Who are we? Have we changed since the last mass shooting? Are we different from the last time we heard someone insult, belittle, or mock another? Have we been changed since the last child was murdered – by gun, by neglect, by stranger or parent or relative? Since the last bystander was murdered? Have we grown kinder, colder, more compassionate or more distant? Have our hearts been broken so many times that healing is impossible? Have our hearts grown numb? Or, were they always numb?
Who are we? So many words spoken that say, ultimately, the same thing. Over and over, again and again – the same thing. Who are we to allow children to be murdered? To allow innocent people to be murdered? In a school. In a church. In a grocery store. In a parking lot. On a playground. Who are we?
Who are we to allow anyone who wants one – anyone! – to own an assault rifle? Why? Who are we to allow this country to have more guns than people? A country with more guns than people. More guns than human beings.
A small area in Thurston County, western Washington, contains a treasure – a native grassland prairie. This region, maintained by many volunteers and the Center for Natural Lands Management, is being meticulously restored through prescribed burnings, planting native plants, weeding, and careful soil management. And, it is open to visitors one day each year. (A short distance away is the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve – another beautiful prairie landscape, open year-round.)
This year all things came together for us to visit this unique part of Washington state. The following pictures will give you an idea of the immense natural beauty – and importance – of a prairie landscape. To learn more about this area and the work being done to restore prairie lands, use this site: http://www.prairieappreciationday.org
I hope that these pictures spike your interest in learning about our vanishing, rare, and valuable American prairies. Be sure to click on the link I provided above for additional information, and a short video provided by the Center for Natural Lands Management.
And, as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.
So this is what it means: no time like the present – do it now before you change your mind – if you stand still you’ll freeze – no time to waste. There is wisdom in each saying far beyond the obvious; available to anyone willing to think for more than a moment. Of course we know that “everything changes”; after all, change defines life on this planet, and I assume it defines all life no matter where it is found. Change for good or ill, for progress or regress, enjoyable or unpleasant. Walk towards change and savor all it brings – no matter how difficult.
These thoughts came to me as I ventured out for a long walk the other day. A beautiful (though chilly) spring morning was a good time for considering options. Very few people out, although I did encounter a friend/fellow walker and we talked for a few minutes; otherwise, a quiet time good for thinking.
And this is what I saw:
No matter what comes your way, keep moving forward. After all, there is something beautiful in every moment – sometimes it just takes time to find it.
Bill and I recently returned from a few days at one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the west coast – Cannon Beach in Oregon. I’ve been coming to this charming little town since 1998 when a close friend recommended the town to me. Her family has a summer cabin here (built in the 1940’s by her father) – and we have managed to take several short vacations here since my son was 4 years old. I’ve watched the town change from a quiet, low-key, family oriented town to a high-end, expensive destination with many absurdly-priced accommodations. But, just a few blocks away from the main street (Hemlock) you will find old, weathered treasures – houses built around the time of my friends’ family vacation home – and rented in the off-season for very reasonable prices. These are the types of places we stay in while visiting.
While we spend most of our time on the beach, we always take at least half a day to walk through the surrounding forest and Cannon Beach’s interesting Nature Walk Trail, which ends at Ecola Creek Park. I never pass up an opportunity to spend time in a forest, even when filled with the “fragrance” of western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), especially pungent when blended with blooming Salix, Sambucus, and the fiddleheads of Polystichum.
The following are just a few examples of the beauty of this area. If you haven’t visited Cannon Beach, don’t be put-off by the expense and “must-see destination” ambience of the town. Instead, search out the old, weathered, authentic treasures this place has to offer – you will be amazed at its beauty. (And, as always, many pictures are taken while on-the-move so they may be a little blurry. I appreciate your patience with my lack of photography skills!)
Our drive home runs through small towns in the southwest region of Washington – South Bend, Raymond, Pe Ell, and other tiny settlements. As always, a stop at our favorite café in South Bend is a must.
This shot embodies all that Cannon Beach means to me and my family. A visit to this lovely town – any time of year – will become a favorite travel memory.
Here’s to good weather, fun hiking, and great coffee to fuel the road!
It’s been a long, trying few weeks but the worst is over (referring to post of March 21). All test results were either negative or low-normal, and that’s a pretty good sign. Although I’m not seeing much improvement yet, I anticipate it coming soon. And, as Monty Python succinctly stated, “I’m not dead yet!”
In the meantime, I’ve been walking and gardening as much as energy allows. This is the season of voluptous cherry blossoms, magnificent magnolias, and cheerful daffodils. Brilliant colors stand out on early spring days and make a timid blue sky bold and bright. Surrounded with gaudy color – yellows, purples, pinks – it’s difficult to look away. But one color, in particular, brings us down to earth with a forcefully quiet presence. White flowering plants – the color of many straight species’ flowers – brings a boisterous spring garden down-to-earth. It is the perfect backdrop for an intense spring display.
Two of my favorite white-blooming trees are Amelanchier and Magnolia stellata. Along my walking routes, the city of Seattle has planted many Serviceberry trees (Amelanchier species) and they are in full, glorious bloom right now. The flowers don’t last long, but the bud and early leaf stages are almost as beautiful. I’ve eaten the berries when I can get to them before birds and they are almost tasty. But the reason I grow this gorgeous, small tree is for the flowers.
The other tree I mentioned, Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is my favorite magnolia. Much smaller than M. grandiflora or other huge magnolias and a perfect addition to smaller gardens, its flowers are gracefully shaped and classically beautiful.
Either tree – or both! – are elegant, easy-care plants that enhance a landscape as well as any flowering cherry or plum tree.
I wish you good health, clear skies, and easy gardening.
I was thinking about my dad’s phrase – “Don’t worry, it always gets better” while listening to my doctor last week. I’ve held that phrase, and dad’s tone of voice, in my mind for most of my life. In fact, I can’t remember any difficult times when his voice and that phrase were absent. But as I was saying, I was listening to my doctor explain why she needed to refer me to a specialist for more testing. For the past six months, I’ve been dealing with unusual fatigue, slight headaches and intermittent upset stomach throughout each day, and a few unusual bruises here and there in places I don’t remember bumping (although gardening creates lots of forgettable accidents). Swollen glands in my neck have been present, as well. So, my dad’s voice came to mind immediately when she mentioned a few cancers that these symptoms may indicate. “Nope, not that”, I thought to myself. I was hoping to hear something like “It’s probably a long-lived, undefined virus that will fade as mysteriously as it appeared”. I’m still hoping to hear that because, if for no other reason, it will prove my dad right – again!
The weekend that just ended was beautiful. Our son and his traveling companion, Beems the Cat, spent the weekend with us and we had good visits around his work schedule. Feeling refreshed and optimistic this morning after their visit, I went out for a long walk. The calendar finally agrees with meteorological spring and we see some beautiful colors. With such beauty around me, and such beautiful people in my life, there is no way I can feel anything other than hopeful.
I will take some time off from writing because I need to rest up (and get rid of this damn headache!). I anticipate hearing good news but if not, I will face the demon head-on, push my glasses up with my middle finger, and say “Nope, not yet. I have too much to do.”
In the meantime, here are a few variations on spring pink I encountered this morning.
I wish you a spring full of beauty, fun, and good days.
The past week or two have offered days perfect for long walks and easy hikes. Visiting my favorite places here in my corner of our lovely blue planet – a few botanical gardens, a beach, and neighborhoods – has offered the beauty of late winter/early spring days.
From the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way (WA): The garden’s 22 acres house “the largest collection of Rhododendron species in the world”. I have visited this garden countless times in each season over many years, and always see something new, unique, and very beautiful. The following is just a hint of what the Garden offers.
Kubota Garden, in south Seattle, is an historic 20 acre garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle. Created in 1927 by Fujitaro Kubota, who immigrated to the US in the early 1900’s, the Garden became public in the 1980’s. It is now maintained by Seattle Parks and Recreation. Here are displayed beautifully pruned conifers and large shrubs, reminiscent of the large public gardens in Japan. Creative use of rocks and moss have made this one of my favorite places to visit.
And a long walk on a gorgeous day took me through a local forest and down to the beach on a stunningly cold but clear day.
And last, for all those Pacific Northwest folks who search out blue on our cloudy days, here’s a recommendation:
I wish you interesting walks, beautiful skies, and a good read for those rainy days.
Just outside the charming small town of Chehalis my family and I met up with one of the most beautiful hikes in Washington state. On a classically beautiful early spring day, all things came together for us – my son’s first day of vacation since 2020 (the hospital he works in has been struggling with insufficient staffing), my spouse set aside his projects, and the extreme fatigue I’ve been working through since October subsided – and we hit the trail. We began our hike at the Adna trailhead. This is an especially picturesque area as you hike along pasture, stream, and meadow.
Cows, sheep, lambs, and horses populate this area.
As you leave the pastoral areas and cross Spooner and Clinton roads, a series of meadows and streams greet you. A combination of snow and heavy rains flattened grasses along the trail.
Down the trail, you cross the Chehalis River.
After crossing the river, the trail enters forested areas. This portion of the trail is quiet and filled with the sweet scent of moss. And at the start of this region, treats are provided for hiking companions.
Many hillsides along the trail show signs of considerable erosion from February rains, and an eastern portion of the trail was closed due to landslides.
If you haven’t hiked the Willapa Hills State Park trail system yet, I recommend visiting it soon. Spring is a beautiful time of year for hiking, and this trail system is one of our state’s easiest and most scenic trails. And, if time allows, ending your hike with a visit to the Market Street Bakery and Café in Chehalis is well worth the time!
I wish you a spring full of good hiking, clear weather, and open bakeries!
The month of February is a very busy time for me and Bill. Our birthdays are eight days apart and this is the month we met 50 years ago, so we combine those dates to make the entire month celebratory. In addition, we’ve continued weekly walks through the Washington Park Arboretum. In my free time, I have continued walks and hikes in the neighborhood and a local urban forest while doing my best to avoid ice, snow, and some very slick trails.
The following are a few of the late winter delights I’ve encountered while out. Although I walk fast to keep warm (we have had many days of sub-freezing weather this month), I will always take a moment to stop for a picture or two.
I wish you bright days, good trails, and delights to warm your soul.
A garden in winter. What descriptions come to mind when you hear that sentence? Cold, damp, and dark? Lifeless, or mostly so? Bare trees, mushy plant residue, saturated soil? Or lumps and bumps under a layer of snow? All can be accurate to a point. But, in truth, a winter garden often is a vibrant and beautiful place. It is a place filled with life, color, movement and fragrance. Subtle color such as pale pink set against a background of deep green is a remarkably welcome sight on a cloudy winter day. (We have many such days here in the Pacific Northwest.) Or the vibrantly colored bare twigs of a group of shrubs that looks like the group is lit from within. Maybe brilliant purple, red and green of petioles, buds, and leaves. A bit a unexpected beauty on a gray day. There is so much to see in a winter garden.
My spouse and I have been taking weekly walks in the Washington Park Arboretum to visit the Witt Winter Garden, and surrounding areas, to see the many surprises a winter garden offers. If you haven’t visited the Arboretum yet this winter, now is the time!
For all its harsh, dark days, winter also brings brief moments of beauty. And, the gifts of a winter garden are as welcome as any gift can be.