The floorboards, beams, and timber of this lodge are so hefty – creeping about late at night is no problem – no squeaks! The chair, in one of the cozy rooms off the lobby, I’m sitting in, could hold a sumo wrestler. These are details of a shrine to the grand forests which were. Handy nearby glass cupboards hold books and games. But my, the vista out the opposing window, frames the geology of this extraordinary location.
To think this massive temple to Northwest hospitality was dreamed up as a work project to keep craftspeople and artists employed, still astounds me. The wrought iron alone would build a million barbeques, the stonework a few castles and the energy and enthusiasm of the folks who built it should be put to work solving our world’s problems.
A monument to craft and ingenuity built by the WPA, in two years during the nineteen-thirties, near the summit of one of Oregon’s great mountains, Mt. Hood. Holy carumba, that there were trees then big enough for the gargantuan pillars at the entrance. And to think the project director found, in the depths of the Depression, his head blacksmith living in a packing case, eating beans, and drinking water.
My birthday feast was held at a table for six near the deep well of a blazing fireplace in the large first floor dining room. My mother had orchestrated the whole bash. Reserving three rooms my birthday weekend for my partner and I, my brother and sister-in-law, and themselves – flying out from Ohio.
We gathered around the linen clad table, our feet resting on the rock solid floorboards of old growth trees, delighting in our family congregation. My recollection of my meal was the salmon was cooked over alder smoke and had a raspberry chipotle glaze. Green beans with bacon vinaigrette and wild rice played along side. My brother and sister-in-law had brought with them, from Seattle, a cake from Larsen’s Danish Bakery. Oh, what a confection – delicate lemon layers with coconut filling and orange icing. Even a little damaged by the ride it was a memorable mouthful.
Woven curtains and some bedspreads showcase large loom weaving techniques of the Arts and Craft period. Tile on the floors and wainscoting reflect the icons of the mountain; salmon, berries, pinecones, and elk. Wrought iron sconces, fireplace architecture, tools, forged hinges and latches on doors speak to the creative detail of the era.
How fitting my fortieth should be in this celebratory space dedicated to the art and craft of living to the fullest. It’s my credo, why I love France, and those who honor the gifts of creativity and community.
Pamela Mattson McDonald © 3/11/16