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)

Monday, May 29, 2006


Perhaps Memorial Day is for Veterans but all life is valuable. I didn't know any of the people buried them, but I wanted to show my respect. I knelt down and brushed the grass away from a grave. Someone loved that person. Each person touches so many lives. What I finally came to understand today, is that in showing respect for the dead we are showing our value of life.

Memorial Day

I call this my nature blog and focus on the 'gifts' of the natural world. Today, in honor of Memorial Day, I am thinking about the gift of life and freedom. I went to our local cemetary and I spent some time. I read grave stones. I have heard it said that Memorial Day has lost all meaning, but that's not what I saw. I watched a steady flow of visitors. Before I arrived, someone had collected the fallen blossums of the rhodendren and set them on graves of veterans. Someone had uncovered some graves that were being lost to vegetation. I put some blossums back and collected a few more placing them on graves that had been missed.

I took the pictures in the hope that someone else could share in the beauty and sadness of the cemetary. That someone else would pause for a moment to reflect on a life gone.

Any phto can be seen larger by clicking on it
See next post for more

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Denny Creek Trail

I returned to a place that a few months ago was a magical winter wonderland. I suppose the transition of seasons should cease to amaze me, but I still get filled with wonder. I kept looking around and remembering everything lost under several feet of snow.

Ever since I headed up the Denny Creek trail I've been wanting to go back. I knew it might still be snow bound but I had to try. It was a miserable day for a hike, raining and cool. Most people are wiser then I and there was only 1 car in the parking lot when I arrived. I loved the board walk that crossed over a wetland area and the skunk cabbage was just getting started here. Everything was new and fresh, spring only beginning. I only went about .5 miles, at most, before I got into snow. The lone hiker was headed down with ski poles and snow shoes strapped to his pack.

Sign says "Main Trail"

Have you ever hiked on very wet snow , densely packed snow? On sneakers? He was more sensible then I, but I was alone in the magic of the forest. The going was slow and I never made it past the slipper slab, but it seemed like I'd stepped into another world. Mist rose from the snow, shrouding the forest. The sound of rain and the river hummed and there was the knowledge that I was the only human around. Time and again, I think it's an experience everyone should have. The sense of aloneness reminds us how small we are and how vast the world around us is.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -John Muir

I was cold and wet but I sat in solitude and watched the water for a long time. When I headed home it was with a feeling of hope. Time and water have smoothed the rough edges off the giant rocks at Denny Creek; for a moment I shared in that.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day flowers

For May Day I went looking for flowers while hiking at Cougar Mountain (see previous entry). Here are some photos. I couldn't resist adding in some general plant pictures and some photos taken previously in my yard.

Fawn Lilly - One of the few plants Flowering in the Native Plant meadow

Bleeding Heart, it was all over the woods but I couldn't get a good picture

Red Flowering Currant

Apple Blossum- I wish this had turned out better, there's a bee in the center

Some plants on the hike

Bracken Fern so fresh and green

I love the light through the leaves.

It's not a flower or a plant, but it's so cool! It's fascinating how it's been partially eaten

Flowers from my yard (taken April 21)

May Day

I had planned a full day of hiking. The weather forecast however was looking uncertain. So I decided to sleep in and have a mellow morning. It hailed heavily and the temperature is cool (snow level down to 2,ooo Ft) so I was feeling very doubtful about heading into the mountains. It took me much longer then usual to choose a place to go. Perhaps part of my problem is there are too many options. After looking through many books and maps I chose Cougar Mountain. It's a place I always shy away from because it's so close to Seattle. I suppose I'm a snob, but it doesn't seem right to head in to Seattle to get to wilderness and I worry about crowds. I read an entry in 55 Hikes Around Snoqulamie Pass that finalized my decision.

"Pause at the Red Town Ballpark, where the Newcastle town played Black Diamond, Renton, Franklin and other competitors in the Coal County League. Come in April through June for the climax flowering in the ball field in it's new role as the Native Plants Meadow, the largest within 40 miles of Seattle, lovingly tended by volunteers of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club and Washington Native Plant Society and staff of King County Parks."

I wanted to see some wild flowers. I had already been reflecting on the fact it was May Day. I was nostalgic for the young girl who was thrilled to pick flowers and leave them on door steps. My mom was always so pleased, even when it was a bouquet of dandelions, and I was convinced I was doing a Great Deed. I always felt so intimidated in walking up to someone's door and knocking (still do), but the idea of leaving a bit of anonymous brightness made it an adventure not an intrusion. (see next entry for more flower/plant photos)

So I wandered the trails finding adventure and brightness. The weather magically changed and sunshine splashed through the canopy. There were amazingly displays of green. I walked to the Coal Creek waterfall and light danced on the water. Finally I ended up in the sunlit meadow. There weren't as many flowers as I'd hoped for but I sat on a bench in warm sunshine listening to the hum of bees and the burble of water and I felt at peace with the Spring day. Perhaps that little girl I was missing is quite alive in me after all.

Coal in Coal creek (I just couldn't resist)

Coal Creek lush and green

Green on Green

Meadow bench

Looking up

Coal Creak Falls