Spring here at the mouth of the Columbia can be a subtle thing.

We don’t have overnight moments, when everything blooms.

But if you drive east, past Portland, the effects of sunlight, rain and botanic rebirth are evident. The tan topography of the Columbia River Gorge turns to that shade of green that shouts spring.

Our trip to Pendleton was for a charity golf tournament. Playing the Wildhorse Golf Course qualifies as a bird watching expedition. We observed a pair of osprey, a great blue heron, yellow headed blackbird, killdeer, Canada geese with goslings and a western meadowlark.

The chocolate brown water of the Umatilla River was well out of its traditional banks. It churned like the rapids on an Olympic kayak course.

***

The Margaret Thatcher funeral was a dose of British ceremonial theater. Watching bits of it on the London Telegraph’s website was most illuminating. As Thatcher’s casket, draped with the Union Jack, moved through London streets to St. Paul’s Cathedral, one could hear a combination of cheers, boos and an occasional catcall. That mixed reception echoed the kind of public opinion one could see in the British press. The larger meaning of what one could hear plainly is a virtue of democracy. On the streets of London, one is not jailed for berating a former prime minister. Contrast that with Egypt, where some people are being investigated for criticizing President Mohamed Morsi.

***

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was being debated in the U.S. Senate, President Lyndon Johnson did not leave the scene. He counted votes. And if you read Robert Caro’s biography of the late president, you know how carefully LBJ counted votes.

By contrast Gov. John Kitzhaber has left Oregon and the continental U.S. while the Oregon Legislature is in the midst of its debate of the Public Employees Retirement System. It is not overstatement to say that PERS reform is the centerpiece of this legislative session.

Willamette Week reported last week that Kitzhaber’s education czar Rudy Crew has asked permission to moonlight in order to bring in more income. WW noted that the state of Oregon is paying Crew $280,000. If you read Crew’s history of moving from well-paid gig to well-paid gig, you know he will leave Oregon before too long.

***

Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post captured an enormous contradiction in what occurred last week in Boston and in the U.S. Senate. He wrote: “Since the 9/11 attacks, we have demonstrated that when alienated young men who are foreign-born and Muslim kill innocents, we will do anything in our power to keep such atrocities from happening again.

“Shamefully, however, we have also shown that when alienated young men who are not foreign-born or Muslim do the same, we are powerless.”

***

Gordon Clemente’s asparagus tempura is an event. If you’re having dinner at Clemente’s, give the dish a try.

— S.A.F.

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