or put

together, word(s) to dwell


In a dark place

on the

northern hemisphere’s

calendar, a


a possibility –




by focusing


the tense boundaries of





THANK YOU for your work, which inspires and lifts me daily. Thanks too for you comments, which I lap up with the greed of a dog, spent from a long run.






Vashon Island, a sparsely populated place of rolling farms and woodlands, is a pleasant ferry ride from Seattle or Tacoma. From a plane you’d know that Vashon, sometimes called Vashon-Maury Island, is two islands joined by a small chunk of land between Puget Sound and a sheltered harbor. Native Americans fished, gathered and hunted here for centuries. Then explorer George Vancouver’s 1792 visit signaled the change that resulted in the eventual removal of native peoples.

Something undefinable but subtly discernible hovers in the air at this juncture, perhaps because the topography of water meeting land is so rich.  The harbor draws thousands of ducks, grebes, loons and more bird species each winter. Surely it was the same back when the S’Homamish, a Coast Salish tribe, had a settlement here. The S’Homamish are said to have used a nearby grove of madrone trees for their canoe burials. Bodies were wrapped and put into a canoe with offerings. The canoe, with holes in it to drain water, was hoisted into the trees. It reminds me of Tibetan sky burials, another relatively open  manner of disposing of the dead. There’s something intriguing about the mixing of elements – water, earth, sky and spirit –  in the canoe burial.  Though visible traces are long gone, do S’Homamish spirits still linger in this spot?

I spent an afternoon  on Vashon Island last week. Ignorant of the island’s history, I was intent on a relaxing day of back road drifting and photo opportunities. The ferry disembarked at the north tip of Vashon and I traced the main road south towards Point Robinson on Maury Island, where a lighthouse sits on a beach with a commanding view of Mt. Rainier.  As I traversed the narrow strip of land between Vashon and Maury I noticed an old abandoned building just off the water’s edge, facing the sound.  It drew me in with its flat front of softly weathered wood. It was the kind of deserted ruin photographers love – full of character and peeling paint,  it was sparely lit by reflected light from the harbor. A bamboo grove chartreuse with sunlight crawled across a sagging porch.  The sign in the window said “The Portage Store.”

The building offered up its bones. I feasted.



When I got home I googled “Portage Store.”  The smaller original building was built in 1903, then moved in 1910 to accommodate the larger two-story building. This was the community’s post office until 1968. Much of the original store, which closed for business about nine years ago, remains as it was – that’s evident when you compare an early photograph to recent photos.

There wasn’t much information online about the old building. Supposedly someone lives in part of it; a few years back students from the University of Washington in Seattle did a project proposing a gentle re-purposing of the building to preserve its character and keep it going. That plan clearly never took off.

There wasn’t enough time left that day as the sun went down and I had to consider the ferry schedule and the drive home. I must go back and look again, before it’s gone. Maybe I’ll find that Madrone grove where canoe burials married spirit to sky and earth, or maybe better light will unmask long forgotten details in the Portage Store’s construction.


At Poppy’s request, (see comments) here’s the lighthouse and the view of Mt. Rainier from it. The Point Robinson Lighthouse was built in 1915, and yes, people were rescued in the area by it’s keepers. It went automatic quite a while ago, and when locals heard the attractive keeper’s houses next to the lighthouse were in danger they formed an organization. It’s a park now and guess what – you can stay in the keeper’s quarters!

The photo of the lighthouse was taken the first time I came to the island, in October last year – same for the one of Mt. Rainier. Last week’s weather was far less brilliant than the sunny day you see below; the Mt. Rainier photo in the header is from last week – hazy!




After rain.

The sun angles

for a November kind of heat –

and finds it



Japanese maples.



Fallen leaf

dries out

and rests.


The blushing pink skin

of a hybrid lily

sings of


in the fall garden.


Dainty Fuchsia,

sturdy Camellia,

winsome anemone –

all pretty,

but no match


blazing maple leaves

feathering the air

with garnet hues.



Swirling waters

at their feet




High up,

a hummingbird

owns the territory. I have


the rear view – a ball

of shiny feathers,

stick-sharp legs

and beak.



Bellevue Botanical Garden, Bellevue, Washington.

Some plants:

Acer palmatum           1st photo

Acer palmatum ‘Elegans’  leaf caught in Miscanthus sinensus ‘Yaku Jima’ grass             2nd photo

Acer macrophyllum (Big Leaf Maple)           3rd photo

lily x Amarcrinum             4th photo

Fuschia ‘Margaret Pilkington’           5th photo

Camellia sasanqua ‘Hana Jiman’           6th photo

Anemone x hybrid ‘Honorine Jobert’           7th photo

Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’           8th photo

Rufous Hummingbird           last photo






Rain sped the inevitable breakdown of

leaf, stem and


this week.

A walk in a wet forest near

a rushing stream today



What was once upright, now sags,

reaching to earth. What

was once entire is now



to be broken up:

food for fungi,

the soil gods


one worships.




It can be a difficult beauty,

this rot,

refusing to satisfy

any desire

for perfection. And


is perfection,







Photos taken 11/2/14 at Youngs Creek Falls, near Monroe, Washington with a Lumix G3 and Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens, processed with Lightroom and OnOne.