National Poetry Month. 23

Unfurling fern, Como Park Conservatory

Unfurling fern, Como Park Conservatory

“If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day.  For there would be an intolerable hunger.”
— Muriel Rukeyser

Llandover Woods, north Seattle

Llandover Woods, north Seattle

“You cannot find what the poets find in the woods until you take the poet’s heart to the woods.  He sees nature through a colored glass, sees it truthfully, but with an indescribable charm added, the aureole of the spirit.  A tree, a cloud, a bird, a sunset, have no hidden meaning that the art of the poet is to unlock for us.  Every poet shall interpret them differently, and interpret them rightly, because the soul is infinite.”
— John Burroughs, Pepacton

I just learned about this little forest, Llandover Woods,  in north Seattle, not too far from the Dunn Gardens, and I spent an hour walking its groomed trail.  Splotchy bark, hanging moss, ferns, bare trees.  A quiet spot in the city.  Great discovery.

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“Winter is . . . the white page on which we write our hearts.”
Adam Gopnik, Winter: Five Windows on the Season

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Eisblumen:  German for hoarfrost ice flowers

“On a lonely winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence.”
— John Keats

Adam Gopnik sees the poetry in winter.  His book, Winter: Five Windows on the Season, explores “why winter, a season long seen as a sign of nature’s withdrawal from grace, has become for us a time of human warmth.”  He talks about the sublime side of winter, how it inspires fear, awe and mystery while remaining potentially lethal.  Gopnik says that a love of winter is a modern sensibility, evolving only after the use of cheap and abundant coal and central heating.

“Winter’s persona changes with our perception of safety from it — the glass of the window . . . is the lens through which modern winter is always seen.  The romance of winter is possible only when we have a warm, secure indoors to retreat to, and winter becomes a season to look at as much as one to live through.”

January morning at Green Lake

January morning at Green Lake

“How glorious the perfect stillness and peace of the winter landscape.”
—  Henry David Thoreau, from Winter:  The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, December 31, 1854

Path through the frosty grass, Green Lake

Path through the frosty grass, Green Lake

“We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature every day.  We must make root, send out some little fibre at least, even every winter day. . . . Staying in the house breeds a sort of insanity always.”
—  Henry David Thoreau, from Winter:  The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, December 29, 1856

I took Thoreau’s advice and walked around Green Lake on this frosty January morning.  It was crisp and clear.  I saw three great blue herons, a bald eagle perched in a tree, honking Canada geese, foraging ducks, and other Seattleites out to enjoy the fresh air.

Joggers at Green Lake

Joggers at Green Lake

Fishing from the dock, bundled up, enjoying the natural world

Fishing from the dock, bundled up, enjoying the natural world

One of three great blue herons (notice the frosty back feathers)

One of three great blue herons (notice the frosty back feathers)

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August Days

August 23, 2013

“Nature has, for the most part, lost her delicate tints in August. . . . The spirit of Nature has grown bold and aggressive; it is rank and coarse; she flaunts her weeds in our faces.”
— John Burroughs, “August Days”

Dried ferns

Dried ferns

“August days are for the most part tranquil days; the fret and hurry of the season are over.  We are on the threshold of autumn.  Nature dreams and meditates; her veins no longer thrill with the eager, frenzied sap; she ripens and hardens her growths; she concentrates; she begins to make ready for winter.”
— John Burroughs, “Autumn Days”

We’ve had a drier-than-normal summer so far, so things are definitely weedy and seedy around here.  Here are some images from a recent walk about my neighborhood:

Dried fern

Dried fern

Bindweed

Bindweed

Is this yarrow?

Is this yarrow?

Seed heads

Seed heads

Rose hips

Rose hips

Watercolor sketch of rose hips

Watercolor sketch of rose hips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“the leaping greenly spirits of trees . . .”
— e e cummings

Tall trees of the Hoh Rain Forest

Tall trees of the Hoh Rain Forest

Our second Olympic National Park destination was the Hoh Rain Forest.  This temperate rain forest gets 12 to 14 feet of rain each year, but we were lucky to be visiting on a sunny day.  We began seeing moss-draped trees on the road leading into the heart of the rain forest.  Instead of fifty shades of gray, we were seeing fifty shades of green.

Fisherman in the Hoh River

Fisherman in the Hoh River

The road into the Hoh valley

The road into the Hoh valley

Green, green stream

Green, green stream

Hall of Mosses trail

Hall of Mosses trail

Tall trees on a rare blue-sky day

Tall trees on a rare blue-sky day

Living giants

Living giants

New growth on fallen log

New growth on fallen log

Light through a lacey green curtain

Light through a lacey green curtain

 

Nurse log (fallen tree nourishing new trees)

Nurse log (fallen tree nourishing new trees)

Rings of a fallen giant

Rings of a fallen giant

Ground cover

Ground cover

Noah peeking around the trunk of a giant

Noah peeking around the trunk of a giant

These ferns reminded me of sea horses

These ferns reminded me of sea horses

Ferns with Holga-ish effect

Ferns with Holga-ish effect

190-foot fallen Sitka spruce

190-foot fallen Sitka spruce

Moss-Hung Trees
by Gertrude Gilmore, 1936

Moss-hung trees
Like the mantilla of a beautiful lady’s ghost
Bearing elusive fragrance of a faint perfume
Soft, caressing;
Shaped
Like the wings of huge, inert gray moths, —
Weird and uncertain branches veining them
Gossamer, intangible;
And reshaped
Like fairy cobwebs interlacing mesh upon mesh
With lights of foolish insects caught within them
Restive, darting
With shadows —
Like half reluctant thoughts lately modified
In a world of fantastical shapes and causes,
Mystical, fleeting.

Mossy branches of a maple tree

Mossy branches of a maple tree

Moss-laden maple

Moss-laden maple

“To make my days deserving of preservation, I have to give myself ample time for reflection and repose. . . . It feels as if such entries add an extra layer to living.”     — Wendy Lustbader, The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Old

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

These short winter days slip by so quickly, especially if it’s rainy, dark, and gloomy.  Thank goodness this blog gives me the impetus to find something in my days to share with you, my readers.  Sometimes it’s just the excuse I need to see what’s happening at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is a heaven-sent destination on a rainy winter day.  The warm humid interior is a comforting contrast to the cold outdoors.  Even if I do have to wait for the fog to clear from my camera lenses!

My eyes were soothed by patterns and graceful, curving lines on this particular visit.  Here are a few photos:

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Hanging pitcher plant

Hanging pitcher plant

 

 

 

 

Ice Armor

January 10, 2013

Frost-rimed grasses in the garden

Frost-rimed grasses in the garden

“Every leaf and twig was this morning covered with a sparkling ice armor; even the grasses in exposed fields were hung with innumerable diamond pendants, which jingled merrily when brushed by the foot of the traveller.  It was literally the wreck of jewels and the crash of gems.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Journals, January 21, 1838

I remember ice storms from my childhood in Minnesota — every tree, branch and twig was coated in a clear shield of ice.  Too bright for unprotected eyes.  Precarious footing.  And yes, merry tinkling when the shards of ice fell down.

These frosty January mornings in Seattle are a less piercing pleasure — no crashing crystals, just a silent icy edging.  Here are some photos of this magical world:

These grasses looked like ribbon with their white edging giving a pleasant contrast

These grasses looked like ribbon with their white edging giving a pleasant contrast

Petal pattern, with frost

Petal pattern, with frost

Edged ferns

Edged ferns

Christmas colors!  Red and green.

Christmas colors! Red and green.

In the winter garden

In the winter garden

Layered maple leaves

Layered maple leaves

Nature's calligraphy

Nature’s calligraphy

The frost gives a new meaning to the idea of a white garden.

The frost gives a new meaning to the idea of a white garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It was the morning of the sixth of May,
And May had painted with her soft showers
A garden full of leaves and flowers.
And man’s hand had arranged it with such sweet craft
There never was a garden of such price
But if it were the very Paradise.”
— Geoffrey Chaucer, from The Canterbury Tales

A man’s hand crafted the lovely grounds of the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, and it has become one of our city’s paradises.  The city of Seattle hired the Olmstead Brothers (successors to Frederick Olmstead, who designed New York City’s Central Park among other famous commissions) to develop the landscaping plans for the Arboretum.  The Olmsteads were proponents of connecting urban dwellers to wild and natural spaces.

Here are some photos of my Spring visit to the park:

Signpost for Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum

The paths are perfect for strolling, jogging, and walking the dog.

Magnificent trees and wild spaces

Mushroom along the path

Bottle-brush plants in a low spot

A bed of ferns

Ferns

Ferns

Bench along the path, Washington Park Arboretum

Bluebells

Green foliage

 

 

 

 

Spring All in a Rush

May 5, 2012

Flowers at the University District Farmers Market

“The first days of May bring spring all in a rush.”
— Elisabeth Luard, A Cook’s Year in a Welsh Farmhouse

My camera is getting a workout every time I step outside my door.  Here is a sampling of the Spring “rush” seen through my camera lens.

Buying fresh produce at a farmers market

Jugs of juice, University District Farmers Market

Ladyfern fiddleheads, University District Farmers Market

Bright yellow flowers growing in a parking strip

Delicate, blushing-pink maple helicopters (not from my “adopted” trees)

Rhododendron blossoms

Tulips growing horizontally along the ground!

Tulip with falling petal