Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Summer is here

Whatcom Falls

You have seen me this scene with me many times over the years. On Saturday, Melanie and I walked through Whatcom Falls Park and I took a picture of the low level of water in the falls right now. We've been having little to no rainfall, which is the reason for its meager flow. Sometimes after it's been really rainy, the water flows from one side to the other, covering all the rocks, and creating a roar as loud as a jet plane, but we were able to talk to each other in almost normal voices, it's so tame at the moment. Still awfully pretty, though.

And yes, summer is unofficially here, after passing through the Memorial Day celebrations around town, with the annoying closures of so many places I like to visit. Today I went back to my favorite coffee shop, which was closed for two days this weekend: Sunday and Monday. No yoga class yesterday either, since the Senior Center was closed. We are back to normal, and now the summer has begun in earnest.

The days are long, and the nights are short, but I discovered a lovely sleep mask, thanks to my brother during our family gathering at Thanksgiving. I ordered one as soon as I got home (he had lent his to me, which was a lifesaver), and I use mine every night, once I climb into bed, all ready for it to be dark outside, and with the help of the sleep mask, it is! It is soft and fuzzy, washable and adjustable, and the little divot in the front is where my nose goes after I slip it over my head. It covers my ears and doesn't slip around, so I am able to fall into a deep sleep pretty quickly. I had never seen one like this before, but now I am able to enter into the darkness right away, no matter what is actually going on outside.

It is amazing how the little things in life can add up to create a delightful environment, fit for a queen! No need to travel anywhere except into my nightly slumbers with plenty of dreams to enjoy. Funny how when I enter the dark, the scenes behind my eyelids fill with marvelous and vivid stories. 
I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man? —Zhuangzi

 Well, I know I am not a man, but I have been one in my dreams, as well as a butterfly once, long ago. Life is good, and I am definitely enjoying living, being awake, and dreaming.


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Maple Grove with the Trailblazers

(from left) John, Leeann, Terry, Julie, Karen, (?), Linda

It always happens to me this way: I meet a lot of new people and one I didn't ride with and I met briefly, I have forgotten her name. Anyway, I was behind the camera, but these are the seven people I hiked with today (Connie?). We had a great time driving the long distance to the trailhead, which starts on the other side of the Baker Dam. It's about an hour and a half drive, but well worth every minute.

Leeann and HUGE tree

It turns out that Leeann is a major tree hugger, and her friends believe that this might be the biggest one of all she's hugged. I have admired this tree every time I've done the hike.

Lots of green and lot of maidenhair ferns

This hike is so pretty and green, all year round, but I am always thrilled by the huge number of maidenhair ferns that abound in this area. They are my favorite, as you can see them on the right-hand side of the picture in profusion.

Bridge across Baker Creek

The hike is four miles from the trailhead to Maple Grove campground, and we must cross over the roaring creek on this rickety bridge. It's not as scary as it looks here, but I never let go of the guideline the entire way across, both directions.

Foam flower

There were plenty of beautiful flowers, and this picture shows the foam flower rather well, but many of the others I took didn't turn out. Suffice it to say, they were abundant and much admired by our group. And then we were at the lake!

Mt. Baker and the lake

It was truly beautiful and quite a perfect day. We stopped here for a nice lunch and enjoyed each other's company for about a half hour before turning around and returning the way we had come.

Me and Baker

I asked Julie to take a picture of me so I would also be chronicled as well as everyone else taken in that first picture. It was such a gorgeous day, and everything turned out better than we could have hoped for.

Just as pretty on the return trip

I would say, for the entire group, that the day's exertions were well worth everything, including the long drive (thank you drivers Julie and Linda), but it all turned out perfectly. Now I am home, finishing up the post so that I can grab a quick bite before settling in for the rest of the day. I love this new Senior Trailblazers hiking group!


Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Travels around my community

A very pretty front yard

When John drops me off at the Cornwall Rose Garden after coffee, so I can walk my more than two-mile usual excursion home, I walk by some lovely places. This one often catches my eye, thinking how nice it would be to sit in one of those chairs and look out at the lupines or some of the rhodies in the yard, just beautiful at this time of the year. Those lupines seemed to emerge from nothing to this overnight. But it was probably longer; I just noticed them all at once.

From this spot, I turn onto a side street that takes me to a walking path that leads into Cornwall Park itself, and I then have a lovely journey past the pickleball courts (that are now being well used, with lots of laughter) and the distinctive sound of the balls being volleyed back and forth. 

And then after walking through areas with some lovely old growth trees, pines and cedars mostly, I must make my way out of the park and across a busy street, before again finding a lovely neighborhood to walk through on my way home. Many of the homes in this area are large and well established, and they almost all have extensive flower gardens for me to admire. 

Lately I have been seeing lots of bunnies hopping across the trails, not very big so I wonder if they are just out on their own for the first time. I hear roosters crowing and hooty-owls almost every day, along with the ubiquitous birds. It reminds me that a friend suggested I download one of those apps on my phone that would allow me to identify the plentiful birdsong I hear, too. But I'm not very motivated; I am simply enjoying my walks so very much. I'm feeling pretty grateful right now.


Thursday, May 18, 2023

Start of summer hike and picnic

Our hiking group today

Today marks the opening of our annual summer hiking schedule. We always bring all three groups together for a couple different hikes and then a potluck afterwards. The picture I took before we started our hike into the backwoods part of the Lake Padden area lacks a few latecomers; we ended up with 14 of us. Since Al had a previous engagement, we were led by Frank. who is standing in the back in this picture, fifth from the left. The other group had six hikers.

Our lovely woods

It was a perfect day, with temperatures in the high sixties (around 20°C) and a light breeze. No rain is expected for a few days, and because of the warmth and dry conditions we experienced last week, the trail was as free of mud as I've ever seen it.

Some pretty oyster mushrooms

It was actually a surprise to see any mushrooms at all, since they don't usually appear unless it's been rainy, but these showed up right along the trail, and of course we all stopped to take some pictures. We didn't go quite as far as we usually do, since I think we might have taken a wrong turn at some point, but we got enough of a hike to enjoy ourselves and then sashayed down to the pavilion for our picnic. Many people didn't hike but showed up with lots of food and good cheer.

A view of one of the tables of food

As usual, we had a wonderful feast with lots of salads and desserts to choose from, with those arriving later who didn't hike with us giving us even more wonderful dishes. After awhile we ended up with a "savory" table and a "dessert" table. 

Another table full of goodies

There weren't as many salads as usual, but we sure had plenty anyway. I tried to fill up on stuff that was good for me before heading for the desserts, and it worked as I hoped: I was too full to sample all the desserts before I filled up.

A very good turnout and plenty of food

As we sat together and chatted about our lives and shared fabulous food, the morning wore on and we gradually made our way slowly back to our cars, after having had a really wonderful day to start our summer season. 

Lake Padden

I took a quick shot of the lake as I walked back to my car, since we didn't actually walk around it, I wanted to be sure I got it into the action. It truly was a magnificent day, and I am feeling quite content and happy to have experienced this lovely day with good friends, many of whom I met for the first time today!


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

We made it through the heat

Squalicum Harbor last week

 As you might know, the Pacific Northwest just went through a really strong heat wave, way early in the season (early to mid-May). A couple of places in the area had temperatures that were ten or more degrees above normal. And yesterday, when I walked home from the bus at midday, oh was I HOT! It got to 84°F (29°C) with full sun beating down, and as I walked the three miles home, I was super uncomfortable. After having had below-normal springtime temperatures, now we are dealing with way above-normal ones, with no in between. 

Last night, however, after the sun went down the heat began to moderate a little. Although when I woke this morning the apartment was still much warmer than usual  (with windows open and fans going), I could feel a light breeze coming in through the window, and when I walked to the bus this morning, it was so much cooler than the day before, that I was hopeful it wouldn't get too hot today. Sure enough, now that we have reached almost peak temperature for the day, it's more than ten degrees cooler than yesterday. Whew! I just don't do well in such hot conditions. The thing that bothers me the most is that we are still five weeks away from the first official day of summer. I sure hope it was an anomaly and won't repeat itself soon. But it's just a hope. 

We moved away from Boulder when we retired, partly because the summers had grown so much hotter. From an average of fewer than 40 days when it was 90 degrees or hotter, it had changed to well over 100. And we usually didn't have (or need) air conditioning. We came to this part of the country where it is mild and has a cooling onshore breeze from the ocean on most days. There is nowhere to go from here, so we will just grin and bear it, like most other seniors on fixed incomes around the country. And be grateful for what we have, which is more than many others can afford.

So for the remainder of this week, I will enjoy the sunshine and cool breezes and the companionship of my family and friends. Life is good!


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Fragrance Lake once again

Olympic Mountains from the Viewpoint

It never fails to amaze me at how much difference there is in the same hike a few weeks or months apart. I last visited Fragrance Lake with Melanie at the end of March, and now as the warmth heats up across the Pacific Northwest, and the greenery and abundance captures the eye and heart, I am so grateful to have visited one of our favorite places once again.

Maidenhair ferns abound

As usual, we went up the trail to the lake and came back via the logging road. We were greeted with pretty much perfect conditions as we ascended the almost two-thousand foot climb to the lake. When we started, we saw no trillium.

A group of trillium

But the higher we climbed, the more trillium we saw. This was the largest group of the day, and some of them are already beginning to turn a little pink. The older these blooms get, the more lavender to purple they become before they dry completely up for another year.

Fragrance Lake today, with reflections

We made it to the lake and started our usual circumnavigation of the lake, before starting our trek partway up the Two Dollar trail, to our lunch spot. It wasn't completely still, but almost, as you can see from the very light breeze on the water.

Trillium basking in the sunshine

We found a nice place to sit down and have a snack, this time some different cookies that Melanie had created: maple bourbon bite-sized treats. We didn't stay long, but we took a half-hour to enjoy our surroundings before heading back down.

Magnificent tree

I looked up at the top of this tree and almost lost my balance as it just kept going up and up, so I thought I should share this delightful tree with you, my readers. Isn't it gorgeous?

Do you see the fisherman?

As we retraced our steps to return to the parking lot, we passed once again by the lake, and I saw that there was someone on this log with a fishing pole and hoping for a catch. It was simply a perfect day spent in the wilderness with a dear friend, and we covered 6.53 miles and climbed and descended around 1,800 feet of elevation. A beautiful day indeed! I can never visit this spot too often, so you'll probably see it a few more times this season.


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Spring in full swing

Apple blossoms over the fence

Every year I see this massive display of apple blossoms in the next-door neighbor's yard, and I sometimes wonder what happens to most of them. There are lots of apples, but not this many, so do some just fail to get fertilized and fall to the ground? I wish I knew more about flowering plants, but there's always the internet if I get interested enough to find out. They are awfully pretty right now, though, I must say.

Today when I walked to the bus stop, I didn't even feel the need for a jacket, just a warm vest, but I ended up feeling cold now and then and regretted my decision every time the wind picked up. I don't mind feeling cold when I know that soon the bus will arrive and I'll get warm once again. Frankly, I'll take cold any day over heat, which apparently we have coming up this weekend, just in time for Mother's Day. It is very rare for us to reach such warm temperatures so early in the year, and that makes me a bit anxious that we will have another awful hot summer. I hope not!

Lately I have been feeling a bit melancholy, for no obvious reason I can ascertain. The weather is great, I've been getting in my usual level of activity, and my days are full. Perhaps it's the news of the world, especially this country, which is on track to hit a record number of mass shootings for the year. Every time I see the chyron crawl on the TV screen, even if I'm not listening to it, I see that yet another one has occurred, with lots of innocent people slaughtered, usually by an AR-15, an assault weapon of war that has flooded our communities. 

I recently saw a statistic that is startling: In the US, there are 125 guns for every 100 people. That scares me silly, and makes me wonder for what reason do people purchase them? I don't have a gun and have never held one in my hands. I hope I never do. So maybe that is what is causing this melancholy feeling. I know it will pass as I get more involved in my day-to-day living. I am surrounded by good friends and a dear partner who helps in every way he can. 

So, I will distract myself with another walk in the springtime beauty, and I will tend to my front porch garden as well. It's time, just a few short weeks until the unofficial beginning of summer. There is so much to be grateful for, and looking for those precious moments of bliss will displace my sadness. I hope so, anyway. Now I'm off to the garden store for supplies.


Thursday, May 4, 2023

The trouble with trillium

Garden of trillium

We (Melanie and I) have just returned from our wonderful hike on Chuckanut Mountain, specifically the Lower Salal trail, along with some places along the Hemlock trail. We were going to Raptor Ridge, but due to our frequent stops to take pictures of the amazing trillium we met along the way, we didn't get there. Instead, we decided to shorten our eight-mile hike to five wonderful trillium-filled miles. 

Gorgeous singleton

I had been looking forward to this hike with Mel, one we take every springtime, looking for these lovely flowers, which sprout up quickly and last for a week or two, then are gone again for another year. It took us hours to navigate the Lower Salal, which was covered with the flowers everywhere we looked. That's the trouble with trillium, you can't just take one picture.

Melanie amongst the trillium

If you notice, there are trillium both beside and behind her, and I think we managed to oooh and aaaaah over most of the ones we passed by. Plus, we took a LOT of pictures.

Pretty trio

There were other sights as well, like the lovely trail that I love so much. And it was also a treat to be out there on a fine day with one of my best buds. Every once in awhile we would remember to be thankful for the place we live, and its many delights.

Lower Salal trail

As we made our leisurely way to the junction with the Hemlock trail, we discussed whether we should try to visit Madrone Crest, but I decided that I would be happy if we just shortened our hike a little, since I am thinking I'm still recovering from all the exertion from last Thursday. Or at least that's what I used as an excuse. Mel was quite accommodating. 

Me and my three-sided pal

Melanie took this picture of me, where my guy said it looks like I am emerging from a salad. I wanted you to see my new hat, and also notice how happy I am to be sitting down for a quick moment. I don't know why I grew so tired so quickly, but I also know I will sleep well tonight.

Nature's bouquet

You know I have many, many more trillium pictures, but you really did need to be there to fully appreciate them. We did manage to cover 5.3 miles and climbed and descended around 1,300 feet of elevation. So it was not exactly an easy hike for me, but I did just fine, if I don't compare myself to anyone else, that is.

Melanie looking beautiful

I smiled at this picture because it looks like she is holding these two gigantic trees upright, using all her impressive strength to keep them from falling (not really). It was just too cool a picture not to post, however. It was a very good day, and I was happy to come home feeling pretty good and not all worn out. Thanks, Mel!


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

May daze

Pink blossoms

 Well, it's just about the most perfect time of the year, if you ask me. Everywhere I look there are newly blooming flowers, and those bright yellow dandelions are already, in some places, going to seed. It sure doesn't take long, once springtime hits, for everything to move from winter's dull colors to beauties like this! I'm not sure what these are, but they bring to mind weddings and other celebrations.

Sunday Afternoons hat

I sure wish we could keep May around longer than a month, since by the end of this period, we'll be starting into the warm, long days that mark summer. Not my favorite time of the year, but the good part is that we don't stay static as we move through the days. Each season has its upsides. Plus, I'll get to wear my new sun hat, which is perfect for what I need. I especially like that it's very lightweight and covers not only my neck, but it also keeps the wind out of my ears, which I've discovered is a great feature, now that my bionic ears apparently need some protection, too.

You might find this funny, I kind of do myself, but the other day I got annoyed with all the birds vying for my attention with all those songs I can now hear so well! The good part is that if I want to, I can simply take these hearing aids out, or turn them down, and the world goes much quieter, just like that. There are definitely some upsides to having these guys. When I take them out at night and wipe them gently with a soft cloth, I feel really grateful for their presence in my life. Most times, anyway. Life is good!