June 1st, 2018 by Celia

Plant Offering at Laurelhurst Park and Dying Peonies

Laurelhurst Park is one of of my favorite places in Portland. You never know what you are going to see there. Unicycles, acro-yogis, people doing Qi Gong, musicians: likely. Another likely occurrence is smatterings of little plant offerings.
What I call plant offerings or plant art are purposeful meaningful arrangements of picked plants bits and nature things. They can be seen on the ground under a shrub or tree, or on a stump. Often, I see them in tree hallows.

People naturally seem to make these in spots that are like mystical doorways to the underworld. It’s as if we can sense the energetic coming and going of hallows, stumps, cracks and crooks in trees. These are liminal spaces. The in-betweens. True spirit doors.
The anthroplogy student in me delights in witnessing these plant offerings. What were the makers intending? Why did they do this? Do those plants have meaning?
This particular evening was definitely embodied a liminal space. I walked through the neighborhood foraging flowers for this sweet arrangement of iris, rose and hydrangea. This was the day I fell in love with that rose!  A light rain had freshly fallen. The setting sun was peaking in and out of dark clouds, streaming through the Laurelhurst canopy.
This was the first time I found mountain laurels in blooms at the park, deep red-pink and pinky-white. Their delicate mandala flowers seemed almost like sea creatures, glistening with rain drops.
I have a Laurelhurst loop I like to do. Basically it involves going on every path and trail in the whole park. Get as much mileage out of it as possible. But I like to end my walk on the dirt path on the north side of the park, the path under the more prominent path. This path is a tiny bit more wilder.
Laurelhurst was a tree collection of a family that lived nearby. Eventually they turned it into a city park, and I am glad they did. The trees are huge and lovely.
That evening I came home and was struck by the utter drama the peonies were putting on. Right before our eyes they were fligning petals, shriveling up, turning brown and dying. Just like that. Peony season goes out with a burst. Just like it came into season.
Nature is so fleeting. Everything has their moments in the sun, then it’s over until next year.
But damn, I think I like rotten peonies almost as much as poised pretty ones. The tides of the season filled them with ripeness, then the washed back to sea.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *