Dawn in the Skagit Valley

Dawn in the Skagit Valley

“The real world, in my opinion, exists in the countryside, where Nature goes about her quiet business and brings greatest pleasure.”
— Fennel Hudson

I am drawn to the countryside.  I love its “quiet business.”  The pre-dawn hour is especially lovely.  I enjoy pulling to the side of the road, turning off the car’s ignition, and sitting in the quiet, watching the world awaken.

The Skagit Valley awakens

The Skagit Valley awakens

Old truck by barn

Old truck by barn

Allium stands tall un the foreground of a field

Allium stands tall un the foreground of a field

Farm in the Skagit Valley

Farm in the Skagit Valley





Mother duck with ducklings

Mother duck with ducklings

I had a “Make Way for Ducklings” moment on the path at Green Lake during my morning run this week.  This mother duck had her wings full with a brood of eleven ducklings!  I hope she has a delightful Mother’s Day next Sunday.








Inspiration for my latest painting -- a row of purple irises

Inspiration for my latest painting — a row of purple irises

by Mary Ursula Bethell

It grows too fast!  I cannot keep pace with it!
While I mow the front lawns, the drying green becomes impossible;
While I weed the east path, from the west path spring dandelions;
What time I sort the borders, the orchard escapes me.
While I clap my hands against the blackbird,
Michael, our cat, is rolling on a seedling;
While I chase Michael, a young rabbit is eyeing the lettuces.

And oh the orgies, to think of the orgies
When I am not present to preside over this microcosm!





Silver Rain

April 25, 2016

Rain through living room window

Rain through living room window

In Time of Silver Rain
by Langston Hughes

In time of silver rain
The earth
Puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads
Of life,
Of life,
Of life!

In time of silver rain
The butterflies
Lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth
New leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,
In time of silver rain
When spring
And life
Are new.

Raindrops on window panes

Raindrops on window panes

Fallen peony flower with raindrops

Fallen peony flower with raindrops


Multiplied Green

April 22, 2016

Dogwood tree, like upside-down umbrellas

Dogwood tree, like upside-down umbrellas

by May Sarton

Always it happens when we are not there —
The tree leaps up alive into the air.
Small open parasols of Chinese green
Wave on each twig.  But who has ever seen
The latch sprung, the bud as it burst?
Spring always manages to get there first.

Lovers of wind, who will have been aware
Of a faint stirring in the empty air,
Look up one day through a dissolving screen
To find no star, but this multiplied green,
Shadow on shadow, singing sweet and clear.
Listen, lovers of wind, the leaves are here!

Dogwood tree

Dogwood tree

This is the season of the greening of the world.  Trees and bushes and lawns are in a range of green values.  Some trees are in full leaf.  Others are still emerging green.  And it’s true, you can’t ever seem to catch the exact moment when the green bursts forth.  Suddenly it’s just there.

Big-leaf maple, new leaves and flowers

Big-leaf maple, new leaves and flowers





Deciduous Spring
by Robert Penn Warren

Now, now, the world
All gabbles joy like geese, for
An idiot glory the sky
Bangs.  Look!
Now, are
Bangles dangling and
Spangling, in sudden air
Wangling, then
Hanging quiet, bright.

The world comes back, and again
Is gabbling, and yes,
Remarkably worse, for
the world is a whirl of
Green mirrors gone wild with
Deceit, and the world
Whirls green on a string, then
The leaves go quiet, wink
From their own shade, secretly.

Keep still, just a moment, leaves.

There is something I am trying to remember.



“Every week, some unannounced low pressure front trundles in from the Pacific.  They come like a parade of newly widowed aunts.  All of them have weepy tales to tell.  They stay too long and are soon indistinguishable from one another.”
— Bill Richardson, Bachelor Brothers Bed & Breakfast


Cherry trees in the rain, U of W campus



This is Spring in Seattle!



Sandhill crane migration, Nebraska

The Sandhill Cranes of Nebraska
by Billy Collins, from Aimless Love

Too bad you weren’t here six months ago,
was a lament I heard on my visit to Nebraska.
You could have seen the astonishing spectacle
of the sandhill cranes, thousands of them
feeding and even dancing on the shores of the Platte River.

There was no point in pointing out
the impossibility of my being there then
because I happened to be somewhere else,
so I nodded and put on a look of mild disappointment
if only to be part of the commiseration.

It was the same look I remember wearing
about six months ago in Georgia
when I was told that I had just missed
the spectacular annual outburst of azaleas,
brilliant against the green backdrop of spring

and the same in Vermont six months before that
when I arrived shortly after
the magnificent foliage had gloriously peaked,
Mother Nature, as she is called,
having touched the hills with her many-colored brush,

a phenomenon that occurs, like the others,
around the same time every year when I am apparently off
in another state, stuck in a motel lobby
with the local paper and a styrofoam cup of coffee,
busily missing God knows what.


Sandhill cranes in Nebraska, flying above the Platte River


Sandhill crane

Last year at this time I was journeying to the Platte River in Nebraska to see the migrating flocks of sandhill cranes feeding for their long journey north.  I am so glad that I made the effort to witness this migration at least once in my life.  Natural phenomena like the sandhill crane migration are a mystery and a wonder and bring to new life a word like awesome.

I don’t always make the time to seek out these great spectacles of nature.  It’s not just a matter of limited time, but of financial considerations and prioritizing this type of travel.  This winter, for example, I did not drive north even once to see the flocks of snow geese over-wintering in the Skagit valley.  I have seen them several times in the past, but it is my loss not to have seen them this year.

As the seasons cycle, we have many chances to stop and enjoy Nature’s unique offerings.  We can take the time to notice, or we can get wrapped up in other things and miss out.  The words of Billy Collins’ poem point this out.  Missing out happens with regrettable regularity.

Spring seems to bring a succession of opportunities in my immediate local environment.  Just now the Yoshino cherry trees are blossoming on the University of Washington campus.  I did make the effort to see them once again.  How lucky I am to be able to do this!


Cherry trees on the quad at the U of W campus