Not Just a Walk in the Park

The city of Kirkland, a suburb sitting straight across Lake Washington from Seattle, isn’t the place you’d expect to find deep woods with giant trees and a lush abundance of native plants.  But an effort has been here made to preserve the land – at least some of it – and though logging took its toll long ago, the forest in O.O. Denny Park retains the green magic of a pre-suburban time. I like to wander along the narrow, muddy trail here, wide-eyed with wonder…

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There are giant Red cedars and Douglas firs and the forest floor is packed with Sword ferns. A rushing stream carves a deep V into the ravine, where salmonberries, Devil’s Club and trillium vie with moss and lichens for the narrow light streams filtering through the canopy. It thrills me that it’s all just blocks away from busy suburban streets.

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The park is named for the first white boy born in Seattle – Orion O. Denny. This was the Denny’s country place; later it was a camp. There is nice lake beach access, making it attractive to families in the summer, but I prefer the woods, the trilling wrens, the towering trees and wildflowers.

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One Douglas fir, “Sylvia”,  is 600 years old.  It measured 255′ tall before a storm broke off the top twenty years ago, and at about 27′  in circumference, it still impresses. (The little square at its feet is a plaque).

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The other day I saw the strangest thing in Denny Park –

I was a yard or so off the trail, facing into the woods. At my feet I saw a small red purse, zipped up and carefully wrapped in plastic, and stuffed into the cavity of a decaying branch on the ground. I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t bent down to inspect a wildflower. It seemed like it had been there a while, but I couldn’t be sure.

I was curious, but something made me leave it where it was…fear? propriety? Maybe both.

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O.O. Denny Park – a magical place…


61 comments

  1. Awesome pictures, love the post. Now I would have never been able to leave the purse. I would want to know the story. I wouldn’t think the original owner would have hidden it in such a way. There might be a chance to return it to someone.

  2. Beautifully done Lynn – a great variation of photo techniques! Looks like home except our trilliums are no more. We used to find money (coins) hidden in the forest trees around our place – like some sort of offering.

    • Nice to hear from you – I’m remiss in getting to my Reader and need to catch up with you. Amazing that you used to find money in trees…hmmm…a northwest tradition? And I bet it does look like home. Some day we’ll get up your way. I realized the other day that my passport expired, so no spontaneous trips over the border in the near future, but I really would like to see what you’ve done.

  3. Wow, Lynn, your walk through the woods and your photos are so magical. The forest looks like a fairy wonderland. I love all your photos, as always, but I love the look of the last and the 4th from the last. It looks almost like two pictures, one superimposed on the other. How did you do that? 🙂

    • Thank you – so glad you commented. What I liked was that those images convey the felt sense that I have in the forest, as opposed to faithfully reproducing what I saw, also a worthy goal.
      They’re not double exposures and they’re not done in photoshop. They’re long exposures (you have to have a camera that allows you to set the shutter speed) and I moved the camera in a certain way while taking the picture. I kind of panned straight up or down, as steadily as possible without a tripod. I didn’t know that would happen; hopefully I’ll be able to duplicate it. Experimentation’s the name of the game!

      • Good for you for experimenting like that, Lynn. The pictures are truly amazing. Once I get settled back home and can relax again, I really want to play around more with my little Olympus. 🙂

  4. Wow! What a whopping selection! You have a collection of fine pictures here that I think justify three separate posts. You have the straight woodland, arboreal shots – full of atmosphere, contrasting greens and leaf shapes; the ‘botanical’ images of woodland flowers; and the abstract/experimental pictures. They all work very well and I think would benefit from having their own space to increase their impact. The same is true of the monochrome pictures. They would look splendid on their own but are a little overwhelmed when surrounded by colour. But its an excellent post and I like it a lot!!

    • I know what you mean, Louis – they’re different sorts of photos – I had the same thought, and I often do. But this seems the way I’m going for now. Maybe I’ll do some single shot posts soon, or some with just a few similar shots. I’m grateful for your thoughts, as always.

    • Lush is right! I heard the Pacific wren a lot – I don’t know if you know the Winter wren, which I think should be in your area in the summer. A tiny bird, not easily seen, with an impossibly high, tinkling, gurgling,cheerful song. The first time I heard it I was rapt – it was in an eastern Hemlock forest – all cathedral-like and quiet, then came the Winter wren’s almost inaudible precious song. The western version of that wren is very similar, and I find I hear it much more than I ever heard the eastern one, surely because I’m in the right habitat so often.

  5. I just have to ask this random question… what colors do you decorate your living space in? Do you find you favor earth tones with an emphasis on lots of greens? Your posts are so wonderfully earthy, exuding your obvious love of the outdoors and a celebration of the beauty that is nature. I just picture in my mind’s eye you bring the outdoors in with your interior color selections. I was just thinking about that as I looked at all your images…

  6. So funny! Well, my mother also deeply loved nature, and her home was full of soft, tasteful greens, and I didn’t like it – it felt too conventional. I just wanted white walls with a clean, urban look. I once worked for two NYC interior designers whose palate was very masculine – a lot of browns, creams, expensive woods, stone, etc. – that I liked, too! I still go for white walls, but I’m renting now and everything here happens to be earth tones. It’s fine actually, and who knows where I’ll go next?

  7. Another compelling group, Lynn. I’m especially drawn to the sepia image, and from the abstractions—2nd up from the bottom. Makes me want to see the “big” trees again.

    • Sepia seems to lend itself very well to images in the grand forests with their giant, old trees. (And I’d like to see the ocean off LI again, too). Thank you very much for taking the time to comment, again. It’s helpful.

  8. Oh my goodness – what an amazing post! The first shot, and the soft focus shot of the flower (fifth in the post) are just so beautiful…. really love the more impressionistic ones as well – really give a great sense of the feeling of this beautiful place.

    More please!

  9. Thanks for the comment. I must say you have a very discernible style when it comes to photographing forests. Double exposures of foliage are always a great way for an ethereal feeling. I was just down in visiting Washington and went to a few parks, perhaps next time I will visit Denny Park.

  10. I clicked here from your friend, Cathy. You use of light is spell binding – the place of fairyland. Washington is a beautiful place. My first husband grew up there, but i”m not sure where Denny Park is. It certainly looks like part of the rainforest area. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Thank you! It’s actually not in the real temperate rainforest, which is over on the Olympic Peninsula, nearer to the coast. Denny Park is in a suburb of Seattle, and its essentially just a small suburban park, but that’s how they make them here – drop dead gorgeous. It does look like a rainforest compared to a lot of other places. The Pacific northwest is famous for its rainfall – that rain gets put to excellent use here.

      • When we used to visit Seattle all the time, our favorite haunt was Green Lake Park. My husband grew up in the Ballard district, then his parents moved out to N. Aurora Blvd. and about 152nd. Seattle is a beautiful place. I was there last November for a conference, and the rainforest was watered! 🙂

  11. If you enjoy Red Cedar, check out Big Beaver Creek in the N. Cascades National Park. There is probably no better example of old Red Cedar in the lower 48 than that drainage. I enjoyed the pictures and writing….especially the the ones with movement.

    • Thank you very much – I haven’t explored much of the N. Cascades yet. I love the cedars and am glad to know a good place to find the “Old Grandmothers” as I like to think of them. I’m also glad you enjoyed the blurred images – thanks so much!

  12. What a fabulous place to wonder and your photos really convey the strength and vigour of the natural forest. The red purse would scare me a bit too actually and I felt the images after this had a certain speed that conveyed your sense of drama so well. Really enjoyed that, thank you.

    • I’m glad. The next to last photo – it’s a deep cleft in the trunk of a large cedar tree. Slow shutter speed (.8 sec) f11, holding camera (relatively!) still and zooming the lens (a std 18 – 55m lens) in or out. I think I paused slightly before zooming, or after zooming, which is why there seems to be a still photo of the bark there. Then in processing, the contrast was increased. Hope that makes sense, geeks! ‘Cause I’m most definitively not a geek or a techie!

  13. Very interesting to see those vegetation in comparison to the Japanese flora.
    Some plants are the same, others are very similar but slightly different.
    Very clean nice shot. 🙂

    • I bet it is interesting when you see a familiar plant so far away. Since moving to the west coast of USA I’ve noticed there’s more similarity to Asia and Japanese flora here than on the east coast. I think there’s a lot of similarity in climate, too.


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