Thursday, April 29, 2021

Amazing trilliums

A trio of trillium

Today Melanie and I decided to head back to our favorite trail, the Lower Salal on Chuckanut Mountain, to check the status of the beginning trillium display we saw two weeks ago. And we were not disappointed: we saw hundreds of these beauties along the trail. I had a hard time deciding which ones to share with you.

Trillium plants are wonderful springtime flowers. I learned quite a bit about them as I began to research them for this post. I found this article on Prairie Nursery. I'll share some of what I discovered. The article is entitled, "Ten Things to Know about Trillium."

There are 39 native trilliums in the U.S. All trillium species belong to the Liliaceae (lily) family. Native to temperate regions of North America and East Asia, the genus ‘Trillium’ has 49 species, 39 of them are native to various areas across the United States. 
The plants are extremely long-lived. Trilliums are relatively easy to grow from their rhizomatous root but slow to develop and spread. To make up for it, the plants can live for up to 25 years.

I knew that they only produce one flower per season, and I also learned from this article that they are sometimes called Toadshade (for their resemblance to a toad-sized umbrella), Wakerobin (for their appearance with the first robins), and Birthroot (for medicinal uses during childbirth).

So beautiful

We saw so many today, some that are just getting started, and others that have already grown old enough to turn purple. That's what they do when they've been around for awhile.

Such a lovely lavender 

Like this one, which we probably saw two weeks ago and now can enjoy in its later life. I guess if I thought of them in terms of our own lifespan, this one might be a senior, like me.

A mutant trillium (duillium? twoillium?)

This trillium is what started me on a quest to find out how often a mutant like this appears. It only has two leaves and two petals. Once a few years back, on a trip to the mountains, we also found a quad-trillium, with four leaves and four petals on a single flower. But after quite a bit of reading, I found nothing to explain these anomalies. 

 Magnificent flowers

In any event, spring is definitely in full swing, and we were thrilled that we were surrounded by so many of these beauties. I'm pretty sure that when we are there next, most will be purple or expired. I'm so glad we decided to make this journey today. We went almost six miles and over 1,000 feet up and down, and we enjoyed ourselves very much.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Three drizzly days

Spring flowers

I took this picture awhile ago, while walking back from the bus. Most mornings I head down to the coffee shop and walk back home via a short trail, and I saw these most lovely flowers and greenery, bringing a big smile to my face. It was raining lightly, which has been going on for the past three days. After lots of sunshine, more than usual, we have recently returned to normal Pacific Northwest weather. Light rain (which the flowers just love) and more moderate temperatures (today's high will be 12°C (54°F). I am not unhappy with it; perhaps I've become assimilated and now spurn the warmth. At least until July and August, when we lose our rain and it can actually get hot for a few days.

A few rays of sunshine teased me just now

I looked outside and saw that there's a bit of sunshine and the rain seems to have slowed or stopped for awhile, although the forecast said to expect more showers this afternoon. This is my beginning front porch garden for 2021. The pink azaleas in the foreground were a spontaneous impulse buy while at Costco the other day. They looked so pretty in a hanging basket, but I don't think they will last. The other flowers, the petunias, geraniums, and alyssum, should all thrive.

I mentioned on my other blog that I will be having a tooth extracted within a couple of weeks, and I received lots of comments about my query as to whether I should get a second opinion, since there's no pain in the tooth... yet. I've decided just to go ahead and do it, as there's little doubt that it will inevitably progress to that unhappy state. One friend had three recent extractions and said it wasn't a big deal. It's just always hard to say goodbye to an old friend. 

Meanwhile, I am enjoying life and will happily tend to my gardens, both the front porch one and my vegetable garden in the back. Stay tuned for more progress on that seasonal hobby.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Anyone for tulips?

In front of the RoozenGaarde windmill

Today Melanie and I decided to take the annual tulip excursion to Skagit Valley instead of hiking with the Trailblazers. This is the first day that our erstwhile leader Al has suggested that anyone who is interested should meet at a nearby trailhead and hike together. I had already bought tickets for the two of us to head to RoozenGaarde to see the state of the tulip festival. On Easter Sunday, Lily and I traveled south to see it, but it was way too early. Today, I think we found the optimum day for tulip gazing. Although because of the spate of overly warm weather we've been having, I feared that they might have gone the other way and been on their way out. Nope!

Inside the display garden

RoozenGaarde has a beautiful display garden among their acres of flowers, and the incredible artistry in designing the planting was especially delightful this year. Maybe it's because they were closed for the pandemic last year, but I couldn't help but allow happy tears to flow, when I saw the beloved garden once again.

Melanie amongst the tulips

Once we wandered around for a good long while, oohing and aahing and taking pictures right and left, we walked out to the fields of tulips behind the main area, to take in the incredible views.

Miles and miles of tulips

We were actually fortunate to have some cloudy skies, since it helped us take better pictures of the tulips. Full sun has a tendency to wash out some of the vibrant colors, so we were happy for the wonderful cooler weather and light breeze.

I heart you

One of my favorite little designs was this one, with a beautiful red-and-white heart among still blooming purple tulips. Somebody had a good time designing this one, I think. My eyes were full to the brim before we left this delightful area.

The arrangements kept coming

No sooner did I feel I could not take even one more picture, I'd see something like this one. Can you see the subtle spiral of different-colored tulips wafting their way through the others? There was just so much to see and take in.

There's always one in every crowd

I loved seeing this differently colored tulip in the midst of all the red. It stood out in brazen defiance, it seemed, and it sure made me smile to see it. And then we left the gardens and drove over to see Tulip Town. I've never been there before, and I suppose if I had not been already overwhelmed with all the beauty of RoozenGaarde, I might have enjoyed it more. But I missed the creative gardens, although I enjoyed the visit very much and am glad we went there too. 

Now it's time to pull myself together for the Trailblazers hour-long zoom call. I'm curious to find out how the day went for the other Trailblazers. I hope they enjoyed their day at least half as much as Mel and I did!


Monday, April 19, 2021

First veggies are in the ground

My teeny little patch

Yesterday I prepared my little garden patch by turning over the dirt with a shovel and putting in some compost to enrich the soil. By the time I got that far, I was exhausted, working out in the hot sun and doing my best to keep on going in order to get the vegetable starts into the ground. At that point, my friend Carter, who is the Chief Gardener in our community garden, came out to help me finish. Fortunately, we got all those little plants into the ground before this old lady (me) collapsed.

And then I watered them and headed into the apartment for some needed refreshment. After I finish this post, I'll go out and water them again. Although it doesn't look like I got that much done, it sure felt good, once I was finished. I'll be posting more pictures as time goes by, and once I get the final plants in, I can sit back and let the sunshine and water finish the job!

I am also working on my front porch flower garden, and it's coming along well. You will see that in the near future, too. It's that time of the year when everything is in bloom. It sure is a good way to bring one's sense of joy to the forefront. Let's now have some fun!!


Thursday, April 15, 2021



Only a week ago, when Melanie and I went on our hunt for wild trillium in the woods, we found a single unopened plant. Today, it was truly trillium-mania! They are everywhere, and more are to come from everything we saw: many plants with their flowers yet to open, some plants even sprouting up out of the ground and unfurling those magnificent triple leaves in front of our very eyes.

Sunshine and shade

There was not a cloud in the sky today, and it looks like this amazing weather will continue through at least the upcoming weekend. We are at least twenty degrees warmer than normal, and it's certainly a welcome event. It actually feels like we could be in the middle of May, rather than mid-April. Nobody is complaining.

Four in a row

This is the largest grouping we saw today, four beautiful trillium all opened and showing off their beauty. The one in front will probably have enough strength to stand up and show off soon, but right now it's still in the process of becoming. It looks like it will be the largest of the four.

Fiddleheads unfurling

There are also plenty of other signs of spring in bloom. Just look at these pretty fiddleheads opening up. This warm weather and sunshine are making the forest come alive, everywhere you look.

The hills are alive with trillium

We had such a good time walking on the Lower Salal and the Upper Salal, taking in the wonderful views of trillium in bloom, and we decided to come back in two weeks to see what they will be like then. Next week we'll head to the Skagit Valley to take in the tulips, a very great way to spend Earth Day.

Sunny Salal trail

We covered just under six miles and plenty of elevation gain and loss. My ankle is okay, but I didn't want to make it any longer just to keep things going in the right direction. I am feeling really good and healthy at the moment, and I intend to keep getting stronger. I sure had a good time today.

Just one more

I couldn't resist adding one more trillium. I've got plenty more that I captured on camera; however, I really liked seeing this one framed by ferns. Plus it looks like some animal has taken a bite out of the topmost leaf. These plants only grow one flower each season, and then they go into hibernation or something. 

We'll be back to enjoy these lovely wild trillium at least once more before they disappear for another year. I hope you enjoyed looking at them at least half as much as I enjoyed photographing them!


Monday, April 12, 2021

Spring flowers are everywhere

Red currant and Oregon grape

Yes, everywhere I look I see new spring growth sprouting up and showing off delightful flowers. These plants are both ubiquitous around here. On my way back home after my morning visit to the coffee shop and my friend John, I saw numerous flowering plants, and the juxtaposition of these two contrasting colors caught my eye and caused me to pull out my camera.

I almost took some pictures of the fat lilac buds that are everywhere as well, but I'll save those for a later post. We have some May-like weather on the way, and it's only mid-April. By the time we get through this heat wave (for us, that is), many of the flowers will already be fading, I suspect. But others will bloom anew. I am thrilled that we have such a week ahead.

Although I'm still limping around a little with a sore ankle, otherwise I'm in pretty good shape and am looking forward to making the drive into the Skagit Valley with my friend Melanie to see the riot of tulips that will be in their prime soon, very soon.

And it's just about time for me to start planting in the community garden. I just peeked out there and only one plot is planted already. I've got work to do! But it's such a delightful task, I am ready and willing.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

On a search for trillium

Waterfall is gentle today

We went out today on a search for the status of wild trillium at one of our usual winter haunts, Chuckanut Mountain. Although it had rained most of the night, we were told that today should be mostly sunny. When I woke to overcast skies and heavy clouds, I thought that wouldn't be the case. But I was wrong.

Our sunny trail

By the time we reached the trailhead and began our climb to one of my favorite hikes, the Lower Salal, we were inundated with full sunshine, a little breeze, and a gentle uphill climb.

Pretty skunk cabbage

Since I visited this place a few weeks ago and saw few signs of spring, it's all changed. I saw this beautiful flower (with a little slug that seems to be feeding on it), and I recognized it immediately as a skunk cabbage. Or, as a friend likes to call it, a swamp lantern. And they have proliferated in the low wet areas, as usual.

Lots of 'em

By the time I see these guys next week, I suspect they will be much larger, as we have some sunny and warm weather ahead. But it took most of the hike before we found what we had come for: a trillium.

First of the season

Heavy with rain from last night's deluge, we found what we had been looking for, and although it's not ready to bloom quite yet, the unmistakable three leaves and the soon-to-be single flower are all ready for an unveiling, coming soon. Melanie's eagle eyes spied this one, and it was the only one we saw all day.

Salmonberry blossom

We did see other signs of spring, such as this pretty salmonberry blossom along the trail. Melanie took this one since my picture didn't turn out. The flowers are so pretty, even if the taste of the berry itself leaves something to be desired. 

Young maple leaves in sunlight

When we were walking up the trail, this bush looked almost like a scene from autumn, until we got close enough to see it is simply the red of fresh leaves coming out for their springtime celebration.

Yes, springtime was everywhere in the air, along the trail, among the verdant green growth that fills the eye and heart with joy. It was so lovely to be out walking with a good friend, even if we didn't go far, it was enough. And we saw our first wild trillium of the year!


Monday, April 5, 2021

Dyngus Day

Snagged from the Internet

I never heard of Dyngus Day before today. It all started with me trying to find out why Easter Monday is mentioned so often as a holiday in many parts of the world. Then I found out about Dyngus Day, a Catholic holiday that is celebrated on the day after Easter and is a big deal in some places. 

Let me tell you a little about what I discovered about the holiday: first of all, the biggest celebration of dyngus in the United States is in Buffalo, New York, which apparently has a large Polish community. From Wikipedia:

The Buffalo dyngus celebrations started in the 1960s as an effort by the Polish-American community in the city to find a new focus for its identity. It proved hugely successful, to the point that a local newspaper claimed that "everybody is Polish on Dyngus Day." It has become a fusion of Polish and American traditions, with polka bands, a parade, consumption of krupnik, and Polish food accompanying American patriotic songs sung in English. Party-goers dress up in the white-and-red colors of the Polish flag and carry balloons saying "Happy Dyngus Day" in English.

The actual full title for the celebration is Śmigus-dyngus, and this odd post-Easter party is carried out by boys throwing water over girls they like and spanking them with pussy willows. Boys would sneak into girls' homes at daybreak on Easter Monday and throw containers of water over them while they were still in bed. If you look carefully at the picture at the top of this post, this information will help to decipher the images of pussy willows and buckets of water. The article goes on to explain how the girls would respond.

Girls could save themselves from a soaking by giving boys "ransoms" of painted eggs (pisanki), regarded as magical charms that would bring good harvests, successful relationships and healthy childbirths.

The article also mentions how other places around the world celebrate the day. How could I have missed hearing about this fun tradition for so long? Did you already know that today is Dyngus Day?


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Another trip around town

Our coffee shop this morning

 We are still unable to sit inside our coffee shop, but since I knew I'd be making a short solo trip around town today, I thought I'd share my morning routine with you. Once I place my order with the barista, I await my turn, socially distanced, until the previous customers are served. Usually these days, she knows what I'm getting, and by the time I'm ready to pay, she's got my drink ready and waiting for me. You can't see it all that well, but there is a plexiglass shield between the barista and the customers.

My comfy seat in John's truck

You can see I had to put my coffee on the floor while I took the picture, since I don't have any cup holder inside John's cab. John parks his large coffee on the dashboard, but there's nothing similar on the passenger side. Once we've spent some time chatting and finished our drinks, it's time for us to go our separate ways. This morning, I drove down to Boulevard Park on Bellingham Bay, since it was just me and I could do whatever I wanted.

Lummi Island in the distance

It was very chilly, with a brisk wind and overcast, as you can see here. Nevertheless, there were plenty of people out, either in small groups or walking their dogs. Everyone without exception was wearing a mask. I love my community! I decided to walk to Fairhaven and take the Interurban trail, which meant I could take a long or short walk from the park.

Interurban trail

It's a lovely trail that follows Chuckanut Creek, where we watched salmon swim upstream last year. There are places that have fish ladders, but at this time of the year, it's just fresh green shoots everywhere. I walked south along the trail, and then I saw this sign:

Explanation about the Labyrinth

Since it was just me and I could go exploring, I found the labyrinth and followed its path. Birds were singing, and I was quite alone. A short distance away I could hear people playing tennis in the park, and I heard a white-crowned sparrow's song for the first time this year. Another sign of spring.

The labyrinth itself

I followed the path in the labyrinth, enjoying the twists and turns as I approached the center. It was quite enjoyable, and not really challenging; I didn't get lost once!

The star in the middle of the labyrinth

When you reach the center, this six-pointed star is adorned with stones all around its perimeter, with arcane symbols inside. It's really quite a wonderful addition to the city's mystique, I think. Thanks to those who created such a lovely place to meditate on the mystery of life.

A gathering of gulls

These gulls were coming and going as a couple fed them bits of dried bread from the bridge. I watched for awhile, noticing the gulls dip and swoop. Some birds really like to fly and performed some aerial acrobats, and these gulls were no exception. As someone who spent quite a bit of time learning how to fly her skydiving canopy, I was taken back to those days as I watched their antics with interest.

And then it was back to my car, having gone some five miles in total, including the meditation at the labyrinth. It was enough, and I missed my usual companion, but she was busy getting her second Covid shot. We'll be back to our new normal next week.