we live in. We sped up our moving process because we found a house in a neighborhood we really liked, and it’s proven to be a worthwhile effort. The neighborhood we live in is called the Richmond neighborhood, and we are on the northwest end of it. It’s bounded, more or less, by SE Hawthorne Blvd to the north, SE Powell Blvd to the south, SE 29th to the west and SE 50th to the east. Division and Hawthorne are two of its busiest commercial streets. Hawthorne is an old trolley line, so it is very mixed-use and, in the thirties where we live, very pedestrian-oriented. Division looks to me like it came up as a transit street for cars (and horses). The sidewalks are smaller, and the businesses have been, historically, less pedestrian-oriented and more destination or light industrial. That appears to be changing, and a lot of neighborhood and civic planning efforts are going into making Division a better place for people to live and walk and such.
The pedestrian-friendly human scale of our neighborhood is both a pleasure for me and a surprise. It makes me realize how much I like living in such a place, and how the places I’ve lived for the last 15 years were in less-friendly locales. I thought I was just a hermit, but maybe there were external reasons that I never wanted to leave the comfort of home. Here, it’s a joy to go out into the world.
There are several excellent groceries within about a mile of our house, including People’s, our co-op; New Seasons, a locally-owned natural foods market that offers a good meat counter and wine section, as well as a reasonably-priced deli for lunch; and the Daily Grind, an old-school health-food market that sports an astonishingly extensive bulk section as well as a good produce section and an in-house bakery.
All of the markets, and many of the restaurants and pubs that we’ve visited, have a strong interest in locally-produced, naturally-raised food. It’s really inspiring, and it makes it easier to get a bite to eat while out on the town, too.
I guess the problem has been that there is so much to write about, yet we’ve been so busy exploring and enjoying, while keeping up with our workload, that there hasn’t been much time to write about it. So I’ll let this serve as the introduction, and perhaps now I can get on with the details!