Here

Here,

now,

Cascadia* quietly

gathers itself close. Shadows hide

summer’s disintegrating

dreams. Water swallows

a tangle of broken reeds.

Last season’s

push

pulls back

to center.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

6.

 

7.

 

8.

 

9.

 

10.

 

11.

 

12.

 

13.

 

14.

 

15.

 

_

16.

 

17.

 

18.

 

19.

 

20.

 

_C110038

21.

 

22.

 

23.

***

The Photos:

  1. It’s 3:00 pm on December 11th at 47° 78′ North latitude. We’re walking a trail at the Paradise Valley Conservation Area, a park purchased by the county 17 years ago from the Lloyds, a Welsh family that homesteaded here back in 1887.  Western hemlock, Douglas fir, Red cedar, Cottonwood and Red alder are common in this second growth woodland, which is reverting back to a wild state after earlier use for timber production and livestock. Trees grow tall and thick and evening comes early.
  2. A disintegrating alder leaf has caught on a small branch along the trail. I find leaves caught on branches and foliage frequently. The transience of leaves stopped mid-fall is a subject I like to frame, photograph, and carry home as memory.
  3. Gunnera (G. tinctoria), a perennial related to rhubarb that’s gardeners love for its dramatic foliage. The leaves have been neatly mounded and “put to bed” for the winter next to a conservatory in Seattle.
  4. A maple leaf caught on a Sword fern (Polystichum munitum).  The Sword fern is an abundant evergreen understory fern found from Alaska to California. Notice how the maple leaf’s lobes are tucked under the fern leaflets. How long will it stay there?
  5. A Western hemlock has taken root on an old stump, probably a cedar, a common occurrence in these woods. The damp, temperate Pacific northwest is famous for its nursery logs and stumps. Eventually the stump will rot away and the roots will fill in. You can see this process at all stages in the woods here.
  6. Another leaf has come to rest on a Sword fern.
  7. Vegetation slowly disintegrates into the shallow waters at the north end of Lake Sammamish, in Marymoor Park. The park is heavily used for recreation, with a hugely popular off-leash dog run, frequent concerts, model plane flying, soccer, you name it. Even so, the river feeding Lake Sammamish supports a beaver lodge. An active Great Blue heron rookery is perched high in the Cottonwoods above the river, right next to a busy “dog beach.”  Minutes after I took this photo I watched a River otter sinuously swimming down the river. Several times it stuck its little whiskered muzzle up to look around and sniff the air, then curved back underwater with a fluid swoosh of its fat, muscular tail. The park has three million annual visitors and River otters, beavers and herons live here. That fact testifies to a deep respect for the environment that is characteristic of Pacific northwest culture.
  8. Gentle waves interrupt reflections on placid Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland, just east of Seattle. In the distance are mixed flocks of American coot, Green-winged teal, American wigeon, and Wood ducks. And Mallards, always Mallards! Bald eagles are nearby, ready to take advantage of any lapse in attention. The eagles prefer fish, but they will take waterfowl.
  9. A winter scene at Juanita Bay. The shapes and negative space created by the trees’ trunks and branches drew my attention. The bones of winter laid bare.
  10. Juanita Bay park is plagued with invasive species like this Reed canary grass, a problem throughout the county. To me, it has an interesting look as it collapses and decays, a process our wet climate encourages.
  11. The last reeds bend towards the water at Marymoor and fallen leaves dissolve into a rich muck on the bottom. This photo was taken with a new lens I’m getting used to. A polarizing filter would have reduced the glare off the water’s surface. I just ordered one – yes, it’s easy to accumulate gear!
  12. A single red berry, probably Red elderberry, dangles from a twig at Paradise Valley. Deer and elk like these but the nearest elk herd is miles away, so maybe a deer will nibble this one.
  13. The bay from the boardwalk at Juanita Bay on Christmas. We had snow on Christmas, a rarity here. Supposedly Seattle has only a 7% chance for a White Christmas. A few inches of good packing snow was great fun for the kids, not so slick that it caused accidents, and then gone three days later. Good for us! I’m sorry about the extreme cold eastern and Midwestern Americans and Canadians have been dealing with though!
  14. A group of Silver birch trees at Juanita Bay.
  15. A stand of Douglas firs and Western hemlocks at Paradise Valley.
  16. An old, non-native willow at Juanita Bay. Volunteers, some from local companies like Expedia, are helping to restore the native flora and remove the non-natives. The property used to be a golf course and has a number of ornamental trees like this that probably will not be removed. It can be a very fine balance to begin bringing a place back to its wild state.
  17. A snow-capped bird’s nest at Marymoor.
  18. Another old willow arches over a Juanita Bay boardwalk.
  19. Dried willow leaves cling to a branch at Juanita Bay. The branches hang down, but I I prefer this image on its side.
  20. An alder leaf is stuck in a tangle of twigs, Paradise Valley.
  21. Buds hold the promise of Spring, Paradise Valley.
  22. Grasses and fallen leaves slowly decay and enrich the soil at Juanita Beach Park. Taken on 1/1/18.
  23. Sunset over a field on West Snoqualmie River Road in Duvall, Washington. Taken at 4:05pm on 12/30/17; 47° 45′ N, 121° 57′ W.

* Cascadia is another name for the Pacific northwest, but it’s more than that. It refers to our “land of falling waters”  – the bioregion – and “a geographic terrain and a terrain of consciousness” (see Wikipedia).

 

 

 


88 comments

  1. Having lived in the Northwest for 25 years and now full-time travelers spending winters in the southwest, I especially love your photos and descriptions of a place that feels like the home of my heart. Beautiful images. Thank you.

  2. You’re making it more and more difficult for me to pick one as my favorite. So I’m picking 4; 6, 11, 19 and 21. I like their simplicity. It’s that simplicity I really admire in your work

    • Well it’s a pleasure to have you along, Dina, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I think it’s a more dense and closed in landscape than yours, though they are some similarities.

    • I don’t know, when you say you wish it could go on and on, I’m flatterefd – and tempted! 🙂 I do try to restrain myself though. And I’m in the desert now so the next post is likely to look very, very different. Thank you Hien!

  3. Lovely, and I agree with Dina above, a treat to see, and then read your clear descriptions. I think it’s interesting that you are preserving “the transience of leaves stopped mid-fall.” Some of the disintegrating leaves are not just skeletal, but almost spectral, and yet still a pleasure to see somehow.
    You pointed out that that the Reed canary grass in #10 is an invasive species, but one of my grandmothers loved golden-brown/tawny fall colors like that, and loved to paint them, when most people just saw decaying vegetation.
    And then the fresh ferns, clean-looking birches, and that glowing elderberry are a real tonic! Great album to start the new year.

    • Spectral, you’re right, they look that way sometimes. It’s taken me a few years of living here to figure out how to convey the beauty of things like the invasive grasses, and now it’s easy to imagine your grandmother’s paintings, or at least her attraction to that form and color.
      Thanks for your comments, and I hope you enjoy the next post – a compete change – the desert!

  4. I paused first at the Gunnera leaf, which I thought was a Cecropria… ‘Cecropria up there?’ I wondered… That boardwalk image is very inviting – and the overhead limb offers a nice element to the design as well as contrast and ‘weight.’ in an unusual spot!
    The final image is perfect for a closing – just like the end of the day when the moments between dusk and night seem to suspend us in a ‘pause’ – filled with comfort to all of the senses…. the touches of color hold/stick even after darkness settles in for the night….

    • Cecropria! Maybe inside the conservatory! 😉
      I think the popularity of Gunnera is due to that big, typical looking foliage, which is a great context to the usual garden plants here. I like your analysis of the boardwalk photo, and your poetic take on the last image. Thanks for the nourishing aesthetic food for thought, amiga!

  5. Love that leaf hanging on for dear life in #2.
    Did not recognize the Gunnera all folded up like that. I inherited one at the previous house and it didn’t do well given my benign neglect. I don’t suppose it’s native to Cascadia (love that you used the moniker.)
    Great shot of the nursery stump. A process I found fascinating here in the PNW.
    As for the rest, I simply can’t choose. They’re all displaying the marvels of our corner of the world so exquisitely.
    I am completely besotted with this season… the bare outlines of the trees and the mist and the fog and the… 😀

    • It’s nice that someone recognizes Cascadia. 🙂 Gunnera is not native; I’m not sure where it comes from but I bet it’s Asia. It probably would have been hard to move anyway. It’s nice to hear your wit’s about the season. I’m still a Spring person but I feel that with retirement I’ve been able to understand and appreciate more deeply all the other seasons. I work at it, and believe it’s worthwhile work.
      BTW I have going nursery stumps and loss very tough to shoot, being always in dim, overgrown environments. Thus one took a lot of processing to get there! Thanks for being here, Gunta. (Desert post coming next! )

      • You have me wondering just how much of my enchantment with fall and winter is influenced by the new location? So far this winter it seems as though we’re not getting enough rain, but the beach walks have been all kinds of fun. Looks like we’re still about three weeks from departure with lots still left to sort out. Good, I’ve been wondering what the weather has been doing in the desert! 😀

    • I guess it is found poetry, because it mostly just arrives, I write it down, and then tweak. It’s a subdued palette isn’t it? Yours right now is brighter and more light-filed with all the snow bouncing light around. I miss that but I work with what I have. Love your recent Inst tree and field, Hedy. Soon I’ll get to WP – I’m behind again after being away, oh well.

  6. I’m going to try again to say how much I enjoyed this series, and how impossible it is to chose a favorite. You live in an extraordinarily beautiful part of the country, and you certainly make the most of it.

    • I’m not sure how long it took to sort the comment issues out but I’m glad you did, Linda. We moved far from friends and family for this beauty and a few other things (like a city that loves reading & the environment). Winters can be dreary her for sure, but having more time has allowed me to work at finding and conveying the beauty in all seasons. Thanks!

  7. A lovely feel to these pictures, Lynn, they are hang together very well, and they have really beautiful colours too. Favourites are 16 and 18 >>> but 1,3 and 6 really blow me apart! I have been having a browser problem, but use of Chrome now has (hopefully!) solved things! A 🙂

  8. For some reason I’m enjoying these soft and sometimes somber images more than usual this year – both in photos and on my walks. I like the melancholy and restfulness, though in many ways I am feeling happier and more energetic this winter. Thanks for sharing this beautiful collection!

  9. I waited this long to look at this post because I wanted to give it proper attention. I just did. Your lovely poem fits your wonderful photographs just right, and your numbered notes enrich the whole. Thank you for pointing out that the maple leaf in number 4 is tucked into the fern. I missed that. I’d never heard of—nor seen—nursery stumps; love the photograph that shows this. The contrast and blur in number 6 is wonderful, not to mention the leaf surfaces that bend in opposite directions. The colors and wave patterns in number 8 make me swoon. I like the crisp messiness in number 9, which you’ve made interesting by emphasizing the range of tones. As for the invasive stuff in number 10, I agree that it looks interesting as you have photographed it. (I always feel guilty when I like the look of invasive species, but I have to be honest.) I’m sure you’d have gotten a different look with the polaroid filter on the scene in number 11, but what you have is nice, too. I like that mottled background to the calligraphy of the reeds. That red berry! Nice! Oh, keep taking these caught fallen leaves, like the one in number 20 in its so-nice composition. Your sunset is a pleasant conclusion to this photography excursion. Thanks.

  10. I enjoyed many of these, but your image of the lone Elderberry is a clear favorite. You managed to catch so much meaning there – loveliness, ache and such a beautiful capture of fragility. Well done Lynn.

    • Thank you, John – you know I’m always eager to hear your thoughts. As much as it’s true that equipment doesn’t make the photographer, there’s a lens I’ve been using that seems to do this type of look well, and I know it made a difference (45 mm f1.8 Olympus). And the woods here have many secrets, waiting to be revealed with a little patience….

  11. A marvelous collection of nature’s gifts, Lynn, and you’ve found the beauty in its final stages and winter’s sleep. Your images are pensive, reverent and simply exquisite. Wishing you a creative, inspiring and fulfilling new year! Looking forward to seeing where your lens takes you this year.

    • Your words are so considerate, and much appreciated, Jane. Let’s hope we both keep growing this year. I have no doubt we will continue to find inspiration all around us. 🙂

  12. Love what you’ve captured here. It’s sort of what we’ve come to expect when we receive a notification one of your posts is live. That leaf balancing gently on a fern in 6 and that solitary, plump, glistening berry in 12 are gorgeous. Keep ’em coming!

  13. I wanted to come back here today when I could linger a little longer..gosh these are beautiful finds.. “Summer’s disintegrating dreams” – perfect, and I love the idea of the push pulling back to centre..I think autumn and winter has that effect on all of nature, including ourselves, I hadn’t thought of it that way before..I love the connections between the leaves and leaves/ferns too, which I can’t help but think of as huddles of friends, finding and falling asleep together…the red berry is such a catching-breath surprise as you scroll down. AND I love the way you have edited these. Ok I have gushed. 🙂 When I like something, I can’t help myself 🙂

  14. Thank you so much for spending the time to make, well, useful comments! What a sweet notion, that the leaves and ferns are huddling together to sleep, it’s very fitting. I know you’re writing more lately, that’s sounding like the start of a poem or story. I’m enjoying editing these days, so gush away! I’m all ears. 🙂 Thank you again.

  15. The germs are so beautiful and I love the woods…I love the tree with the over growth but all the detailed ones are stories to themselves…they are beautiful compositions so well seen Lynn and your narratives are educative …appreciate your posts…have a beautiful day ☀️☺️💫 smiles Hedy

  16. Ferns! Funny one! I learned a new word yesterday – “scurfy.” It has to do with a roughened surface texture, as in a mushroom with a scurfy cap. Good one, right? I agree, we learn so much looking at all the images that parade through our devices….


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