Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Making Room Walk

The view north to Healy Heights and its tower from the Raz Pasture.

For 14 years. by our estimate, a grab-bag group of us have taken a neighborhood hike on Thanksgiving morning. Sometimes the weather is miserable, wet or biting cold — or both.

Today it was clear and crisp. A glorious morning for a hike.

We were led by Don Baack, the driving force behind the construction of walking trails in southwest Portland. We always start at the big tree at the entry to Wilson High School before striking out for some destination that Don has conjured up and shared in advance with Karen Bridger.

Karen’s involvement is essential because she cooks up scones and delivers them, along with coffee, to the halfway point along the route. They always appear when we seem to need them most.

As we meander along the trails, we occasionally stop to recount history for newcomers (everyone is welcome to join us.)

Here’s Stephens Creek Nature Park which local activists saved from a housing development 10 years ago. Here’s the site of new trail to be built next month for school kids to use. Over there’s the new senior housing project, site of the Dec. 9 open house and community book sale. This is the signalized crosswalk it took nine years’ lobbying to get the city to install.

There are more than enough stories to fill the two hours it takes to make the walk.

Along the way, we chat in twos and threes about how we ended up in Hillsdale. Today I met a family that has just moved from Australia. I greeted an old friend I hadn’t seen in three or four years. I met Jennifer Brownell, the new pastor of the Hillsdale Community Church. She’s eager to get involved in our community work.

The walk is called the Thanksgiving Walk and it always makes me thankful for this place we call home.

But I also think of it as the Making Room Walk — making room for the Thanksgiving feast to come. It has become an important, no essential, part of the day.

Hope yours was festive and that you had room….

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