Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Most of the time when my friends and I go hiking we seem to live kind of charmed lives, weather-wise.  Though we live in the drippy Pacific Northwest, famous for rain, rain, and more rain, my friends and I generally luck out and pick a place for our day’s outing where the sun is out -- or at least we hike someplace where it’s not raining.

Sunday I thought our luck had run out.

Looking at the pictures I’m posting today from the trek we did Sunday in Hardy Canyon in Central Washington, even I am amazed that we didn’t get just absolutely dumped on. But, though we could see rain coming down in sheets off in the distance to the left and to the right, in front and behind us, all my hiking friends and I experienced were a couple of brief, light showers.

Please click on the pictures to see them at a larger, more impressive size. Those clouds were REALLY something!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Regarding Beauty

If you were to ask me for advice for a place you could hike in the North Cascades where you could spend your day in a setting of great natural beauty,  I typically would not direct you toward an area that had been burned in a forest fire.

No, I’d direct you toward Cascade Pass, where you’d walk a trail with dramatic,  towering peaks as a backdrop.  Or, if you were a strong hiker, I’d suggest a trail that would take you to a spot where you’d be able to view peaks known as “The Pickets,”  rock and ice spires that would take your breath away.

Still, if you did as many hiking trips as my friends and I, I suspect you’d develop an appreciation for many and varied kinds of "natural beauty.”  The sagebrush & desert landscape of Central Washington might become something you’d enjoy.  And, who knows? You might even learn to love a walk amid recently burned trees.

Two days ago my buds and I drove over the North Cascades highway to one of our favorite areas of the state, the Methow River Valley.  We hiked a trail that initially gave us “classic” North Cascades views of dramatic, snow-covered peaks.  Five miles and several thousand feet of elevation gain later, however, we entered an entirely different landscape -- gentle buttes and burned trees, and I was reminded of classical, spare Japanese paintings.

The more we hike this amazing state, the more we expand our personal concepts of “beauty.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crazy Kids

Twenty years ago when Leah and I told family and friends that we were going to sell our house in Seattle and move to a place in a rural area across Puget Sound an hour from the city, I think folks must have thought we were a little crazy.

Our parents, who had had some experience with country life when they were growing up -- and who knew how much work it is to keep a garden and farm animals, which was the dream that Leah and I had -- looked at us in a way that I took to mean: “What are you two crazy kids getting yourselves into?” 

Mind you, our friends and family didn’t necessarily try to discourage us or verbally poo-poo our hippie-ish, back-to-the-land move.  They just kind of looked at us. They looked at us quizzically.

If you are of an age that you remember the old television show “Green Acres” about a city-slicker couple who move to a farm in the country where they have tinhorn, sit-com experiences, well I think that is what those close to Leah and me thought we were doing.

Fast-forward 20 years to present day.

It is spring. 
The weather is warming and the magnolia tree in front of our home is blooming, signaling the end of lazy winter months spent indoors near the wood stove.
Our gardens are full of a winter’s worth of weeds, and, if I want a good strawberry crop come June, I’d better thin and weed my plants, pronto.
A friend down the road had six baby chickens she could not keep,  and those, along with the old hens we already had,  are living in our barn and need to be tended at least twice a day. 
The cedar trees that tower above our home are sloughing seeds and other kinds of spring crud into the house gutters so I need to get up on the roof and do some cleanup.
At least one side of the house will need a fresh coat of stain this summer.
And on and on...

But believe me, all the work this place requires is worth it.
We sit on our porch on nice spring evenings.  Birds are singing in the magnolia tree, and, from a lower part of our property where there is a small pond, frogs join in the chorus.  We two latter-day,  quasi-flower children sip on a glass of wine or a beer, taking in the peace of the place.

Strawberries will be coming on before we know it.