I think I've always wanted land. From an early age I can remember sticking my bare feet in the soil where ever we lived, finding cool deep places to plant myself. I would plant my feet, look east over the high desert, and imagine that all of that land was mine for the living.
We have a tiny, city-sized lot of land here in Portland. It sits on the tip of the Portland peninsula, between the Willamette and the Columbia Rivers. An early pioneer to this part of the world claimed this spit of land would become "The Manhattan of the West!" Thankfully, things didn't develop as such. The city proper grew up father west, and St. Johns remained a wild, nature saturated place of blue-collar industry. I could toss a stone and have it hit the river terminal where ships were built during WWII, which was the inspiration for the tract of housing developed along my block.
These photos are a snapshot of the month of August, and our tending of this wee slip of land, the place we've lived for 15 years.
In those 15 years, Portland has grown into St. Johns. The gentrification which spread like wildfire through closer-in neighborhoods was slow to stretch as far as the peninsula. Although we're technically Portland, not a suburb, St. Johns has always felt like its own town, one that has resisted beautification and taming by bottle shops (as opposed to dive bars), farmers markets, and food carts, in other words, the vision of Portlandia that people seem to be sucked in by like a vacuum.
But those things did come. And it's been great in many ways, sure. When The Machinist and I have spent the whole day scraping 30 year old paint and hauling 15 yards of tree chips around the yard, it's nice to walk to the newly opened German-style brew house in the converted warehouse that was once a sportswear distribution headquarters, and before that, a textile mill. It's also really nice to be able to sit on our beautiful back deck and enjoy a beer on our own little bit of land.
All of this is to say, I feel so incredibly lucky to have this little house. I've loved "growing up" here. I was just 25 when we bought it (!) and all of my friends were still living downtown in communal houses. I felt as if we'd moved to the edge of the universe. I've loved watching St. Johns "grow up" around us. St. Johns' history is living and evolving. But we're ready for more.
We've planted our bare feet in the soil of this place, and are looking east.