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.

 

 

 

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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.

Dogs are our link to paradise…

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.

Milan Kundera

My goal for today was to write an Earth themed post for the Weekly Photo Challenge but I’m still in the previously mentioned photographic dry spell and unless I wanted to recycle another forest related image my options were limited to new product shots for our Etsy store and Finn from last weekend.  Hmm…

My next thought was to look for quotes that contained both the words “earth” and “dogs” as a way to tie my one new shot to the challenge but all I found were hundreds of dog quotes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dog quote but what I really wanted was one perfect quote that brought these two things together in a way that made it seem like this was my plan all along.   Like I set out to take a shot of Finn lounging on the grass (earth) to illustrate my carefully prepared essay.

Now it’s posting time and I still don’t have a beautiful mother earth essay but I do have a dog photo, a quote that speaks to me and a story about Saturday afternoon on our grassy hill.

Many of you know we adopted Finn as a rescue dog.  He’d been facing doggie death row, was afraid of everything, could barely tolerate people touching him and any sudden movement or new interaction set him off into fits of barking.  Anything to keep the fearful object/person/smell/animal/car far away but the one thing he relaxed for was looking at John, Ryan and I together.  It’s been a long road for Finn as we’ve slowly introduced him to new people, a few kind dogs, several trainers and his friend and walking buddy Colleen.  Basically anything we could think of to give him a chance at a normal life and the opportunity to just be a dog.  He’s slowly become comfortable in the backyard but last weekend was the first time he successfully relaxed in the front yard.  Yay Finn!  He was with us for hours as we tried to reclaim flower beds from weed-pocalypse 2017 and dutifully followed me around and around when it was time to clean up the buckets, clippers, yard waste bins and rakes.  We were both tired, the sun was out, the grass was dry and the little hill in our backyard looked like a nice quiet place to sit and catch our breath.  For a few special minutes we were not bored, we were at peace.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Earth.

The Road Taken

The parks do not belong to one state or to one section…. The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest; they belong as much to the man of Massachusetts, of Michigan, of Florida, as they do to the people of California, of Wyoming, and of Arizona.”

“Who will gainsay that the parks contain the highest potentialities of national pride, national contentment, and national health? A visit inspires love of country; begets contentment; engenders pride of possession; contains the antidote for national restlessness…. He is a better citizen with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has toured the national parks. Stephen T. Mather, NPS Director, 1917-1929 

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On March 2nd, 1899 President William McKinley signed legislation creating Mount Rainier National Park.  This week marks the 118th birthday of our fifth National Park and though I’m fortunate enough to see the lovely mountain almost every day from a car this photo was taken during my first visit inside the park in 2008.

Some my happiest days have been spent in our National Parks but while most of us have grown up with an awareness of the National Park Service we can’t take its existence for granted.  The political road our country has taken is placing these pristine treasures directly in harm’s way with a new bill introduced in Congress that encourages drilling in National Parks as well as orders to roll back the Waters of the U.S. rule protecting wetlands and headwaters and effecting 60% of the water bodies in our country.  Combined with dramatic budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, relaxing limits on greenhouse gas emissions and lifting the moratorium on federal coal leasing across 570 million publicly owned acres means the direction of our land management and the health of  our natural public treasures will be forever changed.

I’ve been posting a series of my favorite National Park photos on the NW Frame of Mind Instagram account and on my personal Twitter account using the hashtags #ProtectOurParks and #NationalParks. If you’d like to see more Parks photos please feel free to follow along and then post yours on your favorite social media platform.  Let me know if you do so I can see and share your work!  Together we can make a difference.

The American way of life consists of something that goes greatly beyond the mere obtaining of the necessities of existence. If it means anything, it means that America presents to its citizens an opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. The National Park System and the work of the National Park Service constitute one of the Federal Government’s important contributions to that opportunity. Together they make it possible for all Americans–millions of them at first-hand–to enjoy unspoiled the great scenic places of the Nation…. The National Park System also provides, through areas that are significant in history and prehistory, a physical as well as spiritual linking of present-day Americans with the past of their country.  Newton B. Drury, NPS Director, 1940-1951

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  The Road Taken.