LOCAL WALKS: A TWO-FER

We’ll look at two places for this installment of “Local Walks” – March Point, a peninsula flanked by shallow bays a few miles north of my home, and Rosario Beach, a complex of coves and headland on the rocky southwest shore of the island. As usual, this selection of images doesn’t claim to offer an exhaustive overview of these locations. Instead, it’s a glimpse of scenes that caught my attention at a particular time, in a particular place on this earth.

First, March Point, a head-spinning mix of industry and nature. Industry dominates in the form of two large crude oil refineries that sprawl across the bulk of the land mass. A handful of small private properties, some with pastures of sheep or cattle, coexist with the refineries; a two-lane road traces the perimeter of the peninsula. To the west is Fidalgo Bay, most of which is an aquatic reserve known for spawning surf smelt and beds of eelgrass (Zostera marina), an important aquatic ecosystem plant. On the east side of March Point, Padilla Bay supports hundreds of Great blue herons, a summertime flock of American white pelicans, loons and sea ducks in winter, and many other species. Gaze out across either bay and you’ll relax into calm, expansive views; turn toward the land and you’ll be confronted with a busy industrial complex of tanks, towers, pipes, buildings, and fences. Heading away from the refinery you’ll pass modest homes or rough fields dotted with cattle and edged with wild roses. March Point is an anomaly.

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1. Low tide reveals the muddy, furrowed beauty of Fidalgo Bay. This view looks away from March Point, toward Anacortes.

2. Across the road from the bay, neglected land supports a thicket of grasses and thorny wild roses.

3. I enjoyed the rhythmic flow of winter beauty in these grasses as oil tankers barreled down the road behind my back. The Shell refinery processes 5.7 million gallons of crude oil each day on March Point. Tankers from Alaskan oilfields line up at the north end of the peninsula; trucks exit the south end to access Highway 20. Nearby, what is probably the largest Great blue heron rookery on the west coast of North America contains over 700 nests. This is a place of intense contradictions.

4. A length of plastic trapped in a tangle of roadside vegetation. Trash is inevitable along the busy roads, but not as prevalent as one might expect. And sometimes there’s beauty in it.

5.

6. Refinery stacks, native trees, non-native grasses: another odd mix typical of March Point.
7. Fidalgo Bay at low tide.

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On to Rosario Beach, at the opposite end of the island. The topography is very different here. Industry is absent and in fact, only a few houses can be seen from the shoreline. Traffic from a highway hidden behind the trees does intrude, but it’s usually no more than a quiet, intermittent hum. The area is part of a state park that encompasses the land and water surrounding Deception Pass, a channel between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. Inhabited by coast Salish tribes before Europeans arrived, the land was set aside for public recreation in 1922, almost a hundred years ago. The human imprint is faint here. Two simple, well-constructed log buildings made by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, nestle into a landscape of tall trees and rocky headlands. A small parking lot, bathroom and pier make up the basic amenities. Two beaches, one sandy and sheltered, the other rocky and open, converge to join Rosario Head, a promontory with fine views to the south and west. This is a small and special place where wildlife is at home and people are cautioned to tread gently. It suffers from crowds on weekends but during the week, especially when the weather isn’t great or the hour is late, a walk here can feel refreshingly meditative. It is nothing like March Point – but beauty abounds in both places if you’re open to discovering it.

More of my photos of Rosario Beach and environs are here.

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8. Rosario Head supports a few wildflowers and trees on its thin soil. Views open up to sky and water over Rosario Strait and the Salish Sea.

9. Driftwood logs on Rosario Beach fill with water from rain and high tides. The huge logs may look like they’ve been in place forever, but come back after a big storm and you’ll find everything has been rearranged.

10. Recent windstorms have toppled trees and pushed driftwood and cobbles past the old high tide lines. Winter color in this thicket bordering Rosario Beach comes from the maroon of Nootka rose bushes, the bright red of rose hips, and the pale green of lichens flourishing on the branches of small trees.

11. Bright and low, the January sun bounced off the water and lit up the rock-strewn path between Rosario Beach and Bowman Bay a few days ago. Glossy evergreen leaves of Madrona trees and bright green needles of fir trees created the illusion of a warmer season but wildflowers won’t begin to bloom here for another three or four months.

12.

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14. The view from the pier, seen by a camera sweeping left to right.

15. Urchin rocks, where Oystercatchers cry and Harlequin ducks swim, is barely discernible behind the lacy Douglas firs at dusk at Rosario Beach.

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To be in relationship with this world is to give praise to the trees for allowing us to breathe, to give thanks to the microbes for making the soil, and on, and on, and on. It is to listen, touch and be with all beings, sentient and other. It is to be gracious and humble, to offer gifts of action and care and words of gratitude and respect. It is not hard. In fact, itโ€™s pure joy.” Georgina Reid, Breathing Fire, an essay in The Planthunter

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16. A photo from 2018 showing one of the refineries, seen from across Fidalgo Bay.

17. The Olympic Mountains rise out of the clouds, seen from Rosario beach last December.

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Note: The March Point photos were made on January 17th, using an Olympus M. Zuiko 12mm f2.0 lens (on an OM-D EM-1 camera). Most of the Rosario photos were made later that week, using a vintage SMC Super Takumar 50mm f1.7 lens with an adapter for the OM-D EM-1. #12 was made with an iPhone SE; #13 (father & son photos), #16, and #17 were made with an Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm f1.8 lens.

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54 comments

  1. The last one, #17, caught me off guard. I was thinking the northern Cascades, did a double take on the caption, and realized we’re looking south across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I have good memories of that far place, walking out along Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rainforest, and a couple of beaches on the west side of the peninsula. You live in such a wonderful place, Lynn. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a good memory you have! The peninsula is beautiful and I’ve spent too little time there but it’s great to see the Olympics looming like that from Rosario Beach and various other places. We’re across the country from most of our family but we do like it here. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Mic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All done without using a translator:
    1) What a beauty!
    2) the nearly white grass inbetween
    3) intense contradictions…I recall the movie “Koyaanisquatsi” where you’ll find such pictures.
    4).plastic parts can be beautifu, especially raindrops on it. But….;-)
    5) Notice not having been taken seoiously
    6) Smoke and grass, mankind and nature
    7) Beautiful
    8) I once had a discussion about Straights in nature, they laughed…
    9) Nice
    13) Nice
    14) A painting
    15) Behind a curtain ๐Ÿ˜‰
    17) Beautiful

    Greetings
    Gerhard

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greetings back to you, Gerhard, and thank you. I’m glad you liked #1 and #7 – that is not a typically scenic landscape but it’s interesting, to me anyway. That’s a great association you made with #3! As for plastic in the landscape, I have photographed it before and it always fascinated me with its terrible beauty. You’re right about #5. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And #6. There is “straight” and there is “strait” – more confusing English words! You have reminded me of a garden designer I once knew. She insisted there are no straight lines in nature so all her designs were based on curves. I think there’s lots of room for straight lines in garden design, don’t you? ๐Ÿ™‚ You said #15 is like something behind a curtain, which is what I like about that effect, another thing that has fascinated me for a long time – seeing something behind a screen or barrier of some kind. Thank you very mcuh for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. #14 is a great balm for the eyes. It’s fun to feel the subtle arc in the water, and I guess the slope of the hillside, drawing your eyes the same direction, left to right. The driftwood in #9 has really come to look like old weathered bones. Dinosaurs I guess, given the size. I like that silvery pool in a hollow of the log.

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    • I’m not sure why that subtle arc is there but it’s what clinched it for me. It’s a balancing act with the intentional camera movement images – I like the minimalism but I want something to be interesting enough to keep me engaged. Driftwood dino bones, cool! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Robert – have a good week!

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  4. How about the designs in the mud in your first picture?
    You indicate that the grasses in #6 are non-native but don’t say anything about those in #2 and #3; do you know their status? Plenty of non-native grasses have unfortunately taken hold in Austin, and I guess everywhere else.
    In #7 it’s good how you caught some of the sky’s pink reflected in the water.
    Your caption for #4 reminds me that as a kid I initially mistook the word trash for thrash.
    Your caption for #9 reminds us that “this too shall pass”โ€”even Covid 19, and the sooner the better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those furrows in the mud fascinate me – every low tide reveals them and makes me wonder again – why? Honestly, I should not have stated that about #6 because I’m not sure about the grasses – I thought the pale-looking ones were an invasive, non-native grass but then I tried to verify that and couldn’t. I should look again when they go into flower later this year. I think non-native grasses are a problem everywhere – just not as obvious because we tend not to pay attention to them, I guess. Gee, getting past COVID does seem to be harder than moving giant driftwood logs across a beach – that’s a good one, Steve!

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    • That would be good. There’s so much work to do! Places like these refineries support the surrounding area in many ways and they produce the gas I use to drive my car. But they pollute, too, and ultimately we’re going to have to cut way back on their products. We’re trying to stay safe – you too! And have a great week. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Without a doubt, an area of โ€‹โ€‹contrasts! But “forgetting” what is less peaceful and bucolic, this post provides a good walk and beautiful images. The kind of tour I always like to do with the company of Google maps!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Google maps have changed our lives, right? The google maps view would show even more clearly the difference between these two places. But both are interesting, and the refineries keep the local economy going. It’s complicated, isn’t it? Thanks for your thoughts, Dulce!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beauty sometimes hides in less obvious places, Lynn, doesn’t it? March Point reminds me in some ways of the industrial coast I used to live on, yet it harboured a wonderful sea lion colony. And if you turned your gaze to the sea, all the beauty you could want. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. For all it’s the industrialized side of the island your photo of the refinery is my favourite of this collection. It’s the way you caught the light at just the right time, the shining goldenness of it that belies the harsh reality. Also love the one below it that so perfectly catches the winter mood of your part of the world.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t realize Harelequin’s ranged so far – that’s cool! I see them bobbing up and down with the waves, searching out bits and pieces along the seaweed-covered rocks and then diving. The other day it was two males and a female, which I think I used to see last winter, too. They are such beauties! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s nice to hear that the intentional camera movement image appeals – thanks, Adrian, and have a good week (in spite of the dreary pandemic news!).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Lynn, This was a fine walk. Your opener made me smile…the light and lines, the setting- perfect. Drawn to the other low tide shot and its curvy foreground. I love the contrast between your last two images. The refinery is oddly beautiful with the light you found and then Rosario Beach brought me back to that place of serenity. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  9. I got a bit a feeling of room-travelling here ๐Ÿ™‚ It is interesting to get to know your personal surroundings, although you often report about them in your pictures. Yes, there is beauty to be found when you are open to it. True! Oil refineries, they can be frightening in this size. No one wants them, but then we shouldn’t use cars etc. right? But I like this refinery on your picture: the sunny yellow buildings look colorful especially against the dark grey sky. Industry can be interesting too. But here I prefer your pictures from nature ๐Ÿ™‚ The rythym of the grass is nice, the wilder ones as the straight one in #6. We talked about it, about the lines in nature, that are easier to detect for our fastidious brain ๐Ÿ˜‰ #7 is beautiful. I like the pictures from Rosario Beach best. The logs are great (deadwood :-). It is so inspiring I would love to work with it! And I love the spontaneous photos of the father and child playing with those pebbles! #11 has a sense of spring with all these warm colors (4 months to wait till the wildflowers bloom?! you need to be patient, haha). #17 is wonderful too, so harmonious.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s a lot that I leave out, like the refinery. Maybe some of these more prosaic locations will creep into the posts. The smoke stacks always look pretty at that refinery, I have to say. It’s an interesting area, with a few houses and pastures with cattle, but always in the background is the refinery. There are so any huge logs on the beaches here, it’s amazing. You have to wonder where they came from – some were cut but many just fell into the water somewhere and then drifted until they stopped. They’re like monsters. It’s fun to climb on them, as long as you’re careful. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The father and son – it was a very sweet moment to see. Those simple pleasures a parent can share quietly with a child are so valuable. That warm look in #11 occurs anytime the sun is out. We don’t have a lot of bare-branches trees. Most are evergreen so the overall look is green all year, except that there is so much gray weather. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Thank you Almuth…have a nice weekend…stay warm and healthy and happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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        • We have not had much variety – no snow, no ice, almost no frost. We had some damaging windstorms and the sun comes out from time to time but the temperature stays around 5-7C all the time. But I don’t think I can complain. Snow followed by rain is the worst! Yes, I would NOT want to go out in that weather!

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  10. You describe and show strange opposites. I know such things well from my everyday surroundings (fields and forests with a distant skyline of the industry of the Ruhr area), but I am always amazed at such a sight.ย  In the USA, thanks to my prejudices, I expect such contrasts even less, because you simply have more space than we do in densely populated Western Europe.
    Your pictures balance out the contrasts described in the text by gently taking back their colors.ย  The color photos also seem almost monochrome.
    My very favorite picture here is also one of the most colorful: the summer-like hiking trail near the shore (number 11) – that is a real longing destination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those contrasts have always fascinated me, too – I just don’t photograph the industrial milieu very often. You can be assured that these strange bedfellows are often seen in the US, particularly around and just outside of cities. The monochrome look is what I’ve been seeing a lot in the last two months, as we slog through winter. But then the sun comes out and if it’s late in the day you can rejoice in the warmth – if not the temperature then the colors. ๐Ÿ˜‰ On the day #11 was taken it felt really nice and warm in the sun, reminding me of spring, but it cooled down fast when I went back in the shade. Thank you, Ule.

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      • Thirty years ago, there was a time I often photographed industrial scenery, on film still. Some months ago, I found hundreds of negatives from that time which I thought were lost, and sent them to an online service to have them digitalized. I’ll post a series of them in not so far off future. But there won’t be beautiful nature as companion, I’m afraid.

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    • It’s good to hear you say the work invites more than one look – that reflects my preference for WP over Instagram and places where people scroll through everything at lightning speed. Thank you very much, Louis, and have a good weekend. I hope you’re staying safe and getting the vaccine soon if you haven’t already. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the pattern left by low tide in your first image. It makes for a wonderful foreground, leading us into the scene. I also like the intentional camera movement in #14. I joined a icm group online and the work has renewed an interest in trying some of these myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a surprise, about the ICM. I bet you’ll have fun with it. You certainly never know what you’re going to get! I’m glad you liked the first photo – those ripples or furrows always catch my eye but it’s one of those places that I’m usually driving past. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was good to stop the car, walk along the road and photograph it. I hope you’re keeping warm over there, Denise! Have a good weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s nice to hear, Otto. Well, the PNW is still here and waiting for you. We do subtle colors pretty well over here! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Who would have thought we’d be mired in this mess for so long? But Joe & I got lucky and received our first shots yesterday, which gives me a little hope. I know I’ve been lucky to be in such a beautiful place this year but as you might guess, it is more trampled than it used to be. Let’s hope we’ll both be back traveling before too long!

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  12. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : lanes and salt marshes | restlessjo

  13. Love the patterns in the mud flats and also the white sere grass in the second image surrounded by dried brown grass. Your comment about the oil tankers reminded me of shooting moose near Baxter State Park in Northern Maine with huge logging trucks barreling their way to a paper mill literally feet away as we set up next to the road. No such thing as a steady tripod as they bounced the road in passing. And who wouldn’t want to walk the trail in number 11 along Rosario Beach?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those juxtapositions make life interesting. Sometimes the human-made and industrial footprint is too much but other times, a little of it can make for a lively contrast, to my mind. Thank you, Steve, I hope you’re keeping warm these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Besides enjoying your tour in general, I really really liked many photographs in particular. What a wonderful sense of movement in #2. The hairy grass in the foreground looks like itโ€™s herding the light-colored grass, getting it to go in one direction while the twigs in back are hopping all around. Number 5 tells the story of trespassing; the elements in the photograph have a nice flow to them. I love the reflection of sky in the water of #7, but your composition invites wandering through the whole image. Youโ€™ve done it again with your shallow depth of field in #8. Whatโ€™s in back of the foreground grass is as important as the grass but in a different way. In #10 I like how youโ€™ve positioned the toppled tree, its snag, and the collection of lichens among the heavy sketching of all the branches. The little bits of red are an extra treat. I stayed looking at this one for a long time. The juxtaposition of the pebbles with the father and son (#13) is quite effective. I hope you do more camera sweeping (#14); this photo is a real beauty. I like the plaid of trees against striped sky and water in #15. Could anyone else make the refineries in #16 look beautiful? The light is fantastic, and the chimney things and storage tanks look like beads on a string.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have a great way of seeing the grasses in the second photo – it was that rhythmic movement that appealed to me. It’s good to hear that you stayed with that complex image of the rose bush stems and the fallen tree. Thanks for mentioning the father and son shown alongside the pebbles – I’ve learned that they’re cobbles, btw. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you appreciate the intentional camera movement photo that’s good because you have gotten very good at that technique. Plaid and stripes – cool. ๐Ÿ™‚ You would have no problem making great photos of the refinery – it often looks spectacular because there’s lots of empty, bright space around it and the stacks are always billowing steam. Thank you, Linda, thank you.

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