Late September

Seattle’s Center for Urban Horticulture and the adjoining Union Bay Natural Area are two great places to escape the stress of the city.  I usually start in the small Soest Display Garden, where I can examine the new blooms. Then I like to wander through the open fields and wetlands behind the garden.  Often a Great Blue Heron can be found at the edge of the lake, holding still, every pore of its body focused on the water at its feet.  By that time, the traffic has been forgotten and I can follow the heron’s lead.

Here I’ve reversed the order of my afternoon stroll last Saturday, starting with the Union Bay wetlands and finishing in the garden.

Early fall finds wild asters blooming in the fields as grasses relax gracefully towards the earth.

I admit I had to force myself to take, process and include this photo – I’m just not a spider lover, but they are an important part of the picture around here, especially in September.

Tall rushes (Juncus sp.) have fallen in linear drifts, like a vanquished army.


Back at the garden, an ornamental grass (Hakone) goes to seed in an eye-catching dance of soft magenta, cream and chartreuse.

The photogenic sea holly (Eryngium) bristles with electric blue flowers and bracts – even the stems are blue!

A lavender flotilla of asters attracts bees.

An unusual dark-leaved dahlia stretches towards the waning late summer sun.

Hibiscus floods the garden with unembarrassed pink joy.

And lovely hybrid Japanese anemones nod gracefully in the breeze on long, trailing stems.


Inside and Out

Whether inside looking out or outside looking in, it often feels like you’re in both places – you feel the atmosphere and hear the sounds around you, but as your visual attention pulls you through the window, your mind begins to loosen its bonds to the senses that hold you in place….







This week the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is to illustrate “inside.”  No sooner do I think about “inside” than I want to consider “outside.”  How do the two interact?  Hence these photos, which were taken through windows, and of windows. I hope they convey a sense of the complex interplay of light and shadow, reflections, and scenes outside and inside.

More views of “inside” can be found here.


It’s for you to decide

whether any of this makes sense.

Perhaps it’s just

a light diversion.

In any case:



















I was thinking about putting some recent photographs up, and as I gathered them together they seemed to fall into two camps: the man-made and the “natural.”  Then I noticed correspondences between some of the images; hence the oddly matched pairings.

As I thought about the human-made objects versus the “natural” objects, I realized what a false division that might be. Are the natural objects free of human fiddling?

Not really.

The last flower, a Hibiscus, was bred, planted, grown and tended by humans. So was the ornamental grass above it. The wooden eye and the tangle of dried flowers, on the other hand, exist without the help, or hindrance, of human beings.

But wait – is that even true?

The giant log with its worn eye knothole rests in a field next to Lake Washington. The field is part of a park set aside by the town to protect wetlands. Did the tree take root naturally next to the lake, die of natural causes, fall down into the water and slowly wash back up onto land?  Or was it felled by human hands long ago, and left in the field to rot and weather? The dark tangle of stems and seeds grew and went to seed in the same field. Would those plants be there if we humans hadn’t set aside that field as park land?


Just how far

does one need to travel

to find a piece of

this earth

which is truly free of human intervention?

Is it even


(I’m not saying I’m against the human touch – far from it. Just something to think about!)


We took a short drive north

to Skagit County

we have a favorite small town there.

We like the way our senses open up

when we see the horizontal spread

of the flat fields,

their boundaries edged

in fir or poplar, (and a barn or two),

with the Cascades,

blue on blue

in the distance…

Snapping phone photos out the window,

we roll down two lane roads –

straight paths to

quiet places.

We stop to explore Fir Island, a refuge for winter wildfowl.

We’re surprised by the masses of driftwood

jammed up in waves-

waves that echo the many floods the island takes

and gives back.

Our footpath winds along a slough

set with perfectly composed

silver gray logs and

wildflowers –

(delicious blackberries, too, but I forgot to photograph those –

too busy savoring the dark, ripe summer juice.)

The logs are like great hulking beasts,

finally tamed

by sun and rain.

Back down the road,

through fields of potato and cabbage, wheat and corn,

round a bend, then,

the tiny “census designated place”

(not a town, really)

of Edison appears:

a few weathered buildings

huddled together at the edge of a slough,

surrounded by well-tended farms.

It’s a favorite gathering spot

for foodies and bikers.

There’s a saloon on the slough, a

lumber yard and a gallery or two, a

bread bakery (cookies too!),

a few small restaurants.

They’re informal places

that serve local food,

carefully done and enjoyed outdoors

with a perfect iced doppio.

It’s been another blue sky day

in the Pacific Northwest.

Sun’s getting low –

time to zig zag our way back through

Skagit River delta farms –

we’ll be sure to stop for corn and berries

before we hit the highway.

Most of these photos were taken with a phone.

That word “slough” – a funny one, isn’t it? It rhymes with stew, not rough, but such are the vagaries of English.  Around here a slough is yet  another way that water appears in the landscape.  We had some heavy rains last week, but for two months this summer no water fell from the sky. The slough behind the saloon was low and dry when we visited last week, but it will soon fill up.

(Did you happen to click on any of the links above? ‘Cause if you clicked on the first one, you’d know that over 50% of the world’s production of beet and spinach seed is right there in Skagit County.  How’s that for an obscure fact?)


That’s what it was when Cheri Lucas Rowlands of Word Press contacted me a while back and asked if I would contribute a post on Point of View to the Daily Post Photography 101 series. So I worked on it, which was fun, and here we are. I am frankly uncomfortable about climbing up on the roof to blow my own horn, but it seems I’d be missing something not to mention it here.

So if you’re not a subscriber to the Daily Post series, please feel free to have a look at the post.

It sums up some of my ideas about photography. And maybe life, too.

I can’t imagine a post without an image – I just can’t do it!

So here’s one. I shot this at Tolmie Creek in Mount Rainier Park last year and played with the image today, exaggerating it to express a feeling of being caught off balance by the notion of being published.

Thank you to everyone who has come here and encouraged me, especially to the many people who leave interesting, thoughtful comments. Lately I don’t visit as many blogs as I have in the past, so it’s good to know that most people don’t seem to require that one “like” their posts in order for them to “like” one’s own post.  But I try to keep that balance when I can. The blogosphere (how I hate that word), is an enriching, provocative place, but we need to remember to step back from the computer, relate to flesh and blood people, and get outdoors!


THE SEA is the subject of this weeks Daily Press Weekly Photo Challenge. There will surely be spectacular photographs of seascapes from around the world. My own experience with the sea though, is limited to the Americas.  (How wonderful it would be to live close enough to make a trip just for the Photo Challenge, but real oceanic coastline is a half day away, so that will wait.)

You never know what you’ll find when you go down to the sea – that’s the beauty of it, along with the fresh, salty air, the ever changing light, and the soundscape.

Sometimes there’s an extraordinary sunset, and city pollution may play a part in those amazing color tones.

This sunset was on Staten Island. I plunked down on the sand, transfixed:

Sunset at Lemon Creek Pier

Another evening, another east coast beach. On Topsail Island in North Carolina, a soft ocean fog created a moment in which I and a certain young man and his dog were content to to be lost.

One summer evening after finishing an assignment in a nearby town, I escaped to New York’s Fire Island to relax and watch the waves. The pristine sands caught softly colored shells and stones from clear blue waters as the shells and stones themselves caught the receding sunlight.

I wanted to linger forever at Bunche Beach on Florida’s west coast, where mangroves lined a peaceful inlet of clear, warm water and a fisherman drifted a lazy line from a rowboat.


Too many shorelines are littered with our trash.

These sturdy gulls are hunkered down on a cold November afternoon on Staten Island amidst bits of plastic, bricks and debris from nearby piers.  I loved going to the beach when I lived on Staten Island, but every single time I went, my joy was muted by the great disappointment of seeing so much garbage washed up onto the shoreline.

It’s potentially a pretty place, after all. As a borough of New York City (like Manhattan and Brooklyn) it is of course, jam packed with people and cars and industry.  But I believe it’s ringed with promise, too.

If only respect for the oceans were second nature.

If only access to water was easier, if only the shorelines could breathe. If only…

This was shot at the same place on the same afternoon – get past the garbage on the shore and it’s a wonderful light-filled seascape.

It’s impossible not to notice a difference in attitude towards the environment when you travel west.

Yes, there’s pollution here too. And yes, sometimes I see a bit of garbage on the beach, but overall it’s far cleaner. It just is. I know there are fewer people – far fewer – and I realize that clean beaches exist not far from the city of New York. But I see a greater respect for the land out here and I don’t know what combination of left coast environmentalism and history and perhaps less poverty creates this respect for the land, but it’s a good thing.

A very good thing.

This colorful detritus washed up on Rialto Beach, on the Washington coast one October afternoon. Bright colors, yes. Plastic, no.

Here’s another look at that (very clean) beach.

I think it boils down to respect.

All these beaches – all our beaches on this little blue spinning ball we depend on –  are worth respecting.

More Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge entries on the subject of The Sea can be found here.