To celebrate the 6th anniversary of my having moved to Seattle sight unseen, we decided to visit some other unseen sights. I’ve already blogged about Flaming Geyser State Park, and I will soon post a blog about the ghost town of Franklin, Washington, and when I do, you’ll be able to find it here. But between those two stops, we also popped into the Green River Gorge Resort.
There’s a lot of breathtaking beauty to this place. But to enjoy much of it, you have to be willing to descend into the gorge itself. While I wouldn’t have minded do that, I would have minded the ascent back up quite a bit indeed. And I was anxious to check out the ghost town, so we only had a brief taste of this amazing place. I suspect we’ll be back. If you’d like to see more of the gorge in this area, check out this post by a fellow blogger, Lisa Parsons. Her photos and descriptions are a delight.
Instead of climbing, we chose to park and walk out onto the one lane bridge that crosses the gorge. Hoo, but it’s a long way down! From there we could see the lovely Green River, and the swimmers who were basking in the sun. I definitely can see why people make the effort to go down there, but this was just not the day for it, for me at least.
Washington State has such a varied landscape. Here I was, still in the county in which I reside, gazing at this paradise! Moving out here was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
After enjoying the bridge, we went back to the parking lot, and there was a stunning spring. It was crystal clear, and poured down to various pools before waterfalling into the gorge itself. There were hoses set up so you could fill your own receptacles with spring water. We happened to have a gallon jug in the car, so we filled up and dropped a donation in the box. It’s wonderful water. You can taste the minerals. I felt healthier for having drunk from this spring.
What follows are some photos we took during this brief stop. We didn’t linger, because there was a ghost town in our future. Watch this space!
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I used to have a gorgeous picnic basket. Made of beautifully woven reeds, with a double hinged lid, it had a removable wooden stilted platform inside so that you could keep your pie (of course) from being crushed by all the other food. It was complete with special slots to hold one’s cutlery.
I imagined many a romantic outing in gorgeous parks, taking in the view and sitting upon a pretty red and white checked blanket that I didn’t actually own. And the culinary delights, which I wouldn’t be able to cook, that would come out of that basket would be finished off by a bottle of wine, even though I don’t drink alcohol. And what the hell, why not, I’d be wearing something Victorian, with a gorgeous hat, which of course is not part of my wardrobe.
As you can imagine, I never used that basket. Not even once. And it didn’t make my relocation from the East coast to the West. It just took up too much space. I had to leave a lot behind.
No, my picnics usually consist of a Subway sandwich consumed while sitting alone on some rock or other. And that’s a pity, because food always tastes so much better outdoors. It makes me wish I were the pie baking sort.
In light of this pandemic, I think picnics should come back into fashion. None of us can afford much these days, and a lot is closed. But the weather is warming up and flowers are blooming, and all of that is free. There’s nothing to prevent us from lovingly preparing a meal that we’d be eating anyway, and sitting in our back yard or on our patio or even on the living room floor, and taking in the view of our partners in lockdown.
Yeah, it’s not a Victorian picnic complete with footmen to pour the wine, but it’ll do.
The weather is finally starting to warm up and I’ve been feeling claustrophobic due to this quarantine, so I was standing in my doorway, gazing out into the back yard. Then a male Dark-Eyed Junko landed on the deck and kind of danced in front of me. He was quite agitated. I couldn’t imagine what I had done to garner so much attention. Then his female counterpart, heavily pregnant, came on the scene and gave me a stern talking-to.
Ah, so there must be a nest nearby. Good on them. I quietly left the area, and will do my best to not be an intrusive part of their lives in the next few months. Fortunately, we are rather isolated, and I’ve never seen a stray cat in our yard.
I’m not saying I dislike cats. I actually love them. If I weren’t so allergic to them, I’d probably have one. But I do have a problem with people who let their cats roam outside. According to this article, cats are responsible for the deaths of up to 3.7 billion (yes, with a b) birds in the continental US each year. When you consider that 1/3 of the bird species in the US are endangered, that’s a horrifying number. These same cats also kill up to 20.7 billion mammals annually.
Yes, I get it. These cats are doing what cats do. Nature is harsh. But here’s the thing. These are your pets. You are the responsible one. You can keep your cats indoors, or at least in a catio, at a bare minimum from Mid-April to the end of July, can’t you? Sure you can. You can also have your cats spayed and neutered to reduce the stray cat population. These are the actions of a responsible pet owner.
I know your cat wants to roam. But another thing to consider is that your cat, unsupervised, is in quite a lot of danger. The average stray cat only lives for 2 years. On a daily basis, outdoor cats have to survive cat fights, cars, dogs, coyotes, weather, and other predators. They are eating disease-carrying animals and spoiled food. Their stress level is always high. These factors reduce the lifespan of even beloved pets who only go out occasionally. So keeping them inside is also the kindest thing you can do for them.
Do the right thing this spring. Please be responsible. Keep your cats indoors.
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.
This year, I’ll have had the distinct pleasure of experiencing Pacific Northwest springs for 4 years in a row. After the dreariness of winter, it’s such a delightful gift. To celebrate it, I’ve gone to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival for 3 out of the 4 springs. Each experience was unique.
The first year I blogged about the area in detail. I went alone. Because of that it was bittersweet, but it gave me the chance to really focus in on the surroundings. I still had a lovely time.
On year two, I went with a dear friend, and had even more fun. She is an amazing photographer, so the experience was even more of a visual treat. And we had a great lunch afterward.
This year, I went with my boyfriend, and we visited Tulip Town. It was absolutely stunning and romantic and a pure delight. I can’t imagine a better way to revel in the pure joy of spring!
Each festival experience was different. Each was wonderful. I’ll be going back again and again, without a doubt.
Without further ado, here are some of the pictures that we took on that glorious sunny day this time around. Enjoy!
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I’m looking forward to a rare day of sunshine here in the Pacific Northwest, and the temperature is expected to rise to a delightful 65 degrees. Spring! Happy dance!
Meanwhile, a dear friend in Kansas had to hunker down the other day in anticipation of 2 to 4 inches of snow. In April. This is not normal. The world has gone mad.
It used to be that the weather was considered to be the safest of all possible topics. We are all told to avoid politics and religion over Thanksgiving dinner, but the weather… we could all agree on that, couldn’t we?
Not anymore. The weather has become political. At a time when California is burning to the ground, islands are sinking beneath the ocean waves, there is severe flooding, drought, dust storms engulfing entire cities, super storms of all kinds, and unprecedented ice cap melting, we are expected to avoid the meteorological elephant in the room. Even governmental websites are deleting any references to global climate change.
I never thought I’d see the day when liberals would be considered the most conservative people on earth, but we are the ones that are wanting to take precautions to safeguard the planet. Even if you don’t believe in the overwhelming science of climate change, even if you refuse to look at the evidence before your very eyes, how can you justify not wanting to take steps, just in case? If this really does turn out to be our last chance to save ourselves, don’t you want to be aboard that ark?
What is wrong with reducing our dependence on fossil fuels? Why not recycle? Would it kill you to plant a tree? Is it really so hard to be a little bit smarter about your water usage? Why is expecting our corporations not to pour their toxic waste into our rivers and streams so controversial?
Seriously. Explain it to me. Because I don’t get it.
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One of the best things about the advent of spring is that I find more and more opportunities to walk barefoot. I love the feeling of grass under my feet and sand between my toes. I love feeling connected to the planet, especially after long months of raw, bitter, wet, isolating cold.
In particular, I love the grass out west. It’s soft and smooth, like the grass of my Connecticut childhood. In the South, one is forced to live with St. Augustine grass, which is actually lumpy and painful to walk on. That, and you have to watch out for fire ants and snakes and scorpions and hostile plant life. It’s not the same experience at all. (But I do miss walking on Southern beaches! Warm sand, not painful rocks!)
But walking barefoot, or “earthing”, is now being scientifically studied. It comes as no surprise to me that people are discovering that there are actual health benefits to the practice. I know I feel calmer and happier and much more centered when I’m barefoot.
According to this article, scientists are discovering that earthing improves sleep, reduces inflammation, and increases antioxidants. It has something to do with having direct contact with the electrons that the planet produces. It also reduces stress, regulates glucose and heartbeat, and increases immunity. According to this article, walking barefoot also helps loosen tense muscles, relieves headaches, reduces menstrual cramps, and boosts energy levels.
Whether or not these studies stand up to further investigation, I just know, instinctively, that I feel better when I can feel the earth beneath my feet. After all, we evolved to live upon it. Our very existence depends on it. We are meant to be connected to it. I find it sad that our idea of “progress” is removing us more and more from the natural world.
When I lived in Florida, I used to take sunshine for granted. As a matter of fact, I kind of looked upon it as a creator of sweat, sunburn and humidity, and avoided it whenever possible. Mine was a closed-in, air-conditioned existence.
Not so in Washington State. Here, I glory in the sunshine whenever it’s available. (I haven’t gone completely native. I still tend to get hindered by the rain, but I go outdoors every sunny chance I get.) About half the year, I even eat dinner on my back porch.
Recently it actually got up to 70 degrees for a whole day, and I had the opportunity to go hiking with a friend, and afterward we just sat on a lakeside park bench and soaked up the sun. It was glorious. It was transforming. It was the perfect way to spend the day. Bliss. Simple. Free. It still makes me smile, just thinking about it.
Don’t you just love it when you feel glad to be alive? The sun’s rays and a friend with a sunny disposition. What gifts.
Come on, Spring! Hit me with all the goodness! I can take it!
When I lived in Florida, I avoided nature at all costs. For me it was a place of spiders and snakes and mosquitoes and lightning strikes and fire ants and tornadoes and floods and, increasingly, forest fires. You couldn’t even jump into a pile of leaves for the scorpions. (How does one get through childhood without jumping into at least one leaf pile?)
Status quo was heat and humidity and sweat and sunburns. Mostly, I hid indoors, and went into full-blown panic if my air conditioning broke down. In fact, life was hopping from one air-conditioned oasis to the next. All my windows were painted shut. Having that contentious relationship with the great outdoors, I kind of had the mindset that I was surviving in spite of, rather than because of, nature.
It’s amazing how quickly my attitude changed when I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Here, I don’t even own an air conditioner. During the warmer months, my windows practically stay open. I have a new-found love for fresh air. During those same months, I have dinner on my back porch every evening. I’ve yet to encounter a mosquito, let alone anything else that might bite me. I don’t even own any bug spray.
Here, I get outdoors every chance I get. I’m starting to look at the rainy, grey winter months (which I confess I’ll never get used to), as the penance I have to pay for the exquisite gifts of spring, summer, and fall. This is the first time I’ve experienced seasons in 40 years. They’re magical.
Perhaps nature is more than one entity. I like its personality much better here than I did in Florida. Here, we’re friends, not enemies. And I didn’t realize how much my life lacked for not having that friendship until it finally came along.
The sun is shining and I feel like I’m emerging from the hibernation that is induced by a Seattle winter. I want to get outside and explore! I want to hop on a plane! I want to roll around naked in a field of flowers!
Yeah. That’s not going to happen.
Weather notwithstanding, I still have a job that expects my attendance, and bills to pay and garbage to drag out to the curb. Life has this annoying habit of going on.
I am looking forward to getting off work and spending a few hours each day basking in the sun in my back yard with Quagmire, though. That’s my warm weather Seattle routine. Me and Quag, just the two of us. We can make it if we try.
I’m also looking forward to going to the farmer’s market every week again. And I plan to take Quagmire to the dog park more often. And there’s so much in this town and state that I’ve yet to see. Maybe I’ll do some of that, too.
This restlessness is Spring fever, I know. And it’s also the realization that I’m not getting any younger and there’s so much I still want to do. And the fact that I’d really rather not do all these things alone, and yet here I am, alone, means that I feel like all my nerves are on the surface of my skin.