LOCAL WALKS: Two Walks by the Water

This post focuses on two places I return to frequently: one is at the island’s edge where land meets water, the other is inland, where a forest surrounds a lake. Water bodies have powerful effects on land, nourishing life with mist and fog, altering temperature, favoring particular plants and animals, and modifying the land itself. Bodies of water have profound effects on humans too, of course. Not least is the impact water has on our emotions. A lake I visit refreshes my mind even when barely glimpsed through the trees on a hill far above it. Reflections on the lake’s surface mesmerize me as I slowly ply the shoreline path. Along the island’s edge a larger body of water soothes my nerves, pushing waves that lap at my feet as I walk along the pebbled beach. Round stones roll and clatter when the water sucks them back, delighting my ears.

Walking by the water is restorative. I was in danger of taking that for granted until this month, when smoke-ridden, unhealthy air forced me to stop my outdoor walks. I didn’t think we would be shut indoors for so long, peering through closed windows at a landscape dulled by dirty air. I didn’t think the leaves on the Bigleaf maples could be so still for so long, or the birds so silent. That’s what happened though. And unsurprisingly, I got restless. For the past week I’ve made brief escapes by car, running the air conditioning (which I normally would not do) and gaping at horizons smudged down to nothingness. One normalizing errand I can do is to visit the drive-up espresso stand – but even that activity has been fraught. On the worst days, when the air quality index soared into a dangerous category, I would roll my window back up after ordering, roll it down again to grab the drink and up again while the masked barista smiled with her eyes and ran my card. Once she offered to add the tip and sign the receipt for me, so I wouldn’t need to roll the window down again. I worried about her, exposed to the “very unhealthy” air for hours on end.

But how lucky we both are, not to have lost our homes like so many others here on the increasingly hot and dry West Coast of America, the country that turns its back on climate change action and continues down a path which, if not altered, will create an unimaginable disaster. It will be a cowardly new world populated by the descendants of people who didn’t have the courage to act when it was necessary. I’m aware that I don’t help matters by using my car when I don’t absolutely need to. We all make compromises and do our best. We are living in strange times.

Today I’m going to spread a little beauty around. Maybe it will bring a measure of relief to you as you worry about what’s going on in the world, wherever you are. Water and its environs – drink it in with your tired eyes and breathe a long sigh. And maybe do one small thing today, to tip the scales the other way.

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1. A stipe (stem) of Bullwhip kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) afloat in the shallow water of Rosario Bay. Deception Pass State Park, Washington.
2. Wind-sculpted Douglas fir trees and morning fog, August, Rosario Bay.

3. The Maiden of Deception Pass. She was carved from a Western redcedar as a joint Samish Tribe-Skagit County project. Here story can be found below, at the end of the post.

4. A Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) stalks its prey on Rockweed-covered rocks in Rosario Bay. I wish this bird good luck on this foggy morning.

5. Rocks are tumbled smooth by four tides a day at Rosario Beach.

6. A young Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) perches on a tall Douglas fir and surveys the scene up on Rosario Head, a bald above the bay.

7. Hopefully this little Townsend’s chipmunk (Tamias townsendii) can evade the hawk’s talons. It ate calmly while I stood nearby but scrambled under the driftwood as soon as I moved.

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9. Watching the fog at Rosario Beach.

10. Fog formed, evaporated and formed again as I meandered spellbound among the driftwood logs.

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11. At Little Cranberry Lake on a quiet July afternoon, a small island turns golden.

12. A tree that fell into the lake long ago sprouts a tuft of grass.

13. Beavers have been busy around the lake. The south end was flooded and now, dead trees wait their turn to crash into the water.

14. As I pick my way along the rocky, rooty shoreline, the water casts its spell.

15. Golden grasses sway on a bluff overlooking the lake.

16. Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) throw lanky shadows across one another in the forest.

17. Long after they have dried up, papery Pearly everlasting flowers (Anaphalis margaritacea) continue to grace an opening in the woods above the lake.

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17. Douglas for branches dip their tips toward the water.

18. Tall, dense trees don’t let much light into the forest. Dew coats the dried flowers of Ocean Spray (also called Ironwood) (Holodiscus discolor) tracing a lacy filigree of light.

19. Thousands of midges, perhaps just hatched, swarm over the water at Little Cranberry Lake. Many will mate and many will be eaten.

20. Back at Rosario Bay, the view from Rosario Head is obscured by fog. Boat trails glow on the water’s surface long after they’re out of sight.

***

  • The story of the Maiden of Deception Pass. Ko-Kwal-Alwoot was a beautiful Samish Indian girl living in a village at this site. She was gathering seafood one day when a young man from beneath the sea saw her and fell in love. But when this man of the sea asked her father for her hand in marriage, he refused, for fear she would drown. The young man warned Ko-Kwal-Alwoot’s father that the seafood would disappear unless she married him. When his warning proved to be true, Ko-Kwal-Alwoot’s father granted permission for the marriage. The beautiful woman waded into the sea to join her new husband. Once again the seafood returned and was plentiful. Ko-Kwal-Alwoot returned to her people once a year for four years. Barnacles had grown upon her hands and arms, and her long raven hair turned to kelp. Chill winds followed wherever she walked, and she seemed to be unhappy out of the sea. Seeing this, Ko-Kwal-Alwoot’s people told her she did not need to return to them. Since that day, she has been the Samish Tribe’s guiding spirit and through her protection there has always been plenty of seafood and pure, sweet springwater. From the Anacortes Museum and Maritime Heritage Center

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88 comments

  1. That nifty picture of bullwhip kelp is a good way to lead off. What’s not to like about sinuosity? (It’s balanced by the straight line in #19.) And what’s not to like about the fog that you followed up with and then repeated in #9 and #10? (The last time I saw fog like that it was also coastal, in New Brunswick last summer). I don’t think I’ve ever heard shadows described as lanky, as you did with reference to ferns in #16; good transference from people to plants.

    Your lacy filigree of light in #18 is attractive; did you also do any views of it where the background excluded the sky and was completely black? In #15 it looks like the Clarity slider slid all the way west into the Pacific Ocean. What you show in #13 is similar to many scenes we saw in the Canadian Rockies, some even with a presence of beavers. The underwater tree trunk in #12 is a nice touch.

    The myth of Ko-Kwal-Alwoot has overtones of the Greek one about Persephone, who went into the underworld to rule with Hades.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Steve, thanks for your close attention, once again. ๐Ÿ™‚ We may not have your wildflowers but fog, we have that. And when it’s on the water, it’s always a treat to watch. I did not do a version of #18 eliminating those bright spots, which seem to look brighter here. Maybe I will. Funny what you said about #15…would you believe it was only -25? But I also reduced contrast and added noise reduction. I haven’t been to the Rockies at all, not really, and I have yet to explore Canada beyond the coasts (and only a little of that). And yes, Persephone, and I bet there are more myths like that around the world. The carving is weathering beautifully and looks very comfortable in its surroundings. Have a good weekend!

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    • No worries, I’m always struggling to catch up. And you went on a trip, I didn’t! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The stones in #5 are particularly pretty – on one short section of the beach, they’re just the right size, shape and color. It’s interesting how much they vary in a short distance, especially the size and smoothness. Thanks so much, Gary.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beauty against fear and depression, it works and feels consoling, dear Lynn. And isn’t it good your pictures help you and your friends to enjoy nature walks in phantasy at least?
    During these days of fire and smoke, I prefer the clearer photos to the also great foggy ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s the intention, Ule, to offer a kind of corrective. It’s getting better, finally, and I think I’ll get out for a walk today, even if it rains a little (and rain would be nice). We began to educate ourselves in the past week on the difference between smoke and fog. Waking up, we’d look out the window and say, is that smoke or fog? Stick your head out and it’s easier to tell – the fog feels cool and damp – but they mix sometimes, too. I appreciate your empathy…and next time, I’m going to post a series of abstracts. I think you’ll like them!

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    • I just read about the increase in cases and thought of you – I will try not to worry. Those fabulous English breakfasts may just have to be gobbled down at home for a while, eh? You know, I thought you might like #12. Funny. The birds – I couldn’t believe that Coop (as they’re called) was so cooperative! I just happened to have the one long lens I own on the camera. Usually I don’t use that lens. Don’t worry about us, the fires are not nearby and the smoke is finally clearing this weekend. Thanks, Adrian, you take care, too.

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    • We are. It looks like the smoke’s finally clearing out – but one can’t help worrying about the rest of the season. Let’s hope this fire season ends early! Thanks, Alison, I’m happy that you found a little respite here. Have a good weekend!

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  3. Thankfully, the fires didn’t directly affect you. They are really a damage to nature and the world. Pantanal, for example, is terrible and unfortunately it will continue burning …
    Your feeling about proximity / contact with water is very well described and it is also mine and of many of us. Water is always a regenerating presence for the eyes, emotions and the body as well.
    Thank you for sharing another pleasant walk and so many beautiful photographic details.
    I wish you a good weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, fires and other natural disasters are increasing in frequency and power all over the world. We’re both lucky to live near water – I love seeing your photos of the ocean. A regenerating force, exactly, and as you said, for the whole person. I wish you a pleasant weekend, too. The smoke is beginning to clear out here, so I’ll try to get outside today – I hope! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for letting me know, Fanny. We’re both lucky to be near large bodies of water, and to appreciate the simple details all around us. I heard that the air reached Europe! Yikes. It’s finally clearing up here. We’re supposed to have a little rain today, too, and that will really help. Have a great weekend!

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  4. I am thinking of you and hope you don’t have to suffer too much of the smoke. I know, many people have lost everything which is even harder or they are threatened now and I can’t imagine how the inhabitants of these areas stand the toxic air. I saw the red photos in the web and I hardly can believe these infernal colors! Incredible. I really hope it es getting better soon!!!
    But now to your beautiful and soothing pictures. My favorite one among others: the chipmunk ๐Ÿ™‚ And the hawk is great too. How close have you been? And I love # 14 (there is something about these fine branches, that look like veins. I always like the tenderness of these structures) and 18 – wonderful, no, enchanting :-)! I like the foggy pictures although I asked myself at first if it is fog or smoke. Fog has always such a mystic or mysterious atmosphere. Love it! And 8, 11, 12 …. I like these ancient stories or fables (do you call it fable?) that tell something about the people and the land. Very nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It IS incredible…I’ve never seen one of these fires closeup, only the aftermath. Don’t worry, the smoke is clearing now, after more than a week. Tomorrow we should even have a little rain. You loved the chipmunk – and you already saw that one! ๐Ÿ™‚
      The lens I used for the hawk is a zoom lens – 14mm – 150mm. On a regular camera that would be like 30mm – 300mm. I must have zoomed it all the way. So, I was not really close. The hawk would not allow that. I think the fine branches in #14 are actually dead Douglas fir branches that lost all their needles. But they look good! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      We have become good at telling the difference between fog and smoke over the last two weeks. That is definitely fog! ๐Ÿ™‚ Much prettier.
      Yes, I think you can call the Maiden of Deception Pass story a fable. I agree, the connection to the land is what makes them special. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, now, enjoy your weekend! Thank you, Almuth ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • A checkered history, eh? That has me wondering…this little guy was oddly content to eat his cone while I stood there, as long as I was still. I saw three that morning and I’d never seen one before there. You never know! Thanks Ken, enjoy the weekend.

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  5. “…the country that turns its back on climate change action and continues down a path which, if not altered, will create an unimaginable disaster. It will be a cowardly new world populated by the descendants of people who didnโ€™t have the courage to act when it was necessary…”

    Seeing images of these fires (and smoke) always prompts me to cry – more inward than outward – like now in the restaurant where I use the wifi. Of course I think of you and am glad to see your update and wise words and of course the beautiful images. I will enjoy basking in each one when back at the apartment.

    The laptop battery now goes dead fast, so internet sessions are hurried – and lately dealing with hurdles w/personal paperwork – so hard to make progress with the entire world’s routines are altered!

    Of course you’d be grateful for – as well as concerned for the person who served you via drive-through.
    I hope that the worst of the fire season is over — haven’t looked at the news yet, aside for a pop-up from nola/new orleans that a t.storm ‘beta’ has appeared in the gulf. whew.. mother nature is waving flags everywhere – how can people deny this?!

    Thanks again for the update, images and sharing your sensitive feedback with all of us.
    Love,
    Lisa

    Liked by 2 people

    • LISA! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s interesting that I should hear from you right after hearing that Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died. It’s so sad. But she was a good role model, wasn’t she? So strong and principled.
      I’m glad you’re able to get some wifi but I wish it was easier. I suppose you’re using the “uninternet” time very well though.
      We are not at the end of the fire season at all, but maybe it will end early this year. The smoke is clearing on much of the West Coast now, but the fires continue. There is way too much fuel because of the way the forests were cut long ago. Fires start too easily because the world is too hot and too dry. Ugh. And the Gulf, yes, they had bad floods – again. We need some good news.
      Take care of yourself…thank you for squeezing a comment into your limited wifi time…sending a hug!

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      • I see all of your post via the email notifications and later see the posts as you designed them – in larger format to better see the images… Always so soothing and a balm to the soul. You are right where you need to be – offering a balance to those who are feeling a bit saturated with negative ‘stuff.’ I’m so glad that you’re able to get out – so important for nature-loving souls like us!

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  6. I think you are spoiling your readers with all these beautiful photographs and such interesting information behind each of them, and the story of Ko-Kwal-Alwoot.

    By the way, the smoke has come to the East coast and the weatherman says that’s why skies are paler than normal for this time of the year. But it’s nothing compared with what you have to endure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I heard that the smoke got all the way to Europe, too. But you’re right it was really bad and it went on longer than we thought it would. It is clearing now – we should get some rain tomorrow so that will make a big difference. I love the idea that I’m spoiling my readers, Hien, that’s funny! Thank you! I enjoy it, and when you enjoy it too, it’s worth all the research and work to put it together. Have a good weekend.

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  7. One advantage of being somewhat familiar with your haunts is that not only can I relate to your pictures, I can almost smell the fresh sea air. I look forward to the days when once again outdoor air is healthy and indoor air is no longer questionable. Today’s rains have helped a lot, but we’re not there yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, you have surely been to Rosario Beach. It must be fun to see different views of a place you recognize. Our air improved today – all the way down to 105 at one point – and we should get a little of that rain tomorrow. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you, Dave. Let’s drink to clean air! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  8. How incredibly beautiful!! Each photo was more beautiful than the one before. Your description makes me feel like I am there with the photos to verify the beauty. Hope you get time for more walks this week end and hoping for the smoke to disappear.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We need the distraction, right? I was going to post abstracts (which I will post next) but I needed to do this. And wouldn’t you know, we had more unfortunate news over here with the death of a great person, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Her death will spark more mud-slinging, and worse as people fight over filling her position. Meanwhile, the smoke has cleared and I was out again yesterday – that’s one good thing. I hope all’s well with you, Louis!

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  9. Sorry to read that you too had to suffer from the terrible air pollution from all the smoke drifting up your way. I heard from a friend in BC that it got better for him today and I hope it’s the same for you – as if it hadn’t been depressing enough already with stay at home orders, cancelled travel plans, and all that! But, as you say, we must consider ourselves lucky that we only suffer mildly, compared to those who have lost everything. Thanks for helping and spreading beauty!

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  10. Once again, your posts reflect on such beauty we can find in this world and is a welcome respite with all that is going on in the world. It is so disheartening with the wildfires, this was number one on my list of concern and uneasiness – so these photos and this post did wonders. The opening was perfect, water has such tranquility and restorative powers and your photos showed its beauty.

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  11. Nice walk; fine set, Lynn. Extra points go to: nr1: Not only the shape, but also the light; nr9: I like those tiny two figures and the mysterious white glow in the fog on the right; nr11: I like the strong horizontal-vertical in this one; nr12: dead trees are always good :); nr18, 2nd: the light on the leaves. Thanks and see you!

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    • Thank you, Harrie! That piece of kelp in #1 swirled nicely for the camera, all I had to do was dramatize it a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I usually don’t include people in my photos, as you know, but I’m trying to break that habit. Once in a while, anyway. Dead trees, yes, there are SO MANY here because the soil is thin and they fall over easily. Did I tell you I have at least 100 photos of trees tagged “fallen?” I hesitate to do a post of trees that fell because you did a great series of them not long ago. But someday I might put a post together….

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  12. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Guadiana dreaming | restlessjo

  13. Thank you for this meditative walk, Lynn. Your photos exude a sense of quiet and intention. I can imagine you looking and looking. The kelp lead off is quite stunning, the heron composition is very appealing with the circle of rocks, and I love the colorful rocks and driftwood. The delicate backlit Ocean Spray… lovely, and searching for the midges – that’s a great subtle shot. Your gratitude shines through along with your lament to protect our fragile environment. ๐Ÿ’š

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  14. Someone famous, canโ€™t remember who, once said that the best pictures are around the edges. The edges of the weather. The edges of land. The edges of rock. Where water meets land. Your photos would seem to exemplify that !

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    • Edges are what it’s all about, in many respects. I first came across that idea about 25 years ago when I read a novel that talked a lot about things happening at the edges, mainly in more philosophical terms. Then I became aware of the concept that in the environment, edges, or places where two different ecosystems meet, are where the most activity can be found, e.g. more wildlife is at the edge of a forest than deep within it. SO I’ve been aware of this idea for a long time but I really the way you put it. I hadn’t thought about it quite like that, so thank you very much!! It’s a concept that deserves to be expanded more, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • It should all look vaguely familiar but not completely familiar, I guess. Yes, very PNW, this. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Just don’t imagine the growlers flying around in the background… ๐Ÿ˜‰ (The noise really hasn’t been bad at all lately).

      Liked by 1 person

      • ahhh… that’s good to hear about the growlers. I look back and realize that we had already been on the road awhile up there in the Rainforest, pretty removed from civilization and then to return to that extreme. I swear they flew directly overhead in circles and the camper doesn’t exactly have much in the way of civilization… and it was late. And I was tired and having trouble sleeping. Simply not good planning for whatever reason. But I do love the virtual visits you provide.

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  15. Funny one! The camper brings along just the right amount of civilization to the wilderness. And it would have been hard to plan for the growlers. They only tell the public about a week ahead when they will be flying. Traveling had its ups and downs, it’s just too bad that little down period happened while you were here.

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  16. Wonderfully seen and captured. I have always loved photographing water scenes. They say water is the most photographed subject so I guess we are not alone! If I had to pick one here it would be #9 … the figures suggest a story and I love the way the fog created mystery and minimalism! #14 also called for slower scrolling!

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    • I hadn’t heard that water is the most photographed subject (behind our kids?) but when you think about it the variety is unfathomable. There are so many different kinds of water features, and they all different from moment to moment. Regarding #9, you know I tend not to photograph people but I told myself to go for it and I’m glad. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There should be a Slow Scroll Club. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks, Denise!

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  17. I would not describe the marriage of Ko-Kwal-Alwoot and the nameless mano fhte sea as one made in heaven, or the seas for that matter, and vengeance is no way to win a maiden’s hand. But I guess it all turned out okay.

    I think you’ve a wonderful collection of images from your walks by the water, Lynn. My favorite because of the layers of light and shadow would be the sword ferns…well seen. As you know, I also enjoy being by the water. Not just because I find bullfrogs there. ๐Ÿ™‚ There is a peace in water, whether still or moving. Maybe that is because we are so much water in a flesh bag or just because it is a necessity for life. The sound of a waterfall covers the cacophony of life unnatural and imbues us in natural life.

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