02 Jun Morton Street – Steep, with Stories
Morton Street runs from East Main Street uphill to Ashland Loop Road. I walked it during the late afternoon of May 30, 2018.
When I think of Morton Street, I think of “steep,” though much of it is not steep at all. I picture cars losing control and sliding down Morton Street’s steep section on icy winter days and finally coming to a stop in someone’s yard a block or two down. I was surprised to hear from 5-year resident Randy that cars sliding down on icy days rarely happens. He added that kids with sleds love Morton Street’s steepness on snowy days.
Let’s begin at East Main Street, the downhill start to Morton Street, where you will find the Ashland Cemetery. This is an old community cemetery, with the earliest recorded burial dating to 1860, according to the City website.
I am impressed with the lush flower-filled front yard at 327 Morton Street. I guess I hit the yard at just the right time of year.
Past the flowers, the 300 block of Morton Street wowed me with gate art and yard art.
I love the pathway gate and auto gate at 340 Morton Street, which were created by one or more very talented metal artists.
I enjoyed the yard art at 360 Morton Street. This bicycle is only one of multiple large and small interesting metal creations in the front yard.
I also love trees, and I hope to be able to find one or more trees to feature on nearly every street in Ashland. This large pink dogwood in bloom caught my eye at 501 Morton Street.
The Uphill Climb
Okay, are you ready to tackle the steep climb up Morton Street with me?
This photo looking down the steep climb gives a better perspective than any of the photos I took looking up the street.
Bob: Walking up the steep part of Morton Street, I met Bob going the same direction -up. I was very impressed when he told me that he walks to the top of Morton Street twice a week from his home on Holly Street! He then circles back to Holly Street by way of Ashland Loop Road and Terrace Avenue. My photo of Bob is at the end of the article.
Jeff: On my way back down this steep section of Morton Street, I met Jeff, who yelled out to me: “Do you have a minute to help a neighbor?” Feeling neighborly, I said yes. I helped him cut down a Douglas Fir tree on his property. The Ashland Fire Marshal had told him that Douglas Fir are more flammable than other trees and are best not to have growing near a house, so he is taking action. (I am going to slip another Ashland street here into the Morton Street article – Cascade Street where Jeff lives – because it is less than a block long and because it intersects Morton Street.)
Upper Morton Street contains a variety of house styles. I like the traditional look of the house at 743 Morton Street. Can you see the reflections of nature in the windows?
Is this Wisteria vine going to “eat” the No Parking sign? It sure looks healthy and hungry. This is a rare freestanding Wisteria vine, not trained on a fence, trellis or along the roofline of a house. Being true to its nature, it looked for the nearest thing to climb and found the signpost. You can find it near 800 Morton Street.
Talking Aristotle with Ron
Ron: I met Ron when I took a detour off Morton Street to explore the dirt pathway of Waterline Road. Actually, before I met Ron his two small dogs saw me and started barking wildly. After he calmed them down, we started talking about Morton Street, living in Ashland and even philosophy. Ron is excited that he and his wife will soon be moving to Morton Street so they can go for walks on beautiful Waterline Road.
As we were talking about Ashland and community, Ron quoted Aristotle to me. That’s not a conversation I have every day!
He started with: “Man is a political animal,” which is a famous quote from Aristotle’s writing. Ron pointed out that this widely shared quote is a mistranslation of what Aristotle said in the original Greek.
“Man is a political animal.” or
“Man is an animal that flourishes in a Polis.” Aristotle
Ron likes this translation: “Man is an animal that flourishes in a Polis.” Ron told me that the word Polis as Aristotle used it is a community of like-minded people, normally a community of a few thousand that is small enough to be walkable. He said Polis has little to do with “politics” as we know it. So there is a connection between Aristotle and Ashland. My understanding of the primary goal of both our city government and many residents of Ashland is to create a community that will allow our citizens to flourish…”man,” woman and child.
Back to the houses of Morton Street. I had very different reactions to the architecture of two modern style homes on upper Morton Street. I was intrigued by the difference in color choices, as well as design elements such as the roofline, decks and window shapes. The earth-tone house at 1010 Morton Street is more my style than the gray and white house at 861 Morton Street. Here are the two photos. See what you think.
Now for something completely different.
I like the artistry of the ceramic tile street sign next to an attractive lamppost and a gorgeous tiny tile birdhouse. I can’t tell if the birdhouse is solely an art piece or if birds really do make a home there.
Another beautiful garden, especially in May and June when the flowers are in bloom, is at 950 Morton Street. It looks like a “forest” of rhododendron plants on the uphill side of the street. Even though it is not close to the street, the photo gives a sense of its lush carpet of color. The homeowners must have an amazing view of this carpet of color from their deck.
We have finally reached the uphill end of Morton Street, where it meets Ashland Loop Road. I saved my photo of Bob for the end of the article, because he wanted to show me a huge scary rock way at the top. It’s just a few yards to the left on Ashland Loop Road from the end of Morton Street.
As we had been walking up Morton Street, Bob had been describing this rock to me. He described it as “big enough to flatten houses” if it started rolling downhill, for example if a major earthquake were strong enough to jar it loose. He told me the city was worried enough to do something to minimize that risk, as you can see in the photo below.
When we got to the rock, we had a little fun with the photo shoot. It looks like some of the hillside that was holding the rock was cut away when Ashland Loop Road was put through. So the city poured a huge hunk of concrete to stand in the place of the missing hillside and keep the rock stable. It looks to me like a smart move.