Grasses and lavender, late summer

Grasses and lavender, late summer

“Spring was a fever and autumn will be a regret, but this is the month of its own successful achievement to be more than barely sentient. . . . August is the month when the solid and the domestic triumph, when the prudent come into their own.  The very birds, whose springtime was devoted to love and music, are now responsible parents who have forgotten how to sing.  The early flowers of the woods waved their brief blossoms and are forgotten, but the roadside and the fields are taken over now by the strong, coarse, and confident weeds.”
— Joseph Wood Krutch, The Twelve Seasons: A Perpetual Calendar for the Country

Weeds with empty kiddie pool

Weeds with empty kiddie pool

Dried hydrangea with picket fence

Dried hydrangea with picket fence


” . . . work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.”
— Stanley Kunitz, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden

Tractors in the fields, Skagit Valley

Today’s quote is food for thought on this Labor Day holiday — work as a manifestation of gratitude.  I do believe that some of the most fortunate people are those who have found work that offers meaning and pleasure.  The kind of work that you never want to retire from.

Parenting is that kind of work.  As is farming and gardening, teaching and construction.  Nurturing life.  Creating beauty and usefulness.  How lucky are those who have found work that feeds the soul.

Harvesting lavender, Lavender Wind Farm

At work in the flower fields, Jello Mold Farm



“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!

Spanish lavender

“My aim is to take familiar things and make
Poetry of them, and do it in such a way
That it looks as if it was easy as could be
For anybody to do it (although he’d sweat
And strain and work his head off, all in vain).
Such is the power of judgment, of knowing what
It means to put elements together
In just the right way; such is the power of making
A perfectly wonderful thing out of nothing much.”
— Horace, translated by David Ferry

I love this quote, and I take its message as a personal challenge . . . to find the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of my day, to find the poetry in the commonplace, and to make wonderful things out of nothing much.

This week, for example, my eyes are drawn to the rabbit-ears topping Spanish lavender.  I am seeing this lavender in bloom now in borders, parking strips, and gardens.  Our lavender festivals in Washington and Oregon are not held until mid-July, and those fields feature other, later-blooming kinds of lavender, like Grosso lavender.

My watercolor sketches are my attempt to make something wonderful out of this common plant.

Watercolor sketch of lavender

Watercolor sketch of lavender arranged in a wreath

Springtime at a lavender farm near Sequim

Sequim is known as the “Lavender Capital of North America.”  Each July it hosts a three-day lavender festival (  With our cool spring this year, it was way too early to see any lavender blooms in the fields during my May visit.  Still, I couldn’t help but think about lavender while I was there.

Lavender farm near Sequim

What a great spot to relax!

Hand-embroidered shirts for sale at the Sequim Open Aire Market

Lavender for sale at the Sequim Open Aire Market

Back in Seattle, I am seeing a few lavender plants with flowers already.

Lavender starting to bloom

Sprigs of lavender in my kitchen window

Watercolor sketch of lavender

Another watercolor sketch of lavender

Lavender Harvest

August 18, 2010

It is a month past the peak of the lavender season, but they were still harvesting at the Lavender Wind Farm on Whidbey Island.

Lavender field with red poppies

Lavender bundles hanging up to dry

Driftwood sculpture: Love in the lavender field

Lavender field with sunflower

Driftwood sculpture: Joy in the lavender field

Harvesting lavender, Lavender Wind Farm on Whidbey Island

What Nature Reveals

August 1, 2010

"Benedictine prayer is designed to enable people to realize that God is in the world around them." Joan Chittister

“Morning and evening, season by season, year after year we watch the sun rise and set, death and resurrection daily come and go, beginnings and endings follow one another without terror and without woe.  We come to realize that we are simply small parts of a continuing creation, and we take hope and comfort and perspective from that.”
     — from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister, OSB

Nature can be another catalyst for contemplation.  Here are some photos taken during my contemplative walks around the grounds of St. John’s University:

Grace upon grace . . .

Tiger lily

"The world laughs in flowers." e e cummings

"Consciousness of God is perpetual prayer." Joan Chittister, OSB

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn." William Arthur Ward

Dragonfly poses for backside view


Natural necklace of lavender blossoms

Chipmunk in a tree

Thistle down

Reflections in the lake on my walk to Morning Prayer

Dandelion wishes

“We have to learn to be mindful that creation belongs to God and we have only been put here as its keepers.”
     — from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Joan Chittister, OSB

Lavender-Lemon Bars

July 9, 2010

Lavender-Lemon Bars

I love the tart and tangy taste of lemon bars. This recipe, which I found in Jon Shook’s and Vinny Dotolo’s Two Dudes One Pan: Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen, uses lavender in the crust.  The recipe calls for dried lavender, but fresh lavender works, too, according to the authors.  The lavender crust scented the house with a wonderful, homey smell while it was baking.

Lavender-Lemon Bars

For the Crust:
3/4 c (1-1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus butter to grease pan
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting top of bars
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dried lavender

For the Filling:
6 large eggs
1-1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
1 c plus 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 5 or 6 lemons)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and set aside.

To make the crust, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt and dried lavender.  Add the butter and work with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. (I processed in my food processor.)  Transfer the mixture to the baking pan and press firmly into an even layer.  Bake until the crust is just starting to turn color, 20 to 25 minutes, and set aside to cool completely.

Whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, and flour in a large bowl.  Mix in the lemon zest and juice and pour the filling over the baked crust.  Bake until the custard is completely set with only a slight jiggle when you shake the pan, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the bars cool completely.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Then refrigerate.

Patting down the lavender-studded crust

First taste of fresh lavender-lemon bars

Tart and tangy

Harvesting Lavender

July 8, 2010

July is the month for harvesting lavender in the Pacific Northwest.  I have one lavender bush in my garden, and it provides more than enough lavender buds for my purposes.  The lavender was perfect for cutting and is now drying on the back porch.

Lavender in my garden

Harvesting lavender

Tray of lavender cuttings, ready for drying

Cool Sheets

July 5, 2010

Lavender sprigs on pillowcase

This week I finally retired our flannel sheets and pulled out the crisp cottons.  I hope I don’t regret it!  It’s still so cold in Seattle, with daytime high temperatures in the 60s.  We’re still waiting for summer here.