The Resounding Multnomah Falls

I have lived in the State of Oregon for just under 4 years, and in that time, my husband and I have enjoyed venturing out and discovering some of the wonders that this region has to offer.  From the mountains to the sea, and everything between, the Pacific Northwest is rich in beauty and legends. One, in particular, draws millions to itself and is called the Multnomah Falls.

I love waterfalls, and have seen and been awed by many, but none like the beauty, power and strength you feel from the magnificent Multnomah Falls, in the Columbia Gorge region of Oregon. It is 611 feet of cascading icy waterthat you get to behold up close and personal from the Benson Bridge. The bridge was named for Simon Benson, a prominent businessman from Portland who actually owned the falls in the early 1900s. Before he died, he transferred his ownership to the USDA Forest Service. From the vantage point of the bridge you experience the top-tier of the falls and the cool mist of the water on your face.

But what intrigues me the most about this natural beauty, is the captivating legend that tells the story of the creation of the falls. The Multnomah were a tribe of Chinookan people, who lived in the Portland area in the 19th century. Legend tells us that a disease came upon the tribe’s village and many of the people were getting sick and dying. A medicine man came forth and told the Chief that he had a vision of the entire village being wiped out and the only way they could be saved is if a young maiden would sacrifice her life. Upon hearing this, his daughter, the princess, was heartbroken. Her betrothed had fallen ill, and she believed the only way to save him and the people she loved, was to sacrifice her own life. She walked to the edge of the cliff and jumped. It is told that everyone became miraculously well. When the Chief found out, he asked for a sign that his daughter did not die in vain, and the roar of water could be heard throughout the area and a silvery flow fell off the cliffs and has never stopped til this day. It is a beautiful story of love and sacrifice. One that brought salvation to and entire group of people. 

The definition of “resounding” is unmistakable, emphatic, of a sound loud enough to reverberate. When observing this awe-inspiring falls, one cannot ignore the unmistakable, emphatic roar of nature. Her voice, reverberates and demands our silence as we behold her natural beauty. I just see the beauty of God’s creation, and hear the waters cry out in praise to its creator. I see in the powerful, cascading flow of water, an outpouring of the love our heavenly father has for each one of us. 

Was there a princess? I think there was. Did she make a sacrificial leap over a 611 foot cliff? That, I am not too sure. I just know that the Multnomah Falls and all of its wonders, is a sight to behold and I thank God for it.

God Bless all of You! Please leave your comments below.

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The Legend of the Octopus Tree

Our college grandson came to visit us over the Thanksgiving holiday and though the weather here in the Pacific Northwest was not the best, we were determined to explore and share some of Oregon’s landmarks with him. We were so excited when a friend and co-worker of my husband offered us a nights stay at his beach house on the coast in Rockaway, Oregon. The Oregon coastline is so beautiful and offers many iconic landmarks, one of which we purposed to visit, at Cape Meares, called The Octopus Tree. 

The Octopus Tree, is a Sitka spruce with branches that look like giant tentacles reaching up 50 feet from its base. When first observing this tree, your mind is baffled by how it grew into this shape. There are lots of assumptions, like perhaps the constant blowing of the wind as the tree was growing. It is situated only 600 feet from the most beautiful scenic view of the ocean. Perhaps, the wind would come in from the ocean and swirl around the branches of the tree as it was growing, shaping and molding it, declaring to all who would see it that the tree belonged to the ocean and it’s breeze. Sorry, I am a hopeless romantic.

The local historians and the descendants of the Tillamook tribe, explains the odd shape of the tree as not from the wind, but from it being used as a ceremonial site and place where they would hang their canoes and ritual objects. It was a gathering place for the ceremonial rituals of this tribe. (I like my more romantic version:)

Typically, these trees would be forced downward while still flexible, and the branches would remain close to ground in a horizontal position. But when it is allowed to grow naturally, each branch will take a vertical leap skyward, creating the unusual shape we see.

The Octopus Tree is known to be about 250 years old. It was once featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and described as on of the modern Wonders of the World. It has also been dubbed, the Candelabra Tree and the Monstrosity Tree. I don’t like the latter. It is also known as the Council Tree, because of the tribe elders who would gather around it and make their tribal decisions. 

Whatever it is called, it definitely stirs wonderment in all who sees it. I personally can relate it to many different analogies. One, much like the shape of the tree, we also come in many different shapes. Sometimes, others cannot understand or even accept the differences in our shapes. We are called by many names, some of which are not very nice. And in many ways, we too can be bent and forced to take on a shape that keeps us “horizontal”, rather than be free to reach skyward and all of the potential that we were intended to have.

Not far from the Octopus Tree, stands another structure, the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It is an inactive lighthouse, built in 1890. It was actually going to be demolished in the early 60’s, but public outcry halted the plan. I, for one, am very happy about that. Lighthouses are also very symbolic to me, especially ones like this one, inactive,  still having the power to draw people to its side and admire what it once was.

One of my favorite words is Serendipity. It simply means, coming together and making “happy, chance discoveries”. Oregon offers many opportunities to do just that. I hope to be sharing more of the wonders of the Pacific Northwest. I feel blessed to live here and enjoy all of its wonderment. God Bless all of you. Please leave a comment.

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O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – Real or Artificial

Do you have a “real” tree or artificial one this Christmas? This can be a loaded question for some. There are differing opinions of what constitutes as an “authentic” Christmas when choosing your tree. I personally would prefer the fragrance of a real tree, however, apartment dwelling has changed the premise of my choices. Apparently, an artificial tree is more conducive to smaller dwellings that do not allow many options for disposal of a real tree. Ask me how I know….ok, I will tell you my short story.

I went from a 2200 square foot home, to a 900 square foot apartment. And, while having a small, live, potted tree was an option, I just cannot have Christmas without a massive, fragrant, tree occupying a third of my living room. So, I convinced my husband to go shopping for a “real” tree. We found one we liked at a local market, strapped it to the top of our car, and proudly went home to put it up. Everything was fine until first, carrying up a flight of stairs, then trying to clean up all the needles that dropped from the tree onto…..well…..everywhere. Then, rearranging the furniture to accommodate the tree that now had taken up most of the room, made me second guess my opting to “go green”. But, in all, after lighting and decorating, I was happy. Until, with still two more weeks to go before Christmas, the tree started to dry up and die, in spite of my diligence to keep it watered and nourished. You could not walk by it without wiping out an entire branch of pine needles. We made it to Christmas, but let me tell you, I was taking that tree down the day after. It was so dry, there was no way to simply carry it across the room and out the door without making a horrific mess. So, while my husband was at work, I got his wire cutters and snipped every branch off so I could toss it into a garbage bag. When my husband got home, he had a mere bare stump to carry out to the dumpster. Yes, I declared that future Christmases would include an artificial tree, and so be it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the thought of a real tree. In fact, every time we pass a vehicle with a beautiful “real” tree strapped on top of it, and the happy smiles of the family in the car, knowing that Christmas was about to be put up in their homes, I smile, and then, I snap out of it.

Why do we even have Christmas trees? I bet there are many different reasons that the diverse global population has for having a tree at Christmas time. Every family has its own stories of either going out into the woods to find that perfect tree, or just the plethora of tree lots that make it fun to shop for one. But the history of the Christmas tree dates back to ancient times when the early Romans would adorn their homes with evergreen branches as a symbol of life. (Hence, I suppose, real might be better for demonstrating this) It took the Renaissance era to display the tree in homes as a symbol of Christmas. There are many theories and stories relating to this iconic part of Christmas, but I prefer to enjoy the simple meaning…..it is a part of the decor that families choose to have as part of their own expression of the season.

The tree is symbolic of the place where gifts are stored til Christmas morning, or the where we can hang beautiful lights and ornaments. I read somewhere, long ago, that when you look at the tree, it is pointing upward, to remind us of the fact that it is not what is under tree that matters, but the birth of a child long ago that was and still is the ultimate gift of the season.

It does not matter if your tree is real or artificial. What matters is if your heart is real, if the love you have for your family and friends is real, and if your faith is real.  What matters is the family that gather around it. May the blessings of the holidays be abundant in all of your lives.

As always, I ask that you leave your comments below. Thank you and God bless all of you.

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