Thursday, May 19, 2022

Stellar weather, perfect day

Tree and fern on Fragrance Lake trail

Today Melanie and I went on one of our favorite hikes, rain or shine: the trail to Fragrance Lake with a side trip to the Two Dollar trail, around the lake and back down the logging road that gives us a nice almost-seven-mile hike with 1,400 feet elevation gain and loss. A perfect day for it, too!

Mushroom emerging from the soil

We saw this mushroom on our way to the viewpoint. I thought at first it is an amanita, but I think they are red with white spots. Not that I had any intention of trying to eat it. It's awfully pretty, whatever it is. As wet as it has been lately, I'm surprised we are not seeing more mushrooms.

Viewpoint showing Samish Bay

You can see from this picture what a beautiful day it was. We did need to wear our jackets and even our gloves for much of the day, as there was a light breeze and temperatures were quite mild.

Trillium turning pink

We saw quite a few trillium, and a number of them were old enough to have begun their color change, from white to pink to purple in some cases. We did stop to admire all of those we saw, knowing we will soon need to wait another year before we'll see them in our local environment. If we are lucky, we might see some in the High Country, but it's still snowing hard up there, and we don't really know when we might be able to travel to some of our favorite hikes. So we'll enjoy them while we can, down here at sea level.

Smiling fungus

We saw this enormous fungus on a tree just off the trail. I climbed up to see it from eye level, and it looks almost as if it has melted or something. It felt cool and a little damp to the touch.

Fragrance Lake

Before long, we were at the lake, which is surrounded by incredible amounts of greenery at this time of year. And the sunshine was abundant as we made our way around the lake and down the Two Dollar trail a ways to our lunch spot. Melanie treated me to two of her amazing buckwheat cookies.


This lovely trillium is still white, and looking almost perfect to my eyes. It's a beauty, don't you think? This was just before we turned off the main trail and there it was, waiting for us to admire it and appreciate its magnificence.

Ferns unfurling

Everywhere we looked there was new growth and new fern leaves emerging from their tight coils. I think these are sword ferns, but I might be wrong. Several different varieties of ferns looks similar to one another. They sparkled in the sun, happy to feel the sun on them (they didn't say so, but I bet they like it). 

Another wonderful day, one of those where I can feel the day's exertion in my legs and the kiss of the sun making my cheeks rosier than usual. However, I would not exchange even a minute of today's adventure for something else. It was sublime! Maybe summer is really here.


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Dry morning for a change

Magnificent lilacs

I walked to the bus this morning in perfectly dry conditions. I even left my raincoat snug inside my backpack and didn't need to pull it out all morning. However, the rain conditions this afternoon have picked up. Yes, I am truly tired of all this rain, but we still have more to come. It's sure been good for the lilacs, though. I've never seen them this luxurious in all the years I've lived here. And they are right at their peak. It won't last, so this picture is meant to capture the moment for posterity.

I walked through the Cornwall Rose Garden on my way home, and I do think I am seeing the first signs of rosebuds. I know it's hard to tell from this picture, but the red blob in the middle is almost surely a bud. The rain has certainly made them happy, but the cooler-than-normal weather and cloudy skies has curtailed our springtime flower show a bit.

Maybe I'm imagining a rosebud

By now, I would have thought that there would be lots of buds throughout the garden. Of course, it's still only mid-May and summer is six weeks away. But all this rain down here has translated into snow for the High Country, and we are thinking we might not be able to do any of our normal summer hikes until much, much later than normal. Every day Mt. Baker gets a little more snow. At least we are not in any danger of an early fire season.

After I walked home on my usual three-mile journey, I noticed how beautiful it is even when the sun isn't shining, especially when the clouds are not letting out any wetness. Not yet. I came home, got in my car and drove to Happy Nails to get an overdue pedicure. It had been long enough since my last visit that I was almost ready to snip those toenails myself. Luckily, I didn't need to wait very long, but I also discovered that they are now requiring appointments unless you want to wait. Next time I'll make an appointment, but it shouldn't be for at least two months.

When I was reading my latest book on quantum mechanics, I ran across this funny cartoon, which has been around a long time. I found it online a dozen times at least, but every time I see it I break into smiles. I'm hoping it might do something similar for you.

Thank you Sidney Harris

And with that, I've managed to come up with my Monday post. John thinks I should call it my Tuesday post, but that would not explain me at all. I'm happy to fiddle around with time a bit.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

We decided to skip the rain

Hertz trail

The weather forecast was for rain today, lots of it. This was NOT what Mel and I had in mind for our Thursday hike, so we decided to start at the Hertz trail and walk until the rain made us turn back. But you know what happened instead? We started in cloudy conditions on a beautiful, almost flat trail that heads along the north shore of Lake Whatcom for a little more than three miles. Since it didn't rain on us, we ended up going the entire distance, and a little bit more. It was cool, not quite 50°F, and the wind blew most of the time we were walking, but it was more than pleasant: it was wonderful, and so nice to be outdoors.

A little side trail

In all the years I've been hiking this trail, I had never before noticed a trail heading off towards the water, and today Mel investigated it, finding this little promontory with a bench to enjoy sitting by the water and contemplating the lake. We sat just long enough to be grateful for the fine place we live and then headed back to the main trail.

Peering out at the far shore

The water was choppy from the breeze, but we didn't mind. We disturbed a goose who had taken refuge in a cozy little spot, giving us a bit of a scare until we knew what it was we were seeing. I was pretty sure it wasn't anything dangerous, but when you're contemplating the silence, a sudden splashing with a few honks, well, it could be anything, right?

Pretty white flowers

We saw buttercups, salmonberries, dandelions, invasive geranium Robert (I've been hiking with people who pull this plant out whenever they see it), and this pretty white flower which I couldn't identify. Maybe one of my readers can. We didn't see any trillium, though, after weeks of seeing them everywhere.

Towards the end of the hike

As we headed back to the parking lot and the trailhead, the wind picked up considerably and we got a few little sprinkles, reminding us that the rain was still on its way. And just as we returned to the car, here it came, just a little at first, but now that I'm home warm and cozy inside, I can hear it drumming hard on the roof. It couldn't have worked out much better for us, I think. It was a day to get in our steps, keep our rain gear in our packs, and be grateful for the little things that make life better. Like today.


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Morning springtime walk

Cornwall Park Rose Garden

In returning from the coffee shop today, I asked John to drop me off in front of the Cornwall Rose Garden, so I could see how the plants are coming along, after we experienced the coldest April on record for this are. Everything has slowed way down, and as hard as I looked I could see no signs of any buds to be found anywhere. But hopefully it won't be long now, as the sun's rays reach out to kiss these branches and encourage them to give us some rosebuds.

Top, October 2021; bottom, May 2022

I also noticed that my favorite maple tree in the park has regrown all its leaves, which I admired as they changed from green to red, a little at a time, and then fell to earth to nourish the surrounding soil. Although the change appears gradual, when observed on a daily basis, the seasons continue their cycle of birth, growth, and decay. As does the entire universe, whether I'm paying attention or not: change is constant and inevitable. Even in the farthest reaches, where the light we see from the stars is millions of years old, I marvel at the technology that allows us to study distant galaxies and ponder the nature of life and existence.

Yes, I still have not left behind the fascination that has caused me to learn more about quantum mechanics and to discover how much is still waiting to be understood. It's a very fertile time to be alive! Just as spring is followed by summer, discoveries wait to be uncovered, and I hope I'll still have a functioning brain when the next new thing comes about. Ya know?
When you think about the complexity of our natural world — plants using quantum mechanics for photosynthesis, for example — a smartphone begins to look like a pretty dumb object. —Jeff Vandermeer
In the meantime, I'm going to get my hands and knees dirty, with a smile on my face and look to enjoy some of our infrequent sunshine.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Singing in the rain

Can you tell how wet it is?

Okay, maybe we weren't really singing in the rain, but at least we were out there in it, rather than curled up warm and dry at home, like I am right now. Melanie and I decided to go to our usual rainy-day spot, the Stimpson Family Nature Reserve. It's got two loop hikes on its 370-acre property, which is filled with ancient old-growth trees and plenty of beauty everywhere. It wasn't raining very hard when we first started out, but it was obvious that plenty of rain has been falling here, with lots of puddles and slippery spots. 

Very soggy trillium

We saw lots and lots of trillium, all of them of course quite wet, but still very beautiful. You could tell that some of them have been around for awhile, as they are beginning to change color, as well as having lost their early perkiness. We still stopped to admire them.

Fungus on a very mossy tree

It was wet and very pretty, with so much of the undisturbed forest just the way it was in years past, with many of the trees also showing their age. Because of the fragility of the forest, dogs are not allowed, and the magnificent trees are not troubled by other domestic animals either. There are plenty of human admirers, though. Even on a day like today, we saw a half-dozen fellow hikers.

Wild bleeding hearts

The bleeding hearts are finally coming into bloom, showing off their pretty pink flowers, with lots of diamonds of rain sparkling on the leaves. I love the wild version of this plant, very different from the cultivated versions. They are all gorgeous, nevertheless.

Geneva Pond

We first did the shorter loop to Geneva Pond. You can see the raindrops on the water and the misty backdrop and the clouds in the distance. At this time it wasn't raining very hard, but the cumulative effect was enough to get us quite drippy. Thank goodness for good rain gear and boots!

Misty scenery

After the shorter loop, we decided to take a quick trip back to the parking lot and then on to the three-mile loop. This gave us a total of about five miles, give or take, and plenty of time to enjoy the beauty all around us. I never got a good picture of the slippery and sloppy parts of the trail, since I was busy trying to stay upright.

Maidenhair ferns and trillium

Although it isn't easy to see the maidenhair ferns in this picture, it's because once they get wet, they repel the raindrops and revolve upwards. It turns out that the botanical name for the fern refers to their ability to repel water.
The word Adiantum comes from the Greek adiantos, which means ‘unwetted’ and refers to the way that maidenhair fern fronds repel water.

 We did stop often to admire the scenery and the different plant life surrounding us, but after awhile I was anxious to just get out of the rain, and stop having to try to keep myself from slipping in the mud, which seemed to disturb my lower back muscles. When we returned to the car, my sore back welcomed Melanie's heated seat as we made our way back home. For a very wet day, I think we did a good job of getting our quota of steps and exercise. Now to enjoy a cozy and warm home!


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Lilacs are finally blooming


 I posted about the lilac bush in our driveway a month ago, thinking it would be just a day or two before they came into bloom, but then we had some seriously cool and rainy weather, keeping the flowers from growing for awhile. But now that is behind us, and we have lots of sun mixed with clouds and, of course, rain. Perfect temperatures, though, and now those lilacs are opening. I sure wish I had more than just a memory of the smell: my sniffer can barely make out any fragrance, even when picked and placed inside the warm kitchen. But I know very well what they smell like.

I do think I like posting this Monday missive on Tuesdays, as it gives me more time to relax and reflect with whatever comes into my mind. Today on my walk back from the coffee shop, I saw five bunnies on the trail! Not all at once, but every now and then one would hop back into the bushes when it saw me. One stayed and eyed me for quite a few minutes before leaving (I stopped, too). It makes me wonder whether there are some regulars who feed them. It is tempting, but a bunny who cannot find lots to eat with the abundant salad fixings all around won't be long for this world, I suspect.

In an hour, I'll need to drive to my acupuncturist's office for a treatment. Although I don't have any really pressing problems, I always feel so much better after he takes those needles out and my body's meridians are balanced. Today I'll ask him to help boost my immunity and also help my ankle fully recover from last week's minor sprain. Otherwise I'm feeling pretty darn good!

Looking ahead to our hike on Thursday, it looks like I'll be needing all my rain gear. Soon, we'll be warming up outside and the rain will diminish in another month or so as we begin our summer heat. It's short around here, usually. I cannot believe what happened in India during April: a strong heat wave well over normal highs. I am so grateful that I live in such a beautiful place, and we only occasionally reach temperatures that are uncomfortable. Climate change may give us a bit more of them, but nothing like the 45-50°C temps India suffered through, making this April the third hottest on record. They are back to their normal 90s (33-35°C).

I hope everything is fine in your neck of the woods. We might even reach 60°F today! Like I said, it's been cool around here.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Lily and Lizard from Samish Overlook

Samish Bay from the Overlook

 Melanie and I decided to start our hike today from Samish Overlook, which would give us the opportunity to extend or shorten the day's adventures, depending on how we felt. Especially me, since the eight-mile hike we could have done, had we included Oyster Dome and the North Butte possibilities, might have been just a bit more than I am quite ready for. You can see from this lovely view, the day was fine, with a few clouds and cool, but otherwise just about perfect.


And what did we see in magnificent profusion? Hundred of trillium, some just unfurled and ready to receive our admiration. These delightful flowers only bloom for a short period, one three-petaled blossom each season. We are always happy to see them, a sure sign of spring, especially when they are just out, like this one.

Emerging fern

I love to see the ferns as they come out of the ground and open to the sky, and they have such beauty from this stage right until they become the ubiquitous ground cover we are so accustomed to seeing here. Nature showing her finest work.

Red currant blossoms

The sun caught these beautiful blossoms beside the trail, and I was hoping this picture might give you some idea of the amazing scenery we were treated to on our hike. I spent more time taking pictures than I should have. As we went from Samish Overlook to the first of our lake visits, I realized I would be asking Mel to shorten it, since I was already feeling tired and it was still early.

Lily Lake

We went first to Lily Lake, after having gone uphill for what seemed like forever to me, gaining more than a thousand feet of elevation in a couple miles. But once we got to the junction to either Oyster Dome or the lakes, we've done the majority of the uphill, so I was feeling pretty good by this point. After taking a look at the Lily Lake, we decided to hike over to Lizard Lake, a bit of up-and-down but nothing like what we'd just accomplished.

Trillium surrounded by woodland violets

Woodland violets are out in profusion also, and we saw this trillium emerging from a field of them. The colors are a little muted from what they looked like in person, but you get the idea: it was just gorgeous!

Lizard Lake

What I didn't see when I took this picture is the amazing reflection of the cloud in the lake. These two lakes, Lily and Lizard, are so similar to each other that I couldn't tell the difference between them except by their placement in my photos. We decided to have lunch here, before heading back down the trail called "Max's Shortcut" which would take us back to Samish Overlook.

Max's Shortcut

It's a nice trail, well maintained and wide enough for us to walk side by side for awhile. And this was where we saw some of the most batches of trillium. By this time we were looking for something spectacular to capture, but we made an effort to gaze at each one we saw and tell it how beautiful it is.

A plethora of trillium

So many in one place, we had to stop and take pictures. The most we saw together like this was 16, but usually they are either by themselves or hanging out with a few others. We hiked almost seven miles and 1,400 feet up and down, but for me, it felt longer. All that stopping and stooping over the flowers to photograph them took its toll. But now I'm home, happy and feeling very good to have successfully covered as much mileage as we did, and I didn't fall behind too badly, either. I also twisted my ankle a bit but by morning it should be fine. Another great day!!


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

About that Monday post

Flowering ornamental cherry tree (I think)

I just spent a bit of time trying to discover whether the bright pink flowers on the trees all over town are ornamental cherry or not. They are everywhere right now, gorgeous to look at, and the ones I've seen every year don't seem to produce any fruit, so I'm guessing they are ornamental. It doesn't really matter: I am enjoying them too much to worry about what they're called.

I went to bed a little early last night, just feeling tired and wanting to lay there in bed thinking about the day and getting myself ready for a good night's sleep, when my Apple Watch vibrated to let me know I had a phone call. Since my iPhone was in the living room, I answered it on my Watch (I don't usually do that). It was my friend John calling to ask me where my Monday post was. I groaned and let out an expletive and realized that I am continually forgetting to write that Monday post. Probably it's because I write once a week on my other blog, on Sunday mornings, and I don't have much desire to come up with something new so soon. So, I've decided that my Monday posts will appear on Tuesdays, whatever I decide to call them. Welcome to the New World!

It was supposed to be raining today, but other than a few stray raindrops, it's been pretty dry and almost sunny. I walked by the Cornwall Rose Garden to ascertain that many of the plants are now heavy with leaves, but I couldn't see any rosebuds. Yet, anyway. I'm looking forward to seeing them appear and turn into lovely roses, which I will share with you, of course.

Mom at the top, Kid Bunny at the bottom

And who should hop out in front of me as I got to the trail, but these two bunnies. The little cottontail closer to me is smaller enough from the other for me to speculate that this is a new little guy. When he saw me, he froze the way bunnies do, and as Mom hopped across the trail, he stayed very still and never took his eye off me. I talked to him but he doesn't speak Human yet, and after a fair amount of time he followed her off into the bushes, and I continued my walk home.

There are plenty more clouds than rays of sunshine right now, but the temperature is mild and I can feel myself gearing up for spring. I think even I might have experienced my fill of rain for the time being!


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Predicting the weather

Today's trillium

Well, I sure wasn't expecting the fine weather day Melanie and I ended up with. When I left home this morning in a steady rain, raincoat and pack cover already in use, never did I think the day would turn out like it did. We almost decided to go to our go-to rain destination, Stimpson Reserve, but by the time we were ready to go, the weather gods decided that the rain would likely diminish within a few hours.

Woodland violets (yes, they're yellow)

We headed to a favorite hike even in the rain, the Chanterelle trail, which has a lovely viewpoint at the 2.5-mile spot, with another 2.5 miles possible if we wanted to go that far. By the time we started hiking, my raincoat and pack cover were stashed inside my pack. It had stopped raining, with all the greenery and trees covered with moisture, but it was actually pleasant and almost spring-like after the rain stopped.

Lake Whatcom from the viewpoint

I've shown you this spot many times, and it never fails to present me with a slightly different sky, and of course the plants are beginning to fill out as the weeks pass from winter to spring. We saw numerous trillium in bloom, which is always a treat for us. We also saw other spring flowers, and since Melanie is trying to get me used to longer hikes, we did keep going upwards after stopping briefly at this spot.

Turkey tail fungus

This pretty mushroom fungus is grown and harvested across the world for its health benefits. It has several immune-boosting properties. I once ordered some capsules to help my own immune system when it needed it. (Check out the link for more information.) We admired it and kept on going upwards.

Our trail

This is a lovely trail, and as you can see here, we actually had brief moments of sunlight appear before us. We traveled over six miles up and down, with an elevation gain and loss of around 1,400 feet. Not too shabby, and I think I did pretty well, all things considered. I was ready to turn around when we did, since the downhill makes my knees complain rather loudly.

Brand new bridge

We were both very pleased to see that the trail crews had finally built a new bridge over this spot. In past excursions, we had to delicately pick our way across the bridge that was destroyed when a large tree fell during a severe windstorm. They did a very nice job, and we complimented the absent workers for their hard work, even though they are probably somewhere repairing another trail, I suspect.

We did have a wonderful day after all, when we were expecting rain and discomfort rather than such a pleasant time. You just never know what you're going to get in the Pacific Northwest, and you just need to put on your Big Girl pants and head out, hoping for the best but being ready for the worst.


Monday, April 18, 2022

Almost forgot my post

Me and Lily at the festival

I was just sitting here minding my own business and getting reading to watch the PBS News, which I realized I forgot to write my Monday blog post, with all the pictures of the Tulip Festival! So, instead of the news, here's my batch of pictures from our wonderful Saturday trip to the Skagit Valley.

Just amazing designs

It really was a beautiful sight for the eyes, even though it was cold and having my hands tucked inside my jacket all day, except when capturing a picture, didn't seem to make me feel all that much warmer. I am glad we went when we did; we were some of the first people inside once it opened, and it meant we could get some pictures without lots of people.

Lots of varieties, some not yet open

I was surprised at how many of the tulips have not even begun to show any color. There were plenty of places that made me wonder what color they will be. But there were plenty of others that were showing their loveliness.

Big ones, small ones, all pretty

Every year they show off their tulips, and then after they've all bloomed, all the bulbs are taken from the ground and then they start all over again next year. My favorite ones are those pretty pink ones behind the white.

Variegated ones, too

See the ones in front of the orange at the top? They haven't even begun to open, but the pretty red ones in front of them are at their peak.

Sunlight coming through

I love this picture, even though I couldn't get away from that guy on the sidewalk with all his camera gear. He seemed to be following me, but the brilliant tulips with the sun coming through made it worth keeping.

More beauty

We walked out towards the fields in the back, but it was so cold and I really wanted to go inside the store to warm up, so we skipped that part and instead went indoors to get out of the cold.

Nice little basket with flag

When we headed into the little town of La Conner for lunch, I saw this sweet bouquet with a Ukrainian flag, which touched me and I thought it would be a nice way to finish this post. (BTW: I just got a call from John, wondering if I forgot again to write this post. I told him I am almost done!)