Suzy and Russ have lived in their home for 35 years. Suzy has spent thousands of hours creating a beautiful garden. Flowers spill out of dozens of pots. Plantings form several green “rooms,” each with its own ambiance. Every window in Suzy’s house looks onto a carefully thought-out view.
Although she’s modest about it, Suzy became a Master Gardener after she retired.
Their Oregon City home is less than ten minutes from Clackamas Community College and the Molalla Avenue business district. They enjoy plenty of wildlife; deer, raccoon, and birds. Last October their next-door neighbors lost a goat to a cougar and the guilty party was caught on a trail camera. Fortunately, it was a rare visit and the cougar moved on
Before Suzy and I left for a day trip to their coastal cottage, we took a tour of her home garden while I snapped pictures.
“You’ll find another ‘jungle’ at the beach house,” Russ said affectionately. I’m sure he meant to say, “another beautiful garden.”
Along the way, we stopped at Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock, Arcadia Beach, and Arch Cape. Suzy grew up playing on Oregon’s beaches and she knows them well
We walked barefoot in the sand, dipped our toes in the cold Pacific, and breathed the sweet coastal air. Never mind that I grew up in eastern Washington, the Oregon coast always makes me feel as if I’ve found my way home.
Russ was right, Suzy’s coastal garden is as lovely as her home garden.
After lunch at the beach house, Suzy watered her outdoor pots and shared family stories in anticipation of spending July 4 in Nehalem with her grandkids.
A large elk herd frequently visits the beach house and I sensed that Suzy was eager for them to show up while we were there. I hoped so too. As it turned out, they showed up in large numbers, along with nine calves, about two days after my visit.
Even though the elk dine on Suzy’s flowers and pull inedible plants out of the ground and toss them aside, Suzy has patience and an abundance of affection for the animals When she’s not there, the huge creatures boldly walk onto her large deck to pick and choose amongst her favorite plants
Late one night Suzy woke to a noise at her window. Opening the shade, she looked straight into the face of the “peeping Tom” who was scraping his antlers on the window! She just laughs about it now.
Some of Russ and Suzy’s neighbors resent the careless animals and use brooms to shoo them away from their carefully tended gardens. Not Suzy. If they pull up her flowers, she simply plants them back in the ground.
Though Suzy is a friend and we worked together for years, I had never before spent a full day with her, in her world. It was a day for observing the peace and beauty Suzy has created, sensing the love she has for her family, and appreciating the good-natured way she tidies up her garden after the elk leave. I’m glad I know her better.
Suzy likes to share the things she’s learned about the elk. She remembers seeing a badly limping cow elk in the middle of a protective circle of the animals. The same thing happened to a cow who began to give birth in the sea of grass in front of their house. The other animals encircled and protected her while she labored.
Recently, Russ and Suzy celebrated their 50th anniversary around a small bonfire with two other couples, relaxing and reminiscing. While they were enjoying the evening, the elk came out of the woods, lay nearby in the grass, and made themselves part of the celebration.
Obviously, they appreciate Suzy’s patience and affection.