AN Oregon Symphony
As opposed to THE Oregon Symphony with Carlos Kalmar, long gray mop of hair riding atop his head, bobbing and weaving, in tailored cut-a-way and almost alchemically inspired baton in hand, prompting the world class orchestra in front of him to pump up the volume, and the crowd, in a pseudo-religious fervor.
AN Oregon symphony requires no Schnitzer Auditorium, no grand staging, no elaborate, historic orchestrations. It occurs on any mist soaked morning as you walk the dog alone, up the lane to Pittock Mansion and silently absorb, along with the ambient water in the air, the spongy-soft tones of nature’s own musicians.
We Portlanders are almost unaware of what I call PMS (Portland Misty Shit). No self-respecting Portlander would ever use more than a hoodie, and an umbrella is reserved for those visitors who think it really does “rain all the time” here. We are Sanforized, we don’t shrink from the “rain”. So on an early Sunday morning dog walk, I don’t see, hear or even feel the light mist that is floating on the early summer eddies.
Instead, I realize that my ear has become attuned, accustomed, and peacefully at ease listening for my very own version of nature’s symphonic gift, wrapped in the morning mists and delivered with no fanfare, no blaring of horns or screeching of violins or crashing of cymbals. It does not soar to crescendic heights only to leave me wanting more of the same screaming extremes. It comes in graceful waves that waft throughout the canopy of the forest like a chorus of minuscule creatures, traveling some unseen page of sheet music all of their own composition, and they are performing for everyone….and no one.
As the mist collects on the soaring Doug Firs, their needles concentrate it into droplets, desperate to direct this gift downward to their own roots. But first, these droplets free fall onto the larger, more robust, leaves of the Big Leafed Maples below, bringing forth a percussion section of their own and setting the forest symphonic beat into a rhythm as old as time. A rhythm that surrounds, invades, and becomes the beating heart of the music of the woods.
Here, on these gigantic cymbal like hands of leaves, those droplets coalesce into rivulets that slip and slide down the leaf faces and splatter forth onto fern and May Apples and Oregon Hazelnut where they once again explode, ever-so-softly now, back into a light mist that settles, at last, onto the mossy carpet that awaits them; eager leaflets and tendrils open mouthed and hungry for the moisture and unaware of the soft, glisandic quality that is their part to play.
Rinse clean and repeat.
It is a meditation.
It is a yogic chant.
It is a religious service.
It is nature.
It is at peace.