Thicket

Thicket, Portland, Oregon

I didn’t grow up in the kind of family that went hiking. But my college boyfriend loved it, and all things outdoorsy.

The diplomatic way to describe myself back then is out of shape. Although there is some debate about whether I had been in shape before that. The bottom line? I didn’t have a lot of endurance, a lot of dexterity or a lot of experience hiking. But Eric didn’t know this, and suggested we hit a nearby trail for the day. I agreed.

Colonel Bob, in the Quinault Rainforest, is not what you would call “a beginner’s hike.” It’s steep, it’s long and it’s not for chubby girls who don’t work out. We arrived at the trailhead, my stomach churning with dread and anticipation, and we started to hike. We hiked down into a valley, down further.

“Isn’t this supposed to be an uphill hike?” I asked Eric, after about 30 minutes of steep downhill. We paused, we looked ahead and around, and we finally discovered that were were going the wrong way. By the time we got back to the trailhead, I was exhausted. And we hadn’t even started the hike. I had an elevation gain of 4,492 feet ahead of me. I wanted to cry.

I did not cry though — not right then. The crying happened later — a couple of hours later, when I was completely sapped of energy, my legs burned and my lungs burned and Eric had been carrying my backpack for at least a mile. I wanted to make it to the top so badly, so that he would see that I could be a good sport. But I just couldn’t keep going. I slumped down onto a stump and started to cry, a little over halfway up the hill.

“We have to go back,” I said. “I can’t hike anymore. I’m done.”

Thicket, Portland, Oregon

I’ve since made peace with hiking and I love it, but this was not a great place to start. I now love to appreciate the nature along the way, and my legs and lungs are usually up to the task (although I still haven’t been back up that particular peak).

Nature can be overwhelming or nature can be the perfect oasis from our daily lives. At Thicket, it’s an oasis. This hidden gem is just a half-block off Alberta on NE 23rd, and it’s a garden supply shop that’s set in what I wish my yard looked like.

It’s green and lush but it’s also a place to sit for a moment and be inspired. All the plants inside look like they were chosen individually and cared for. The whole place thrives, and I turned bright green with envy when I saw the overhead canopies and the vintage-inspired potting shed. This place is worth a peek, a stroll and a few deep breaths. You’ll be hooked.

Thicket, Portland, Oregon

Thicket, 4933 NE 23rd Ave. in the Alberta Arts District of NE Portland. Thicket also has an inspiring garden blog.