The Last Day of Winter

March 19, 2013

“There’s no question winter here can take a chunk out of you.  Not like the extreme cold of the upper Midwest or the round-the-clock darkness of Alaska might, but rather the opposite.  Here, it’s a general lack of severity — monotonous flat gray skies and the constant drip-drip of misty rain — that erodes the spirit.”
— Dylan Tomine, Closer to the Ground:  An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, in the Woodland and at the Table

Moss-covered tractor, Whidbey Island

Moss-covered tractor, Whidbey Island

Lest you think I moan too much about the winter rain and gray skies, I am submitting today’s photo as proof that reality matches my glum outlook.  I saw this moss-covered tractor in a field on Whidbey Island.  This is what happens if you remain immobilized for too long during winter in the Pacific Northwest!  The moss takes over!

So it is with great anticipation that we greet the vernal equinox in Seattle.  It arrives in Seattle tomorrow, March 20th, at 4:02 a.m.  Welcome Spring!

Of course, Spring here is not without its April showers — and March, May and June showers, too.  But the longer days make a huge difference.  Still, as Emily Dickinson knew, Spring is an “Experiment of Green.”  The tractor might just be destined to stay a “green machine.”

by Frances May

on my window
on the ground
in the sky
all around


” . . . 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



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.

Wheat Harvest

August 21, 2011

Harvesting wheat near Loveland, Colorado

Harvested wheat field

A Dakota Wheat Field

by Hamlin Garland

Broad as the feckless, soaring sky
Mysterious, fair as the moon-led sea
The vast plain flames on the dazzled eye
Under the fierce sun’s alchemy.
The slow hawk stoops
To his prey in the deeps;
The sunflower droops
To the lazy wave; the wind sleeps.
Then all in dazzling links and loops,
A riot of shadow and shine,
A glory of olive and amber and wine,
To the westering sun the colors run
Through the deeps of the ripening wheat.


Rural scene near Sequim -- barn with Olympic Mountains

Sequim is one of my favorite destinations on the Olympic Peninsula.  It lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, so the weather is often sunnier than in Seattle.  I love driving along the country roads surrounding the town.  It’s still peaceful and rural. Later in summer, the lavender fields will be in bloom.  I was there on a Saturday, when the local outdoor market opened for the season.

Weathered ruin just off Hwy 101 near Sequim

Empty windows softened by moss and blossoms

Meadow with Olympic Mountains on the horizon

Dandelion-filled meadow

Old Dungeness Schoolhouse near Sequim

Barbed wire on the side of a barn

Opening day festivities (free cake!) at the Sequim Open Aire Market

Bread stall at the Sequim Market

Tempting pastries at another bakery stall

Handmade crocheted items, Sequim Market