Part of a life long series on the county parks of Oregon
How does one Get to the Park?
On the Marion County parks website the directions to Joryville park are listed as:14 miles out Liberty Road, then two miles to Jory Road, then one mile west to park entrance
14 miles from where? When do the “two miles to Jory Road” begin?
I know that the rolling asphalt strip is in fact called “Jory Hill Road,” and that one
turns down a road off of Jory Hill Road toward the park, but does this road have a
name? It is far less than a mile long.
Is it true? Tell us more!
If one turns off Liberty at the right moment and glances in the rear view mirror, one
will see a small square brown sign hidden by Arbor Vida with white letters. “JORY
HILL PARK,” says the sign. It is flat and quiet, but sure of itself. You already know
from reading this much that that is not, in fact, what the park is called, descriptive as it may be.
If that was a Descriptive Name, as you
What is the Park Like?
Just the Basics, please.
. . .
. . . and a road, no longer used for vehicles, that wanders down along a thin and gasping creek. Dirt paths wind off. There are two small wooden bridges that cross the creek at swampy and unpleasant points; the bridges are romantic even with their split boards and sense of moldering risk but the brown bogs they cross, full of crackling deciduous mulch and crudely visible culverts, suffocate the notion of a wistful moment as much as the drooping, lichen-blackened branches and unthinking spider webs clog the air with a clinging damp. Leave this place, the creek soon becomes a bog. An unseen dog will bark at you from just close enough that we will wonder what it is up to. Return to the sign at the cul-de-sac. This time, going up, the road winds steadily. The incline is steep. You can continue on pavement, or veer off onto another dirt path. Many lead to the same places; you have little to worry about, if you are ready to climb over a log or swallow a spider web.
Here the forest is shadowed again from the trees above but the ground is largely
dry, the trees have needles; logs obstruct your way. A cougar has lived here. He will again.
Paths and the road lead to a clearing near the crest of the hill. It is still dim here.
The trees are evenly spaced and wide.
There was once a parking lot here; there is a
grill. There is a strange cement building with no windows or doors. It is a canvas,
and at times it is better than at others.
I have tried at moments to drag a stump over so I might climb up and peek into a vent, but I am vexed both by the difficulty of dragging stumps and that silent fear that perhaps it is only full of rakes ad old lacrosse equipment. If you push through the blackberries and vining trunks, you will see what we have come to see:
Driving To Jory Ville Park – and, Is it the Right Time to
You will drive up the hill on your way to the park, as directed by the obscured sign. You will pass small
pastures, trees breaking away to reveal green hillocks and gathered horses. The
fences will be wooden and sparse. You will descend the hill again and just before
plateau, you will pass another paddock and turn left.
I wonder, do you suppose, are there more horses?
Be careful not to turn to your left to admire the three woolly mares with their
noses pressed softly together in the far corner. Are they eating, are they nuzzling?
They stand still but turn their heavy heads as you pass. Be careful, then, as the sun
catches a white forelock and casts a brazen crystal stream into your eyes, not to veer
slightly and maroon yourself in a ditch on your right hand side. The ditch is soggy
and not troublingly deep, but the sides are steep enough to be menacing.
If you pass by safely, you will arrive in a large gravel cul-de-sac. Approaching,
hold your breath. It is difficult to see until the last moment if there is another car
parked here or, heavens help us, a horse trailer. Never assume that there will not
be a shiny Honda civic housing three Chihuahuas or a Pomeranian wearing a jacket
waiting just out of view until you have sighed a relaxed and gentle breath. But also
do not assume that the Jetta or Volvo parked carefully in the shade is a fellow park
walker and be immediately dismayed. What time is it? Have you come early, with
the bright light of a well-rested sun glinting the sky white? Is the grass sparkling
with an eye of sky perched on the tip of every blade? Or, have you come later,
because first you had to finish the job application and then you decided the dog did
need a brief walk before driving for fifteen or twenty minutes because you became
distracted by a chain of IMDB references as you mistakenly clicked “enter” half way
through a predictive search engine, and then realized you were too hungry to go far
on your four hours of sleep and peeled eyelids and your travel mug was empty and
how hard is it to find a goddamn bagel in this town? This situation feels desperate,
but wait – it is now eleven or noon. You may feel initially dismayed – why did you
stay out late again, talking to men in polar fleece vests making years old jokes,
pretending to write in a paper journal next to a bar’s firepit? Your day has not
started with brilliance and gleaming early solitude, it is midday! It is half dead, and
for what have you wasted it? And now, gods of bells and chimes, there is someone else here, squatting in your solitude. But wait. It
is eleven or noon, and the ten-or-under year old coups and hatchbacks aren’t here to
spoil your fevered lonely scramble up a hill – they are simply smoking pot on their
lunch breaks. Wait for a moment, and they’ll go. They are finishing their chapter
of “A Walk to Remember,” they are giving up on looking for the rest of the story
on page six that started above the fold on the front headlines. They need to turn
around now and head back.. You are free to park, to listen to your dog begin to squeal
and whimper with pressurized enthusiasm, to ask her to wait, then, exiting your
door, reach back and open hers and let her out. Unleash the beast onto the lawn to
your left. She has no need to stop and wait to read the signs.
The Faithless Graffitti of Joryville Park
The graffiti here is whimsical and strange and filled with homages to Miller High Life. I’ll share some later.
What are some things you have done here?
I was driven here as a child to walk with a dog in early mornings. When later I had another dog, I let her off the leash here for the first time. I let it drop and she trotted up the path, dragging it behind her. She had never been in something like the woods before. I was afraid when she veered off the wide cement path and I called her to me and greedily snatched the leash back up in my hands, my pulse beating. I came here in high school as a place to stand around when there are few places in the world that will have you for free. It was grand then, and mysterious. The bright bowl of a field thought the dense thickets was glorious and shocking. We raced in hysterical circles, falling onto the grass. We feared the farmers’ tractors as we were used to being where we were not supposed to be.
At the peak of the field at the top, there is a great oak tree. There is a swing there and a circle of charred rocks. There is a bench of a split log. I can sit there quietly and feel hot and thirsty and satisfied. The dog prances freely and I do not fear her straying far.
Remembering the ecstatic view as a younger girl, I returned once with a boy I wanted to impress. Boys are usually impressed by long stretches of patchworked fields and bright sky! You have got to show them something special and spectacular, I suppose I thought. Like a field at the top of a county park.
This time, however, it was mid summer, the days were hot and the field was dry and brown. I made him sweat his way up a path in a band t-shirt and women’s jeans, talking excitedly and too much. And then I presented him with a large dead field and old dandelions and asked for his enthusiasm, which he could not really give.
Later I brought the same boy back to the park but stayed at the bottom. I announced my plans to buy a truck and leave. I was once again attempting to be dramatic, and he was leadenly unimpressed. I not only should have expected this by then, I ought to have left him there with his dull responses and wet socks in a damp field and driven off on my own.
Later still I returned to Oregon from weeks spent on the prairie in the middle of winter. The prairie had been beautiful and grand in the distance, but up close it was wet snow dirtied by mud and oil and the cold sticking to my hands like lace gloves embroidered with pricking pins. It was frozen, dirty, desperate, smelling of old corn tortillas and laundry detergent and skin peeling bleach.
When I came home the dirt and the moss reached down my throat and drummed me into the ground with the heavy stomp of giants. The trees were unknown dinosaurs to me and the air was wrought with fog, but they were still more careful and warm than the bleating, blaring distance of the stretching, aching plains. Their roots were fat on the ground with thick health. I walked to the top of the park and I was sweating inside my heavy coat. I climbed through the thickets and emerged alone with my dog and looked out. The field was November brown, but coated in frost it was sturdy and it shone. The wind cut my damp face with a sharp slice and I was refreshed.