LOCAL WALKS: Back to Washington Park

In January I wrote a “Local Walks” post about Washington Park, a 220-acre, wooded park about 20 minutes from home. I found out about this captivating place in 2017 but I lived far away then, near Seattle. After moving to Fidalgo Island in 2018, I could visit the park more often. Then, when COVID-19 restrictions closed another favorite park in March, I became a regular as Washington Park remained open for walkers, bikers and to a limited extent, auto traffic. Almost all of the Fawn lily photos from my last post were taken here, as well as the Calypso orchid photos in the previous post. Needless to say, this little dot on the globe is playing a big part in my life. I’m so very thankful it exists.

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The park has too many stories for me to begin sorting them out: the history includes a one-dollar-a-pie Lemon pie sale that local women organized in 1922 to raise funds to expand the park; the geology includes an unusual mid-Jurassic period rock ledge which was once part of the earth’s mantle; the park’s flora includes leafless, rootless orchids that spring out of the ground only to hide in plain sight and an odd little fern that looks like parsley and thrives in infertile serpentine soils. Let’s not forget the stories of the people who use the park every day, walking their dogs on the 2-mile loop road, camping under the tall trees, boating, picnicking, exploring tide pools at low tide, hand-feeding Chickadees and chipmunks, or even grabbing a 25-cent shower in one of several clean restrooms (I’m always pleasantly surprised to find a clean restroom in a park).

Some stories with personal meaning include the times I’ve spotted seals and porpoises from the shore, days spent exploring trails that wind through the woods and up and down the grassy balds, the surprise of mating Oystercatchers, and the peaceful times I’ve spent gazing across the water at vibrant sunsets. You can see why I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Enjoy!

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3. The park abounds with fallen trees and branches. As they decompose, they become shelter and nourishment for the soil and for a variety of creatures.

4. Blue berries of Seaside juniper (Juniperus maritima) – actually modified cones – litter the ground in winter. The flavor of gin comes from juniper berries but gin makers use another species, Common juniper. The endemic Seaside juniper is limited to coastal bluffs here and in southwestern British Columbia, and a few spots across the strait in the Olympic Mountains. It thrives on Washington Park’s dry, rocky, southwestern-facing balds.

5. An aggregating anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima) spreads its tentacles in a tide pool. These sea creatures have a mutually beneficial relationship with photosynthetic algae that live in their body tissues. The algae photosynthesize in a complex, symbiotic association that includes the manufacture of amino acids which act as sunscreen for both partners. Nature always amazes me – the more you delve, the more wonders you find.
6. This little Townsend’s chipmunk (Tamais townsendii) has an injured ear but that doesn’t seem to slow him (or her?) down.
7. Madrone trees (Arbutus menziesii) are well adapted to the open, drier forest edges that ring the park. Their bark peels to a striking orange color and their deep green leaves persist year-round.
8.

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10. A ferry makes its way to the San Juan Islands.
11. A Great Blue heron seems to be contemplating the sky.
12. Fog

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14. Small-flowered Blue-eyed Mary – what a big name for a diminutive flower. Here it’s growing in a bed of moss. (Collinsia parviflora).
16. In Spring small wildflower meadows can be found in a few spots around the park. This one features blue-violet Small Camas (Camassia quamash), creamy white Meadow Deathcamas (Toxicoscordion venenosum) and pink Shortspur Seablush (Plectritis congesta). As you’d guess, Meadow deathcamas is very toxic. Its bulbs look like those of Small Camas, which was once an important tribal food source. After the flowers fall, there’s no way to tell the two bulbs apart. People used to mark the locations of the safe bulbs, to be dug later when they were bigger. The sweet bulbs were steamed in large pits for a day or more to make them digestible.

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17. January winds slam waves of Salish Sea water into the ancient rocks. Incoming tides draw ocean water from many miles away to this area, where it mixes vigorously with fresh river water in the tight channels. The mix of ocean and fresh water contributes to an ecosystem that is rich in biological activity.

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19. Typical for the southwest side of the park is this cozy group of Seaside junipers and Madrones nestled in a bed of Reindeer moss (Cladonia sp.). The junipers and Madrones knit together Douglas fir-dominant forest (glimpsed behind them) with the rocky, grassy bluffs that overlook the water. Both tree species enjoy the sharp drainage and abundant light here on the edge of the peninsula.
20. The soil starts with rock and moss.

21. In the forest, Western hemlocks (Tsuga heterophylla) often take root on old, logged stumps. Eventually the hemlocks may envelope the stump completely.
22. Black-tailed deer are plentiful in the park – and all around the island.
23. A Madrone tree leans over the one-way Loop Road.
24. Another foggy day on Fidalgo.
25.

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Where do all those Latin names come from? Because common names vary from place to place, they can be confusing, imprecise and misleading. Latin names are a universal language. I try to include them often so that readers from other countries or other parts of North America can understand what plant I’m referring to.

The sources I use regularly include the internet (e.g. Wikipedia and iNaturalist), Daniel Mathews’ excellent reference book, Cascade-Olympic Natural History, Pojar & Mackinnon’s Plants of Coastal British Columbia, the Peterson Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers and Lyons’ Wildflowers of Washington. I actually enjoy searching through these books and online resources to figure out what I’ve seen, and then learning about it – it’s like detective work.

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91 comments

  1. Hi Lynn-Thanks for being such a good detective!! Never knew about the maldron tree-great orange-or the rootles leafless orchid-So many beautiful scenes!-LS

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    • Exactly – the Madrones really twist, but rarely shout. See the reply to Linda above for a link to more Madrones, in case you didn’t see that post. Thanks for being here, Lenny….
      p.s. I heard briefly from Jan & Ken today, also from Bill A’s brother. πŸ™‚

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    • Yes, getting outside would be hard to live without these days…it must be so difficult for people living in big cities. Those anemones are fun to see and rather mysterious creatures, I think. Amazing colors, too. Thanks, Jean.

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  2. So maybe we should wear algae on our faces instead of dousing ourselves with sunscreen?
    I like the “echo” of the woodland star in #13.
    All the rock and bark textures in #9 are yummy.
    I don’t expect to see a wildflower meadow there, but #16 shows they exist.
    Landscape #2 is lovely.

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    • Good one, Steve! (The sunscreen). That second Woodland star was in just the right place, as long as I kept the aperture wide open. πŸ˜‰ I’m glad you liked the rock and bark textures – you’ve posted some terrific ones from all sorts of places. The meadow is small and hopefully will survive a bigger-than-usual number of human wanderers this year. Thank you!

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  3. Virtual walking with you is always an adventure well worth the time to pause and savor. Am I correct that the larger, gnarly tree (which reminds me of a bristlecone pine) in #19 is the seaside juniper and the smaller ones are the madrones? Also love your bark & rock details in #9, and that anemone! What an appropriate species name!

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    • It’s nice to hear that it’s worth the time – the internet is crowded with good images these days! You’re right about the trees – the juniper is dead, but still beautiful, and there are new ones growing underneath it. You may find it interesting to know the top 3 bark studies are all Madrones – the first is a large old tree whose lower bark grew over a rock. The second is a typical section of peeling bark and the third is the last fragments of (probably) burned bark peeling off a big branch. Both of these trees are fascinating, and they’re abundant at this park. Thanks so much, Gary!

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  4. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Back to the salt pans | restlessjo

  5. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Back to the salt pans | restlessjo

  6. You’re so lucky to have so many beautiful places and things near you, Lynn – wonderful! For me, the ohhhhh’s here are 2 and 7; and 5, 6, 15, 21 and 25 also get to me a lot. Thanks for all your comments this morning. Stay safe! πŸ™‚

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    • “The ohhhh’s” – I like it! I would have thought you might like #7 but the rest, well, sometimes you surprise me It’s cool that you liked the nurse stump (trees growing on a stump) because though they are common they tend to be hard to photograph – they’re never in isolated backgrounds or in good light. We’re staying safe over here – not too many cases in our area, but more than one would like, of course.

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    • Let’s hope people can figure out ways to maintain at least some of the cleaner air and water, darker skies, quieter habitats, etc. That would be great, if we could remember after this is over how quickly things can change. Thank you, Otto, and stay healthy!

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  7. The bark textures & colors are great, like imaginary reptiles. I like seeing the wood highlighted in 7 and 19, and the fallen tree in 3, with those warm grasses overlaid, has a great pastels/sketchbook feel to it. Looking at 12, the trees in the fog, and reminded me of an unfinished project a couple of years ago, we were trying to come up with some silhouette signs for a local event, (step one, was learning how to spell silhouette), when my classes are done, time to dig out that notebook and make a few signs.
    Those critters from the tidal pools – – is the right-hand shot a sea slug or sea cucumber?

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    • It’s a great spot to appreciate wood, both on the tree, and on the ground. The sketchbook look was what I was thinking too, with #3 so thanks for saying that! I ike that look. Step one for your silhouette project has messed me up more than once. I still have miss-spelled versions of that word in my LR keyword list.
      Oh, you asked the trick question about the “sea creature.” Why do you think I call it a sea creature, Robert, huh??? (Don’t you have a job to go to?) πŸ™‚ OK, just kidding because I think I can safely do that with you. I’m going to say a Red sea cucumber, Cucumaria miniata. Pretty sure. Maybe.

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  8. What happiness to be able to enjoy this vast natural space without restrictions!
    I remember previous posts in which Lynn revealed this area, always with wonderful details / images.
    I especially like the images detailing natural elements and textures, but I love the photo of Tsuga heterophylla. In this image they rest peacefully on the trunk, as if they were curiously waiting for something …Very good!
    Thank you very much for sharing your freedom!!

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  9. A wonderful photo essay, Lynn. The second landscape image of the sunset is gorgeous with its beams of sunlight, the anemone is amazing- I love doing walks here at low tide. The tree bark collection is beautiful as are your close-ups of the flowers. And the fog shot is a fave. Love that you ended with the sailboat cruising – leaves me with a sense of hope and freedom..someday.

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    • Thany you, Jane. As you must know, the rocks that are revealed at low tide harbor interesting things, but they can be slippery! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you liked the flowers – I’ve enjoyed them so much this year. Bark and rock textures are constant subjects – I’m pleased that you enjoyed those, too. I had to end with that sailboat, right? πŸ™‚ I hope you’re getting out a bit here and there….soon it will get better….and you’ll be able to see the little one again. Let’s hope!

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    • Chipmunks are just irresistible, right? There is one particular bench in the park, which for some reason has become a place where people feed them, along with some of the birds. It’s really fun to sit there! Thanks for stopping by and following, and letting me know that you enjoyed the walk. Have a good week!

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    • A certain someone convinced me to frame #12 differently than I was going to frame it, and I think he could have been right. It’s good to hear you appreciate the soft focus, too, Mic. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    • It has been such a boon to the health of residents here, having this park to go to. There are a number of community forest lands that are also still open, and the governor announced yesterday that state parks will reopen in a week. I think one reason we are able to keep some parks open is that this is a low-density area. Seattle is almost 2 hours away so not too many people come up here from the city. Thanks for commenting!

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  10. Another lovely batch, especially #2. Interesting how you can combine ocean landscape big and flower close up small and it all still fits together. I was a little surprised to see the sea cucumber in a tide pool, I don’t know if I’ve seen that before. But then, I haven’t seen that many tide pools apart from that one really big one…

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    • Sometimes I do wonder about putting so many different types of photos together in one post, so it’s good to read your comment. I’m pretty sure it’s a sea cucumber, but not positive. I didn’t write things down that day. The man leading the field trip knew just where to look and soon, everyone was looking under rocks and into crevices, where most of the goodies were hiding. Since then, I haven’t seen anything like the variety the group came up with that day, but I did find a Sea cucumber hiding under a rock at Kukatali Preserve, another park near here, at low tide last summer. So often the “minus tides” are only in the middle of the night, or when it’s raining, or very cold, etc. Last summer Joe & I took a two-person kayak out with a guide (he was in a one-person kayak). It was our first time. The wind was up and it was rough that day but we saw some cool anemones and things clinging to the underside a dock at Bowman Bay. It’s amazing what’s under there, but you know that far better than I do.

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  11. A heavenly sunset Lynn .. and yes I enjoyed your post very much . Such a wealth of information … maybe a little of it will seed itself into my foggy brain Lol
    Gosh let’s hope they were pretty sure about those *safe places for the edible bulbs ! Love the craggy branch spreading seaside Juniper … and the close details of the barks and rocks . Bringing to my mind stitches … miniature dragons .. animal scales …
    The comprehensive amount of research you’ve done and your own interest shines through as always x

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    • There’s no need to remember any of this, but I think it can be interesting, especially for anyone who might travel in this area sometime. It’s so hard to imagine living the way the tribes did before Europeans got here – I guess they really knew what they were doing but I’m sure mistakes were made. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Poppy, and I hope you’re doing well these days, and not bored out of your mind! πŸ˜‰

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      • All ticking along thanks Lynn .. escaping to the art table is great therapy πŸ™‚ I feel I ought to be tackling my archives and hmm re learning some LR and Photoshop skills but I’m not quite there yet but it’ll happen I’m sure. I’ve had a lovely listen to first steps learning the Saxophone from our mutual friend … what would we do without * virtual meetings just at this moment in time … technology has many drawbacks but connectivity between friends using the various platforms is a highlight. WP family included .. lovely to share this way x

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        • I think the same thing, that I “should” be doing many things, and hardly any of them get done. Saxophone? Seriously??? That can’t be an easy instrument. But oh, what a wonderful one, when you think of Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Rollins, Getz, Wayne Shorter…so many. Jazz was the soundtrack of my early 20’s in NYC. Popular & rock, too, but jazz was a revelation. I’m impressed that you’re taking advantage of zoom or whatever you’re suing and keeping in touch. Yes, WP included – it’s a good thing, a very good thing. πŸ™‚

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  12. Beautiful nature finds and stunning images as always Lynn. So glad you have this place to explore and get to know so closely. The textures and nature patterns you find are always amazing. In the landscape department I like #2 for its moody atmosphere and the ‘something extra’ the ship adds. Your last image #25 is another favorite … what a great scene and composition!

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    • Maybe another reason you’re drawn to the water images is that it’s a novelty. πŸ˜‰ But I’m not complaining! Thank you, Denise, for continuing to pay attention and give your support. I appreciate it. And yes, it’s been really fun, getting to know the ins and outs of a new place and then sharing it all. Enjoy your weekend and stay healthy! πŸ™‚

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    • Pleased to meet you here, Peg. We share a few things, I think, including the east coast transplant to PNW syndrome (I just made that up) and a love of nature. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. “Local Walks” is a series – you can find more by scrolling way down to the categories area. Thanks for commenting, stay safe!

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  13. Very nice post Lynn! We are as lucky as you are to share the beauty of this place and the restrictions of the one park made you discover another one πŸ™‚ My favorite picture is the structure collection of #9 (one photo seems to be missing?) Wonderful! The first and the last two are hard to determine. Is the first one bark and the other two rock? Then I like #15 and #16 very much. The wildflowers are shining! Beautiful pictures, really. And the meadow is wonderful too. I love it, these colours! Again something blue. It seems to follow us, right? Interesting that you can eat them, the right ones of course. Are the blue juniper berries really that blue or did you work on the colors? The lovely primula seems to be familiar to me, but I don’t know from where, maybe from a garden. Nice finds from the sea. The anemone looks like a piece of jewellery, maybe like a special ring! You could “wear” it straight away πŸ™‚ The orange colored madrone trees are stunning, the lichen and all the other pictures. Cute, the one eared chipmunk and the deer!! You seemed to be quite near to make such good pictures. How nice to meet so many wild animals in this park and good to know that it is so lively. The photos from the sea are shining too. You captured them in a special light. One can feel the wideness of the sea and sky, so clear, as if I would be there with you. Relaxing it is πŸ™‚ Thank you!

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    • I wish you could be here, too, Almuth….it would be so much fun to see your reactions. The deer there are very tame and a few of the chipmunks are, too. The blue juniper berries are almost that blue, depending on the light of course. They look really pretty on the ground. The bark and rock textures – there are 5 photos. I hope you could see all five. The top 3 are all madrone trees. They have truly extraordinary bark that peels away every year, exposing new colors and textures. The middle one has not peeled very much. The right-hand one has peeled a lot, after a fire, with just black shreds left, but the tree is OK. The left-hand one is a thick old piece of a Madonre tree trunk that grew around a rock. It’s really amazing, the way the bark grasps the rock. Maybe someday that rock will disappear inside the tree! The left-hand rock on the bottom is strange – I just found several of those recently in one place in the park. It’s as if someone sewed stitches on them! I have no idea why they’re like that. The right-hand one is on a rocky beach where the rounded pebbles are pushed by waves around an old piece of wood that is buried. Maybe it’s a Madrone, I’m not sure. You may have seen the Shooting star (Primula) in gardens, yes. The Latin genus used to be Dodecathelon – it was recently changed to Primula. They’re also a little like Cyclamen flowers, right? Do you have Cyclamen plants in stores or nurseries, maybe at Christmas? I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Almuth – it’s really fun sharing these discoveries with you. πŸ™‚

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      • It woud be fun to discover your environments, discovering so many flowers and animals and insects and structures and and and… πŸ™‚ A never ending story, right?! About the structures: I can see 4 photos, the 3rd from the first row is missing. The colors are so stunning! The signs are probably from Aliens, haha. Mysterious. Maybe you will find out later. The last one is awesome, this mixture of stones and bark. The brain tries to understand what it is seeing, but it doesn’t really work. It would be great as a picture framed and hanging on the wall. All of them would and the series of flowers and sea animals too. Of course, they remind me of Cyclamen! My mother loves them a lot, especially the tiny ones you can find in the Alpes. You can get Cyclamen in nurseries and shops, there are several breedings. – You are lucky to have such tame wildlife around you! Have a good time πŸ™‚

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        • The missing photo is really weird. It’s a very dark one, but that shouldn’t matter. Oh, how wonderful it would be to see tiny Cyclamens growing in the Alps! I only see them in gardens or stores. I think our mothers might have gotten along well…my mother loved wildflowers too, and also liked to grow them when she could. πŸ™‚

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        • The link seems to be broken? – What you write about our mothers seems to be true. They would have exchanged a lot of thoughts I suppose πŸ™‚

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  14. As always, a fun and informative walk with you, Lynn. Aren’t we fortunate to be nature lovers and be allowed to continue, although with some restrictions, to do what we always do. On the one hand it is great to have these places to ourselves but at other times a shame more people don’t get out into nature and way from electronics. All those wildflowers are making me so envious although ours will be making their appearances soon.
    #2 for its wide beauty and #3 for its intimacy are both faves from this walk. But all were delights for the eyes and mind. πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you, Steve. Yes, we’re lucky our favorite things don’t require crowds of people or other current impossibilities. I do see more people on the trails these days. Many of them are clearly not used to being in the forest, or at least, the place where I see them is new to them. I worry about the damage – lately, I’ve seen delicate Calypso orchids picked and left on the trail, and Common camas flowers picked and left behind, too. But the other side is that it’s an introduction to nature for some people and that’s important. Ultimately more important than a few flowers. Have a good week!

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      • Yes, it is important and hopefully appreciation of nature will grow and remain. I think we all did things, like picking flowers, that we know better to do now. Again, hopefully, some of the people just learning to enjoy nature will learn about respecting it too.

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    • Thank you! YOUR brilliant blog is a tonic for those times when I’m thinking negatively about aging. Thanks for stopping by and commenting; I’m glad to have given you a bit of respite. πŸ™‚ You’ll find more “Local Walks” by scrolling down to the Categories section.

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  15. I love the texture and color patterns you’ve discovered in rock and bark for this post. This spring I’ve been noticing those more than the usual greenery and flora. There’s something so beautifully abstract art about these surfaces. Thank you for another mindful walk full of charm. Hope you are keeping well.

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    • Thank you for your comment. I’m holding up – it sure helps that Spring is here. And yes, the abstract nature of those textures is what appeals to me, too. Maybe I’ll do a bark and rock post one day. It’s good to hear from you…stay healthy!

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  16. A long time has passed since you published this post, dear Lynn, I am very late with all my reactions to you. Now I’m catching up.
    It’s not that I haven’t read this extraordinary report or enjoyed the pictures. On the contrary, my perception was so intense that I thought a quick, superficial comment would not do your contribution justice, and there was no time for more at the time.
    So now:
    It starts with the wonderful landscape in No.1. These delicate shades of blue in the distance are incredibly beautiful, and the dark foreground, which shows its details very carefully lightened, is simply masterful.
    The other landscapes (2, 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 24, 25) also show what kind of lovable and extraordinary landscape you live in. I am particularly enthusiastic about all those photos with varied shades of blue.
    The group of tree bark and rock textures in No. 9 is definitely one of my favorites; I can never leave such motifs unphotographed.
    I don’t really have to say anything about your flower portraits, do I? In this you are simply the incomparable master.
    But in this series the big happiness is the flower meadow (No.16)!
    Thank you so much for this lovely walk, dear Lynn

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    • Please, don’t ever worry about “when.” I appreciate your noticing the details on the first photo – I did lighten that foreground a little. I wasn’t sure if it was enough to show up on the blog – I guess it was. I’m glad you enjoyed the blue – we’ve had lots of blue lately, which is unusual. We had a very rainy 4-6 weeks in Feb-Mar and then April, which should be rainy, was all blue skies and sun. There was enough rain from before that, so it wasn’t a problem. Actually, the photos in this post were taken over the course of several years. Maybe since the park is on a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides, the blues are intensified. Just a theory! πŸ™‚ I know you are a fan of textures…that was very obvious when we talked about the old pigsty on that fine April day last year. Ule, thank you for being here. I value your input! πŸ™‚

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      • Your lightening of the foreground in No.1 was just right to show fine details without overdoing the effect.
        When I mentioned the textures, I also was thinking of our pigsty experience last year.

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  17. Another treasure trove of images, Lynn…#s 3, 12, and 25 are favs for me. I finished reading John Steinbeck’s “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” last weekend…and your images of the anemone and other tide pool explorations reminded me of some of his narrative. There were an incredible number of examples of symbiotic relationships, too…the algae in the anemone and other little creatures living inside the shells of crabs…and even one small creature that lived up inside of the bottom of another creature, of all things!

    Thank you for the glimpse into your world…as always….

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    • Thank you, Scott. How’s it going in Pheonix these days? I’m glad you mentioned that book, which I hadn’t heard of and would probably enjoy immensely. This business of symbiotic relationships seems to be so prevalent. I was able to take a socially-distanced walk with a lichenologist last week and he talked about it – lichens are prime examples. He showed me an example of ornithocoprophilic lichens – they live on birdshit! πŸ™‚

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  18. Heavens! Who knew I had fallen this far behind? I do remember seeing the beautiful images of the sea at sunset. I also remember the reply you gave Scott about the birdshit lichens! Our chipmunks often seem to have bits of their ears missing. We’ve seen the Jays chasing them away from the seeds and hard telling who else might be harassing them to the point of nipping a bit of ear. It’s a tough life out there… eat or be eaten. So… favorites: 2, 7, 8, all of 9… and 10, and all the flowers, and most favorite is the seascape with the sailboat. Simply heavenly.

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    • No problem! I enjoyed reading your comment. I really got to know this park because of the pandemic, since they closed Deception Pass for a long time. It was perfect timing, too, because it’s full of wildflowers in spring, so it all worked out. I even had a cheat sheet abbreviated list of wildflowers to look for in the park, and which areas to find them in – produced by the Washington Native Plant Society. I think I’ve checked off nearly every one and I learned a lot. πŸ™‚

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