Dirt Paths

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.
― John Muir

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The Last Few Days of Summer

There is a time in the last few days of summer when the ripeness of autumn fills the air. Rudolfo Anaya

Even though the calendar says we’ve passed from summer to autumn the few weeks between September 21st and the middle of October always feel like an extended summer in the PNW with subtle shifts in light and leaf color our only cues that change is indeed on the way.  Mornings are darker, the sun sits lower on the horizon and colors move from all encompassing green to warmer reds and oranges while daytime temperatures rival the best our summer had to offer.

We’re in one of these perfect periods now and I’m trying to ignore the fact that it will soon come to an end so I can simply relax, live in the moment and enjoy the best of both seasons.

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…

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!

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.