In northeast Portland, hope takes the form of a horse chestnut tree. It grows on the corner of Northeast Morris Street and 7th Avenue, and its branches are full of wishes.
The tree grows on the property of Nicole Helprin, a mother of two, who first granted the tree its wishing status in 2013. Before leaving town, Helprin wrote out a few wishes and hung them on the tree, according to a story in the Portland news station KGW8. When she returned from her trip, the entire tree was covered in wishes like paper tinsel.
In February 2014, Helprin posted instructions to the tree on a wooden clipboard. “This is a wishing tree,” the note read. “Please find a blank tag. Write your wish *for you, a loved one, the neighborhood, etc.).” Some highlights from 2014 include “I am wishing for golden threads and a year full of crepes” and “I wish for everlasting love,” the latter of which ended in a black heart.
Since then, the tree’s branches are never bare of wishes. The tree seems unaffected by its status as a stockpile of yearning. Sometimes, the tags blow off its branches and scatter around the neighborhood, perhaps an indication that they’ve just come true.
The tree has inspired other companions across the city. Another, located on North Williams Avenue between Northeast Shaver Street and Northeast Mason Street, is twiggier but no less festooned with wishful tags, local Sarah Kline noted in her blog Portland Sampler. People of all ages scribble out desires, both public and private, and hang the tags on the tree in hopes that some greater power will fulfill them. But the majority, Kline observed, seem to do with love, wishing for new love or longevity in the love they have. All the wishes are anonymous, making it easy to write something down and walk away.
Know Before You Go
A marker and blank tags are available at the tree, so all you need are wishes.