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





“For the animal shall not be measured by man. . . . In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings, they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the spendour and travail of the earth.”
— Henry Beston, The Outermost House

I read this quote in a wonderful book about animal encounters, Wild Delicate Seconds: 29 Wildlife Encounters  Black Bears to Bumble Bees by Charles Finn.

Cover illustration by Claire Emery, Wild Delicate Seconds

These 29 very short essays imitate the brevity of the actual encounters that Finn shares.  His written descriptions are so vivid and alive and attentive, that they made me wonder which paints a better picture of the experience — words or photographs?

Bees on allium

Bee’s eye view of allium

For example, here is what Finn says about bumble bees:  “I sit watching the bees, their inner-tube bodies overinflated, their legs like kinked eyelashes hanging down.  The white-noise of their wings soothe me . . .”

Turtles sunning on a log amidst the lily pads at Green Lake

Or listen to this description of turtles:  “They are toy tanks, frowning Buddhas on the boomed ends of logs, the original mobile home.”

Great blue heron with turtles, Green Lake

Of the heron, Finn says:  “It looks like a hunched stone, an oval of waiting.”

Great blue heron, Green Lake

And:  “The heron hunts with unswerving patience, its hula hoop eyes highlighter yellow, circular as hope.  Its head is smooth, domed like the cockpit of a jet fighter, its long beak white on top, blue on the bottom, tapered like an immense sewing needle: the heron, nature’s idea of a spear-throwing machine.”

In these instances, I would vote for the power and poetry of the written word.







“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
–Alice Walker

Pale purple gladiolus

A purple trio of geranium flowers

Purple pansies all in a row

Purple poppies

Lovely magenta poppies


Somewhere between purple and red, knautica macedonica

Plum-colored hydrangea


Clematis vine

Late season lavender

Fuchsia-colored foxglove, purplish pink

Purplish-pinks and blues of sweet peas

Plums, Pike Place Market

Bing cherries, Pike Place Market

This concludes our walks along the color wheel.  Hope you enjoyed the rambles!

A Chaos of Beauty

June 28, 2012

“What a chaos of beauty there is upon a June morning.”
— Louise Beebe Wilder, Colour in My Garden

And here are a few snapshots taken out of the chaos of color and beauty in Seattle right now:

Diaphanous pink Shirley poppy and bud

Pink Shirley poppies

White love-in-a-mist

Blue love-in-a-mist

Globes of allium


Clematis (I think?)


Foxglove and window curtains

Old wooden wheelbarrow, Lakewold Gardens

If you are looking for serenity in a natural setting, I highly recommend the Lakewold Gardens about 10 miles south of Tacoma.  It is just a few minutes off of I-5 between Seattle and Portland, and I can’t believe that no one has told me about it in the 30+ years I’ve lived in this region. It’s definitely worth seeking out this “undiscovered” gem.

The gardens are on a formerly private estate, and they were the creation and vision of Eulalie Wagner.  The gardens unfold in a series of “rooms” or nooks — a rhododendron path, open lawn, fern garden, tea house and cherry trees, pond, rock garden, knot garden, etc.  At the center is the Wagner House, where visitors can enjoy a wisteria-covered veranda and peek into the elegant rooms on the ground floor.

Here are some photos to give you a sense of this special place:

The wisteria-covered veranda of the Wagner House, Lakewold Gardens

Staircase, Wagner House

Wallpaper mural covers the wall in the foyer, Wagner House

Veranda scented by white wisteria, Wagner House

Himalayan Blue Poppies, Lakewold Gardens

Rhododendrons along Circle Drive

Tea House with lattice roof

Moss-covered branches in Lookout Peace Garden

Foliage against towering evergreen trees

Allium in thee cutting garden

Unusual purple stems with leaves fanning out

In the Garden Shop, Lakewold Gardens

In the Garden Shop

Allium in bloom

Starburst of tiny petals

I’ve got my Canon SLR digital camera back from the factory.  I’m so thankful I can once again photograph flowers.  There are so many flowers in bloom right now, I could easily feature a flower a day.

A page from Bulb by Anna Pavord

Nature’s Fireworks

June 11, 2009

Purple flower
Mountain Bluet
Purple ball like exploding fireworks
Purple allium
Star-shaped flowers

Star-shaped flowers


These flowers look like exploding fireworks to me.  And although the Mountain Bluet is a different flower from the Bluet in the following poem, it does share its name, so I offer it to you.

The Bluet

Of all the flowers, the bluet has
the sweetest name, two syllables
that form on the lips, then fall
with a tiny, raindrop splash
into a suddenly bluer morning.

I offer you mornings like that,
fragrant with tiny blue blossoms —
each with four petals, each with a star
at its heart. . . .
     — Ted Kooser

Pink Peony

Pink Peony

Orange Poppy

Orange Poppy

Purple Allium

Purple Allium

Green stems of purple allium

Green stems of purple allium

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris

The days are getting even longer, and the earth is finally warning up.  Now that the Memorial Day holiday is past, it feels like summer already.  The warm, sunny days are encouraging a new profusion of flowers and growth.  I spent an hour with my camera this morning, and I saw such beauty at every turn.

“Spring moves on, on her run-down broken toe shoes
into the summer, trailing green ribbons of silk.”
     — Ted Kooser, “In Late Spring”