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Archive for October, 2009

Autumn Walk

I walk most afternoons about 3 – 4 miles through various neighborhoods. I wish I could say that it’s helped me loose weight. At best, it may keep me from gaining. Alas.

In any case, every now and then I come across the odd or unexpected … like this Boletus (Porcini, Cepe) mushroom beside a mailbox.
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I thought this weeping pine or fir was intriquing. It’s been trained along a chain-link fence.
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It  made for nice contrast to this fallen leaf.
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I love the color of these mums in a neighbor’s garden.
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There are berries galore for the birds this time of year.
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This ivy grows on a stone wall along a major boulevard. Usually I’m speeding by. But on foot I come face to face with the leaves.

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Forgive me if I dwell on fall colors, but they are just is so evocative for me. I am struck by how democratic (small d) ‘beauty’ is. Liberal or conservative, you don’t need a degree in Fine Arts to appreciate the stunning display of colors. And there they are – right alongside the road – for all to see.

These maple leaves could match anything on a canvas.
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I’m partial to the salmon-golds — and have a prime example in my back yard with my Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood).
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Here’s a full length shot with the Red Sunset maple in the background.
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Just driving through town I’m amazed by the subtle shades and hues. Chartreuse is a somewhat unusual fall color. It’s over overshadowed in this shot by the brilliant bronze of the Japanese maple.

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I’ve been reminded of all sorts of odd associations — from menopausal flushes to the baring of branches.  Jane Hirshfield says it well in the poem, Three Times My Life Has Opened:

… But outside my window all day a maple has stepped
from her leaves like a woman in love with winter, dropping
the colored silks.

And all the leaves on the ground recall lovers’ clothes tossed wantonly aside.

street1(blog)

* Ms. Hirshfield’s poem can be found in Risking Everything – 110 Poems of Love and Revelation.

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Things that go bump in the forest

The forest floor is a shady, damp haven for all sorts of things, like this banana slug, for example. Watch where you put your hands! This sucker is about 4″ long.
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Or perhaps this Russula mushroom — while not poisonous, with a  common name like “The Sickener” — not exactly edible either.

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Ferns are happy here too. We counted six different types on the Siouxon Creek trail. Who knew they were deciduous? I call this the “ghost” phase of the  Lady Fern.

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I learned that the black stems of this Maidenhair Fern were used by the indigenous peoples in basket weaving.

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The predominant yellow tree in the forest is “big-leaf maple” (Acer macrophyllum). This photo illustrates just how big “big” is. That’s my foot for comparison.
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Siouxon Perfection

The Clark county Forever Young hikers trekked the Siouxon Creek Trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. A more perfect hike would be hard to find.

The Siouxon Creek (pronounced like Tuscan in Arizona) is chock full of falls,  striking boulders and deep pools. The trail was relatively level and never far from water.River1b(blog)

The forest had lots of old growth redwoods (mostly snags).
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It’s south of Yale Lake and  Swift  reservoir. The trailhead is about 8 miles northeast of Chelatchie.
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Service road 54 had been washed out since last winter but was sufficiently repaired for us to cross.
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The countryside along the way was lush with fall colors.
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We passed the Tum Tum cinder cone en route.
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Leaves

This part of the country is all about trees. And this time of year is all about leaves. The fall color display is our terrestrial northern lights.

I like the odd places single leaves land.
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And the contrasts in shape and color this creates.
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I came across these trailing leaves against a wall on a walk.
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What says “fall” more than a gutter full of maple leaves? They’d make a good computer background.
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Gorge-ious Playground

Hatchery02(blog)My de rigueur fist stop for every guest is the “mighty” Columbia gorge – which might include Crown Point, Beacon Rock, the Bridge of the Gods and/or the Bonneville dam and hatchery.

It never occurred to me that the dam would be so tranquil this time of year (end of summer … before winter rains … in a drought year). There was only mild overflow activity.

Take a look at these sand bars in the Columbia just off Cape Horn, WA. They’re a first for me!

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We dallied awhile at the fish hatchery. These little fingerlings were being weighed and transferred from one pond to another through a tube of water.

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This sculpture in front of the gift shop (see window inset above) nicely framed Mt. Hamilton on the Washington side of the river.

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It was a lovely day to be a tourist.
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Playing Tourist

Inn01(blog)One of the nice things about having guests is that you get to do things you aren’t as likely to do by yourself. My sister (who was working) recommended a nearby inn that had been featured in “Twilight“.

It was a bright and brisk fall day. The large stone fireplace was welcome and inviting. While the decor was formal, the atmosphere was easy and casual.

The View Point Inn was a delight that I’m sure I will revisit.

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The menu, like the inn as a whole, was both chic and casual. We had the most delicate crab cake appetizer I’ve ever tasted. On the other hand, the burger and slaw were tops! (awesome bun too)
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True to its name, there were sweeping views to the West of the gorge. To make sure guests were comfy indoors and out, there was a basket of warm lap blankies.

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Outdoors, there was a large lawn with chairs and a lovely herb border leading to a pond and small plaza. It was nice to rest and gaze after our ample repast.

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