The Simplest Pedestrian

Far better to be the simplest pedestrian, with knapsack on back, stick in hand, and gun on shoulder, than an Indian prince travelling with all the ceremonial which his rank requires. Jules Verne

Substitute the above mentioned gun for a trusty slingshot and Jules Verne perfectly describes Ryan’s preferred method of exploring.  As soon as his hand could hold a nice, long stick  he insisted on at least one along with a little backpack every time we left the house.  The sticks now live by the door and his backpacks are larger but the habit remains.  If we’re going adventuring he’s ready with stick and supplies.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Pedestrian.

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Layered Trees and Exposed Identities

In the spring and summer I watched my plants flower, but it was, perhaps, in winter that I loved them best, when their skeletons were exposed. Then I felt they had more to say to me, were not simply dressing themselves for the crowds. Stripped of their leaves, their identities showed forth stark, essential.  Pamela Erens

You can always find something green and growing in our corner of the Pacific Northwest and I love our leafy canopies, fern covered forests and plentiful mosses but at the same time I can’t stop looking for these graphic views of the sometimes hidden structure of trees.  There’s something about their strength and repetition that captures my attention every single time.

There are subtle seasonal variations in forests like these but their essential identities are unchanged and on a quiet day Ryan and I like to think we are seeing the same path as someone walking in a past century.

Of course our 21st century forests can’t match the old growth size of these beautiful trees before logging cleared the area but they serve as a living reminder of nature’s tenacity and its power to refresh and recover after adversity.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Layered.

 

Waiting…

“The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them.”
― Stanley Coren

Labor Day has come and gone, our summer weather is turning to fall and after a long stretch of quiet days Ryan is back to school enjoying his junior year.  Dogs always notice when a routine changes and Wednesday morning two months of Ryan’s undivided attention came to an end. Finn watched with worried eyes as he packed a lunch, picked up his backpack and walked outside for the traditional first day of school picture.

Finn spent the day waiting, curled up by Ryan’s computer chair ready to jump up and welcome him home.  New routine firmly in place until next summer.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Waiting.

 

 

 

Shades of Blue: Part 5 – Dusty Corners

Walk, run, cycle – When you live inside your head for such long periods of time, you have to open the windows, air it out a bit, let sunlight stream into all the dark and dusty corners of your mind. Twinkle Khanna

I like to think of summer as a time for some personal “deep cleaning.”  There are vacations to look forward to, school routines are forgotten and we open the windows to fresh air both literally and figuratively.  I knew this year would be a little different but my plan was to spend at least one day each week outside enjoying the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer.  I could take plenty of photos along the way and re-emerge in September with months of new post material and a renewed outlook on life.

Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. Today is September 1st and Ryan and I made it outside for 5 days of hiking, I have a library full of new pictures to share and as I write this my windows are wide open but I’m still searching for that sunlight moment that means the cobwebs have been brushed aside and the corners are clean.

We’ve had a busy three months as a family, John started a new job, Ryan rested and recovered after a stressful school year and some oral surgery, I’ve continued to work my two jobs as well as run our two online stores so our days are full from morning to night.  When you add in politics that I just can’t turn away from, weeks of forest fire smoke that put a damper on our hiking calendar and now the hurricane in the Gulf States and I have to admit finding my focus for creative work and blogging has been a challenge.

Through it all though I’ve continued to take pictures and hope soon I’ll be ready to start sharing them because there is plenty to love about 2017 and I’m determined to shine some light on the bright sides.

The photos in my first gallery above are from some lovely June nights while the gallery below is from the hike we took on my birthday.  Our first outing of the season and the beginning of my summer quest to get outside of my own head.

 

Textures and Elemental Sounds

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.  Henry Beston

Regular readers know I like to start these WordPress photo challenges with a quote that leads to a small story related to a favorite photo and I build the post from there.  It usually takes me a few days to find a quote that both catches my interest and matches a picture but 9 times out of 10 it all comes together.

Every once in a while though I start the process at the end deciding on a picture first and sometimes I don’t quite make it through the full circle of quote with challenge word, story and images.  Today’s post is one of those exceptions where I hit 2 of the three marks but that elusive third is not quite complete.  Oh well.  I feel a connection to the quote, it works with my photos and it’s a good intro to this weeks story.  The fact that the word prompt, textures, isn’t in the quote will just have to be ok because this primeval wood is full of texture.

I started nodding my head as I read this quote for the first time and when I called Ryan in to read it he looked over and said “Mom, you say those things all the time.”  My words don’t quite match Henry Beston’s but these are indeed the three natural things I enjoy most about this part of our country.  I pick remote hiking and camping locations just so I can hear the uninterrupted sound of wind through the trees and the mesmerizing rhythm of waves rolling onto an otherwise quiet beach is something I seek out often as possible.  I even find ways to enjoy the sound of rain and find comfort in the pitter patter of wet drops on the roof while trying to fall asleep.

As luck would have it Ryan and I found all three of these elemental sound textures during our latest hiking trips through the islands and forests of Washington state.  I’ve included a photo of a small waterfall to illustrate the rain because we’re in the middle of what may turn into the longest rain-free stretch in Seattle area history but take my word for it, a small trickling waterfall sounds a lot like rain.

 

Satisfaction

Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.  E. O. Wilson

 

If you’ve ever wondered why Pacific Northwesterners put up with dreary, wet winters it’s because of summers like this.  We don’t have formal vacation plans this year but when an island hike is a short hour away from home who needs an airplane!

It only took a few minutes for Ryan and I to pack a lunch and check ferry schedules before we were out the door and on our way to Whidbey Island for our favorite hike along Ebey’s Landing.  We started at the top soaking up these beautiful views then made our way down to the beach for lunch where  Ryan found a driftwood fort just the right size for two and we settled in for our picnic, watching the waves and listening to seagulls.

A day away from our usual routines does wonders for the soul and the satisfaction of a true escape to nature can carry us through the weeks ahead.

 

Transient

In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds.  

Robert Green Ingersoll

I don’t know about you but the question “what do you want for your birthday/Christmas/Mother’s Day?” always makes me a little uncomfortable.  I know the asker means well but I don’t like telling people they have to give me something and then there’s the chance that my lack of an answer means I might be a little disappointed on the big day when I receive a gift that comes from a place of love but isn’t really something I want or need.   Third world problems indeed…

As a way around this I’ve started asking for things I know John and Ryan won’t say no to if I present it as my gift.  Things like waking up at 6am on a Sunday morning so we can hike to a quiet riverbank for lunch.

This year I tried to think of an object they could give me but what I truly wanted was quiet.  A peaceful stretch of time away from noise, news, social media, politics, bills; you name it, I wanted a break.  We can’t leave home for a big trip now but I do have a list of hikes I want to try this summer and this one along the Stillaguamish River looked like a good way to start the season.  Sure enough, an hour down the trail I asked everyone to stop and we stood together in the forest unable to hear a single man-made sound.  It was wonderful.

So, how do I tie this experience into a post about transience?  By using the quote above and substituting a few words to match current experiences.   For me the day served as a reminder that in the presence of nature external pressures fade away.  We made it to the river in time to eat our picnic lunch and enjoy this pretty little cairn on the beach.  Mini mountains tumbled to smoothness by time, preparing for their next adventure.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Transient.

 

Evanescent

Night is brushed aside like so much cobweb. The day is wound up and begins even before the last haunted dreams, the last of the fog, those spectral and evanescent residues, have faded away.

Gregory Maguire, After Alice

That 2017 is setting records for the coldest and wettest spring in pacific northwest history goes a long way toward explaining my confusion when I walked out our backdoor and into a scene that is expected in fall but unheard of in May. Nothing is following a normal schedule – my April blooming lilac opened yesterday, the flowering plum tree still has a few tired blooms and here we have fiery red maple leaves below a surprise spring fog in an evanescent combination of seasons and textures.

Evanescent:  tending to vanish like vapor.  merriam-webster.com

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Evanescent.

Reading, Good Company and Reflection

 

Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him. John Locke

 

We live in a house full of books.  Stacks and shelves of printed pages line our walls, our phones and Kindles have digital titles for break time and the cars usually have an audio book ready to play.  Interestingly enough while we are all readers our preferences rarely cross and I’m pretty sure that someone who didn’t know us could tell after a quick walk around that three quite different people live here.

I prefer fiction, John enjoys design, art and architecture while Ryan has always been drawn to natural science.  He’s grown up with access to plenty of books and from the earliest days it’s been clear where his interest was.  He’ll happily listen to a great story and enjoys fiction and poetry at school but when he sits down with free time and a book of his choice it’s usually non-fiction.

His first picture books were all about animals and his early readers were filled with sea monsters, dragons and mythical beasts.  Soon books about astronomy, bones, archeology and medicine joined the stacks.

Each of these photos are from Ryan’s collection and many of them are books he’s chosen for himself at book stores and second-hand sales.  I’ve had to give up pretending I know all the answers to his constant questions about life, the universe and everything.  Now I just sit back and enjoy the discussions that come from each new chapter.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Reflecting

 

 

Wanderlust

You don’t even know where I’m going. I don’t care. I’d like to go anywhere.

John Steinbeck

While the word wanderlust brings to mind images of grand vacations and months long backpacking adventures I have the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to thank for a definition that makes sense to those of us who work more than one job and rarely have time for vacations.

strong longing for or impulse toward wandering

Merriam-Webster

I may not be on vacation but I do get the urge to wander and last week I wasn’t alone on my ramble…

My real destination was the gym for an early morning workout but after a week of rain and clouds the sun was finally out and at the last-minute I turned right instead of left.  I know I’m lucky to belong to a gym where I can see the water but there are times when the proximity tests my resolve for a good sweaty hour in the weight room.

On this particular day I had company on my ramble and this little bird followed me over the bridge and out to the pier.  We walked together to the end when it flew away and I turned my thoughts to the rest of the day.

Eventually I did make it to the gym and smiled during my warm up cycle while I scrolled through pictures of my detour ramble.

Side note – @MerriamWebster is one of my favorite twitter feeds.  If you’re not already following them take a look.  They make words fun!

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Wanderlust.