Simple Gifts

I believe I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world; the Snoqualmie Valley. I get to see amazing things everyday. It's time to celebrate that. (You can view pictures in larger format by clicking on them)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Winter, Rivers and Ice

I just had to get out. The sun was shining so I grabbed Coal and my camera and headed down the road. I didn't have a specific destintation. Driving I realized I wanted somewhere that wouldn't be too crowded, wouldn't have too snow and would be a relatively easy walking surface. WHEW! I had it narrowed down to Cougar Mountain or the Middle Fork. I decided I need a mocha to help me think (any excuse will do), so I let that lady at espresso stand choose. She said Middle Fork and that's what I was leaning towards anyway. Off I went.

As I got near there was a sign saying "Road Closed 5 miles ahead". I wasn't worried and planned to drive to closure and then walk up the road, perfect for my plans. It soon became a question of which pothole I would hit, instead of how to get around them. (Potholes are NOT fun with whiplash). Worried about my little car and neck, I found a stopping place about 3 miles in. I love the drive along the Middle Fork. You get lovely views of the Snoqualmie. When the light cateches it right the moss glows on the trees.

The occaisionally patches of snow had turned into a consistent thin layer. Very shortly after we set off we were rewarded with our first patch of icicles. I also heard the song of the dipper. It's such a beautiful, liquid sound. I didn't see any birds, but the ice captivated me in all it's different forms and I spent most of walk watching the changing patterns. So many different shapes- icicles, ice edging the snow that's slowly melting and ice 'piles' underneath the icicles. I spent a lot of time taking pictures.

About 1.5 miles down the road I found a path leading to the river. A large Ukranian (maybe) family had parked at the trail head. The fell in love with Coal so after a nice visit we all headed down to the river. I found a quiet spot away from everyone to sit and watch the river. It was quite comfortable in the sun which explains why there was no snow in the spot. Walking along the river I was delighted at the patterns of ice. The ice was at the edge of the snow resting on top of the rocks or moss or grass. It really was marvelous. As we headed back the light was low, shining through the moss and icicles making the world seem bright and full. Maybe I caught just a bit of the beauty in my pictures.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Magical moments

Yesterday I brought Coal into work with me. After work we stopped at the park and walked. It was dusk as we headed back to the car. We passed the entrance to the park when something moved in the near dark. For a brief moment I thought it was a horse and then realized it was a dusk. I heard hooves. There were others further back hiding in the dark. I froze and watched, but it was too much and the elk closest too me backed up and turned around. That set the herd in motion and I heard them trotting down the road. Poor Coal doesn't see well in the dark but he sure heard that! We circled around and crouched down in the bushes down wind. Coal was snuffling, drawing in there sent. They would shimmer in and out of the dusk. They seemed to melt away into the twilight.

Today, I get a phone call from a co-worker. She's full of excitment I can barely understand her. She's counted 19 elk. They surrounded her car and she was babbling. So I hurried up and got on the road. HOLY WOW. It was more like 30 of them. My car was the fifth to park and watch. It reminded me of the wildlife parks you drive through, where the animals are completely habituated. Except these elk have been driven down from the mountains by the cold and snow. They were grazing and going about there business. 14 crossed the road in front of me. There were more on each side of the road. Young bulls and cows. One bull only had 1 antler. I wish I could capture in words what I saw. These big, big animals with their dainty walk. Huge eyes, and the brown fur that hid them so well the night before. And of course those amazing rump patches.

I took the picture with my cell phone. It's awful of course. I plan to go up there tomorrow too. (I'd taken my camera out of my car because it's so cold I didn't want the batteries to be drained).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

For everything there is a season

It's been quite a winter. Life and my own silliness has kept me from updating. I've had some outings but both Coal and I got a bit banged up (whiplash sucks!). I decided it was time to rediscover the 'Simple Gifts'. I may not have been writing but I have spent time taking pictures and appreciating the beauty of winter. The balance of death and life "a time to kill and a time heal" has been on mind. It's hard sometimes to accept that death and storms are a part of a full life.

Let's start with one of my favorite things - SNOW! I discovered the joy of snowshoeing. It's absolutely grand and I will go again. Someone needs to donate snow shoes :P We went along the Pacific Crest Trail, the same route I'd taken earlier. With snow shoes we got much further. I think the most amazing thing was that the trees started bombing us. Huge explosions of snow started falling from the trees high above. After the heavy thump, white, cold clouds would drift towards. At first it was just a few thumps and then it became a steady barrage that encouraged us to head towards home. I also went sledding with friends. Such fun, we even built a snow person with lichen hair. One night I also discovered an unexpected snowfall (the best kind!). I let Coal out one night and later he wanted in, for a moment I was terribly perplexed at what he had all over him. Then I started jumping up and down chanting snow (literally).

I've had some nice walks. I've watched birds and elk. I 've watched the weather. Yesterday we had 60mph winds! Watching the wind whip across the lake and carry the spray far was impressive. Of course the height of the lake is impressive, we had record breaking rainfall in January. I kept saying I was going to build an ark.

I may not have been getting out on the long outings but I love where I live. There is so much beauty and variety. Spring is definitely on it's slooooow path. Today I heard Red Wing Blackbirds singing. I saw catkins on trees and leaves start to burst out....

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

Monterey Bay

Well, I got back from California and never finished this post, so several months later here it is! We took 2 trips to Monterey, 1 to visit the aquarium and 1 to play on the beach. I had a lovely time. It's been a while since I had played on a beach and the aquarium was awesome.