Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Road Trip

We’ve been talking for some time, my mate and I, about taking off and going someplace....a road trip through the Southwest, perhaps, or even a drive across America. A lyric to one of Paul Simon’s songs says: “Everybody hears the sound of the train in the distance,” and that sound has been calling to us, teasing us, tempting us to travel, to see and experience something different or new.

We had us a bad case of wanderlust, but, unfortunately, not much vacation time available. Plus gas is so damn expensive -- and even if we had all the money in the world to spend on fuel, neither Leah nor I felt right about putting a ton of polluting car emissions into the air by making a long roadtrip simply because we had ants in our pants.

We came up with a travel compromise, of sorts, and decided to drive to neighboring Oregon, to a part of that state we’d never really explored. Friends told us about a secluded valley that sounded appealing.  There were wineries we could visit.  I suspected we’d see beautiful fall color.

We hired a friend to come and take care of our home and critters, and last week Leah and I headed south. 

We were only away for four days, but we filled them to the brim. I had a chance to go for a run in Eugene,  “Tracktown USA.”  We took in a play in Ashland.  And yes, we drank a glass or two of Oregon wine. As is my habit, I took photographs of our travels,  and today I’ll share three images that reflect a bit of what we saw.

Our trip might not have been the epic journey we once envisioned, but I guess it was enough because we are both happy to be home, and today neither of us is hearing the sound of a train in the distance.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Smokey's Summer

Our aged gentleman sheep Smokey enjoyed what, to my human eyes at least, seemed to be a pretty perfect sheepsummer.  There was lots of lush pasture grass for Smokey and his goat companion, Pumpkin,  and our summer-long string of cloudless days made for many hours of napping and contented cud chewing in spots of warm sunshine. There are a number of large trees in our pastures, so, if the sunshine got to be too much for a fellow who always wears a black wool coat, there was plenty of shade available.

Smokey is 14 -- that’s fairly old for a sheep -- and he has arthritis.  He moves slowly and his joints creak audibly, so our farm vet prescribed medication which Smokey gets twice a day.  This medication schedule meant that, though the summer weather beckoned and Smokey’s humans might have liked to be off riding bikes or hiking  in the mountains, either Leah or I had to be home at the beginning and end of the day when it was time for Smokey to get his pills.

Still, whatever playtime Leah and I  might sacrifice is more than made up for when we hang out in the barn or pasture with our longtime four-legged friend, a gentleman of such dignity and peace.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Seeing Red

Summer is winding down,  and if you ask anyone who lives here in the Pacific Northwest, they’d probably say: It’s about time!

For day after day this summer the sky has been a cloudless, Robin’s Egg Blue, and 60-some days have passed since the last significant rainfall -- this in a corner of the country where, in some of our wet, winter months, it feels like it rains every hour of every day.  The dry summer was good for a while but eventually overstayed its welcome. "Perfect" weather morphed into drought that led to wildfires in Central Washington that burned tens of thousands of acres of  forests and grassland...but now, finally, there is rain in the weather forecast.  We’re told that in fact we can expect rain all weekend long, and this afternoon I plan on getting up on the roof to clean out the gutters in preparation for blessed precipitation. 

I might do a little Happy Dance while I’m up there.

Rain will feel SO good.

I thought I’d post three photographs today to bid farewell to summer: A portrait I shot earlier in the season of a sweet little friend of mine; a picture of Indian Paintbrush that I shot on a hike in the mountains about a month ago; and an image I made yesterday of fall color in trees outside the post office.  All three photographs have one thing in common: The color red. Bright. Vibrant. Fiery.

Here’s hoping for a wonderfully wet and drab winter!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I feel fortunate to know lots of very interesting people, individuals who inspire and energize me to live life fully, and to be -- if I might paraphrase an old TV ad -- more than I might otherwise be.

One friend spent nearly a month this summer backpacking with very minimal, ultralight gear, hiking mostly off-trail in the Olympic National Park. His pack weighed less than 30 pounds, about half what my backpack weighs when I go out for a night or two... and for my friend to go that light for that long meant that he was most certainly existing without the “comforts of home,” perhaps living a little on the edge, arguably experiencing nature more intimately than one might if geared-up for every outdoor uncertainty.

Someone else I know is headed off for a medical mission in Guatemala, while yet another friend who lives in Seattle has rented her house to some folks, rented another place for herself across town, and is making these moves, she says, simply “to shake things up a bit.”

I also know a woman, a creative soul, who fashions art from pop cans, runs a foundation that serves families with sick children, and still finds time to take friends (like me) into the woods and teach us how to identify and gather mushrooms.

This weekend my friends in the Seattle Tibetan community will gather at their Buddhist monastery and offer prayers for their brothers and sisters who remain in Tibet and who live under Chinese occupation.

Finally, I know a young couple who are about to have their first child, and I wonder whether parenthood might not be the most exciting -- but also the scariest -- adventure humans might undertake.

Come to think of it, nearly everyone I know has something to teach me that'll get me to keep my eyes and mind open, to see things in a new or different way.

The images I’m posting today are a little bit of a stylistic departure for me,  just a tiny bit out-there.  Hanging out recently near the harbor on Bainbridge Island, my eye was taken by the patterns that a pier and sailboat masts created on the water.

I post these pictures to suggest that each day perhaps we can all find ways, large or small, that we can “shake things up a bit.”