On my last day in Portland, I asked my friend what’s the one place I should visit to complete my trip complete. And without hesitation, he wrote back: Hawthorne Blvd, and Ladd’s Addition. It’s got an interesting floor plan and there’s a rose garden I could look around, he’d said. Although I’d grown a little tired of roses, I looked up the place on my map and the structure of the neighbourhood fascinated me at once. It had a diagonal street pattern, unlike any other street I’d seen anywhere else.
With that image to look forward to, I walked down the street leading to the quaint district of Ladd. I was on Hawthorne Blvd which occupied an entire corner of the square, and so from where I stood I could walk right into the neighbourhood and keep walking until I reached the other end. The weird thing about walking within the Addition was there’s no way to get lost. Although every turn looked the same to me, my friend had assured me I’d end up at a clearing if I just kept to the trail.
It felt, at first, as if walking into an unknown jungle. All around me trees loomed overhead and leaves swept the ground. Then from somewhere in the distance, came the screams of ecstatic children. Unnerving though it all was, I soon went past a school somewhere within the district where I caught a glimpse of children playing in the school ground. Their voices rang out throughout the area. After a while, it became less creepy and more welcoming. The roads all looked neat and well-maintained, but there were almost no vehicles to appreciate the vacant traffic.
The houses reminded me of mansion life in the 1800s. They were large with porches and picket fences, attracting my eyes and inducing my jealousy. No one was out. People preferred a quiet afternoon indoors with their dogs or books. The sun shone bright overhead, illuminating the path ahead of me where autumn’s first victims expected my feet to crunch them.
It was a glorious place to take a walk. However within minutes I realised how much of a pain it must be for visitors to find the right house. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed and confused because every house had a similar design. I was addicted the the serenity of the neighbourhood, as I approached the nearest rose garden. Excited by the what I’d already seen, I was looking forward to what would come. Perhaps there’d be some interesting design in the way they were planted, too, I hoped. As I got closer, I felt my heart racing. Never before had I felt such a mad urge to see flowers. I felt so unlike myself, speed walking down the street. When I reached the garden, however, the expectation that’d welled up within me burst in a flash. Rows upon rows were remains of roses. The entire area reeked with gloom and not a single flower in bloom. In a devastating moment, I observed dying leaves and rose buds cowering as a mild rain dropped on them.
Despite my disappointment, I still felt optimistic. Perhaps, I just arrived at the wrong season, I consoled myself. Perhaps the roses would bloom in spring, I decided walking away.
The more I roamed, the more happier I felt at being there. Portland’s customary rain had stopped for the a moment, and the sun peeked from behind the clouds. Autumn was just round the corner and as pigeons flew from one tree to another, dried leaves flew in their wake. It was a sight I’d never forget. Within minutes I’d forgotten the dying roses, cheering up and gearing up for the what came next.
As I turned a corner, I stood stunned. Facing me was a huge garden of roses, all in bloom and in glory. Roses I’d seen before, roses I’d never seen before, roses in red, roses in white, in yellow, and even in blue—they were everywhere welcoming me.
All of a sudden I felt a surge of admiration towards nature. The dead roses I’d seen before wasn’t a work of nature but a work of human negligence. And sure enough I came across a sign that confirmed my theory.
Shaking my head in disbelief, and also shaking with laughter at the same time, I moved on. Ladd’s Addition had added immeasurable value to my trip.