Just Before Spring

It was one of the coldest February’s on record here, but I still went out for walks as often as I could. Sometimes it was only for a half hour and more than once, my fingers went numb as I worked with my camera. Temperatures are warming ever so slowly. We’re still consistently below normal, but the light is noticeably brighter now, birds are singing, a few buds are opening…

There is so much to see.

 

1. Weathered trees high on a bald overlooking a sparkling sea.

 

2. The late afternoon sun warming the underside of an old bridge.

 

3. The same bridge on another day, seen from a log-crossed, rocky peninsula at low tide.

 

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4. Thousands of Snow geese being one with the air, the field, each other….all of it.

 

5. A singular rock wiped clean by retreating waves, deep in conversation with the sand, the pebbles, and me.

 

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6. Svelte rocks that dance and wiggle their way into my heart.

 

7. Or a lumpen rock, strewn with green streamers from an eel grass party, cavorting with smaller stones while lining up its fine white markings with the ten directions.

 

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8. Magisterial rocks letting their green top coats dry out while drawing sun-warmth deep into their centers.

 

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9. What else is there to see?Β  A plum-colored path through a fuzzy fairytale forest draped with ferns, and set with the dark, knotted rootballs of fallen giants.

 

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10. Patterns shimmering through the air, making their non-linear way into the fir tree boughs, down to the earth, and up into my brain cells. Now, the shimmering patterns are yours.

 

11. And what is there to hear? Plenty. Just listen. Wherever you are right now, stop. Listen.

 

12. Whether sound emerges from a Song sparrow or a fishing vessel it travels through the same air, without caring what it meets. Sound rides the wind.

 

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13. Dizzying patterns abound, absorbing me into the binary rhythm of light and dark.

 

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14. The little rosettes of sedum leaves, the soft mosses and dried out grasses – they’re all waiting. Waiting without complaint or expectation in the knowledge that spring follows winter.Β  They know what to do and they will not fail to express the season.

 

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15. Old Douglas fir, ancient one, thick-barked, heavy-limbed, ever green, reaches out and invites me to duck under the branches on my way downhill. Thank you. I’m blessed.

 

16. More rhythm. Four straight Douglas fir trees alternate with the sinuous curves of a Madrone tree. The cold water below carries the cries of gulls out to the Salish sea.

 

17. Countless logs roll in and out along the shores of an island. A band of fir trees sucks in the light, hiding it well.

 

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18. The tides do their patient work, smoothing edges, rounding corners, loosening bark, fading colors….

 

19. The dimpled bark of a Madrona tree absorbs another sunset, burrowing light into every pore.

 

20. How much longer? How many more storms before this Douglas fir topples onto the beach? Not yet.

 

21. Rain.

 

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22. A lock on the old bridge, with just enough rust. I think.

 

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23. Water, sky, and earth bounce back and forth endlessly on a cold February afternoon, telling the tale of this one place.

 

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24. A fallen one effortlessly melds water and light.

 

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25. The creators, fire and water, bring it all home to us.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 


78 comments

  1. Beautiful pictures Lynn! Luckily the winter didn’t prevent you from finding such marvellous objects! I like the stony landscapes with their colours and patterns. Even more I love the trees! Wow, this ancient fir tree – how old will it be? And the group with the Madrone tree – as always the rhythm makes it even more interesting! But I also like the pictures of the single trees. Seeing these thousands of snow geese, amazing! – I would have had gooseflesh (haha). It is so touching to see them fly. Can we be closer to nature? Such beautiful moments! As well with this little bird – what is it? I can’t say I have a favourite picture this time. I love them all, including the last ones πŸ™‚

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    • Almuth, the Douglas fir in #15 might not be so old. I used “ancient” poetically. Trees grow very fast here because there’s lots of moisture and winters are mild (usually!). But there is another Douglas fir several miles away that is supposed to be over 800 years old. So they do get very old. Maybe this one is two hundred? I don’t know. The geese spend winters in the fields here, along with swans, and they are fantastic sight – and sound! Gooseflesh/goosebumps – yes! The little guy is a Song sparrow, a common year-round resident with a melodious song. They are just starting to sing….thank you! πŸ™‚

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  2. Thank you for allowing me to join your outings, each image is spied with feeling, showing your bond with nature. Oh, those snow geese, what a sight and the close ups of the stones weathered and jewel-like. And, of course the trees……….

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    • I’m glad you see the bond with nature, Sally….the Snow geese are such a wonderful experience – sight and sound – that’s hard to convey. And I’m glad you like the rocks – I love them! πŸ˜‰ And the trees. πŸ˜‰

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  3. Thanks for taking me in your walk. It’s like being transported someplace else. And the words make it feel like a shared experience. Beautiful photos that really carry you away….

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    • As you’d guess, a photo doesn’t do the experience of being with that many geese justice. I almost didn’t include that one because the geese were so far away (thanks to the folks who pulled over and got out of their cars instead of staying in them). But I liked the way the geese made a band of white, with the field, trees and sky each another color band. So it’s nice that you appreciate that image, Ken, thank you.

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    • Thank you Michael. I really love working with those rock shapes. It’s a place that’s only accessible at certain tides, but I’ll keep going there when I can. I’m pleased that the post feels personal.

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  4. Wonderful. When I tell you this was a treat, I mean it. Better than ice cream.
    #2 before I scrolled down enough to see your caption, definitely got the feeling of warmth, the riveted iron looks very much like an old, nail-studded oak door. #4 Canada geese are now a constant in my home county, but how nice to see a whole cloud of snow geese – I’ve only seen small groups, and it seems like they only tarry a day or two in the Finger Lakes.
    #7 & #8 I like the pictures, but like your descriptions even more, really the beginnings of a storytale. β€œMagisterial” is great for an impressive, bully pulpit boulder, in a gray suit with white pinstripes yet. The last three lake photos are stunning. And #9 is absolutely magical, a place I wish I was walking around at this moment.

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    • Better than ice cream in winter, or better than ice cream on a hot summer’s day? πŸ˜‰ maybe a little of your imaginative story-telling is rubbing off on me in those captions. I hope the Canada geese aren’t becoming a problem, like they have in some places. Snow geese are here in numbers every winter, along with Trumpeter swans. There are enough agricultural fields to provide them all with plenty of goodies, and it seems that by the time a new crop is coming up they’re gone, so it works for everyone. If you catch my drift. Thanks Robert!!

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  5. First up, Lynn, I’ve had trouble seeing all these images. The Reader just wouldn’t show them all, and even when I got onto your blog itself, they appeared reluctantly – maybe my connection is not great!

    Then Snow Geese!!!!!!!

    And 5, and its words – “A singular rock wiped clean by retreating waves, deep in conversation with the sand, the pebbles, and me.” ohhhhhhh! And 16 ohhh too!!!

    Other really good ones are: 1, 2, 6, 7, 11, 18, 20, 23, 24. A πŸ™‚

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    • Sorry you had trouble – but hopefully that was a temporary glitch.
      The Snow geese were gathering in large numbers that day (way more than in the photo), and they were closer to the road than usual. People pulled over and got out of their cars (I stayed in mine) and that scared them all up. It’s not good for them to be disturbed like that, but it was a weekend. I just hope it happens less during the weekdays, when more locals are on the roads – locals who are probably less likely to stop, or know enough not to disturb the birds. The sound was powerful – not just the vocalization, but the wing beats! Thank you Adrian, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, and text! πŸ™‚

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  6. I find it interesting that the month I am not staying in the Northwest, it’s been the warmest month ever here on the west coast of Norway. I would have loved to experience more of the winter. Anyway, you have captured another series of excellent images, Lynn.

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  7. What a wonderful walking tour you have taken us along on and those images tell me there is hope for Spring yet again. It is still the depths of Winter here in WMass with nights in the single digits and teens. It all changes for the better this weekend but for now we still have to bundle up the beagle. Cannot possibly pick a favorite as so many qualify for that. All just very pleasing to see, Lynn.

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  8. I seem to recognize that bridge in #3 (and I see the dinosaur’s head -from Graham Stephen’s comment).
    Ahhh, the snow geese. It reminds me of a trip to the Klamath WLR in CA. Eric didn’t warn me as a mob (much like yours) of snow geese created what looked like a blizzard in the sky. I was thrilled and enchanted. They then circled overhead. The marvelous noise of them and the sight was stunning. They seemed to take off in waves with nothing (that I could see) disturbing them. Almost as they were just letting off some steam of exuberance at being together in that motley mob.
    Other honorable mentions: #9&10, 14
    … and then there’s #23 and 24- the water, clouds and reflections summing it all up… Glorious!!!!

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    • Yes, you should recognize the bridge – not the first or last time you’ll see it here, and maybe you’ll see it again in person one day. πŸ™‚ That’s a good Snow geese memory….thank you Gunta….those sunsets are at Deception Pass too. Come back in the off season some day!

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  9. Hey Lynn,
    tough to go out and look for good pictures ! Here in Germany we have had one of the hottest February ever, with +18 degree in Hamburg…got a great spring feeling πŸ™‚ Like your wood pictures, the structure of the stone pictures and the mood of nature photos …All the best, JΓΌrgen

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    • You have had a crazy winter, right? We just have to be flexible, I guess. I’m glad you like the stones….they can only be photographed like that once in a while, when the tide is low enough during daylight. It’s a very cool little spot. πŸ™‚

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  10. What a fantastic array of vistas you’ve captured while exploring the ecotone between Winter + Spring. And your captions are just as delightful as your photos!! πŸƒπŸ’œπŸ™

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  11. Hi Lynn, Wonderful to join you for your walk. You have the gift of seeing and your descriptions are soothing and honor nature’s work so beautifully. The gorgeous rock details, the snow geese (wow!), and the serenely exquisite landscapes all come together for a terrific post. I love your monochrome images interspersed for contrast and Douglas Fir Rhythm is so well seen. I viewed this post when you published it and thought I had commented…of all the things I miss, I miss my mind the most. 😁

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    • Soothing is good these days, right? πŸ˜‰ So glad you like the monochrome images thrown in there, since you do that very, very well on your own blog. You’re so funny with that last comment! The same thing has happened to me, more than once!! Have an intelligent week, Jane!! πŸ˜‰

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  12. Another lovely collection of patterns and light. Sometimes I wonder how you “see” all that, to find the essence and capture it. I imagine it helps to have time and freedom to meander, not so much to go from A to B but to just look around.

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    • Thank you Dave! I think I’ve been looking at the world very intently since I was a child. Then I went to art school, which certainly honed my aesthetic instincts. Five years of residential zen practice had a strong influence too. And you’re right about having time and freedom to wander without feeling any pressure of time or destination. What a difference since I retired two years ago. I recommend it! πŸ˜‰

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    • I’m glad you can get a feeling of the enormity of that flock of geese from that little photogrpah. πŸ™‚ The old Douglas fir tree with that huge limb seems well rooted, but many of them do fall. They keep coming up, too! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment.

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  13. My absolute favorite is #8. Those rocks look to me like great, gray elephant seals, huddled there on the beach. Instead of the seals being on the rocks, the rocks are the seals! I always feel pangs of envy at your ability to wander and look. I’m hoping that longer days and better weather (surely it will come!) will help me. I never go out without feeling the pressure of time, of needing to hurryhurryhurry because the time is so short. Even worse are the perfect days when I feel such guilt when I do go out, knowing that I should be at work. And of course any trips of any distance — even those which would require only a couple of hours on the road– are nearly impossible, at least right now. You have such luxury, and it shows in your images: rich, and deep, and filled with peacefulness.

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  14. Elephant seals, yes, the rocks really do have a presence, don’t they? I remember the feeling you describe very well; I lived with it for years. I was working from home before I quit, and I had loads of guilt sometimes for not being home to finish up notes or whatever else I could have been doing, instead of enjoying myself outdoors. It is an enormous relief to have all the time I need. I ended up retiring a year or two earlier than I’d intended, but from this perspective, it seems worth it to accept the loss of whatever additional income I would have saved over that time. (But if I live to 95 I will probably end up in the poorhouse, i.e. in a Medicaid nursing home). It’s hard to make the leap without a decent cushion, and it’s hard to know when the cushion is enough. How long will we live? How much will we need? How much should we work if work isn’t what we truly want to be doing with our time? Tough questions. I hope you get some wiggle room soon, hope the jobs come so thick and fast you can refuse some, and the weather cooperates, and you can play unfettered. Thank you for the words about what you see in the photos, that is encouraging. πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you Denise….that was just part of a much bigger flock….they’re getting ready to move I think. Good idea about the print – you know I”m terrible about printing, but I should do it. πŸ™‚

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  15. Beautiful writing, Lynn, to go with beautiful photographs. I’ll just pick out a few for comment. Love the light and lack of it in #1. (Seems to me I’ve written these words on another post of yours . . .) I like how you’ve positioned the sun in back of the trees in that one and that you can see just enough of the sea. I like all the stripes in #4, let alone the capture of birds in flight. The rock portraits of #s 6, 7, and 8 show your love of rocks, and through you I love these, too, especially those in #8, where the sun has conspired with you. Love the rain ripples in # 21.

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    • It’s so encouraging to read your comment….the stripes in #4 are what I liked too; without that I don’t think it would work, with the birds so far away – the idea is that they become another texture. Rocks! There are lots of good ones around here! You will see more! πŸ˜‰ Thank you!!

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