Sign on a plum tree in my neighborhood

Sign on a plum tree in my neighborhood

People in Seattle often use their parking strips for fruit trees or extensions of their gardens.  I have to say that I do give in to the temptation to swipe a few ripe raspberries or plums (what a treat to savor their freshness) or even pick a blooming flower (from among many) to bring back to my drawing table.  I know I am stealing.  Shame on me.  But I hate even more to see so much fresh food go to waste — so often the owners don’t seem to be picking the fruit at its peak, and I watch it turn overripe and rotten.

So I was delighted to see this sign posted on a plum tree down the street from where I live.  The owner is being proactive in sharing his extra bounty, with clear limits.  What a wonderful solution to my ethical dilemma.  I can live with two plums a day.

We all need to become more convivial neighbors like this one.  This is the theme of a new book, Living Room Revolution:  A Handbook for Conversation, Community, and the Common Good by Cecile Andrews.  (She chose the word “convivial” to characterize the kind of community she means.) She talks about bringing about change at a ground level, person to person.  In it, she quotes from the film, Transition 2.0:  “If we want change, relying on the government will be too late, relying on individuals won’t be enough; community is our only hope.”

Andrews gives lots of tips for taking conscious actions to build community, such as, “Commit to talking to five new people a day.”  Five might be a stretch for an introvert like me, but I can aim for one a day.  It’s a worthy goal, I think.

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















I love the ambivalence in this photo!

My eye was caught by the juxtaposition of the closed and open signs at Open Books in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.  It got me musing about privacy and blogging.  I share a lot of my life in this blog, but not everything.  I suppose the blog is best as a record of my activities — my travels, walks, recipe experiments, quilting projects — as well as of my growth as an artist.  The blog has become an archive of the seasons of the Pacific Northwest as seen through my eyes.  It is an accurate reflection of the things I think about at this stage of my life.

But I do keep some things private.  I hope my words here, my public voice, are true to the real me, but I have no wish to make of my life a completely open book.  The juxtaposition of open and closed fits my situation well!


“I have never found a city without its walkers’ rewards.”
— John Finley, “Traveling Afoot”

Common sight on urban walks, waiting for the walking sign

I so enjoyed my first long urban hike across the I-90 floating bridge (see yesterday’s post), that I’ve planned several more.

I set out on my second long walk, a journey of 8-1/2 miles, from my home to the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.  I hiked 3-1/2 hours, including stops for photos and coffee and a picnic breakfast, along a route with scenic trails.  Here are some highlights:

6:00 a.m. on the path at Green Lake: notice my long shadow in the early morning light

Summer morning at Green Lake

First stop: the Woodland Park Rose Garden at 50th & Fremont Ave N (unfortunately, the gates did not open until 7 a.m.)

I could still enjoy the roses viewed through my zoom lens!

Tree-lined walk down Fremont Avenue N

Waiting for the Interurban sculpture at Fremont & N 34th Streets. It's a Seattle tradition to decorate these statues.

Trees line the Ship Canal between the locks and Lake Union. My walk took me along the Ship Canal Trail.

Rowers on the Ship Canal

I crossed over the train tracks on W Dravus Street after stopping for coffee at Starbucks.

Mount Rainier seen from the Elliott Bay Trail

I took a short detour off the trail to check out the Amgen Helix Bridge.

The Amgen Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge to the Amgen campus.

Looking across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains from the Elliott Bay Trail

Totem pole along the Elliott Bay Trail

Small rose garden along the trail, with Spaceneedle in the background

Lovely yellow roses

The trail runs along the Olympic Sculpture Park.

I walked along Seattle's waterfront to the Hill Climb to the Pike Place Market.

Flower vendor at the Pike Place Market

Truck at the Pike Place Market

Cowboy hat sighted on First Class passenger on Alaska Airlines flight to Houston

I expected to see plenty of Texans sporting cowboy hats, big belt buckles, and boots, so I wasn’t surprised when I spotted my first cowboy hat on a passenger in First Class on our flight to Houston.  But then the myth was shattered.  It seems that Texans dress like everyone else in America, and cowboy hats are few and far between.

On our drive along back country roads, we saw many cattle grazing — but no cowboys!  We kept our eyes peeled for longhorn cattle, and we found a herd in Washington County near Independence, Texas.

Ranch near Independence, Texas

Texas longhorns

Longhorn and calf

I regret that we didn’t have time to go to a rodeo, so the closest we came to seeing cowboys was at the Ft. Worth Stockyards historical district.  I’m sure that the clothes and horse tack were authentic, but the whole experience felt Disney-fied.  There were any number of things you could spend money on:  riding a mechanical bull, riding a horse-drawn buggy or stagecoach, getting a portrait taken in Western clothes, attending a Wild West show, etc.  But we just looked at the Ft. Worth herd of longhorns, watched them get rounded up, and then watched the re-enactment of a cattle drive down a few blocks of Exchange Street.  It was fun and colorful.

A cowgirl at the Ft. Worth Stockyards. She was happy to answer questions from the tourists.

Detail, hand holding reins

Buggy driver at the Ft. Worth Stockyards

Brand for the Ft. Worth longhorn herd

Longhorns from the Ft. Worth herd

Rounding up the longhorns for the cattle drive

Little cowgirl waiting for the cattle drive to begin

Re-enactment of cattle drive, Ft. Worth Stockyards

Cowboy, Ft. Worth Stockyards

Detail, cowboy boot in stirrup

Re-enactment of cattle drive down Exchange Street

Gamboling spring lambs, Camelot Downs Farm

Yesterday I toured a sheep farm with the PCC (Puget Consumer Co-op) Farmland Trust staff (  The Trust holds a conservation easement on Camelot Downs Farm, an organic sheep farm owned by Gary and Lois Fisher.  This easement arrangement ensures that their 15 acres will continue to exist as organic farmland under any future owners.  The Trust is responsible for ongoing stewardship of the land.

Gary Fisher, sheep farmer, shares his story.

Lois Fisher, veteran sheep farmer

It was a real pleasure to meet the Fishers, who have raised “Colonial” sheep breeds on this acreage for over 20 years.  They define “Colonial” as stock descended from sheep brought to America between 1620 and 1820. They currently raise South Down sheep and Romney Marsh sheep.  This is lambing season, and we saw 11 lambs gamboling and suckling as we wandered through the barn and sheep pens.  More pregnant ewes grazed peacefully nearby.

Sign at Camelot Downs Farm on Whidbey Island

South Down ewe and twin lambs

Mother checking up on her baby


Romney Marsh ewe and lamb

Romney ewe and offspring

Spring lambs at Camelot Downs Farm

Following like sheep

The Fishers are active in 4-H and freely share their knowledge and experience with small and aspiring farmers throughout the state.  They are real Living Treasures, and I am so thankful to have spent a delightful day touring their farm.  Camelot Downs is one of the farms on Whidbey’s Country Farms map and guide, produced by the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (you can link to or for more information about farm visits).

Lois Fisher, sheep farmer, with one of her lambs

I loved the shimmering iridescent feathers on this farmyard fowl.

Dolly Llama guards her flock of sheep, Camelot Downs Farm

Camelot Downs Farm tour with the PCC Farmland Trust

Country Drives

March 9, 2010

I am a farm girl at heart.  I feel at home driving country roads past farms and fields.  I enjoyed seeing the greening of the Skagit Valley as spring approaches.  The looming Cascade Mountains create a beautiful setting for the farms in this area of Washington.

Skagit Valley barn with Mount Baker

Skagit Valley farm framed by the Cascade Mountains

Another Skagit Valley farm with Mount Baker looming

Drainage ditches, Skagit Valley

Share the road with tractors