Summer Songs

Green-edged road

broken robin’s egg

left in the grass.

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Below are four groups of photographs, all taken in the last month, some near home and some a day’s trip away.

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The photos above were taken along Umtanum Road, a rural two lane winding through the hilly grasslands of Kittitas County, on the dry side of the Cascade Range.  We’d taken a quick overnight trip on a whim – I was hoping to see wildflowers. Our route climbed east over the Cascade Mountains, then south, with a stop near a mountain pass for a lovely walk through the forest (photos below).

We had dinner in Ellensburg that evening, and spent the night at a local airbnb, where our host regaled us with the inside scoop on the local agriculture business. She used to work for a hay exporter but was happy to leave the stressful job behind. We learned that the timothy hay grown in the area is a multi-million dollar business. Most of it is shipped to Japan and China – apparently Asian cows and racehorses are thriving on it.

The next day we explored Umtanum Road, seen above. The region was bursting with wildflowers, as temperatures were not yet in the 90’s, which is the summer norm for the area. The flowers took my breath away. I plan to post photos of them in the future. In addition to flowers, the occasional abandoned building and dozens of bluebird boxes, we noticed the piece of abandoned farm equipment pictured above – if anyone has an idea what it was used for, I’d love to know!

Below, photos from our walk along the Swauk Forest Discovery Trail, an easy two mile loop near Blewett Pass.  At about 4,000 feet we were high enough for nice views, though it was a cloudy day. Still, the quiet trail was inspiring. The forest ecosystem there is Ponderosa pine-Douglas fir, with widely spaced trees, various sages, grasses, and many flowers, including the beloved Tweedy’s lewisia, below.  We saw thick manes of wolf lichen on the trees, and learned first-hand the tantalizingly sweet, warm smell of Ponderosa pine bark.  A penstemon (P. fruticosus) decorates the path below:

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On another day I drove north to Skagit County, where life revolves around agriculture. Fields are planted with potatoes, berries, daffodils, tulips and more; dairy cows and other livestock complete the picture.  Restaurants in some of the small towns feature food made with locally grown ingredients and a rustic atmosphere, drawing people from far afield. Local residents seem to have a penchant for slightly eccentric, artistic touches and colorful gardens.

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Closer to home there’s a roadside spot I visit from time to time. Nothing elaborate, in fact, it’s the kind of space most people ignore, but I like places like that. My expectations are less defined than they are at established parks or trails, and I enjoy the thought that I have no idea what I’ll find.

There’s a retention pond to regulate water runoff, a grassy knoll, and a sliver of woods with a bit of wetland in a sink. The land has a rural feeling but it’s minutes away from the sprawling Redmond Microsoft corporate campus.  Birdsong is the high note, traffic is the low note.

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Summer pleasures! It’s been a good season for them. On Sunday we’re off for a week-long road trip, this time heading east and north, into a quiet corner of British Columbia where the Kootenay River joins the mighty Columbia. Maybe we’ll stop at Grand Coulee Dam on the way up. Lots of maybes! Time to pack!

 

 

 

 

 


45 comments

  1. Wonderful landscape captured in beautiful photos. I wonder too about that farm contraption, and am looking forward to seeing more flower, or nature in general, shots from you.

    • Oh yes, you’re going to see more landscapes and flowers! 🙂 There’s no question that it’s beautiful around here and what I love is that you go from a very wet climate, with lush growth to an extremely dry landscape in just 2 hours, by traveling over one of the mountain passes. A reader below explains what the farm equipment was used for – makes sense!

  2. Beautiful songs! I can almost hear a whistle along the road in the first shot, bathed in light, lovely..

    • It’s always good to hear from you! The light over on the dry side of the state can be harsh but if you get out at the right time, it’s lovely. On this side, there is often not enough light, but I’ve adapted.

  3. Lovely textures, sensitive processing, use of light and sense of atmosphere combine to create excellent images. These have tremendous appeal for me.

    • I wish you could see it in person but I’m glad you enjoy the photographs. As always, I appreciate your sensitive comments. It’s been nice having time to get out repeatedly and to explore father afield. More to come!

  4. I like how photograph #6 teases me about what I may see from the rim on the path while meanwhile the closer purple flowers entertain me. In #9 the radiating logs and the subtle coloration appeal. The pink poppy is so tender. Usually a shadow spoils a shot like this, but why does this one just add to the sweetness? I’m sure I don’t know. Maybe because it’s diffuse? Love your use (again!) of the shallow depth of field on the grasses. (Or is it wheat?) Great job as usual, Lynn.

    • Thanks for the detailed comments Linda – always helps. Re the Sauk trail image – something I recognized long ago is that personally, I like to have the distant view while being anchored by something nearby – that makes it real. The logs, well, take somee credit OK? Because your intense devotion to exploring things like that has inspired me; seeing your work moves me to look at the ground in a new way. The poppy – I took the shot thinking it would probably not work but was happy to find that it did. Why, I’m not quite sure. The shadow was just soft enough, and the ambient light was not too bright, I guess. You could probably achieve a similar effect by using a little fill flash or other light source but I never do – too restless! 🙂

      • Oh, my. Thank you for the credit, Lynn. Happy to have it, but I’ll bet you were there (noticing the ground) all along. I guess I like sharing in the mystery of why that poppy photo worked. I don’t know if it’s restlessness or laziness on my part, but I always only use natural light—not even one of those reflector things.

  5. I love how you’ve taken us on a little tour with you! Your choices reflect your wandering spirit beautifully, and your camera captured a sense of quiet at each destination. Happy travels! Looking forward to more of your discoveries 🙂

  6. that abandoned piece of equipment was interesting; i also wondered, ‘what is/was that?’ — it represents – to me – man’s claim on the landscape, then slowly the landscape reclaims what was never rightfully man’s to take.

    “…I enjoy the thought that I have no idea what I’ll find.” —- that’s a wonderful way to embrace the surroundings – just merging with the scene with quiet expectations…
    The images are all great – that one with the Queen Anne’s Lace curving ’round from bottom to the left then a ‘water canal-hard turn right’ looks as if everything was personally arranged ‘just so’ to create that subtle clockwise flow of energy… a master ‘eye’ saw the unique beauty and captured it for all of us to enjoy…

    Have a great road trip!

    • Sometime below explains the rig, makes total sense. It’s very easy to see nature reclaiming man’s creations up here in the wet pacific northwest. Even if that was on the dry side of the mountain!
      Your insights into the flow of lines and shapes are great. It was a very pretty day and I do love curves! 🙂

      • I just remembered seeing an old car a few blocks away…. it’s almost covered in vines, and I saw it while driving to work on the mural – and forgot about it.. It deserves to have its portrait made -soon, or it will be lost beneath the vines!

  7. Happy travels to you both! Love the shy little spots of blue in #4. Leave it to you to give them their due! Wish my late hubby was still around, he could have told you for sure what that piece of farm equipment is/was!

    • Blue flowers are so special aren’t they? I think that was flax. I had to up the saturation on the blue just a bit. Those fine tuning adjustments are fun. Sally below explained the winch – makes sense. Don’t work too hard you’re almost there. ….

      • Not only is blue a bit rare in flowers, but it’s also my favorite color… well, that an the deep reds. Purple isn’t bad either. It does seem to be getting down to the final stretch, but I don’t believe some of the stuff I’m finding lurking in the closets and cupboards. Only wish I’d been more organized and not waited so long to tackle this last sort and dispose. ALMOST there!!! Countdown is 13 at the moment. The bad news is that someone(s) stole the kayak -the one that’s been featured in recent shots. That was MY kayak since it’s the more stable version. Sigh… there’s been the permit struggle and then the post office is giving us a hard time about the location for our mailbox. Whatever happened to public service? 😦 But it’ll all be good in the end!

      • Oh, the lurking stuff! Ouch! We’re going to be dealing with it soon. I should be doing some every day, but, well, I’m not. The kayak loss is really horrible, I’m sorry to hear that. Never a good feeling. The PO business – I suspect that will resolve. Be strong (I know I don’t have to say that to you!).

  8. I love all the pictures, Lynn, as always, especially the first one in Skagit County (the landscape), that rusted iron horizontal piece (part of a fence??), and those delicate upside down U-shaped weeds (?) in that out-of-the-way place near your home. I also love the wolf lichen and the bark on the Ponderosa pine. I’m not really a fan of summer (I hate the heat and humidity and bugs!), but you helped me to see some good in it. I’m always waiting for it to end already! 🙂

    • I’m with you on heat with humidity (not a fan of cold though either) but here it s dry heat and more tolerable. Still, the sun is awfully strong. Your choices are always interesting. The rusty hook was across a road so people will only wall, not drive there. It’s a fishing spot – the slough in the other photo – the heron was hating me. 🙂
      I hope you are surviving your summer position – I trust you’re eating up the sights!

    • Sadly we didn’t get across the border but we did explore eastern Washington and spent a few days in Spokane – wouldn’t want to live there but it was interesting.

  9. My favorite single detail is in the second photo, where the moss (?) is climbing both the tree trunk and the wooden parts of the old equipment. I like the rusted coupler, too. I happen to like human traces in the landscape. After all, we’re part of the created order, too. Ironically, our increasing separation from the natural world is part of what’s leading to our disrespect and lack of care for it. It’s no mistake that (around here, at least) hunters, fishermen, ranchers, and farmers are among the most avid conservationists.

    • I hear you! A balance is good – to be able to experience places without traces of our work once in a while keeps me sane – and yes, those traces can be so evocative. Your point about separation from the natural world and lack of respect for it is certainly true. Hopefully educators are using that insight and getting the kids outside! (Probably not nearly enough on these times of standardized test primacy).

  10. Your mysterious piece of equipment? My husband (who describes himself as an old farmer who knows stuff) says this is a stationary winch, also called a “stiff leg.” It’s designed to lift things, in this case perhaps logs. The base housed the winch and cable roll, along with the engine. The cable ran up the leg, over the top and down to the ground; a hook or log tong was attached to the end to do the lifting. Some winches were double — one cable to lift/lower, another one to boom the load out or back. Some winches had a rotating base so they could pick up a load in one spot, turn and lay it down in another. Handy things those winches. Old farmers, too. 🙂

    • It’s delicious, isn’t it? Spokane isn’t a place I’d want to settle down in, but we landed there unexpectedly last week. We could have spent at least a few more days exploring. Had some good food, too!

      • In the 70’s when my family was there it seemed like a nice enough place but it looks so grubby now I wonder if I my child’s eyes were missing the truth. I’m glad you had a nice visit there.

  11. Your gorgeous shots are full of that lovely lazy summer feel – long grass, poppies and the sun on your back. Enjoy your next travels Lyn and look forward to what you discover in this corner of the world. I know it’s going to be good!

  12. The light in the canal photograph and the flowers is beautiful I appreciate your knowledges of nature too…once I began to photograph with intention I became more awake to birds and trees and the rhythms of nature…now I’m listening to birds and wood peckers at good spirit lake….have a wonderful week Lynn appreciate your adventures and images 😀 smiles Hedy

    • I like that place where the slough/canal is very much – have been going there as long as I’ve lived here. We might move up that way. Lots of open space. I’m glad you’re enjoying listening. The more you do, the more wonderful it is and the more discoveries you make. Oh, if you do read this reply – I just had a thought. I did a piece when I was in art school many years ago that I bet you’d like. It’s a written record of all the sounds I heard on one October day, from awakening to sleep. The world was quieter then! I carried a notebook with me that day, didn’t speak too much, and wrote like mad. It was a really interesting experience. Somewhere in this blog I have a few pages from the work, not sure where but I could find them.


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