Monday, June 02, 2008

Following the Yellow Griffin Road

I set out this afternoon to see where these yellow-stenciled street creatures would take me. To make it a quest, I took to calling it “On the Trail of the Yellow Griffins,” for griffins (and yellow) they were. Dozens of them on the streets of our Portland hills and dales.

I linked up with the nearest griffin to me, the one at the bottom of our hill. Its arrow sent me more or less westerly. The marks appeared only when needed, no sooner. Sometimes I’d walk several blocks before seeing one, usually at an intersection. Without the marking, I'd be at a loss which way to turn.

At times during the long intervals between griffins, I worried that my guides had forsaken me.

I had no idea why the griffins and their directional arrows had been stenciled on the pavement. Part of my quest was to discover the reason. At times, when I’d walk several hundred yards without a mark, I’d worry that perhaps the griffins were for some event that had come and gone, its large heraldic banners removed, the lords and ladies returned to their castles.

But then, just as I was about to despair, another mark would appear.

I was on foot, getting in my 10,000 steps for the day, but the markers weren’t on favored bucolic paths. They were always stenciled on the road pavement, seemingly intended to guide cars or bikes or motorcycles.

Most of today’s trek took me in a large loop around the Bridlemile neighborhood. Up past Bridlemile School (and cart-wheeling children in the playground) and Hamilton Park, up through the Fifties subdivision with its rambling “mid-Century classics." The streets were quiet. A friendly, lonely, unleashed hound greeted me with a sniff and a nudge. The steep route delivered me to busy Dosch Road and forced me to walk down along its narrow, dangerous shoulder. The loop ended at Dosch and Hamilton, but another griffin pointed to the route's next leg, up Hamilton on the way to Fairmount via Twombly.

At Twombly, I decided to leave that final ascent for another day. I'd walked nearly three miles.

In my walks elsewhere in recent days, I’ve spotted other yellow griffins, so I know that the continuation route and its makers will send me far from today’s Bridlemile loop.

As I hiked, I imagined a pair of midnight stencilers with their spray paint, marking the way. As I followed their directions, I felt as though I were being reeled in, but to where?

A damsel in distress?

A holy grail?

A cold beer?

Or was their game simply part of the same whimsy that I felt following the path, enjoying a journey that seemed certain to take me back to where I began — to the street at the bottom of our hill, to the perch we call our home?

PS: I asked a couple of days ago (“Two Unrelated Questions") whether anyone knew about the griffins on the pavement. No one has answered, so I'm answering, slowly.

I also quoted part of a speech and asked whether anyone recognized the speaker. Michael Ponder did, citing the most famous reference in the speech: its warning of the military-industrial complex. The speaker, of course, was President Dwight Eisenhower, delivering his farewell address. If you go back to the excerpt, you will see that while Eisenhower holds out hope, he warns of dangers and foibles, which nearly a half century later, persist.

Labels: , ,


Blogger jw said...

The markings are from an organized bike ride. You may have noticed even more cyclists than usual in the hills one weekend morning during April - that was the ride! It's really a great event - really fun and challenging and a great way to get riders up in the hills.

7:32 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home