Tuesday, June 17


In Oregon salmon are everywhere. At the Bonneville Dam and the zoo and the airport, in murals and polished granite floor mosaics, bronze fish leap and live salmon swim up ladders and rivers. Children and adults in Portland and the region are reminded in public spaces by murals, mosaics, sculpture, viewing places, friendly interpreters of the natural world in which we humans still live despite our sometime attempts to pave it all over or rush by.

Oregon seems to invest a lot more of its resources than usual to projects which connect people to nature. From the Bonneville Dam to the Oregon Zoo, in the railway station and on the waterfront you can walk on images of the rivers and trace their courses on walls and imagine the journey of the salmon from the ocean to breeding places where the eggs hatch into young salmon that then return to the ocean.
I don't know enough to know whether the balance of protection of wildlife and use of the river to generate power is an ideal one, but I liked the Bonneville Dam, where the salmon ladder and the hydroelectric generators are both on display, and where if you are lucky and go on a quiet day you might get invited into the fish counting room, to see the fish pass the window, and then you might be entertained who volunteers at the dam information desk by "MacPherson's Retreat" or Dave Mallett's "Inch by Inch [The Garden Song]" and you can sing along if you like.

Finale: Eating Salmon. Right past this counter at Pike's Place in Seattle I picked out a piece of smoked salmon for my cat-sitter, but I don't have a picture of the fish nor of the poached salmon a couple of weeks later at Jacob's Bar Mitzvah in Allentown, Pa.

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