Daybreak Over Tulips

April 11, 2016

“Distinctive realms appear to us when we look and hear by poem-light.”
— Jane Hirshfield, Ten Windows:  How Great Poems Transform the World

Daybreak with fog, Skagit Valley, Washington

Daybreak with fog, Skagit Valley, Washington

Dawn in the Skagit Valley

Dawn in the Skagit Valley

My niece and I drove to the Skagit Valley this weekend to see the tulip fields in bloom.  She is a photographer, like me, and therefore was willing to hit the road in the dark hours of early morning so that we could be in place as the sun rose over the farms of this region.  We had lovely weather, and the beauty of the breaking day was just awesome.  Knowing that these golden minutes were fleeting heightened their beauty.  I think that Jane Hirshfield’s word, “poem-light,” perfectly captures the dawning day.

IMG_6572

IMG_6571

IMG_6559

IMG_6590

IMG_6583

IMG_6584

“A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn.
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.”
— Emily Dickinson

Early morning fog along the Mount Baker Highway near Bellingham

I do love a road trip.  Sometimes it still surprises me how I’ve yet to see many parts of Washington State, even after living here for more than thirty years.  This week I took a day trip along Highway 542, the Mount Baker Highway, and realized that this was unexplored territory for me.  I never knew what I was missing!

The Mount Baker Highway is designated as a Washington State Scenic Byway.  It starts in Bellingham (90 miles north of Seattle), and it’s just 58 miles to its end at Artist Point overlooking snow-capped Mount Baker. The outdoor adventure company, GORP, names this road one of the “Top Ten Scenic Mountain Drives” in North America.

I’ll devote several more posts to some of the spectacular spots I discovered along the way.  But today’s post will share the experience of the drive itself — a virtual road trip.  Enjoy the ride!

Fog along Hwy 542

A flock of Canada geese

Heading east toward the Cascade Mountains, blue in the distance

Towering trees in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Little bits of fall color amidst the evergreen

The road ascends

Surrounded by high peaks

Curving Mount Baker Highway near Artist Point at 5,100 feet of elevation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The area around Minneapolis-St. Paul from the airplane window -- flat!

Every time I return to Minnesota in the nation’s heartland, I am struck anew by its beauty.  The long flat vistas, the rolling plains, farms and fields are so different from the mountainous Pacific Northwest where I live.

The rural landscape in Minnesota is dotted with these iconic structures:  old barns and silos, small town water towers, and large grain storage elevators.  Here are some photos from my road trips to Alexandria in northern Minnesota and Rochester in southern Minnesota:

Foggy country road along my sister's farm near Alexandria, MN

Foggy morning near I-94 "up north"

Grain storage elevators

I saw more of these elevators than ever before on this trip to Minnesota.

Water tower on the horizon beyond the fields

Old silos -- most are unused because few farmers still raise livestock

Lovely old barn and silos near Belle Plaine, MN

Interesting patchwork colors on this barn and house

More and more old barns, disused, are falling into ruin.

Barn and silo along Hwy 52

Watch out for tractors on the roads! The large, new machinery overlaps several lanes of highway.

Roads Taken

November 2, 2009

IMG_2864

Country road near Kensington, Minnesota

“When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end.  So it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it.”
     — Charles de Lint

I came across this quote in The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir by Katrina Kenison.  It’s a timely reminder to live my days with awareness and appreciation, being open to love and opportunity.