As of Friday, August 15, 2014
This is the season of the bittersweet.
Minds are on the return to school, a fact favored by parents and regretted by most kids. This is the time of year when wind sports enthusiasts are still looking for a good ride, but typically see glassy water. The lack of moving air aggravates the already warm temperatures.
The word “wind” is lost in the word dwindles. Here’s hoping that today’s (twice)-rescheduled Blowout race from Stevenson to Hood River finally gets enough wind, and that this evening’s King of the Hook, a 13-year local tradition, receives sufficient fuel for the frivolities.
Summer may be winding down and our best wind days behind us, but people are still coming to town to enjoy the many forms of recreation the Gorge has to offer, and with that comes the increased traffic. Are there truly more visitors than past years, as some have expressed? It might just seem that way; what with the heat and smoke in the past week or two, everything just feels more … concentrated.
Those who are downtown experience it most directly, but between the usual summer congestion and recent local conditions, it’s been laborious to get round town. In particular, the construction bottleneck at 12th and May Street is gone now; work concluded Thursday, opening that intersection again.
Speaking of bittersweet: You might not like the detour, just as you might not appreciate construction-related delays on State Street the past year, but these are the byproducts of growth. (City crews have also been updating the crosswalk and stop bars on the street surfaces, in anticipation of the return to school and the need to enhance pedestrian safety.) The bitter is found in the state of the water at the Waterfront Park beach, with an E. Coli advisory happening for the second year in a row on the waterfront. With hot weather continuing, this comes at a time when the beach demand is at its peak, but until further notice it is best to obey the city’s signs saying keep out of the water at the beach.
The sweet, meanwhile, is a truly annual thing: the harvest of pears and apples throughout the valley. Folks will venture out to the growing areas in increasing numbers as the fruit comes in.
There’s bound to be more and more traffic going to the orchards for Upick or to visit the farm stands, and anyone using the roads connecting the orchards is urged to be on the lookout for tractors, trucks and other farm-related traffic that also is on the increase as workers pick the fruit for distribution. While everything else happens along the spectrum of terrible to terrific, we can count on the beauty and bounty of the harvest to remind us of the essentially, literally, sweet nature of our place in the world.