We Will Welcome Summer’s Ghost

We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost. Henry Rollins

Sigh, “summer’s wreckage” is a pretty fair description of my yard and garden today.  The peak heat of August has passed leaving a tangled mess of overgrown branches, dry, burned leaves and wilted flowers in its wake.  Even the forests look like they need a rest from the hustle and bustle of summer.  Early September is always busy here with back to school activities and new routines take precedence over yard work so inevitably the mess outside lasts until a crisp October weekend when I tackle it all and try to prepare for winter.

If the flowers are still blooming it’s not really time to pull them, right?  That’s what I’m telling myself this afternoon looking at the ghosts of flower pots past hoping I can stretch them out a few more weeks…

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The Scent of a Lake in the Mountains

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains. Diane Ackerman

My favorite childhood summer scents all conjure up memories of water.  Fresh, salty and earthy they all say summer to me. Lake water mixed with mountain air brings back hiking and camping trips and salty air places me immediately on an Orcas Island beach building driftwood forts while listening to gentle waves rolling across tiny pebbles.

A third water based scent memory is also one of my favorite new words, petrichor.

  Definition: “A pleasant, distinctive smell frequently accompanying the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather in certain regions.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

Even though the Pacific Northwest is known for its wet weather the truth is we rarely see rain in the summer so I most associate petrichor with the scent of sprinkler water bouncing off hot earth under a bright summer sun.  To this day Petrichor still means fun, splashing, and if we are lucky, popsicles and ice cream.

Do you have any favorite summer scents?  If so please share below!

Mountain wildflowers in Washington State's Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park: Colorful Mountains and Meadows Filled with Wildflowers

Mountain wildflowers in Washington State's Olympic National Park

It’s August in the PNW and that means every day we have available is spent outside enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds us.  This year our summery blue skies have been filled with a toxic mix of wildfire smoke from around the world ( Siberia, Canada, Washington, Idaho and California) but with some careful planning and a lucky stretch of wind we had a clear day to visit one of my favorite places in the Olympic National Park.

If you’re in the park I heartily recommend the drive up to Hurricane Ridge.  Views from parking lot are amazing, the lodge is filled with great information and knowledgable rangers and there are a variety of trails for all levels of hikers.  We spent our 20th anniversary hiking to the peak you see at the top of this image, whew, and this year we returned to enjoy the lower section of the trail while gazing up at the peaks, relieved we’d already climbed it so we could stop awhile and literally smell the flowers.

I’ll post more photos from the day soon but today I hope you enjoy our moment of zen in the meadow of flowers along the trail to Klahhanie Ridge.

Ascend to a Higher Development

One can ascend to a higher development only by bringing rhythm and repetition into one’s life. Rhythm holds sway in all nature.

Rudolf Steiner

August hiking in the PNW.  Pack your layers!

We can find Nature outside us only if we have first learned to know her within us. What is akin to her within us must be our guide. This marks out our path of enquiry.

Rudolf Steiner

Hiking the Klahhane Ridge Trail in Olympic National Park

What the human being sees, what is poured into his environment, becomes a force in him. In accordance with it, he forms himself.

Rudolf Steiner

Hiking the Klahhane Ridge Trail in Olympic National ParkAs the winter solstice approaches and the holiday season is in full swing John, Ryan, Finn and I wish everyone a happy and peaceful end to 2017.  Even though our December days are fuller than ever we’ve been careful to protect time for family and in the evenings we are studying hiking guides and making plans to spend more long summer hours exploring nature and marking out our own paths of enquiry.

XOXO Lisa, John, Ryan and Finn

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.

 

Moss On Stone

“There is an ancient conversation going on between mosses and rocks, poetry to be sure. About light and shadow and the drift of continents. This is what has been called the “dialect of moss on stone – an interface of immensity and minute ness, of past and present, softness and hardness, stillness and vibrancy, yin and yan.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses

From our hike to Mason Lake via the Ira Spring Trail in the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest.  Preserving places like this is one more reason why we must protect our National Parks and Forests.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weight(less) Kites

You will find truth more quickly through delight than gravity.  Let out a little more string on your kite.

Alan Cohen

Weight(less) 1

This week Ben asks us to share a photo of something marked by its weight – or it’s weightlessness.  Ryan carried his new kite through a full day of hiking and beach combing on Whidbey Island waiting for the perfect amount of wind and if you look closely at the bluff in the background you can just make out the winding trail that led us to the viewpoint in my last post about an invincible summer.

Weight(less) 2

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Weight(less)

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (Invincible Summer)

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

Albert Camus

iPhone Nature 2 1-8_Snapseed

When our winter days are cold and dark I hold tight to moments like this knowing summer will come again.  I took this Whidbey Island photo on a picture perfect August day as we hiked along Ebey’s Bluff after lunch on the beach below.  The warm, salty sea breeze and sparkling blue water were enough to make the day memorable but what you can’t see is the pod of Orca Whales that swam and played just off shore.  I’ve had the good fortune to spot whales before but this was my quietest encounter and the first time I could enjoy the view completely free from boat traffic and small airplanes buzzing by to follow their every move.

Posted today as part of Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge:  Nature