N-N-1 Autumn 2020

The results of another great writing and photography challenge!

For several years now, I’ve participated in a delightful photography/creative writing experiment that was created by two of my favorite bloggers, Anju, who writes This Labyrinth I Roam, and Norm, who writes Classical Gasbag. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explains it, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time.

Norm hosted this edition, and the subject was Autumn 2020. We all know that this has been a crazy year, and as we transition into a different season, all the participants had the opportunity to reflect on the insanity. The results are bittersweet, but in the end, there’s always hope, and that was reflected in many of the write ups. That’s what I cling to.

Please check out the really beautiful photos and the thoughtful, accompanying writing at Norm’s blog. (My photo appears below, but you’ll have to visit Norm’s blog for the write up.)

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Leavenworth Revisited

It’s amazing how the tenor of a trip changes with its participants.

It seems as though every state has an historic and/or heavily themed, touristy albeit delightful little town. St. Augustine, Florida. Helen, Georgia. Solvang, California. Williamsburg, Virginia. Leavenworth, Washington. I love visiting these places, but only infrequently. Too often, and it starts to feel like overindulging at a buffet. It seems like a great idea, until you do it.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Leavenworth, Washington for the second time. I wrote about my first visit, and reading back I can tell how lonely I was that time around. This time I got to go with my husband. It’s amazing how the tenor of a trip changes with its participants. I had fun in 2015, without a doubt. But I really loved it this time.

The whole Bavarian-themed town was decked out for Christmas, and I must say, they do a phenomenal job of it. I truly felt as though I was walking in a winter wonderland. And of course, there are dozens of shops that are ready and willing to prey upon one’s holiday spirit.

We spent a lot of time searching for the ideal ornament to commemorate our first Christmas together. (I’ve written about this tradition of mine before.) After about 8 stores, we finally found the perfect one: A blown glass heart made from the ash of Mount St. Helens. We both have certainly risen from figurative ashes, and we’re all about the love these days. Just right.

We also bought a copper leaf, as we enjoy the colored leaves of autumn. That will have pride of place against our dark purple wall in the living room. Autumn all year round. (The shop that makes these had entire wreaths of them, too, and they were tempting, but we really are trying not to accumulate too much stuff.)

It was fun exploring all the tiny little shops. It was like Diagon Alley without the wizardry. (I have to say, though, I could never work in one of these places. They probably listen to Christmas music for three months at a stretch. That would drive me insane.)

The absolute highlight of the visit was our dinner at the Watershed Café. That deserved a post all its own, so I wrote about it a few days ago. So good. So very, very good.

After that, we wandered around the town square, taking in the holiday lights. What color! And mind you, this was before their official Christmas Tree Lighting. I can’t imagine how they could possibly top what they already have done.

That night we stayed in the Blackbird Lodge. Like the rest of downtown, it is faithful to the Bavarian theme, but it’s not over the top. It’s very tasteful and cozy. We even had a lovely little fireplace in our room. And the views were spectacular. I absolutely loved the place. (My only complaint would be their complimentary breakfast. It was make it yourself waffles and coffee. That’s it. That’s all. No OJ. No milk. No cereal. No bagels. Nothing. And there was only one waffle iron, and since each waffle takes 2 ½ minutes, quite the line was formed. Come on, guys, you can do better than that.)

The next morning we walked in the park along the river. The mountain views are spectacular. It reminded me of my first trip there. Then, I was walking my dogs and feeling a bit sorry for myself. This time, I was holding the hand of the best human being I know, and realizing just how lucky I am. Quite the upgrade, indeed.

Without further ado, here are some photos from our trip.

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Seasonal Transitions

I am so grateful to be living in a climate of seasons again.

I love the transition between summer and autumn. It’s my favorite time of year. A respite from the heat, but not yet miserably cold. A sense of enjoying the sun as the days perceptibly shorten. A slight frisson because there’s an ancestral fear of not surviving the winter. An appreciation of abundance while it lasts. A feeling of being on the brink of an adventure.

This started me thinking of other seasonal transitions.

Autumn to winter is a time to hunker down, muddle through, and try to stay warm. It’s also when you take a deep breath before diving headlong into the exhausting holiday season. It’s a time of conserving your resources. The horizons seem to shrink. My instinct is always to stay closer to home.

Winter to spring! Excitement! Birth! Beginnings! Flowers! Pent up energy just bursting to come out! The end to hibernation! The overuse of exclamation points!!!!!

Spring to summer, for me, is a little fraught. I love the lengthening days. I adore the vacations. It’s nice to have less bulky laundry to do. It feels good to be outside, enjoying all that nature has to offer. But it’s also freakin’ hot. And you have to mow. I don’t do hot and I’m a resentful mower.

Regardless, I am so grateful to be living in a climate of seasons again. You don’t really get spring or autumn in Florida, and I felt their absence keenly. I enjoy marking the passage of time. I love the variety, the anticipation, the change.

Life, man. Nature. It’s incredible.


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O’Dark Thirty

I’ve been in Seattle for two years now, and I’d like to think I’m adapting well. But as Autumn establishes itself, I start to feel as if I’m in a foreign country. I suspect that will always be the case.

Not since I lived in the Netherlands have I experienced such extreme changes in daylight from one season to the next. Here in the summer, you get about 16 hours of daylight, and in the winter you get about 8 ½ hours. Back in Florida there was only a 4 hour sunlight difference from summer to winter, and for the most part it remained miserably hot, so you tried to avoid the sun anyway.

I am constantly disconcerted by the winters here, when it’s pitch black by 5 p.m. To me, darkness means it’s later in the evening.  So why am I not tired? “Oh… it’s not even dinner time yet.”

And in the summer, I constantly think I’ve overslept when I hear the birds chirping and see bright light at 5 a.m. Whose brilliant idea was that? What’s wrong with you people???

Too, it feels like I’m working a completely different schedule when I come to and/or leave work in the dark when this was not the case a few short weeks ago.

The overall vibe here is very different from season to season. In the winter, people seem to get subdued. There’s a lot more silence and a lot less socializing. People seem to hibernate. The energy in this city is a lot lower at this time of year.

I have to admit, though, it makes me much more aware of the passage of time. It also makes me more appreciative of the sunlight when I actually see it, and the flowers that bloom and the vegetables that grow. I used to take those things for granted. Never again.

And Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. That crisp crackle in the air gives me a burst of energy that seems to elude the average Seattleite. I love the colors that nature puts forth, like the last hurrah before a colorless winter.

Still, just when I think I’ve gotten used to this place, another month rolls around, with a different feel, and it’s like I’m back to square one. I can well imagine what it would be like to live in Alaska, with its days of darkness. I can imagine it, but I sure wouldn’t want to live through it. Everything is relative.


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Exploring Washington State—Leavenworth

One of the best things about moving from Florida to Washington State is that I’m getting to experience seasons again for the first time in many decades. And my favorite season happens to be Autumn. What I didn’t realize, though, is that you actually have to make a bit of an effort to see leaves change in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is called the Emerald City for a reason. The whole area is mostly evergreen trees. Still beautiful, but you know, I want to see some orange at this time of year.

So, planning ahead last year, and hoping I’d have someone in my life to take a romantic mini-break with by now (Not. Sigh.), I requested some time off in October. I decided to head on up to Leavenworth.

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style village in the Cascade Mountains about 2 hours east of Seattle. The drive there along highway 405 is absolutely stunning. I enjoyed seeing the rivers and the mountains, and didn’t even mind when my ears popped when I went over Stevens Pass. And yes, here and there as you’d go around a curve you’d see pockets of brightly colored leaves.

And Leavenworth itself is a quaint, romantic (waaaaah!) and touristy town, full of shops and restaurants (see this blog entry to learn about the best one) and a gorgeous waterfront park. They keep faithfully to the Bavarian theme, almost to the point where you think if you see another bratwurst or hear another oom-pa-pa, you might lose your mind. Most signs are also in German, and you even glimpse goats grazing on the hillside. It’s stunning in the fall, and I bet it is even more so in the winter.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you visit Leavenworth!

IMG_1180 IMG_1174

The Little Things

On my drive to work today I got tears in my eyes; tears of gratitude. I came around a curve and saw a tree with flaming red leaves. You don’t see too many trees whose leaves change in the fall in this Emerald City of Seattle, but you see enough. Enough to make you appreciate them even all the more. I am back in a place where leaves change color! I can’t explain how much that means to someone who hasn’t seen it in 30 years.

There are so many other things here that bring me back to the climate of my childhood. Moss. Rocks. The smell of rich, dark earth. Soft grass. Water that actually tastes good. It’s all so precious to me. Priceless, because it took so much for me to get to this place of abundance. So forgive me for being maudlin, but tears are bound to flow.

Here are a few more pictures of little things that have made my heart squeeze.


Plants that I’ve never seen before.


Sunlight sparkling through crystal clear rippling water onto smooth stones.


A large snail in a city lake.

Abundance is mine!

I Heart October

Ah, the first brisk chill in the air that heralds the end of the oppressive heat of September! Oktoberfest. The riot of color that makes one fall in love with the trees all over again. Apple cider. The chance to break out a completely different part of my wardrobe. Corn mazes. The renewed energy of dogs. Fires in the fireplace. Change! October is my favorite month.

Too bad I live in Florida, where the only seasons are summer and January.

I keep trying to convince my northern friends to get about 50 autumn leaves of various shapes, sizes and colors, laminate them, and send them to me so that I can scatter them all over my living room carpet, but so far my powers of persuasion leave a great deal to be desired.

Having spent the first 10 years of my life in Connecticut, I must say that I miss autumn, winter and spring. I miss snowballs and icicles (that most strangely spelled of all words), I miss planting flower bulbs and watching them burst through that very last patch of snow, those first hints of color heralding new life and new possibilities.

Without seasons, it’s hard to gauge the passage of time. Without that death, hibernation and rebirth, how can you be reminded that life goes on? How can you keep the faith that things will get better?

I have been trying to move north for nearly 30 years, and something always gets in my way. So I am left to gaze longingly at photos like the one below.

Enjoy what you have.

autumn leaves