Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Signs of the Season

So it is barely the middle of September, but I think I saw snow falling on the top of Mt. Olympus during our last rainstorm and the temperatures are below 50 degrees at night already. My gut feeling is that we are going to have a much colder winter this year, with snow levels dropping below 2,500 ft.

While I am not the Farmer's Almanac (my father worked there as a Marketing Director ages ago), and I have not seen any fuzzy worms, I have had a fair amount of accuracy forecasting weather trends. Not that anyone has any records of mine, but I just seem to sense it and I respect that intuitive feed.

I have a friend over in Hong Kong who says it has been unseasonably hot, but he doesn't live there full time so he doesn't know what that means. I think the weather patterns are all 'calli-whumpas' (turned about and upside down) because Mama Gaia is trying to sort out some things. Kind of like when you had fall cleaning and threw things around when you weren't sure what to do with them.

But all summer has been cooler than normal over here, lots more small craft and gale warnings in the Juan de Fuca Straits, and now we are getting a smattering of rain showers and plenty of cloud cover to make the temperatures plummet at night.

Canadian Geese in the Solmar Pond, Sequim, WA
I usually do not bring out my heavy duty down comforter until after Halloween, but I am not sure I will last that long since my present covers have little warming capabilities. And my cats have found their own cozy places, so I don't even have them cuddling up to me anymore.

Female mallard duck among the geese; didn't see her mate.
The ducks and geese are leaving enough feathers floating on the nearby pond to make a least one down pillow, possibly two.

That usually means they have new (pin) feathers coming in and in the effort to break the casing, they knock out older ones.

I remember when my birds were moulting how they preened and groomed significantly more often. And there were lots of feathers flying around.
Lots and lots of sleepy geese; worn out from flying south?

Whatever is going on, I am aware it is cooler, and I'm still hoping for some warm fall days. There are still some trails I want to walk and places I want to explore.

I recently saw a photograph of Thorndyke Lake in Jaffrey, N.H. It was reflecting some beautiful foliage, but my sister tells me that they've been having a drought and the colors are no where near as intense as they might be for this time of year.

So, find your color where you can, get warm, and just enjoy what Mother Nature is throwing at us... she is always full of surprises!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Already September? Fall is coming...

I am not entirely sure what has happened to summer because now the leaves are falling and we're back to cool temperatures again.

And the inside contra dances have started which is better for me since dancing in the dirt is hard on my back... the resistance of the ground is too much. But here are some photos of the last summer contra dance at the Sequim Library and I love how the late summer sun enhances all the colors that everyone is wearing.

Dancing bare feet, kicking up dirt and dust, a delight to watch
and once it was a great joy for me to do, too.
And now I'm over in Issaquah with my daughter's family, shopping for school clothes, kids heading off to school, helping to carry some of the burden since my son-in-law has to connect to family this week out of town. I'd forgotten the stresses on all as the summer routine fades into a more strict one for the fall and winter. Plus now there are 14 of the month-old chickens to add to the mix. It's been a little exciting at times!

There are other changes in the air, but it's too soon to share any details just yet. Enough to say that while I've been happy on my own this summer, it always adds a little sparkle to have a glimmer of more to come.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Only Hurricane here is the Ridge

I am more than grateful to not have to board up my windows and stock up on water and food like my son and friends in Florida have to do for the next two months.

You see, it's hurricane season there: June, too soon; July, stand by; August, a must; September, remember; October, nearly over; November.... well, who knows what it was for November? Pretty rare for intense storms in November.

So the only hurricane I think about out here is Hurricane Ridge... is it open? Are the roads clear? Can I go up in my car or do I have to take the shuttle (because there's too much snow).

Deer are unafraid of humans on the Ridge. 
Going up to Hurricane Ridge reminds me ever so faintly of the family trips up to Miller State Park on Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, N.H. (And I find it interesting we have a Miller State Park here in Clallam County, too, but not for the same guy.)
Driving back down from the Ridge taking photo from sunroof.

First, there was the decision to go, and sometimes it must have felt to my parents like herding snakes to get all four of us into the station wagon.

Then there was the food, coolers of beverages, fruit, ingredients for cooking over the campfire and as I'm remembering it, I was 9 or 10 and probably not a lot of help.

The drive from our house to the base of the mountain was less than half an hour, but as most kids remember things, it seemed so much, much longer.

The road was winding, and sometimes when I have dreams of roads up mountains, my brain uses that one as a backdrop.

Once on top, we charged around on the smooth granite looking for the best site to claim as our own for the evening, expecting it would get cool enough for a campfire. I know we usually went up there late in the summer because the hunt was on for blueberries on the low-growing bushes.

And the best part of all was climbing up the forest ranger lookout tower  (The link will take you to Chuck's webpage about the park and you can see his photos. I don't have any to share.) to see how far we could see without binoculars. For me that was the stair in front of me because I was so nearsighted.

But I could push my coke bottle glasses into my face and increase the clarity a little bit that way. Honestly, I didn't mind it because I didn't know any different. My life was a haze from early on and only by the light of the moon at home in bed could I read without straining my eyes. Strange.

What moves this even more into the Twilight Zone is that the park was named for General James Miller, a hero of the Battle of Lundy's Lane in the War of 1812, and a native of Hancock. I was unaware of the humor of the Universe that would 10 years later march me down the aisle with a guy who had the same name, but I'm not sure if the joke extended to his being a distant relation of the General.

Coming down the mountain after running around, eating all kinds of foods, including marshmallows, melted chocolates and graham bars, it was almost a certainty someone would call out, "I'm feeling sick..." and my father would rush to find a wide enough spot to pull over before his vehicle was permanently sullied.

And my last visit to the park was when we drove my mother up there for a picnic with assorted other relatives and by then she was getting a haze in her eyes as she was approaching 90, I think. As we reminisced about 'the good old days,' she reminded me that coming up to have a cook-out was no picnic for her. I said, "Yup, that's pretty much what I'd think about it now if I had to bring a wild bunch up here, but I am grateful for the memories I have."

I'm not sure if I knew then that might be my last visit as well... who knows when I might return? But my memory carries me up and over that last hump in the road to the parking lot and I don't have to ask permission to get out of the car and rush to the highest rock to look down on home.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hot Night on the Spit

It was really hot in Sequim tonight, so I decided to go down to Dungeness Spit and have a picnic dinner.
Path to Dungeness Spit as sun sets.
I tried to find a friend to go with me, but one was going up to the lake and another was going to the casino to dance and the other one never replied.

Oh, well, I'm pretty good company for myself, so off I went. It was definitely in my plan to have a walk before or after dinner and this way I certainly got to do that... both ways.

There wasn't much of a breeze, and because it was already after 6 p.m., the path to the spit was quiet.

My picnic dinner on the spit.
I could hear birds fluttering about getting into a nest someplace, or making those last calls to others to come and roost. The sea air filtered up through the tall evergreens mixing with the dusty forest smell.

Nice. Peaceful.
I walked alone and just as I got down near the spit I could see a few folks making their way up the path because there is a deadline that everyone has to be off the beach one half hour before sunset. 

And out of the ether come yellow jackets. How do they know there is food to be eaten? I kept pushing one away and finally had to cover up what I was trying to eat, only opening it when I was ready to take a bite. And one of them got into the plastic bag that was holding grapes. But when I stopped feeling resistance to their presence, they took off. That was weird. 

When the tide is in, the spit looks like it is littered with
dinosaur bones. If you look closely you can see someone
up on one of the huge logs near the tideline.
Sunset watching is done up on the bluff and then you have to be out of the park at 'dusk,' which is a sort of fluid time because some days (if cloudy) it gets darker quicker than if it is clear, like it was tonight.
The Olympic range gets a lovely purple color as the light fades, but the
smoky haze affects the colors right now.
These are the bluffs that are eroding
at an alarming rate.
I did manage to walk for 43 minutes, getting credit for 4256 steps, which is about 2 miles, I think.

There is such a 'beachy' smell there... washed up bird feathers, small crabs, shells of other things, seaweed, damp sand from the recent high tide, and weathered salt-infused wood.
I later discovered this was a couple who were
celebrating a wedding anniversary.
Soon it was time to head back up and a couple that I had taken a photo of walking on the beach asked me to take their photo with their camera because it is their wedding anniversary. Congratulations, you two!!
The sun is setting earlier now; it was 8:05 p.m. tonight.

Then it was off to the bluff to watch the sunset. I am not sure if the time of sunset is when it starts or when it finishes. I wasn't watching my time as I took the photos. All I know is that it is now getting darker a little bit sooner every day.

No disappointment in the sunset tonight... all the smoke from the fires in the Olympics created a lovely reddish glow and I met a nice woman from Tacoma so we chatted as the sun set, with me taking photos as we shared observations. 
Just after the sun set, the Puget Sound breeze began and the
air chilled down immediately. And I live here!!
Thanks, Christina, for making the evening more colorful! And for using my favorite saying, "Does it get any better than this?"
Everyone is gone; hope the sun comes back tomorrow...
By the time I got home the temperature inside was down to a livable 75. I checked on the cats and they were still alive - not roasted yet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer's Closing

Sterling Silver, old rose's last bloom.
I cannot believe it is the latter part of August and summer, such as it was for us, is closing down.

Oh yes, we will have some gorgeous warm days now, but the sun is setting earlier and earlier and the signs are all there.

A huge clue for me is when my Sterling Silver rose puts out one last burst of glorious lavender color and although the floribunda has several blooms, usually only one has its trademark scent in any density.

So, that day has arrived. I picked it so I can enjoy it inside for a few days, but there won't be many.

And unfortunately, I cannot provide you, my dear readers, with a sample sniff... it's a heady rose smell, really quite strong, with an energy that just heals you as you inhale. I cannot describe it much better than that.

Please enjoy the photos and intend with me that we all enjoy the fall and all the beauty it will bring us as we let the roses rest for another season. (Shot with my Canon EOS Rebel with a telephoto and a macro, just for fun.)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blueberry delight

Blueberry heaven for me is being able to walk out my door and pick them. And blueberry season is my absolute favorite time of year. Having fresh blueberries is really all I ever want during the summer. 
Blueberries just waiting for the sprinkler to quit.
Oh yeah, I love strawberries and raspberries and I make jam out of them, but it's these little delicate morsels of sun-kissed blueness that tickles me best.
I have a friend who married into a family with a blueberry patch and I was invited over to help pick them.

They are (were) pretty good, but I think my almost-1/2 inch berries could give them a run for the judge's stand if I could get more than a handful at a time.

And for lots of folks now blueberry harvesting is all over.
This is an almost-life-sized photo of the blueberries I am growing. Yum!
I seem to be blessed to have a late blooming variety I guess, or else there is enough shade that they don't know what day it is.

But one of my plants (they were all installed last year) gave very few blooms and so little fruit that I am considering removing it from the area and putting it out and away to survive on its own. You have to pull your weight in my garden and six berries doesn't cut it.

The other three have done really well, and the ones shown here have had the biggest and sweetest fruit.
Right after I took the pictures I gathered up all the bluest ones which amounted to about 1/2 a cup. No point in saving them, so I ate them all with every shard of sunshine still in them. They were exquisite.

Oh, you wanted me to save one for you? You didn't speak up soon enough... sorry.