A smart phone lens.

Had to buy a new phone, gotta play with it.

Sitting at home, peering out at the forest through blue glass,

in traffic in Seattle, looking up at a construction site, with and without equipment,

and casting about inside the car for something to photograph:

a blurred bump as I put my foot on the gas.

Between Worlds

Yesterday was a day of strange magic –

our day trip planned,

we headed south, but then directions led us awry –

we lost time.

Later we made a quick stop at the last store on the road.

Like the middle of nowhere, a strange feeling there –

I shoved my wallet in my right pocket,

and my phone in my left. I used the facilities, walked back to the car, and

one pocket was empty. No phone.

Just gone, as if by


I made a big effort to let go-

(no, I said to myself, it’s NOT my identity, not my tether to the world. There are

more substantial tethers: wonder, the veins of green leaves, pounding waterfalls).

Driving south on the winding mountain road, we notice

Search and Rescue trucks

parked on the shoulder.

We don’t see what happens a few hours later: her


brought down the


old desolate, she called herself.

Her last hike:

was there wonder, and

magic in it?

The turquoise Ohanapecosh River churned

a mile or so south of her last steps, it

thundered over ancient rocks, carving circles in them.

Ancient cedars and firs towered there – burled with rings of

wonder, bark woven, tiny blue flowers at their feet.

And bright pink flowers bobbed in the breeze on a wall of rock

that plunged

into the water, the frothy

turquoise Ohanapecosh, its power

hemmed by rocks that I scrambled across quickly, oblivious to

her body’s slow descent

a mile or so away.  I pranced joyfully on the rocks, too close to the edge –

as I always do.

And her body was found and brought down

to the waiting vehicles we passed

on our way to see tree giants and foaming rivers.


Our worlds reflect each other like Indra’s net –

jewels that mirror, worlds that almost touch, slender threads…

Her words perch on my Flickr page,

written on the day she left for

this last hike. She wrote,

“You captured the vastness…”

under my photo of a field and fencepost.


Vastness and

magic and yes,

she died, as they are saying today, doing-what-she-loved

on the mountain where

we wandered yesterday,

inside magic.

Karen Sykes, R.I.P.

Seattle Times article

Old desolate’s Flickr photos


In a Dry Place

We drive over Snoqualmie Pass,

then we motor down,

and down,

and down

to the wider view,

on the other side of the mountains.


The dry side.


We’re headed to Umtanum Creek Recreation Area,

a shrub-steppe habitat of dry hills, sage, and rattlesnakes.

Bighorn sheep are said to roam the craggy tops;

in the creek’s deep crease

willows flourish,

butterflies lilt,

and wildflowers cycle through bloom, seed, dormancy, and bloom again…


Umtanum Creek’s clear water feeds the wide Yakima River,

which in turn feeds the Columbia River,

which empties into the Pacific.

Today the water is cold but the sun is hot –

perfect for a raft trip down the Yakima.


But we’re interested in a dry place, so

we head across Yakima river

on a bridge

of creaky wood

and swaying steel.

The creek’s final course flows quietly

under a cool, shady thicket. We could follow it –

walk up the creek trail,




Remember last year?  We walked up the creek and

after that we were curious about that hill, so

we trudged up

a steep path

but we were tired and

we didn’t get very far.

Why not do the hill path first this time?

Later we can cool our heels

in the creek.


It’s hot. Steep. Rock-strewn.

No one else is

on the trail.

We have 3 bottles of water,

little bags of nuts and raisins, a chocolate –

we’re already thirsty.


I drink in the open landscape, the

way rolling hills

are clothed in subtle shades of umber and gold,

olive and gray,

and the creek below

weaves a frothy emerald path

through the canyon.

I sense movement ahead on the rocks to my left.

– amazing –

a bighorn sheep!

I’ve never seen one before – didn’t expect to see one today.

Don’t you have to be miles from the road to see this kind of wildness?  Don’t you have to come at dawn, or dusk?

(Oh, would a long lens be good right about now!)


Just one ram,

and so nobly beautiful!

Surprise – instead of running away he makes eye contact. He poses on the rocks,

then climbs down closer.

I walk a few steps up the trail,

and he steps nimbly, almost aggressively,

towards us.

It’s lamb season, so we realize this may not be safe –

time to back off!

I force myself to step backwards on the trail,

not wanting to divert my gaze.

One last look –

can you see him there still?

King of the Hill…


It’s all good though.  He has his turf.

We had the privilege of meeting him,

in his world

for a few electric minutes.



Back down along the creek, a rattlesnake

slithers slowly away

through rock shadows  –

No matter I didn’t get a usable shot – I’m glad it’s gone.

Again I’m distracted by butterflies and wildflowers,

the curl of dry grass,

yarrow with its fair share of insect life,

tall grass ornamented with tiny yellow flowers,

wild roses

announcing their pinkness

amidst the green.




Finally, the water up close:

feet cool off:




Back on the road

heading down Yakima Canyon,

we glimpse strange basalt rock stacks painted

lichen red and yellow,

like primitive sculpture, or maybe an artist’s recent work

(how’s that for site-specific?).

And then more luck – we’ve gone from bighorn sheep and rattlesnakes

to a vintage ’51 Pontiac Chieftain,

looking very at home, even on the four lane!

We pull off so I can photograph the plain, graceful hills in late afternoon light.

A Western meadowlark sings somewhere out there – we can’t see it.

Telephone poles

and weathered fence posts

march crookedly up and down:

imaginary ideas of here

and there



pasted on the hills.

We know there is no ownership.

I imagine the poles as dashes – pencil marks across

a manuscript

pale and dry as paper,

but ever changing.

Heading back towards home,

the Cascade Range appears in the distance

like a mirage.

Let’s stop at the top –

I want to breathe in the difference between

the dry place

and the fiercely steep, snowy place above,

the mountains with their towering trees and

spring flowers, still


as if it were April.

We stop briefly at Snoqualmie Pass,

walk to a smidgeon of the Pacific Crest Trail –

(hikers pass through here on their 2,650 mile trip from Mexico to California).

How’s that for inspiring?

Yes, trillium are still blooming here.


This is one of the reasons we left New York and moved out here two years ago –

truly wild land is more accessible to us now.

In the course of a day

we can drive from

June to April

and back to June again,

from wet to dry to wet again

from lush to arid to lush again!

Yes, how’s that for inspiration.



As May Slid into June…

More and more,

flowers bloomed…






In the garden’s hidden


alongside twisty pathways, or up

front and center

soaking in the sunlight, it’s all



isn’t it, as May


into June.

Photos taken at Bellevue Botanical Gardens, Bellevue, WA.


around the corner, and

in a split


everything will change.

Wonder –

disappear into it.



This photo tells the story of a man about to disappear around the corner into a wilder place. More story-telling pictures are here, where every week photographers rise to a new challenge put on by The Daily Post at WordPress.

The photo was taken at Larabee State Park in Washington, about an hour north of Seattle.