Thursday, April 30, 2020

What day is it?

Yesterday's lovely trail
I keep forgetting what day it is. Even though it's my usual hiking day, since our hikes are not happening because of everything being canceled, my ability to remember what day it is has slipped its moorings. So when my friend Melanie asked if I'd like to go for a hike yesterday, I readily agreed. We had clouds and filtered sun, and the occasional little shower. Perfect, really.
Hey, come back here!
Before I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I had never before seen anything like this. Up here, these strange trees are everywhere. There was obviously a "nurse log" underneath the tree, which caused the roots to reach down for the ground, and then the log eventually disappeared, leaving the tree looking like it's ready to go somewhere.
Aging trillium
We were on the trails behind Lake Padden, and we saw an incredible number of trillium, dozens and dozens. This one had been around awhile and has begun to turn pink, as they do when they are close to the end of their lives. Even though I was really enjoying the day, my cell phone pinged to remind me that I had completely forgotten about my monthly FaceTime call with my sister. So I skedaddled from the trail and headed home to get online with Norma Jean.

It was truly a lovely outing anyway, so I'm glad I keep forgetting my remaining obligations and get the chance to enjoy the outdoors, even if it isn't on a Thursday. Today is the last day of the month, and I can only hope that by the time we get to the end of May, our social distancing rules, while not gone, will be relaxed enough for us to get close enough to each other to have a beer together. I miss my friends.

We did have a Zoom gathering with other hikers this week, thanks to Al inviting us to see each others' faces at least. We will be doing that again soon, I'm sure, but it's just not the same. Better than nothing, but still. This extrovert (me) is simply not accustomed to all this solitude. Then again, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and if I get through it intact as an old timer I will consider it a win.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Visiting the tulips virtually

RoozenGaarde tulips this year
This is the first year in more than a decade that I have not visited the tulips in Skagit Valley during April. I found a page on Facebook of pictures taken by (I assume) workers in the fields of the beauty of the RoozenGaarde gardens and acres of tulips. They are, this year, without the numerous visitors that usually visit every single day during the festival held during the month.

There are so many things that have changed since the coronavirus gobbled up the world I knew before. In only six short weeks, just about everything in my life has been altered. There must be silver linings in these clouds, but I don't see them right now. That will probably come when I look back from this place of quarantine and bask in my ability to walk into a coffee shop, buy a cup and sit down and visit with my friends. That will happen, I'm sure. Eventually.

My blogging friend Linda put a link on her latest post, a drone flying over the RoozenGaarde fields, which I truly enjoyed. You might not be able to see this if you aren't on Facebook, but I didn't need to log in to play and enjoy it.

I was just getting ready to go for a walk, and then the skies opened up and poured. As soon as the sun comes back, I'm still looking forward to a very nice walk. Stay safe, my friends.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Making my way through

Staying safe in the garden
No hike in the mountains today. Our Monday excursion will have to count for this week, although I did take a nice walk around the neighborhood in order to get enough steps to assuage my guilt. This morning was raining, so I let that be an excuse not to go somewhere to commune with the trees.

Someone posted this funny picture of the flamingos, even if they are not six feet apart, they are definitely not giving the coronavirus to one another. I would give credit to the photographer, if I knew who it was, but I don't. Now that we have been given the strong recommendation to wear face masks when out and about, almost everybody is doing just that, including the lawn ornaments. Today I ordered two face masks created by a skydiving friend who makes jumpsuits. He's not getting orders for any (since the sport is on hiatus like the rest of the world), so he's offering something that most of us can use during the pandemic.

I'm really wishing things would change sooner rather than later, but I suspect that it will be quite awhile before we stop dealing with this virus. It's getting a little scary out there, and I'm beginning to wonder how bad the economic hit will be for many of us, before things begin to open up again. I know that my monthly annuity check will be smaller, but how much smaller is not clear. I'll know in a week, and I've lost a good bit of sleep worrying, for all the good it does.

So many people have lost their jobs, 26 million in the US so far, and it's got to be just as bad in many other parts of the world. I see that a few countries are beginning to lessen their lockdowns, but it will take a good long time before any place will make any financial gain. Sometimes I allow myself to look at the situation clear-eyed without flinching, and I try to stay positive and look for the affirmative, heartening signs that we are through the worst of it.

The best part of my own situation is having my life partner going through it with me, and friends and family who keep checking on how I am. Of course, it's partly because they feel a need to keep an eye on the elders, of which I am definitely one. It's hard to fathom how much everything has changed in less than two months. How are you holding up?

Monday, April 20, 2020

Got off my backside today

Two trillium today
My friend Melanie suggested that we go for a hike today, as it's been awhile since we got together to enjoy the outdoors. I told her that I have been feeling more than lethargic, even downright lazy and unwilling to rouse myself from the easy chair. But upon her urging, we met this morning at the local trailhead to head up Chuckanut Mountain, one of our favorite places. And the trillium are out and abundant!
Salmonberry (Mel's picture)
As we began the hike, I kept thinking I would have to turn around and let her go without me, since my hip hurt and the uphill sections seemed enormously difficult. She slowed down as I whined about not being in shape, etc., but after a short break, I realized that there is a reason I need to keep doing this exercise regularly: since I have nerve damage and compromised circulation in my right leg, only constant exercise keeps it from deteriorating. And my recent vacation from any kind of physical effort had taken its toll. So I kept going.
Red currant in bloom
After we had been out for an hour or so, I began to perk up a little and felt the wonderful environment, green and lush, revive my interest. We stopped lots to take pictures, and before I knew it, I was happy and feeling much better about everything, including my hip. Guess I just needed a bit of a push from a dear friend, eh?
Is that a cigarette or a joint?
Someone noticed striations on this tree's bark that reminded them of a face, so he or she added a rock for a nose and stuck something in his mouth. The science of seeing faces in inanimate objects is called Pareidolia, which at one time was considered a symptom of human psychosis, but it is now seen as a normal human tendency. (That link takes you to Wikipedia and explains more about the phenomenon.) Whoever first noticed this one was quite clever in making it impossible for passersby not to see the face and injected some joy into at least two observers.

By the time we finished our lovely outing, I was feeling like a new person myself. My hip had loosened after having gotten the kinks worked out, and the wonderful day, along with Melanie's company, made me very happy to have spent my morning and afternoon out and about. I did, however, binge-watch a wonderful show yesterday, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a fascinating series: Undone. I would tell you what it's about, but I can't. Suffice it to say it got a score of 10/10 from Rotten Tomatoes, so I must not be alone in having enjoyed it so much.

And now, I've settled back into my easy chair, but this time I no longer feel guilty but instead sated by another wonderful day outdoors. Perhaps I will be more enthusiastic next time Melanie suggests a hike and won't look for excuses so readily. (P.S.: we were physically distant from each other as per usual, and we both wore face masks, saw only a few people on the trail, and everyone was polite and kept their distance.)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Solitary walk #2

The back trails behind Lake Padden
The only reason I went for a walk today is because it's Thursday, and although I have been very lazy and neglecting my daily step count, I don't feel I can get away with it on Thursdays, my usual hiking day with the Senior Trailblazers. My sense of guilt and duty got me out the door to Lake Padden.
Even the cars are social distancing
When I got to the parking lot, I saw a worker putting up these barriers, which I suspect is to keep the number of people on the trails down, at least a little. When I got there early, there were a few parking spaces, but when I returned a couple of hours later, they were all filled.
How to keep from getting lost
Since I usually just take the loop around the lake a time or two, I am unfamiliar with the back trails. In fact, today was the first time I went there alone. Fortunately, at every junction there is a sign, like this one, so it's really not possible to get lost unless you forget to check the signs. There are far fewer people in this area than in the lake loop.
Skunk cabbage peeking up
I took a few pictures of new growth, but only a few of them turned out; most either had someone's finger in the way, or they were out of focus. I got this yellow sign of spring without having to wade too far into the swamp.
Ferns unfurling
And then it was time to step out of the back trails and onto the loop. There were so many people, and almost everybody was wearing a mask and observed the social distancing rules. Considering how many people were out on the trails, I could see why the city decided to limit parking.
Lake Padden this morning
I sat for awhile on one of the many benches surrounding the lake, and enjoyed feeling the warm sun. I got ready to take this picture and almost completely missed the kayak as it passed in front of me! It's there on the left, with only its wake fully visible. I sat there for a bit longer, hoping that maybe the kayaker would come back by, but no such luck.
Sleeping couple
I walked by these two ducks, on two little rocks next to each other, with their heads tucked in sleep. I stood there for awhile, hoping they would look up, but I really didn't want to disturb them. So I took the picture just as they were. Bet this is a favorite spot. I'd like it if I were a duck.

It was a very nice walk. On the way back, though, I did run into some larger groups (four to six) of young people who didn't seem to know the rules, and I had to walk off the trail into the grass to avoid them. Once I got back to my car, I saw there were people waiting for me to leave so they could get my spot. There were way too many people by the time I left to have any hope of keeping my distance. Glad I started early!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Sunshine and the garden

The beginning of the planting
I am so grateful to Carter, who is our new gardening guru, for all the work he's done on our community garden so far this year. Instead of having discrete plots for our veggies, this year we will have different plants in different plots, but everybody gets to eat them as they ripen. That's my old plot in the middle of the picture, which will have carrots, radishes, and tomatoes, and whatever else I might have room to add. Carter got a yard of compost and added some to every plot.
Strawberry plants
Yesterday I watched another community gardener planting these strawberries, and I know I will be enjoying them when it's time, although I won't have done much to help. There will be plenty of weeding to do all through these plots before too long, and I promise I will do my part in order to earn my share.
Raspberry plants
We have several places where the raspberry plants began to take over, and Carter pruned them back mercilessly. However, we will still have plenty when the time comes. I didn't have any idea that they proliferated so quickly. Still, there should be plenty left. In the background you can see the colorful fence at the back of the area peeking through. It is now several years old, but so far shows no signs of fading.

We have been enjoying intense sunshine for several days, with more to come. It's not as critical to me any more, since there's little difference between one day and the next. Sometimes I almost forget what day it is, with no routines to help keep me busy. I saw one comedian remind us that there is no longer a Saturday or Sunday, there is only today. One day follows the next, with little to differentiate one from another. I am taking two Zoom yoga classes a week, but that it pretty much it.

This will pass, but I am caught between cabin fever and spring fever, and I'm wishing that we could get back to some semblance of normal one of these days. But when? And how? It's an interesting time to be alive and I think we'll be talking about it for years to come.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Today's solitary walk

Blue sky and white blossoms
Our state is still under a very drastic social distancing mandate (just extended by our governor until mid-May), and groups of any size are still prohibited from meeting. I'm really not sure why a group of six to ten people, meeting outdoors and keeping our distance, presents any kind of problem, but I have finally reconciled myself to the fact that this is our new normal for the foreseeable future. So today I went for a lovely walk by myself.
Pretty blossoms everywhere
The sun is shining and the temperature is actually almost warm. I did have to scrape a bit of ice off my windshield when I started the car this morning, but it was not that cold, just clear overnight, with a high today of around 60°F (15°C), probably our warmest day of the year so far. I started out with a jacket and gloves, but quickly shed them as I got moving.
Public water fountain closed, but bathroom open
At first I thought I that the bathrooms had been closed, but as I got closer I saw that it's only the water fountain that is inoperable. We are warned on the sign to distance ourselves, wash our hands, and a reminder that the public restroom is sanitized daily. It was a relief to learn that.
I walked from the Fairhaven Village Green up to Taylor Street, with its incredibly steep climb from Boulevard Park (up several hundred feet) to a set of 100 or so steep downhill stairs, one I've done often with the Saturday walking group (which is on hiatus, along with all the rest of my routines). Today just on a whim I decided to go all the way, since I was alone and could stop or even turn around if I felt like it. I stopped several times and took the above pictures while catching my breath, but made it to the top.
Just for fun, I took this selfie so I could see if anybody might recognize me if they saw this masked marauder on the street. But then again, everybody was masked, and with the intense sunlight, most everybody was also wearing sunglasses. It wasn't a long walk, but it was challenging because of the elevation gain, and I immediately felt MUCH better for having gotten myself moving. Not my usual Thursday pictures, but I enjoyed today's solitary walk.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Front porch flowers

Not planted yet, but soon
I just returned from a trip to the local Fred Meyer, which always has a wonderful assortment of flowers to plant in my front porch planters. I wanted to show you what I've got ahead, a time to dig my hands into the dirt and give these lovely flowers a place to brighten my days, every time I will see them as I pass them by.

It was an interesting trip, since I've been pretty much convinced that I contracted the Covid virus a while back. And then this morning, it came to me that there is no doubt: I no longer can smell or taste anything. My sense of smell hasn't been very good ever since I took a blood pressure medication that messed it up, but I could still smell some things very well. Now I can no longer tell the difference in taste between broccoli, a fudge bar, or carrots. No taste at all.

Apparently that is a definite sign of the virus. My cough is much better, and my tiredness is not as strong as it was a few days ago, but it wasn't until I woke yesterday morning that I was convinced I'd turned the corner. When I ventured out today, I wore a face mask, gloves, and didn't get closer than six feet to anybody except the person who checked me out. In the open air, she put the flowers into carrying boxes and then put them on my cart. Almost everybody in the store was wearing a mask, which surprised me. I was glad to see it.

I will not be going out again, since there is little I need, now that I have a project to play with. That, plus books, and even a video yoga class tomorrow. I'm in good shape. I hope you are staying safe.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Treasure hunt for trillium

Me and Al on the trail (Mel's picture)
Melanie asked me if I'd like to join her and Al on a walk in the Chuckanuts (which are open and available for recreational use). Since it's Thursday and we are all missing our hikes, I was happy to say yes. Three people can do a pretty easy job of physical distancing, and it was a very nice way to spend the morning. It was raining a little, which turned into snow (you can see it at the base of the sign). It was cold and not very pleasant as we started, but it meant we didn't have any other people to worry about.
Early skunk cabbage
We saw these yellow sentinels near the trail, which will continue to grow as the weather warms. They are also known as "swamp lanterns" as they grow in wet and marshy areas.
Mel all smiles in a fern forest
We are so fortunate to have such beautiful hiking areas close to town, and although the state lands are closed to use, city and county trails are still accessible. We headed up the Lower Salal trail in hopes of seeing whether the trillium are out yet.
Droopy trillium flowers
And sure enough, we found these early blooms beside the trail. I think if it had been warm and sunny, they would have been happy to show us their smiling faces. But it was wet, and they will need to wait for another day to really see them shine.
Nice trail and sunshine
However, just before we reached our cars, the sun came out and gave us a much drier walk. Unfortunately, it also meant that others would join us on the trail, and we had to keep moving to the side when large groups of people were coming up the other way. Most were careful to stay within the social distancing guidelines, but I noticed that not all of them did. Perhaps they are family members.

In any event, we covered more than five-and-a-half miles and 1,200 feet up and down. It was a very pleasant way for me to get some exercise, with good friends, and a beautiful environment. We were done by noon. I will be glad when the weather warms up a little more and the rain decides to visit us less often. But the good part is that I did get my steps in for the day and am feeling pretty darn good.