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, March 26, 2006

Songs of spring

I saw my first Trillium of the Spring! I've been watching for them. As a young child I picked one for my mother. I was crushed when she told me it would take 7 years to reflower. Later there was construction happening in a near by forest, and I went and carefully dug up the Trillium and we planted them in my parents yard. They still grow there. I cherish the sense of wonder I had when I first came upon them and later being able to rescue something (and assuage my guilt). Today, I also saw flowers on Salmon Berry bushes, Skunk Cabbage and Indian Plum. I love the greens of Pacific forests, but the splashes of colors are exciting. I'm not sure which I like better. Watching the process of a flower emerge from a drab tight bud to bloom or that sense of something complete and full one day just being there. (The photo of Trillium was taken from Walking Clip Art).

I also heard the song of the Dipper. Those little birds can be so loud! I heard several actually. I never saw the birds, just heard that delightful song. They have to be one of my favorite birds. I quite enjoyed this article by Robert E Barber about Dippers. I especially enjoyed the description of an overworked male...

Dippers are full of surprises. I was recently watching a pair bring food to their nest when I saw one trying to feed the other, even though the other already had a nymph in its bill. This feeding attempt seemed to annoy the mate. Researchers believe the first stage of breeding behavior includes ritual feeding of the female by the male. I guess the male I was watching was so overworked he thought it was the beginning of the breeding season again. However, he did a good job of providing nymphs and grubs to his brood.

And I heard a White-Crowned Sparrow. It's been a while since I heard that bird, I had to check when I got home. What a wonderful mix, having a song come from high up in the trees while the Dipper sings from down beside the river. I love nature. I love being outside, but I will quite happily take advantage of the opportunities technology can provide. How delightful to get home and immediately be able to listen to the bird song and identify it for certain.

And on a humorous note, I only just got speakers for my computer. When Fancy (the cat) heard the bird song coming from the speakers she was quite interested and was soon giving them a thorough sniffing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

So much snow!

It was great, last Saturday I went and played in the Snow. I'm a bit late writing about it because I got sick with a cold. I headed up towards Franklin Falls. The road is closed, I knew I wouldn't be able to drive there. I parked where the road closes at the bridge. I was delighted by how much snow there was! Fortunately, many people with snow shoes had been that route before me, so I hiked up the road.

It had just snowed heavily the day before and everything was so beautiful. It's amazing how snow takes the ordinary and makes it seem so different. I stayed on the road passing the campground it was funny to see the gate across the road, certainly no cars were going in there anyway! In fact the gate was just barely visisble. After I passed the campground, I left the other snow lovers behind. I spent a lot of time marveling at the snow on the trees. I kept going to the Franklin Falls trailhead. I watched the Snoqualmie for a bit and decided to continue on to the Denny Creek Trailhead. I wasn't sure how far I would get, without snow shoes but the 'trail' running down the middle of the road was still neatly packed. When I reached the parking lot it was an open field of snow of course. I was thoroughly amused by the "No Parking" sign, just barely poking it's head out from the snow, like a ground hog with glasses checking for spring.

I walked maybe 1/2 mile up the Denny Creek trail, but the lack of snow shoes finally became an issue. I turned around and headed back. My curiousity got the best of me and I went into the campground. The snow wasn't well packed there and it was rough going. I did find a delightful snow woman. By the end I was sinking up to my hips in snow! Coal and I finally got back on the road and we were both tired and happy. I have always had a specail love for snow and I think part of that pleasure is snow's power to transform. My old dog acted like a pup that day. The camprground seemed like something out of a fairy tell, with odd lumps that were concealed picnic tables and the snow people waiting around the corner. Trees become shrouded, soft and plump as if they were gigantic women dressed in wedding white. I suppose that's why I was so fascinated with the cabins. Life frozen literally and figuratively

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Spring and magic of light

My Yard - I've been noticing the signs; the days are getting longer, buds on the trees and more birds singing. So I decided to search for spring. I started in my yard. I sat and listened. It was a lovely day and my human neighborhood was quiet. I heard a Red-Wing Blackbird, Stellar's Jays, Robins, Crows and another bird with a pretty song. I need to refresh my bird song knowledge. I saw a little wren flitting through my yard. Then I went looking and saw flowers in my yard.

Mostly I was amazed by the light, especially as it shown through the leaves. I have always loved the way a Douglas fir can change in the light. It seems like magic when the light reaches through the canopy and spotlights a bit of green. Again I was reminded of the value of really looking and seeing the amazing detail. I moved from the big trees to the smaller plants in yard. I couldn't help but marvel as I looked at the leaves and saw the network veins. I also enjoyed the lack of perfection. It bothers me sometimes, how people always want to take the picture of the perfect flower or leaf or tree. It's the scars and marks and uniqueness that tells the story and holds the imagination. The stories in my own yard inspired me to ponder life while watching the light shift from my hamock. I have to admit, it's not that warm yet I piled up the blankets.

The Walk- After a nice nap (pondering often leads to napping of course) I visited one of my favorite places along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I knew it would be full of Spring life. As I got out of my car I heard a Kingfisher and caught the reflection of Mt Si in the little pond. It was clearly going to be a delightful walk. I heard Towhees and when I got to the marshy spot I was rewarded with the a myriad of Red-Wing Blackbird voices I'd been hoping for. One RW Blackbird seemed to only sing half of the song. It sounded quite abrupt compared to the others. I've been known to spend quite a bit of time just watching and listening on that one spot. I love hearing bird songs and there was so many! Today I moved on fairly quickly, as the sun set I was captivated by the colors and glow. I stood by the river for a bit watching the ripples of the water. I never get tired of watching water move and it seemed to take on such a rich color. As dusk began to deepen my attention returned again to the trees marked by brightness. It's amazing how my attitudes have changed since I moved to the Snoqualmie Valley. Living in this place of beauty and wilderness, I am starting to appeciate all aspects of nature more deeply. When I drove away the herd of Elk was at the back of the meadow, I was delighted to see them but the earlier experiences show just as brightly.