Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

“. . . I think anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around — you’re traveling in order to be moved.”
— Pico Iyer

By this stage in our vacation, I was experiencing moments of exhaustion.  Our whirlwind tour of the Pacific Northwest national parks was rewarding us with some peak experiences, but there was a lot of driving.  I was beginning to yearn for a stopping place, time to sit and do nothing.

“Speed diminishes the gifts that a journey can give you, the gift, for instance, of moving through a landscape slowly enough to be able to watch it, take in its characteristics, observe the land’s relationship to the sky, the patterning made by boundaries, whether of hedge or stone, the way that trees, banks in the lanes signal changes in the underpinning of the landscape: limestone turning to chalk, clay to sandy loam.  Traveling fast . . . there is not enough time to clear away the mental baggage you have brought with you from the ordinary and make a space in your mind for the extraordinary.”
— Anna Pavord, Landskipping:  Painters, Ploughmen and Places

Umpqua River along Oregon Hwy 138

Umpqua River along Oregon Hwy 138


The drive up to Crater Lake along Oregon’s Highway 138 was itself a scenic route following the Umpqua River.  While everyone else was snoozing in their seats, I was following the long and winding road, and I have to admit, beautiful as it was, it also felt endless!

And yet, the first view of Crater Lake refreshed my soul.  I was reminded that the effort to get out to our national parks is always worth it.

First view of Crater Lake and Wizard Island

First view of Crater Lake and Wizard Island



Have you ever seen such a blue blue?

“The deeper the blue becomes, the more urgently it summons man toward the infinite, the more it arouses in him a longing for purity, and, ultimately, for the supersensual.”
— Wassily Kandinsky

“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths.  This blue is the light that got lost.  Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us.  It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water.  Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this unscattered light, the purer the light, the purer the water the deeper the blue.  The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.”
— Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Reflections at the edges of Crater Lake

Reflections at the edges of Crater Lake

View from the rim road, Crater Lake National Park

View from the rim road, Crater Lake National Park

I could have sat for hours on the rocking chairs lining the porch at Crater Lake Lodge!  But we stopped there only to “smell the coffee” as we took a coffee break and soaked in the magnificent view.





Blue skies of Nebraska

Blue skies of Nebraska

“I turned to the blue heaven over, gazing into its depths, inhaling its exquisite colour and sweetness.  The rich blue of the unattainable flower of the sky drew my soul towards it, and there it rested, for pure colour is rest of heart.”
— Richard Jeffries, from The Story of My Heart by Richard Jeffries with commentary by Brooke Williams and Terry Tempest Williams

The big skies of Nebraska from along I-80

The big skies of Nebraska from along I-80

Contrail across blue sky

Contrail across blue sky

Blue sky over clouds, from my airplane window

Blue sky over clouds, from my airplane window

“The sky crossed from side to side, like a roof supported on two walls of green.”
— Richard Jeffries, from The Story of My Heart by Richard Jeffries with commentary by Brooke Williams and Terry Tempest Williams

During my visit, the weather in Nebraska was refreshingly warm and sunny.  It got up to around 75 degrees during the afternoon, but slipped to the low 30s at night.  And it was windy!  But it was still early spring there — the trees were still bare, with just some showing the slightest tinge of new green leaves.  No blossoming trees.  A few daffodils, but mostly a scarcity of blooming flowers.  The arrival of Spring seems a lot more tentative here than in my home in the Pacific Northwest.



Blue Morning Glories

October 23, 2014

Blue morning glory

Blue morning glory

I wasn’t expecting to see a spot of brilliant blue, much less blooming morning glories, in the garden this time of year.  But we came across these in one of the beds at the horticultural school at the University of Washington.





Watercolor sketch  of blue morning glory

Watercolor sketch of blue morning glory


“Blue color is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight.”
— John Ruskin

A patch of blue light, Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle U

A patch of blue light, Chapel of St. Ignatius, Seattle U

” . . . and blue when you see blue, is all blue precious too . . .”
— Gertrude Stein

The Chapel of St. Ignatius on the campus of Seattle University is one of my favorite places.  Designed by architect Steven Holl, it is a contemplative space encircling you with soft colored light.  I always leave here with my heart eased, at least for a little while.



Blue window, Chapel of St. Ignatius



Red window, Chapel of St. Ignatius



Chapel of St. Ignatius



Contemplating Blue

August 23, 2013

“We love to contemplate blue, not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.”
— Goethe


Blue skies with skyscraper

Blue skies with skyscraper

The Blue Trees

May 15, 2012

The Blue Trees, Westlake Park, Seattle

One of the things on my “Life List” is to see and experience an  Andy Goldsworthy sculpture in its natural environment.  He is well-known for creating transient, ephemeral sculptures of natural materials that are designed to weather and disappear over time.

I’m not aware of any Andy Goldsworthy pieces in Seattle, but when I heard about Konstantin Dimopoulos’s Blue Trees, I made a special trip to downtown Seattle to see them.  Dimopoulos, an Australian artist, uses special environmentally-safe pigments to paint trees brilliant blue.  The color wears away over time, leaving the trees unharmed.  Dimopoulos has now made his way to Seattle, and has two installations in the area — at Westlake Park in the heart of downtown and along the Burke-Gilman trail in Kenmore.

Dimopoulos uses the startling blue to attract attention and awareness to the problem of global deforestation.  The blue is so unexpected, it does stop you in your tracks.  You might want to see these installations before they disappear.

The Blue Trees at Westlake Park

The Blue Trees

Blue tree with park benches

Blue Trees with park bench, Westlake Park

The Blue Trees at Westlake Park

Avian Blue

May 12, 2012

Blue Stellar’s jay on the front porch

The Blue Jay
by Susan Hartley Swett

O Blue Jay up in the maple tree,
Shaking your throat with such bursts of glee,
How did you happen to be so blue?
Did you steal a bit of the lake for your crest,
And fasten blue violets into your vest?
Tell me, I pray you,—tell me true!

Did you dip your wings in azure dye,
When April began to paint the sky,
That was pale with the winter’s stay?
Or were you hatched from a blue-bell bright,
’Neath the warm, gold breast of a sunbeam light,
By the river one blue spring day?

O Blue Jay up in the maple tree,
A-tossing your saucy head at me,
With ne’er a word for my questioning,
Pray, cease for a moment your “ting-a-link,”
And hear when I tell you what I think,—
You bonniest bit of spring.

I think when the fairies made the flowers,
To grow in these mossy fields of ours,
Periwinkles and violets rare,
There was left of the spring’s own color, blue,
Plenty to fashion a flower whose hue
Would be richer than all and as fair.

So, putting their wits together, they
Made one great blossom so bright and gay,
The lily beside it seemed blurred:
And then they said, “We will toss it in air;
So many blue blossoms grow everywhere,
Let this pretty one be a bird.”

Stellar’s jay

Stellar’s jay

Did you know that scientists have been fascinated and perplexed by how birds get blue feathers?  Blue feathers do not contain blue pigment.  Avian blue appears because of the behavior of light bouncing off tiny air bubbles within the feathers (similar to the way we see iridescent colors on an oil slick).  An article in the March 2012 issue of Smithsonian Magazine goes into more detail.  You can link to it here.

More Dried Hydrangeas

March 5, 2012

Dried hydrangea

Dried hydrangeas

Watercolor sketch of dried hydrangeas


Passion Flowers

October 14, 2011

Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora)

Blue Passion Flower

Watercolor sketch of Passion Flower

The Passion Flowers are certainly intricate blooms.  There are some flowering on Greenwood Avenue right now.  Beautiful!

Morning Glory

August 27, 2011

“A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”
— Walt Whitman

Blue morning glory at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Blue morning glory, Center for Urban Horticulture

I saw these shockingly brilliant blue morning glories in a pot at the Center for Urban Horticulture.  I see that Georgia O’Keeffe couldn’t resist them either.  Here are two of her paintings of blue morning glories:

Blue Morning Glories by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1938

Ram's Head, Blue Morning Glory by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1938

And here are my watercolor sketches:

Watercolor sketch of blue morning glories

Another watercolor sketch of blue morning glories