August 2023: Julie Ann Smith

Silent Echoes, a North Portland Story

This body of work concerning the Columbia River Gorge and Pacific Coast comes from a deeply personal place living in Portland and Vancouver, Washington most of my life. My grandfather worked on stern-wheelers ferrying goods from Portland to The Dalles. My dad and his brothers fished the river from the banks as young boys and on into adulthood. Salmon was so frequently served at our dinner table my sister and I, as children will do, groused, and complained “not again!”. I grew up in the Kenton district of North Portland and recall vividly the “dawn chorus” of songbirds in our neighborhood. So loud was the trilling at dawn it would awaken me. I remember trying to drown out the cacophony by placing a pillow over my ears to catch a few more minutes of sleep before heading off to Kenton School in 1955. So much has changed since then. As our environment continues to degrade, I rarely notice the sounds of nature anymore.  Gone is the raucous “morning chorus” from songbirds of my youth.  Rachel Carson predicted this in her landmark book “Silent Spring,” published in 1962. The truth of her research was born out in my lifetime in and around North Portland and Vancouver.  These personal observations have prompted me to dedicate this body of work to the Portland Audubon Wildlife Center. A portion of my sales will go to the Center.