Nutrient-rich, productive waters are the draw at Sekiu (see’ kew), a fishing village on the bountiful Strait of Juan de Fuca.  In August we enjoyed a few days in the area, staying at Curley’s Resort, a very laid back, somewhat ramshackle hotel that caters to sport fishermen. The modest rooms and lack of pretension suited us – it didn’t feel like anyone was out to impress us. After all, the view speaks for itself.

The activity in Sekiu appeared to be about 99% devoted to fishing. We were the other one percent, hanging out, watching the scene, striking up conversations, and taking photos.

Each morning fog obscured the small boats as they motored out to the strait for a day of fishing. As fishermen returned with their plentiful catch, gulls, crows and eagles swirled and swam around the marina, loudly negotiating easy deals on fresh salmon. It was amazing to see how much fish the men threw out to the birds. Miles away an ocean canyon off the coast funnels nutrient-rich water that surges upwards and flows into the strait. The mixing of currents is thought to result in the unusually productive waters, full of phytoplankton and krill, which are key species in this environment.

Tangles of kelp and seaweed are evidence of the wealth of food in these waters. We watched as a young man received wisdom from an expert on filleting techniques.

On another pier, a disabled vet was slowly restoring himself by repairing large wood sculptures that he created years ago. He patiently worked the wood, plugging holes made by rough weather, an obvious metaphor for healing wounds from long ago in Vietnam.

The “resorts” here sell lures and flashers and whatever gear you might need, including rags at a nickel each. Our room came stocked with a plastic bag full of clean, torn toweling and signs encouraging us to use the rags, not the bath towels. We didn’t have the problem of having to clean fish – we left it to others, and had a fantastic meal one night of freshly caught salmon. We did lose a pair of shoes though, after walking through the muck at low tide at a nearby bay. The fun in this part of the world isn’t always clean.

On the store walls, old photos of the area hang askew. Outside, wildflower vines climb the deck and the scale hangs ready.

Sekiu (pronounced seek-yew) is a very good place to be a gull!

And that morning in August, it was just a great place to be.


Yesterday was cloudy with a spit of rain here and there, hardly enough to run the windshield wipers. It seemed a good day to head up to Skagit County, a place of open vistas, farms, plentiful water, and small towns.

Under moody skies Lummi Island hid its top across the estuary’s dark waters. Hidden among lapping waves, three loons dove and disappeared, their sleek heads reemerging closer, then farther out, in a mesmerizing rhythm older than we could imagine.

Fishing is good now on the Samish River, for catching salmon as well as quiet camaraderie.  The endless fields and marshes, distant blue hills, wet smells and gulls’ cries forge an atmosphere that can soak peace right into the bones.

Herons were busy yesterday, too. This one strutted his stuff to ward off an interloper from the perfect spot on the slough.

Salt-tolerant Douglas asters highlight the marsh with lavender splashes. September asters are flowers to be grateful for – soon there will be nothing in bloom out here.

Spiders are busy among the ripening rose hips, and colors are more vivid for the moisture in the air.

What is it about overcast skies that suits this land so well?

A farmer drew a line of sunflowers along the edge of a field.  It’s a horizontal landscape here: one long edge after another, piled up in subtle stripes, variations on a restful theme.

In the small town of Edison, hard by a slough-edged farm, a handful of laid back restaurants beckon. We chose an old favorite and tucked in to grits with curried sausage and shrimp, eggs with a big country biscuit, roasted tomatoes, arugula and orange slices. Our water was steeped with mint and lemon. The owner chatted with friends at the next table, tattooed cooks brought plate after plate heaped with local food out, and the blues drifted over, completing the picture.

Photos taken with a Lumix G3; 20mm prime and 80 mm macro lenses. The last two were taken with a Samsung phone.


To me, anyway.

The first time I spotted this old chicken barn outside Duvall, Washington (a rural town 25 miles east of Seattle), I was drawn to the severe lines and faded, mustard-colored siding. It backs into its site nicely. It hasn’t changed in the three years I’ve watched it – the grass is mowed every now and then and the barn remains unused. Ignoring the No Parking signs, I park on the side, step back, and compose shots around that sweet trapezoidal shape. I creep up close to shoot rusty nails in the siding, or a stray wildflower hidden among the grass in front.

This is the kind of prosaic building that might come down any minute. My breath probably settles the tiniest bit each time I round the corner and see it’s still there.

Lumix G3 with Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7 lens; f/4.5 1600 sec. ISO 160





After months of warm, dry, sunny days, we have had rain this week. On the other side of the mountains there is great relief, as people coping with Washington’s worst wildfire season ever get a break. As I took these photos a fine mist was falling, moistening leaves that are beginning to fade into the subtle tones of early fall.

The tall, straight trees are Douglas firs, a signature tree of the Pacific Northwest. In our area nearly every road is lined with Doug fir, producing a treeline of zigs and zags. Like roughly torn paper, their irregular branches create a distinctive silhouette.

In the second and last photos, Big Leaf Maples reach across the frame. Their leaves can be the size of dinner plates.  Behind the Doug fir tree trunk in the third photo, a Western redcedar’s graceful branches absorb the light.  Dense, symmetrical trees, the cedar branch tips have a way of reaching towards and relaxing with the light.  Another Western redcedar is in the background of the last photo.

The photos were taken from a deck three stories up, which is about half the height of this little patch of woods. Increasing the contrast and saturation in these photos might produce a more conventionally attractive image, but I held them back to reveal the subtleties of the moisture-laden air.