Wednesday, June 14, 2006

moving to paradise

When I was growing up in Portland, my parents used to take us hiking in the Columbia Gorge. It's a breathtaking drive inland along the Columbia River. Waterfalls — the tall, gushing ones that look like the white tails of unicorns — come crashing down the sides of the gorge, and we would hike behind them under dark, slippery rocks and feel the spray on our faces. Windsurfers dot the river with their colorful sails under the blue sky. The forests are so deep and green with tall pines and moss and ferns that I always imagined elves and magical creatures living in them. Even today, when I go back, I feel as if I'm in a place out of time — kind of like I feel on the North Shore, but this goes further back into my memories. It's my geographical soul.

Now it will be my sister's home. Susanne is moving to Hood River, the windsurfing capital of the world, where lush fruit orchards thrive in the shadow of Mount Hood. It's about an hour's drive from Portland, and I itch to be closer so I can visit her more often. After many grueling years of part-time CPA school at Portland State University — years in which she also worked full-time and underwent open-heart surgery as a complication of cancer — she's got a job as an accountant in Hood River. I'm really proud of her, for all she has gone through. I'm also kind of envious: For all that Steve and I dream of moving to a quieter, more peaceful life on the North Shore, Sue is actually making it happen. She'll be near the river, and there are fruit farms, lavender fields and wineries all around her. She's leaving the bustle of her downtown apartment, but she won't be far. She can always drive in on the weekends if she needs some urban nightlife or wants to visit the family.

Godspeed, Susanne, as you start your new job next week — and this new chapter of your life. I hope you soak in all that the Gorge has to offer. Live fully every day, and let the wind of the river rush through you and make you strong and healthy, like Heidi in the Alps. ;-) And keep a light on at your new place — you know Steve and the Lemmondrop and I will visit every moment we can.

(Photos are from the Web.)


Susanne said...

Tears are in my eyes as I read this, Emilie. It's 9:30pm my time, and was so moved when I pulled up this post. Being at a point where I'm beginning to become a bit nervous to begin my new job, your post gave me the encouragement I need. (As you know, I begin this Monday the 19th, and I'm excited as well as nervous). The pics of the windsurfer and the orchard are especially beautiful, and I so appreciate you mentioning the hardship involved in obtaining my degree while working full time, along with open-heart surgery.

Yes, you, Steve, and Lemmondrop will be welcome there anytime. So is everyone else (Mary, Ellen, Rents, boys, etc.)!

Christina said...

Hello, Susanne!

I don't know you, but I'm friends with Emilie, and I want to wish you all the best as you forge a new chapter in your life. You sound like an extraordinary woman and Hood River looks insanely gorgeous. May you thrive there!

Ray Mikell said...

Congrats, Susanne.

Ray Mikell said...

Is that a rails-to-trails, bike path thing or what? Looks fantastic.

Cynthia said...

Wow, that sounds and looks like such wonderful place.
Congratulation, Susanne.

Susanne said...

Thanks so much for all of your comments! Christina and Cynthia, I've read many of your other posts on Em's blog, which I enjoy. Ray, it's good to hear from you, and I'll be sure to give you my new address once I'm in Hood River. Em, I meant to say, I like the title of this thread, "Moving to Paradise." Very beautiful. Also, it sounds like North Shore is pretty paradise as well! How are you and Lemmondrops doing?