Thursday, October 28, 2021

Rainy walk today

Dark morning

I knew when Mel and I set out for our Thursday walk that it would be raining, since it rained all night and the forecast is for another several inches before it is all over. The rest of our Senior Trailblazers stuck with the schedule and went to Blanchard Mountain (I think) to hike up to Lily and Lizard Lakes. Insted, we went over to the Interurban trail from the Chuckanut trailhead, which would give us a chance to turn around quickly if it got too bad.

But no, it was actually rather nice. Although as you can see from the picture above, many of the leaves are on the ground already, mostly blown down during our last windstorm. I wore two raincoats, thinking I could stay dry that way, but I got too hot and had to remove one. 

Diamonds on the maple branches

This trail is open and flat the entire way, with the exception of one spot of uphill and downhill, very short but enough to give us a total of 600 feet up and down. After we had been out for a while, the rain lessened enough for us to be quite comfortable.

Waterfall and fall foliage

There weren't that many chances for pictures, but I did enjoy this waterfall, which in previous visits was not as lively as it was today. The fall leaves add a nice accent, don't you think? I remember one time when it was so full that it splashed all the way across the trail, but not today (so far at least).

Misty and rather damp trail

We chatted as we walked, enjoying the coming and going of the rain, and being thankful that we have such an interesting trail right here in town. Here's a little information about it from Wikipedia:

The Interurban Trail is a rail trail in Whatcom County, Washington. It runs 6.6 miles between Fairhaven and Larrabee State Park in the Bellingham area. Popular with hikers and bicycles, the trail runs parallel to Chuckanut Drive through the Chuckanut Mountains.

The fact that it is a "rail trail" explains its flatness, since it once was a rail bed. It also gave us occasional glimpses of Bellingham Bay.

Peeking out at the bay

 It was a really nice way to spend our Thursday, hiking together on a flat and really pretty trail. We managed to get seven miles out of it, and on the way back the rain really began to pick up, making me very happy to be heading home and not somewhere out in the middle of it, with a long way back to safety. All in all, I think we made a great decision!


Monday, October 25, 2021

Checking it twice

Lily and me

A passerby took this photo of Lily and me at Boulevard Park this morning, a blustery day but with very mild temperatures, with plenty more wind to come during the rest of the day. I did check twice before I started this post, since after yesterday's fiasco on my other blog, I wanted to make sure I'm on the right one. I spent an entire hour (which is my usual time) writing yesterday's post, but then I accidentally posted it here. When I realized my mistake, I deleted it immediately and intended to post it on the correct blog. It was right there on my screen after I deleted it, but when I navigated over to this place and tried to reinsert it, the text was gone! Gone for good, it seems. 

I have been admonished to remember to copy and paste if I were to make such an error next time. At first I thought about starting over, but it would have messed up the entire rest of my morning, so I simply apologized and posted only the picture and a quick mea culpa

It wasn't a wonderful post, but I talked about the weather (rainy and windy) and my burgeoning meditation practice and what I've learned so far. I guess mindfulness doesn't extend to most of my mental processes quite yet. But I didn't get all that upset or perturbed, and I credit my calmness to the practice I've begun of following my breath. And I notice that I am making quite a bit of effort to work it into my morning routine, because it's begun to matter that I find a way to quietly sit for a bit.

While I walked to the bus this morning to take me downtown to the coffee shop, I pondered how much my life is going to change after Wednesday, which is the last day that my friend John will be there for at least a month. He is having his right shoulder rebuilt on Thursday, and he won't be able to drive until he can put on his seat belt, among other things. He had the left shoulder done last year, and it's really improved his mobility, but he uses his right arm and hand to a much greater degree than his left. He won't be able to move it backwards or out to the side for some time. He will be staying with his daughter who lives quite a bit north of us. I'll miss him, that's for sure. 

I'll take the change in my daily routine as an excuse to explore some new bus routes that will add some variety to my walks. Not that I couldn't do that any time, but I have noticed that I am a creature of habit and don't make changes all that easily. But just like the pandemic has disrupted other aspects of my routine, this change can be one that I can use to make my days more interesting.

Cornwall Park roses

Until I started asking John to drop me off at the Cornwall Park Rose Garden to walk back home, I had never visited it. Now I can't imagine not seeing these beauties on a regular basis. Even at this time of the year, there are roses, and I like to take the time to stop and smell them. And capture them like in this picture.


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Another Fragrance Lake attempt

Samish Bay from Fragrance Lake overlook

 Today I tried once again to hike up to Fragrance Lake, after having decided, as Melanie put it, to "take a trip" two weeks ago today: face planting and earning myself an enormous black eye. Fortunately, today there was no repeat of the desire to get up close and personal with the ground. My first shot was of the bay from the overlook on the way to the lake, with gorgeous golden trees in the foreground.

Sue, Melanie, and Kirk

The rest of the Senior Trailblazers decided to take one last trip up the Mt. Baker Highway to enjoy the lovely weather forecast for the day. Sue and Kirk didn't want to make the drive, so they joined us for a trip to Fragrance Lake and beyond, where we headed back down the Two Dollar trail on the far side of the lake. It is actually just to make the hike a bit longer than it would be if we only went up to the lake.

Far side of the lake

We walked to the other side of the lake from where the previous picture was taken. You can see the opening directly opposite. The lack of any wind at all made the lake smooth as glass. Although you can't see it in this picture, there were little water striders in the foreground water seeming to be having a really good time.

Another painted rock

We saw this pretty rock in the same vicinity as the other one we found last time we were here. It's a little different, but it looks like it was painted by the same artist.

Me taking the picture

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Kirk was taking a picture of me as I was snapping the rock portrait above. I never knew my pink scalp is so visible through my white hair, but it's too good a picture not to share it anyway. Now I know what everybody else already did!

The lake is visible through the trees

Then we hiked up to a place quite a bit higher than the lake to have a quick bite to eat. The weather was almost eerily warm, way more than would be normal at this time of the year, so we enjoyed sitting in this lovely spot longer than we would have otherwise.

Packing up to head back down

But soon we gathered up our belongings and made our way back down to Fragrance Lake, enjoying the mild weather and the relatively few other people we saw during the day. 

Sun and a little wind on the lake

I noticed that the sun had emerged from the clouds to light up the trees as we passed by the lake again. The breeze was very light, but still it created a few ripples to add to the scene. 

Magnificent trees and golden leaves

As we usually do, we walked back to the trailhead via the service road, after having ascended to the lake along the trail. This gives us a chance to make a loop rather than an out-and-back hike. We covered 6.5 miles and 1,400 feet up and down, so we had a pretty good workout while taking our time and enjoying the beauty all around us. 

I sure hope the rest of the Trailblazers are having as good a day. I know they must have had to deal with some snow, but the incredibly mild weather and the possibility of a nice view likely assured them of a good day, too. However, I am feeling great and glad we did Fragrance today!


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.