Subtle Rapture

Last week I took a walk at Kukatali Preserve, a narrow, forested peninsula that’s owned and managed jointly by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Washington State Parks. The preserve reaches a long arm into a quiet bay where seals, cormorants and ducks ply waters alive with clams, crabs, oysters and more. A walk at Kukatali is always interesting, offering treasures from the forest, shoreline and bay. The photo below shows the view from the end of the peninsula on that overcast day. The bird you can barely see is a cormorant, likely the Double-crested.

1. Deception Pass bridge seen from Kukatali Preserve.

We are at 48 degrees 44 minutes North so you might not expect Spring to be in evidence here, but the Salish Sea moderates temperatures and our winters are mild. Spring doesn’t have to wait for the snow to melt here at sea level. So far this year, rainfall has been abundant; the moss is green and luxurious and buds on the trees are plump. The first blossoms of the year have already opened: Indian plum’s little white bell flowers dangle from spindly branches and a few Red-flowering currant flowers are unfurling deep pink petals.

In recent weeks I’ve seen eagles sitting on their nests or hanging out next to them, apparently thinking things over. The Varied thrushes are looking handsome in their breeding outfits; Song sparrows are singing everywhere I go. Tiny insects can be seen buzzing the air too, but the landscape is still rather bare, as if the earth was holding its breath for a moment before a burst of energy. I know that’s not true though – the dance always continues on many levels, whether we see it or not.

Against this background of subtle colors and charged possibility I walked the length of Kukatali Preserve, curious to see what would present itself. I was not disappointed. Towards the end of the trail, a grassy field marks the spot where a home once stood; along the edge of the field, a haze of creamy white beckoned behind a maze of bare winter branches. It was a lovely wild Bitter cherry tree (Prunus emarginata) in full bloom, all by itself in the somber brown woods. Bitter cherry doesn’t boast the sweet pink of cultivated cherry trees – this tree’s flowers are a soft, creamy white. For a brief time in early Spring their subtle beauty graces forest edges and moist woodlands of the Pacific northwest. When they grow in the middle of the woods the puzzle of branches all around them allows only tantalizing glimpses of the delicate little flowers. It’s not easy to describe the phenomenon of walking through the winter forest and finding a blooming cherry tree, but you can bet my breath was taken away by the sight of this modest beauty, glimmering in the woods.

2. Normally each flower has five petals but the flower on the left has almost double the normal number, and two styles instead of one. If you think about how many flowers must be on one tree, no wonder some of them aren’t “normal.”


3. This phone capture conveys some of the complexity of the forest and the haze of cherry blossoms on an overcast afternoon.

4.

5. This blossom landed on a Sword fern that was half under water. Shadows complicated the picture. I could have picked out the Doug fir needles and lichens that distract the eye but I prefer not to make too many changes. Besides, finding firm ground to stand on in this wet spot was challenging.

6. Sometimes I treasure the fallen petals more than the blossoms still on the tree.

7. Moisture from the morning rain kept this single petal stuck on an old, lichen-covered log.


8.

9.

10.

11.

12. New leaves

13.

14. In a certain light the creamy haze of flowers had a pink hue.

The Bitter cherry displays its bounty modestly, often behind a scrim of bare tree branches. Unlike that low-contrast scenario, the disparity between the nourishing beauty of my surroundings and the barrage of bad news about our earth, politics, epidemics and violence is intense enough to induce mental whiplash. This sentence from the newsletter of a local non-profit organization speaks about the painful discrepancy between the beauty we witness and the news we hear:

One of the tasks of these times, it seems, is to learn how to live in the space between unimaginable beauty and unbearable sorrow. To live without losing heart.

From The Pathfinder, the newsletter of Transition Fidalgo and Friends, a local non-profit.

15. A Madrone tree enjoys extra light by the water. Kukatali Preserve, south end.

***


73 comments

    • Cherry blossoms and Oriental art, especially Japanese prints, are natural together. I think I’ve seen (and appreciated) so many Japanese or Chinese paintings & prints of spring-flowering trees over the years that I unconsciously bring that aesthetic along with me. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Vicki.

      Liked by 2 people

    • And I love that you thought about that. That’s exactly what was so compelling, but it was rather dark and crowded in that spot so it wasn’t easy to get the idea across in a photo. I’m happy it worked for you!

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  1. A very nice set of early spring images, Lynn. The blossoms of the bitter cherry in the gray winter woods seems like a perfect analogy and encouragement to “live without losing heart”. I was having similar thoughts today on my morning walk in the woods.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s especially good to hear your response to one of the ideas behind the post, Mic – I know you’re paying attention! And I think it’s something many of us are struggling with. Thanks so much for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Stricking. The wonder of the full blossomed tree in the winter woods. The beauty a single blossom fallen from the tree.Thanks for taking us on this walk. And fingers crossed that you and yours will not be affected by that virus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly – that wonder, and the beauty of those white blossoms on the dark forest floor. Thank YOU, Don, for the nice comment – and I’ve been down with a stomach issue but so far, no virus up where we live and no symptoms. Keep safe and healthy yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good pictures, Lynn, and I really love the quote from The Pathfinder – very true indeed! My out and out favourites here are 5, 8 and 13. I’ve been down with leg trouble, difficulty walking, but early tomorrow I’m hoping to get down to Weston again, it will be good to get out. A 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read on your blog, maybe in a comment, that you’re having leg trouble, blast it! (In the US we think of that as a British expression). I hope you did get out this morning. I’m down too, with stomach trouble. Getting older is so tedious!
      I appreciate that you resonate with that quote – I was saying to Mic above that many of us must be feeling that crazy disparity.
      Most of the time I had a 60mm (100 or 120mm equiv) on the camera but for 13 I switched to a 17mm lens that can open wide. It’s always a little jarring to go to the wider angle after shooting with the longer lens – I’m sure you get that.
      Thanks, Mr. A!

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  4. Marvellous, these cherry blossoms in the wood. Like a ghostly mist, a kind of enticement. And you followed it with soft steps even into the water: that is my second favourite, the fallen flower on the fern leave on and under water. Illusions and worlds mingling together, and the viewer cannot be sure in which one he is moving step by step.
    But your opening photograph is the one that takes me in completely. It frees mind, breath and heavy bones to fly over the water into the soft blue. And the cool with that touch of apricot tones slightly warmed, so it can never bite too crisply – outstanding and heart widening, Lynn.
    Hope it has this effect on you, too, to make yoy feel stronger soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a nice comment….the poetic sensitivity of your comment adds the perfect flavor to the post. In that wet woods, all the worlds, water, woods, air, petal, are one and the same, a swirling mass of life decomposing and growing. I’m so pleased that the first photo managed to take you sailing out over the water. Long vistas are important, aren’t they? The hint of warmth was added later, with split toning in Lightroom – a tool that I’ve come to enjoy using. When a photo needs a little more oomph or depth, a bit of warmth in the highlights and coolness in the shadows helps. Thanks for your thoughtful comment and warm wishes, Ule. Feeling more energy today but the physical problem still needs to be resolved. Soon!

      Liked by 2 people

    • C’est vrai ce que tu dis. Dans une réponse ci-dessus (à Vicki), je disais que ces fleurs de printemps et l’art japonais sont naturels ensemble. Si naturel que je pense emporter avec moi l’esthétique orientale lorsque je photographie les cerisiers en fleurs.
      Merci et beaucoup de sourires à toi, Irène!

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  5. We might say the flower on the left in #2 has cultivated its own style of growing. Cherry though it is, it looks a lot like the blossoms of its rose-family relative in Texas, the Mexican plum, which can also be encountered in the wild flowering whitely away in the midst of an otherwise bare late-winter forest. Your fallen flowers leads to thought of all the pollen that ends up where it will do no good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Groan! That was a good one, Steve. I told Joe about it and he added that it figures that female flower parts would be called styles. But then I had to ask, “What about the stigma?” I’m sure you’ll have an answer for that.
      I was thinking about the trees being in the rose family, and how rose-like the flowers are, I’m glad you brought that up. I image-searched P. mexicana and like seeing another Prunus family relative. The flowers could be identical. The habit seems wider and shorter than our cherry, which makes sense because ours grow in places full of very tall trees, so they need to stretch up, not out.
      Your thought about the pollen is interesting – I have never considered that. I suppose it nourishes the soil somehow, ultimately.

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      • By the way, before posting my comment I reconfirmed that the style meaning ‘manner of doing something’ and the style meaning ‘the part of the pistil between the ovary and the stigma’ really are the same word, not separate words that happened to end up looking identical. And the stigma at the tip of a pistil and the stigma that is ‘a mark of shame’ are also a single word. Talk about semantic drift….

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I especially like the one where the blossom and petal fell on the sword fern, reflected in the water. It’s a striking composition to my eye, and I think the stray needles and debris add just the right level of interruption to the simplicity of the large forms. I think it would be beautiful reproduced and interpreted in paint on a large canvas. It definitely inspires me…If only I had the time to paint!
    Also, you write so beautifully, and you’re gaining quite a collection of images from the area near Deception Pass. Have you considered putting together a book? You could do so by gleaning sections of your posts to compile without having to do much additional writing. I think it would be appreciated – especially locally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good idea, painting that image – I think you’re right, it would lend itself to a slightly loosely painted canvas. I hope you get more time for things like painting at some point soon. And another good idea…the Deception Pass book. I often think about a book, but I usually picture a photography book with minimal text. Have you ever seen Teju Cole’s ‘Blind Spot’? That’s a different direction, and obviously not a sellable one (for most people who don’t have his fame and connections). Your idea, especially for the local market, makes sense too. Books are a lot of work though! (Am I preaching to the choir?). Thank you for this comment, I appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Books are a lot of work, but what sparked the idea in this case is the amount of work you’ve already done with your well researched, well written posts. You’ve already gathered and expressed many tidbits of history of various people, landmarks, etc. and also have specifics on flora and fauna. Compiling the book from your blog would be relatively easy with the already formatted templates available in online publishing sites. Just a thought.
        And it wouldn’t have to be Deception Pass. You have many areas covered. Or you could choose a more general cover like NW Places or make it specific to plants. The muse is up to you of course. One of the things I find unique about your ‘take’ on things is the way you capture Light in both words and images. Perhaps a title related to NW Light or some kind of light on the Pacific Coast….You can take it from there. 🙂 I also like your blog name of Blue Brightly with a subtitle regarding the subject of the book, especially if it was truly excerpts regrouped and published from your blog. Then the book and your blog would work together to bring people who appreciate your work to find and appreciate both endeavors.

        Liked by 1 person

        • How much do I owe you? 😉 My NY roots…. Seriously, thank you for putting your mind to this and throwing ideas my way. 🙂 I’ve been under the weather for the last week so nothing’s going to even glimmer yet, but I’m going to remember this. Enjoy the weekend, Sheri – looks a bit back and forth, weather-wise, but not bad overall. Give a daffodil a smile for me. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  7. “To live without losing heart”, is really the emotion that we must take into account these days, since the mind is easily captured by the “negativity” that constantly bombards us.
    We need to be attentive, very attentive.
    But also imagine positive images, why not?
    So…it’s good to imagine that these beautiful white flowers are small soothing “stars” falling on earth …
    Thanks for the botany lesson!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Beautiful portfolio, Lynn. #3 and #14 are two of my favorites. It’s interesting that you are seeing these signs of spring while we are still covered in snow. We will catch up with you eventually but will surely take a little time. For now, I’ll just enjoy these photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A lovely experience, as always, I can feel myself decompressing and smoothing out. The cherry blossoms are irresistible, but I see a number of folks, like me, loved #5. I think it’s fantastic. And with all those lightsome blossoms, the darker shot #11 is still very appealing somehow, definitely reminds me of those old painting that convey the impermanence of things, transitory nature. Well, it is warm and interesting where I am, but man, there’s a lot of guns, city/state/fed police, military, security guys, etc. I’m looking forward to walking in the quiet spring woods farther north!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was afraid #5 might be too hard to “read” but apparently not for the highly visually literate crowd here. 😉 It was such a cool thing to see, the haze of white back in the woods, then the way the fallen petals decorated the forest floor. Interesting thought about #11. I’ve learned that darkness is not an enemy in photography. You paint a vivid picture of where you are with just a sentence or two. I’ve never been there, or haven’t yet been there, but Mexico seems to present such an intense mix of wondrous and horrifying sights. The woods await you, you’ve done your good deed, now get home safe!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. How great to have spring, or a least traces of it, arrive so nice and early!Love seeing the views of the blossoms and all the more so when I look out my window and see gray. Thanks for bringing in a well needed breath of floral fragrance!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does come early here, and it really takes its time because we never warm up significantly, like many other places do. I think 4 months of hovering around the 40s will soon be followed by 3 months of hovering in the low 50s. By July 4th we may have a bit of heat. Strange, compared to the east and midwest, right? Thank you for stopping by, Howard!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am noticing that. While most of the winter my trips to Oregon were a welcome relief so that I could have temps in the high 30s and low 40s, I am about to return and the temps are still low 40s…it’s warmer here now (though not by a ton)

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        • Interesting! The forecast up here is for temps to get into the 50s next week, and lots of sun. Maybe OR will be the same. (I didn’t know trips there were a regular thing for you).

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  11. I passed by your offering of words, enjoying your style, but you stopped me in my tracks with “puzzle of branches.” What a descriptive phrase. You are such a writer. So when I finished scrolling through your post (I had to savor the photos), I went back to the beginning to relish the writing again. “Charged possibility” is another treasure but not the only one. . . . About the photographs: I love the sprinkling of blossoms in #3. And again in #8, here enhanced by the striped background of tree trunks. I love the pattern on pattern and the so-subtle colors of this one. And there’s more sprinkling in #14, where the color is a bit more intense. All the marks in this one create a lovely muddle. In #13, what I like is the contrast of lights and darks; the shallow depth of field, which you do so well; and the repetition of white shapes going way back in the frame. Another pleasant time traveling with you. . . . I hope you do consider a book that includes your writing as well as your photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know I value hearing what you have to say, Linda. #3 is an oddball – taken with my phone, it appeared to have had some kind of high contrast processing added to it when I opened it up in LR. I don’t process on my phone, except very minimally if I post to Insta. So where’d that pointillist look come from? I dunno. I like what you point out in #13….thank you for coming along. Sure, I’m considering a book. But it does feel daunting. 🙂

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  12. Beautiful images, Lynn…#8 being my favorite, I think. Something about those trees in full bloom reminds me of walking down neighborhood streets in SLC on my lunch break..and once, of capturing some images of my little one and grandson as they rounded a corner of a trail along a certain rushing stream with wild trees in bloom, of all places – up in the mountains.

    So very nice…and the lone cormorant on the breeze-touched water is compelling, as well…moving, even, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that sounds beautiful, what a good memory. Thanks for telling me. And the cormorant, well, with a longer lens I could have shown what you’re talking about to better advantage but you sussed it out, that almost noble – yes, noble, feeling of the hunting bird in its place. Thanks for bringing your sensitivity over here! 🙂

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  13. What a triumph this post Lynn . It has bucked me up no end with all that’s going on out there in the World at the moment . Challenging on many fronts to put it mildly .
    I just love the simplicity of your petal twig blossom treescapes somehow just striking a much needed chord with me today . Beautiful x
    Warm wishes for Sunday and be sure to shrug that bug off soon !

    Liked by 1 person

    • The challenges continue, don’t they? It’s tough. I’m pleased to hear this brought something positive to your life, even for a moment. The bug us getting shrugged, my friend, as we speak. I’m getting better. Always a treat to hear from you – enjoy what’s left of the day on your side….

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  14. How nice to see the first signs of spring that have arrived in your area. It is always such a joy reading your descriptions of what you see and feel! Although my English is restricted to some extent, I understand that your writing is excellent, more poetic and variegated than commonly! My favorite pictures are 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 14. The ones with the fern are wonderful. You mentioned it, the japanese or chinese style. I feel the same about it. And of course, I love #7 🙂 The tenderness of the cherry blossoms in full bloom is so lovely and I like your petal-pictures. They let me think of landart.
    That you recognized the difference from the blossoms you saw shows how much you look for details. I think I wouldn’t have noticed it. Spring is running, no, it is jumping forward 🙂 Here too. Unbelievable the pace, isn’t it? I hope it lasts long enough to enjoy every part of it. Have a good springtime overthere!

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    • We have an ongoing comparative “study” don’t we? What seasonal changes are happening in your part of the world and mine. It’s fun. I do take a lot of poetic license in the writing (maybe German has a similar phrase?) and I know that makes it harder for those whose first language isn’t English. I’m glad you’re patient. It was such a beautiful scene, the wet winter woods and this frothy tree in the middle of it. More and more cherry trees are blooming now, but I speak mainly of those in people’s yards or by the streets. They’re wonderful for our eyes.
      In #2, I didn’t see the extra petals until I got home and looked at the image on the computer. I may see more details than some people but I know that I, too, need to slow down more when I’m out, and really look. I like to keep moving. 😉
      Spring is jumping, yes, you made me chuckle. It always moves very slowly here. We don’t get big swings in the weather. We don’t suddenly have a week of super-warm weather. Things move slowly. I hope they will for you, too. Thanks for being here. 🙂

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      • We don’t have that kind of saying (license in writing) or at least I can’t think of any. You have good skills to express yourself and a great talent for this poetic way of writing and storytelling 🙂
        Okay, I understand what you mean about the petals. It is the same with these little insects you find later on your pc screen 😉 Funny, this multiple petal flower. So many! – Hm, maybe I envy you about this slowly ongoing spring. Here it starts slowly, but like you say, if we have a week of warm weather the flowers are “running away” and the leaves open up so fast. I always regret that and want the nature to play in slow motion 🙂

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        • Yes, I am always finding insects I didn’t see, and every time I do, I say to myself, “Now Lynn, pay closer attention. Almuth would have seen that in the outdoors!” 😉 I know that regret you talk about – it’s a fact of life in New York. When I first moved here though, I felt cheated, like I didn’t get any Spring – it just all happened so slowly I could hardly see it. I didn’t know which plants bloom first so I didn’t know how to see Sporing. Does that make sense? Now I’m getting better at it. I just read the news about Italy – total quarrantine. Yikes!

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        • Haha! I don’t see everything in the outdoors either 🙂 At least we see them on the monitor, right. – Yes, it makes sense what you say about your spring. It has its advantages, if it happens in slow-motion 🙂 Maybe we have to be more aware of every minute it happens here. Kind of springmeditation… – Yes, it is getting more and more crazy with C! Italy has so many people concerned. And it is spreading fast.

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  15. That was a very delightful walk, Lynn. It’s so nice to see blossoms. We have a cherry tree that supports the end of Bentley’s run but it rarely flowers or produces fruit. The Mount Holyoke campus that I pass daily has many flowering trees and it’s always a springtime treat to drive by there on the way to work.(Yes, I know what I should do 🙂 )
    I like the several levels/layers in image 5. The combination of shadow, sky reflection, and sword fern green are very attractive and I don’t mind the little bits of other here and there. I hope you are continuing to feel better.
    And I enjoyed this rapture much more than the first one that came to mind. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it is a lovely campus with the majority of buildings old and of interesting architecture. I’ll try to do a “bluebrightly” of the campus. 🙂

        Things aren’t as bad here as in Washington, but our cases are increasing. Trying to be cautious but sensible. Hope the same, virus-free, for you and Joe. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Denise. These trees really spoke to me this year. And of course, I wanted to get at least a little of the magic across of seeing them in the middle of an otherwise drab woodland. 🙂

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  16. Fortunately I eventually get around to it… though my current mood seems to be self-isolating… literally. I don’t seem to get a great deal “done”, but it’s more of a drift. Mostly in a good way, though not always. Lots of things falling by the wayside, but bare necessities getting done none the less. Though I’ve thought of your health issues and then the shattered glass on quite a few occasions, but haven’t managed to put those thoughts into any action. Forgive me, but know I DO think of you and hope for the best… No more mishaps or health issues!
    Thus I’ll vote for #8 as a distinct favorite. Can’t explain why. Though previous comments have touched on it. Probably has to do with the minimalist Japanese flavor.
    It’s a wonderful time of year, though we are feeling rather parched. We should still be getting rain, but there hasn’t been a drop for weeks. I don’t really want to contemplate a parched summer to come.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the good wishes, Gunta…maybe #8 appeals because it feels positive. And on the positive side, we too had weeks of strangely dry weather – not a drop in April – but yesterday we had a deluge and everything looks great. More to come, too. I hope you had some or will have some. ! Take care and keep in touch.

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