Mount Rainier reflected in Tipsoo Lake near Chinook Pass on Hwy 410

I just had to take advantage of these last sunny days of summer to head to the mountains for a day hike.  I love the Naches Peak Loop Trail for its stupendous views of Mount Rainier and its wildflowers as the trail meanders past several tiny sub-alpine lakes.  This is an easy hike.  Heading out on the trail just ahead of me was a family with a toddler in a backpack and a two-week old baby in a sling.  I parked in the lot by Tipsoo Lake and headed clockwise up the trail so that I would have Mount Rainier in full view for the last part of the hike.

Here are some photos:


The sub-alpine meadows are studded with beargrass.

Tall trees with long shadows cast by the morning sun.

Lush green along melting rivulets

Beargrass and Queen Anne’s Lace with the Cascades in the background

The trail passes along several small lakes

Shards of ice and ground frost in the shady stretches of the trail

Busy bees, butterflies and birds along the trail

Tree silhouettes

Looking down on Dewey Lake from the Naches Peak Loop Trail

The Cascade Mountains with cascading blues

If you walk the trail clockwise, you’ll have this view of Mount Rainier on the latter part of the loop hike.

The trail passes yet another lake.

A weathered snag

The final stretch, heading back to Tipsoo Lake

Trail sign with Mount Rainier on the horizon















“We can make a small occasion large by the focus of our attention, by the reverence and excitement we bring to it.”
— Susan G. Wooldridge, Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words

Coneflower with bee

This is a summer of mostly small occasions for me — no big vacations, no weekend getaways, just the routines of work and home.  So I find solace in today’s quote.  It’s a reminder that happiness comes from within and can be found in the ordinary things in my life. . . as long as I turn my eyes and heart to appreciating the little, local pleasures.

“It is natural to look for the things you want outside of where you are now.  That is the whole point of a journey.  Yet this moment is all anyone has.”
— John Tarrant, Bring Me the Rhinoceros and Other Zen Koans to Bring You Joy

“I admire a contented mind.  I revere enjoyment of simple things.”
–Florida Scott Maxwell, The Measure of My Days

“I omit the unusual — the hurricanes and earthquakes — and describe the common.  This has the greatest charm and is the true theme of poetry.  You may have the extraordinary for your province, if you will let me have the ordinary.  Give me the obscure life, the cottage of the poor and humble, the workdays of the world, the barren fields, the smallest share of all things, but poetic perception.  Give me but the eyes to see the things which you possess.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals, August 28, 1851

The ordinary daisy — quite magnificent

Challenging myself to look with poetic perception

“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men and animals.  Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest, and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.”
— Henry Ward Beecher

Pink hollyhocks

Detail of furled blossom

This bee is rolling drunk with pollen.

Hollyhocks, upright and honest

“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.







“And that’s why birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.”
— Cole Porter

Could these really be copulating bees?

Bees on daisy

Bee sex?

These photos capture an unusual encounter with Nature on an ordinary walk around the block.  Could these bees really be copulating?

Alone again

Post-coital bliss?



Texas bluebonnets

We saw our first Texas bluebonnets in a ditch from the windows of the car rental shuttle at the Houston airport, but we couldn’t stop for photos.  That first sighting whetted my appetite, so the hunt was on.  I next saw some at a nursery in Chappell Hill.  Chappell Hill is on the “Bluebonnet Trail,” and I had read that one could sometimes find early blooms along the trail at Old Baylor Park in Independence, so we made a point to stop there.  We were in luck.

Potted bluebonnet for sale in a Chappell Hill nursery

Bluebonnets and white wildflowers at Old Baylor Park

Wildflowers in bloom at Old Baylor Park in Independence, Texas

 After Independence, bluebonnets proved elusive until later in our trip when we drove south of San Antonio.  Suddenly we saw bluebonnets growing in profusion in huge patches along I-37.

Texas bluebonnets along I-37 south of San Antonio

Bluebonnets along I-37

We saw plenty of other wildflowers along the roadsides of Texas.

Coral-colored Indian paintbrush near Old Baylor Park

Butterfly and wildflower

Flowering plum and butterfly

Tiny blue wildflowers

White wildflower

Cactus in San Antonio

Patch of evening primroses growing wild in a ditch

Coreopsis growing close to the ground, North Padre Island National Seashore

Prickly poppies, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Huge thistle near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Wildflowers in a meadow near Brazoria

Wisteria in bloom on the drive to Huntsville, Texas

Bee in the wisteria blossoms

Lenten Roses

February 17, 2010

Helleborus are sometimes known by their common name, Lenten Roses.  I saw these hellebores blooming on a recent neighborhood walk, just in time for Lent.

Green hellebores

Purple hellebore

Double hellebores


Close-up of hellebore bloom

Bee attracted to hellebores

Zooming in


July 22, 2009

Bee on clover

Bee on clover

Bees on flower

Bees on flower

Bee on crocosmia

Bee on crocosmia

Bee on red hollyhock

Bee on red hollyhock

Bee on pink hollyhock

Bee on pink hollyhock

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy!
     — Emily Dickinson

In Praise of Reverie

June 18, 2009

One clover

One clover

One bee

One bee

“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, —
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.”
— Emily Dickinson

Where are those lazy days of summer?  I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it nearly impossible to carve out moments in my day for daydreaming and reverie.  I think Emily Dickinson got it right, though.  Those unscheduled hours of reverie are when imagination soars and you feed your soul.

I love this Dickinson poem so much that I embroidered a small quilt to hang on my wall and remind me to take time for puttering, for reverie. . .

Dickinson wall quilt

Dickinson wall quilt