Monday, October 18, 2021

Full-on fall color

Snagged from Seeing Bellingham

 Yes, we are in full fall color here in Bellingham this week. After a day of rain yesterday, I mean ALL DAY, it was lovely to get up this morning and walk through the puddles to the bus stop. Under cloudy skies, but with no rain. Apparently we will be doing one of those on/off periods. I'll need to get my exercise in between rain storms. 

Taken this morning in Cornwall Park

As I walked home after the customary coffee shop experience, I saw that this tree is just beginning to change into its fall wardrobe. This is the time of year that gives us all the most variety when walking on our usual trails. I wonder what might be the catalyst that triggers the tree's change in color. Of course I know that the angle of the sun plays a part, but why do some trees immediately jump into the change, while others take their time? The tree above had no color at all last week. Go figure.

These days I am feeling rather mellow and don't seem to need to get outdoors as often as I usually do. Can it be that I'm slowing down along with the season? I've got an acupuncture treatment tomorrow and I think I'll ask for a little help with my laziness. In some ways it feels good to hang out in my easy chair reading a good novel. But then again, that urge to get my 10,000 steps a day nags at me.

I just watched the first episode of the new season of Succession, and since I had only recently discovered the series, I was anxiously awaiting its return. But I get really annoyed with shows that dangle only one episode a week in front of me. I've become spoiled by complete season drops, and being older and forgetful, sometimes I lose interest and neglect to watch it. If I weren't so invested, I'd wait until all nine episodes had been released to catch the season. Not likely with this series: I can't wait to see what horrible things this family will do next, mostly to each other!


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Stimpson Nature Reserve

Trees and trail

I've hiked this nature reserve a few times in the past, and I've always found it a good place to be in the rain. The trees, the lush forests of cedar and pine, it never fails to leave me in a good mood when we're done. For some information on this site, you can visit the Whatcom County website. Here's an excerpt:
The forest is largely undisturbed and displays characteristics of an old-growth forest, including Douglas Fir trees over 400 years old, a wide diversity of tree species, snags and decaying logs, and a complex architecture of canopy, understory, shrub layer, and tapestry of the forest floor.
Maidenhair ferns

I also saw a few stands of my favorite fern, the maidenhair, and was so pleased to get a good picture during the light rain that fell much of the time we were out. It was just Melanie and me, again, as the others decided to hike another local favorite, but we were looking forward to experiencing this one alone, or mostly so.

Solitary mushroom

It's the time of the year when the dormant mushrooms again sprout out of the ground, and seem to appear instantaneously, although I do think they take a day or two or three.

Quite the crowd

I don't know how long these have been here, but I suspect they are pretty recently sprouted. Looking at them, you can almost imagine them to be a gathering called together for a  'shroom convention. They crept quite a ways up the tree as well. 

Golden leaves

Although for most of the time we were out, there was a light mist and even a little bit of rain, occasionally the golden leaves would light up when the sun filtered through the forest and gave us an enchanted view. 

Geneva Pond

And then we were at the pond, where we could see the changing leaves around it, and if you were to look very closely, you can see tiny little raindrops falling lightly. The stillness of the pond's reflection, under a cloudy sky, completed the atmosphere of peace and contentment.

The trail back from Geneva Pond

And then we made our way back along the footpath to the trailhead, having enjoyed a wonderful morning in the nature reserve. We covered 5.5 miles in total, with an elevation gain and loss around 600 feet. Not our usual distance or elevation, but we were both so happy to be out here, together, enjoying this natural forest treasure.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Getting back to normal

Geriatric black eye

I asked SG to take a picture of me this morning, so I could compare the immediate aftermath of the injury with the look of it today, four days later. The bruising has continued to move downwards, and for now the only soreness that remains is in the eyebrow, which took a pretty big hit. I went in this morning and got my glasses readjusted, since I think much of the bruising was caused by the impact of my glasses with the ground, as well as being pushed into my face. But they also are responsible for keeping my actual eye from being hurt, since there is a serious scratch across the left lens. Thank you, dear glasses!

When I walked to and from the bus this morning, getting close to three miles of walking total, I realized that I am feeling a little trepidation about possibly falling again and hurting myself. It's beginning to make sense to me that as we get older, we are less likely to engage in risky behavior. Although I really like to hike and take brisk walks, it's not without a renewed sense of caution. "Be careful" is becoming like a new mantra that makes me want to avoid getting hurt again. 

Of course, I will always take the occasional pratfall, how can I not? It's not worth it for me to stop doing all the activities that give me so much pleasure. But there is truly a difference in the way we move through the world as we age and naturally become less robust. 

Today's Cornwall rose

Walking through the Rose Garden this morning gave me plenty to feel grateful for, and I am truly enjoying the cool weather and current lack of rain. It is supposed to start raining sometime soon and continue for several days. I'll be out there, maybe not stopping to take as many pictures, but it makes my day so much more pleasant when I can be outdoors for at least part of it. There are many reasons why fall is my favorite season, not the least of which is that the weather is not just one way or the other, but fluctuates between rain, clouds, and sunshine. 


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Best laid plans

Neighborhood flowers for sale

A beautiful mostly sunny day, and on a Thursday to boot! I was so looking forward to a nice short-ish hike with my friend Melanie, who is still nursing a sore heel and didn't want to go any more than five or (possibly) six miles, so we didn't join the main group again, who are, I'll bet, right now on Cougar Divide in the mountains.

We decided to hike one of our favorites, good old Fragrance Lake. We started out, enjoying the cool temperatures, Mel wishing she'd brought warmer gloves, and I was fiddling with my trekking poles, trying to get them set the way I like them. And then, just like that, I was on the ground, having tripped over my own poles, like the klutz I am. I hit my head hard enough to knock off my glasses and experienced a searing pain right above my left eye. It hurt bad enough I didn't even try to get up, just laid there crying and holding my face. Poor Mel! She picked up my glasses and told me they are scratched but still in one piece, and once the shock had lessened, I sat up and tried to open my left eye. Liquid was streaming from it, I didn't know whether it was tears or blood, or both. (It turned out to be both.)

Mel informed me that it was bruising already, and that it looked pretty bad. Once I got up and realized that my eyesight is normal, and that I wasn't hurt too badly, she said we should get me in to see a doctor right away, to make sure there is no internal bleeding. I agreed, and we decided to drive to a walk-in clinic for "minor injuries." By the time we got back to the car, although I was still feeling some pain, most of the trauma had settled down. I put my scratched glasses back on and could see normally.

A shiner already

At the clinic, I learned than anybody over the age of 65 who has a head injury is required to go to the Emergency Room and get a CT scan. I called SG and got his advice; he was willing to take care of me if I decided just to come home and wait to see if it gets any worse. I didn't want to go through all the wait and expense of a CT scan, when I could tell that I was going to be okay. No headache, no vision difficulties, just a bruised eye socket and pretty good-sized lump at eyebrow level. Believe me, if I had any worries about internal bleeding because of symptoms, I would have gone to the ER.

But, as I've said before, this is not my first rodeo. I've been hurt a lot worse and have survived just fine. Mel took me to my car at her place and fed me a healing muffin, and then I drove home and am now sitting here writing my post. If I couldn't see it, I wouldn't even know how badly my eye socket is discolored. Yes, I know there are some of you out there who think I should definitely have it looked at, but to spend hours in the ER, with Covid patients everywhere, I just couldn't do it.

Once I got home, SG helped me clean off the blood (you can see a spot on my scarf) and got some pictures for posterity. It's not nothin, but it's also not life-threatening. I've had a couple concussions over the years and know what that feels like. And I also know what it would mean if I developed a headache or vision changes. But so far, so good.
Of course fear does not automatically lead to courage. Injury does not necessarily lead to insight. Hardship will not automatically make us better. Pain can break us or make us wiser. Suffering can destroy us or make us stronger. Fear can cripple us, or it can make us more courageous. It is resilience that makes the difference. —Eric Greitens
I like to think that I am resilient and can learn from my mistakes. But I notice that I have taken enough falls, great and small, that I should probably keep a logbook so I don't forget them. Would that make me more resilient, I wonder?

Now that enough time has passed since the injury, I think I'll take a short walk around my neighborhood. I do need to get my steps in, after all. I'm actually feeling pretty good, all things considered. I hope my friends are having a good time in the wilderness.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Making the best of it

Rose and raindrops

You might be wondering what I'm referring to in the title: what is "it"? Well, mostly it's my inability to keep anything in my mindstream for long enough to actually finish anything at all. In time for my usual Monday post, I thought about several topics to consider, but by the time I would get around to looking anything up on Google, I've gotten sidetracked. Not just once or twice, but often enough to give me a headache.

I wonder if this might be a side effect of starting to meditate. When I'm following my breath, it works well, and I even lose track of time and end up sitting for longer than I intended. Some people use an alarm to remind them of when they are supposed to finish, but I've been intrigued to notice that I end up sitting far longer than I thought I would. However, when I return to "normal" life, I'm having a hard time staying one-pointed on a task. The good thing is that it doesn't really bother me that much; my sense of equanimity is improving. 

That, and I'm not watching the news too often. More than any other activity, turning on CNN or PBS and listening to how much suffering and despair most people experience daily — it's enough to cause anybody to feel anguish. The good part of simply working to keep my own little corner of the universe having any contentment at all is a step in the right direction. 

Today I will take on the task of gathering together all the gloves I use during the colder months and trying to find mates for most of them. I know this sounds laughable, but I'm at the point of not caring if they are actual mates or not, as long as they fit each hand comfortably. I don't seem to lose all of the rights or lefts, fortunately. And then the rest of them will be thrown out, so I won't be tempted to let them hang around hoping for a hookup. I've got gloves from years back that I thought might come in handy, so to speak. Time to clean up my act!

When I walked home from the bus this morning, it was cloudy and mostly overcast, but now the sun is emerging and I'm thinking I might set out for another jaunt. After the gloves, that is.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

Rainy day today

Golden leaves

All plans that the Senior Trailblazers had made for the day were scrapped when we saw the weather forecast: rain, rain, and more rain. As our fearless leader has said before, "why drive for an hour to hike in the rain when we have perfectly good rain right here?" One group decided to stay local and hike up the Chanterelle trail, which is mostly tree covered, while the other one also stayed local but carpooled to Blanchard Mountain to head up to Lily and Lizard Lakes.

(NB: I don't know what happened to cause this glitch, but after trying to fix it, I've given up.)

Lake Padden on a grey and rainy day

Mel and I took off in yet another different direction: we went to Lake Padden, since Mel's still nursing a sore foot, while I was happy to go anywhere at all, as long as I could share the raindrops with a good friend. We went twice around the lake, for a hike of 5.2 miles, and by the time we finished, most of the rain had stopped from being a soaker to just light raindrops, which felt great in comparison.

Mel looking bright and cheery

There wasn't lots to photograph today, so I got this one of Mel, and she reciprocated by taking one of me. She also captured our Yellow Brick Road for the day: the trail around the lake.

It's still raining in this one

One of the things that is nice about this trail is that even when it's wet, it's quite passable, and I was quite surprised to see that the parking lot was almost full. There was a middle-aged tourist who was taking pictures of kids playing in the rain, and he remarked that this was very different from his home, where they would be sitting inside in front of the TV. Yes, we can't let a little thing like rain keep us from exercising, or we'd never get outdoors!

Trees and ferns

I love the beautiful old trees around the lake, as well as the abundant ferns and vistas that my lovely hometown offers to anyone who gets out in all weather. I am also proud of the large number of rain jackets I've amassed since I moved here. And I am not happy about wearing rain pants, but I've managed to wear out a couple pair in fourteen years of hiking.

Now that's a root system

I noticed this amazing set of roots under this handsome old tree as we walked. You can also see that plenty of detritus has fallen under the tree to coat the roots. Most of the trees are evergreens, but there is always other bits of debris to nourish them. And lately, lots of rain.

Now I am home, with nowhere else to go, all my exercise behind me for the day, and a cozy and warm place to enjoy the rest of it. Not bad for a day when we have received close to an inch of rain already, wouldn't you say?


Monday, September 27, 2021

Sun, rain, and booster shots

Another beautiful rose

This rose was captured last Friday, when I walked from Cornwall Rose Garden to home, after the coffee shop visit. It had been foggy earlier that morning, and the rose was covered with little bits of dew from the fog. In just a few minutes, it was gone as if it had never happened.

It rained all night last night, and I expected more would be around for my walk to the bus, but it was not only dry, most of the sky was kept clear of clouds. It was just before the wind started, which blew in quite a few clouds, but so far we are rain free for the day. I wouldn't mind a little more, but I never mind a sky filled with fluffy white clouds and a brisk wind to keep things interesting.

I made an appointment for my Covid booster shot on line, hopefully it will happen this afternoon when I scheduled it. But until it's actually in my arm, I am skeptical. After the times I tried over and over to schedule the original shots and being so disappointed, I'll keep my fingers crossed for it to happen. At my advanced age, I am just happy to be eligible. Who knows how much the vaccine took in the first place? Anything I can do to up my chances of avoiding the virus, I'll take!