LOCAL WALKS: A Lake and a Forest in the Quiet Season

The lake is Heart Lake, a small, roughly heart-shaped lake on Fidalgo Island. The forest surrounds it. For a time the trees there were logged – but not all of them. Somehow a handful of giants missed the cut. The area was designated a state park but even so, a proposal to build condos around the lake was brought forward. That idea frightened the right people and finally, the lake and surrounding land received protection from the city of Anacortes. Now, this lush, precious green dot on the globe is preserved as community forest land.

That’s the story of what European-American culture has done here, but in no way is that the whole story. I invite you to enter into this landscape and recognize that part of you, a part that isn’t identified with any particular culture, knows this place. The plants and animals of Heart Lake breathe air and utilize water that travels ’round the earth. So do you. This isn’t a strange, exotic place. It isn’t “other” than you.

Give it a little time and this place will tell you a story beyond culture and words.

1. Feathery Western hemlock tree branches (Tsuga heterophylla) drift above a tangle of Sword fern (Polystichum munitum). February.

I delved into Heart Lake last year in a Local Walks post. This time I’m looking at the lake and forest between October and February, the quiet season.

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2. A subtle winter sunset over the lake. February.

3. Evening on the edge of the lake. February.

4. Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris). November.

5. Dried Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilimum). January.

6. A lichen-covered branch tip. January.

7. Picking my way through old-growth Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) trees near the lake. The biggest trees were growing here long before Europeans arrived. February.

8. Towering Western Redcedars (Thuja plicata). December.

9. It’s impossible to convey the size of some of these tress in a photograph. This redcedar has a hole big enough to crawl into, but its branches are green, growing high in the canopy. I can barely see them. February.

10. The tip of a Western Redcedar branch on the forest floor. How did that twig weave through it? February.

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12. Tiny lichens colonize the bark of a tree that fell long ago. February.

13. Old growth Douglas fir has thick, deeply furrowed bark with its own community of lichens, fungi, insects, spiders and other beings. February.

14. A lush undergrowth of Sword fern carpets the ground under a moss-covered Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) tree. The forest here is damp and remains green all year. February.

15. Berries cling to an Orange honeysuckle vine (Lonicera ciliosa). November.

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17. Snow on a Redcedar branch. February.

18. Snow shrinks from the margins of Salal leaves, flecks the hemlock branches, and weighs heavily on little arcs of spiderwebs in the tree bark. February.

19. Red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) loses its leaves gradually. November.

20. Young trees, old trees, and heaps of old wood on the ground create a healthy forest. February.

21. By November there’s very little left of the Yellow pond-lily (Nuphor lutea). The dark stem holds a chewed-up leaf.

22. Pond lily leaves and Douglas fir reflections at dusk. November.

23. Douglas firs stitch fine black lace edges across water and sky. February.

***

“More powerful than any industrial plant, communities of photosynthetic creatures rearrange the elements on a planetary scale. They know how to compose liveable, breathable, nourishing worlds. As they exhale, they compose the atmosphere; as they decompose, they matter the compost and feed the soil. Holding the earth down and the sky up, they sing in nearly audible ultrasonic frequencies as they transpire, moving massive volumes of water from the depths of the earth up to the highest clouds. They cleanse the waters and nourish all other life…

To say that forests and marine microbes form the โ€œlungs of the earthโ€ is an understatement. They literally breathe us into being. All cultures turn around plantsโ€™ metabolic rhythms. Plants are the substance, substrate, scaffolding, symbol, sign and sustenance…”

Natasha Myers: How to grow livable worlds: Ten (not so easy) steps for life in the Planthroposcene. From ABC Religion and Ethics, an Australian website for religious and ethics journalism and discussion.


95 comments

  1. Obviously you have chosen wintery, subtle colors, dear Lynn, but the red cedar twigs do not always play to your liking. Fern and moss also have a lot of green power. You even have the first leaves and flowers, while almost everything here has disappeared under a 40 cm thick blanket of snow. I have never felt such a strong contrast between your area and mine as in these days, although you have tried to get a little snow into your pictures. This feeling of opposition also exists against your words, which just swear that we breathe the same air, drink the same water, since everything is connected with one another. I nod and am convinced – and yet feel winter with us and spring in your pictures. But that’s not mutually exclusive.
    For me, the most beautiful photos here are number 5 and number 19. They are so unreal and fairytale-like in their shades of gray and fit so strangely to the words of Natasha Myers that you quote at the end. Precious blog jewelry again, dear friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I tried to get a little snow into the post – yesterday we had just a bit so I went over there. My fingers froze! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Tomorrow night we’re supposed to get more but it will be followed by rain next week so it won’t last. I guess the difference you’re seeing is between being near the water and being inland. All the water around the island moderates the temperatures. Difference and oneness – it’s a good conundrum to think about.
      I’m glad you feel the magic in those images – you know I enjoy that look, a wide-open shutter, lots of bokeh…and then it’s fun to see how far you can take it in processing. That they fit with the quote at the end does make sense. You can see in the post how I’m always of two (at least!) minds – gravitating toward the poetic and the matter-of-fact. But if it turns into precious blog jewelry then I feel lucky!! Thank you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I would like to go back to some pics. I originally looked at them on my phone.

        1 very rich and full
        2 Very nice, you will beat postcard motifs by far
        3 The blue of the sky prevails
        4 Almost graphically
        5 powdery
        6 whiskers
        7 Very archaic
        8 strange tree color
        9 That the tree will survive this ?!
        10 lovely symmetrical and fresh
        13 Young and old
        14 Very different greens
        16 Same here
        19 Classic
        21 Plastic in a way
        22 Japanese art, only darker
        23 On the water we see a larger area of โ€‹โ€‹the sky

        Thank you again, Lynn ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • I beat the postcard motifs, good! I do struggle with that sometimes. ๐Ÿ˜‰ #4 – the graphic look, where nature-based photographs lean in toward the abstract, is something that appeals to me. I appreciate that you see that here. #7 – I too see an archaic, primitive look here – you would see it if you were in the presence of the old trees. ๐Ÿ™‚ #9 – yes, they do! The core can die and the outer parts will still transport what the tree needs and support its weight. Crazy, right? #14 – the Sword ferns seem to have different greens because of the angle we see them from. When light hits them directly it tends to have a blue-green cast, but from other angles, the green has more yellow in it. It’s interesting! In #16 I think the different greens are because the photos were taken at different times, in a different light, maybe even with different lenses. #21 – yes – it has a strangely plastic look. I see that. #22 – I was aware of the Japanese look. Thank you very much for this stream-of-consciousness reaction to the images, Gerhard. I enjoyed it!

          Liked by 1 person

        • As a macro photographer, I am of course also familiar with the postcard motifs and the inner struggle with them.
          I even apologized in advance when I showed something like that with flowers.

          Your photos are special,
          Terefore they deserve a closer look and evaluation. Whenever I have the time, I do it.

          Kind regards
          Gerhard

          Liked by 1 person

    • Feeding the soul is a good thing, thank you for saying that. It’s good of you to let me know…and it’s true that it’s beautiful here, but beauty can be found everywhere. Bit’s of nature, I like that! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I do so much look forward to you taking us on your walks, and this one is another gem, Miss Blue. From the tiny berries to the mammoth red cedars, and the beauty in between.
    And I love it when you go Ansel Adams like #20.
    Thank you, and stay safe.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you came with me, Don! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Tiny berries to mammoth trees, that’s it! I love that scale. I appreciate your compliments and kind words. Stay warm and healthy, OK? I’m doing the same, don’t worry. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice post, Lynn.Your direct connection of the lake and forest to each of us is a good reminder of the importance of these places to our existence. It is so nice to see ground with colors of green and brown {although you know I like the B&Ws too}…I primed myself for an early spring only to be hit by the edge of the polar vortex. Each photo says it’s name and tells its story. Beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, you (and so many others) have really been hit! We’ve been below freezing all day long, even here. It’s keeping us on our toes, right? I’m glad you liked the super-saturated greens – they are intense here. In the middle of summer, you have to look a little harder for them though. I love what you said about the images saying their names and telling their stories. A deep bow to you…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful. I see in the comments, Ule Rolff was drawn to 5 & 19, and so am I. The ferns in 5 look so inquisitive, reaching out through that gray fogginess, or maybe just performing a bit of graceful hand ballet to feel the mist. And the leaves in 19 are so faint they almost appear to be translucent lenses, very delicate and nice. I like the righthand shot in 11, too, the stump has a great Cubist thing going on. And 22, can’t put my finger on a description, but the lily pads in the dark park of the water seem to be floating off, very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once again you’ve given my image an interesting life…a graceful bit of hand ballet to feel the mist, nice! That tree broke up like a Cubist’s dream, yes. ๐Ÿ˜‰ In #22 what drew me to take the photo was the play of how the leaves look on the dark water vs. how they look against the tree reflections, and I think that altered the perspective to make it seem like some of them are floating. Thank you for your thoughts, Robert – I hope all’s well with you these days.

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  5. Hooray for saving Heart Lake and its surroundings.
    That’s a nice treatment of the many ducks with the dark forest in the background. And there are the doubly dark trees reflected in #23, with contrasting brightness from the sky in several places.
    Did you do any closeups of the little spiderweb arcs in the tree bark?
    Plants flowering in February: I thought that was the province of places further south, like Texas (which, unlike its usual self, is enduring a sustained Arctic blast now). All those little lichen disks ornament #12.
    And how about the filigree branching of the western red cedar in #10?
    In #13 the lighter green of the lichens complements the darker green of the leaves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t sure the duck image worked well enough to include, so it’s good to read your positive comment about it. That lake tends to be very still, with great reflections – except when the diving ducks are going after a meal! ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried photographing the spider webs themselves and it didn’t work. Maybe another time. And yes, the Indian plum always gets started in February. It’s great to see it. Our spring is very long and drawn out – it doesn’t really warm up until July! I was concerned reading about what’s going on in Texas – lots of damage from ice on trees, right? That’s tough! It seems we keep having extreme weather events. The lichen discs are so interesting, aren’t they? I’ve only recently become aware of them. Thanks for your keen eyes, Steve. Stay warm!!

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      • The ice brought down a bunch of tree limbs in our yard, and we began Valentineโ€™s Day by having the power go out about 20 minutes ago. Yesterday it was out at least half a dozen times. They say we may have snow today or tomorrow and the temperature wonโ€™t have been above freezing for several days in a row.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I knew from the first picture that I was going to thoroughly enjoy the selection. It captures the sense of place so beautifully. I shall never be able to go there but thankyou for taking me with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that’s so nice to hear, Louis. I confess I played with that one a lot, but it was all in the spirit of conveying the feeling and it sounds like it was worth it. I promise to continue taking you for walks here! Stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The whole collection is wonderful, but Iโ€™ll comment on just a few of the photographs. I love all the colors in #1 and the composition with the relatively short ferns in front and the larger trees behind. Itโ€™s a calming scene; makes me take a deep breath. I wonโ€™t ask how you got #5 because it doesnโ€™t matter. Itโ€™s mysterious. I like the curved line that goes from the tip of the front fern frond to the tip of the one furthest back, or vice versa. Iโ€™d say you did a good job conveying the giant size of the red cedar in #9. The gash is interesting. Where I live (northern Ohio) we donโ€™t see much greenery with snow in February, so #18 is a special kind of treat. Oh, the delicacy of the twigs and leaves in #19โ€”made all the more interesting by your signature bokeh. The light in #22 is especially lovely. Thank you, Lynn, for this refreshing walk in your shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, lots of colors in #1 and a bit of softness…I’m glad you didn’t think I went off the deep end there. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The original photo for #5 is quite different from the end result, thanks to LR. I can email you the file. It’s all about curves sometimes, right? I lust after those curves. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know what you mean about eastern/midwestern winters. There is a tremendous amount of green here all year long, even if it’s snowing. I’m glad you liked the Red huckleberry leaves – it’s a very delicate plant and I love photographing it. I’m glad you came along, Linda…one day, in person…we can dream!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • As I said to your fellow Brit, Louis (above) I played around with #1 but it was all in the spirit of transmitting the feel of the place. I wasn’t quite sure about #20 so it’s good to hear that one spoke to you, my friend. Stay safe and have a good week! Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. always want to be there Lynn…especially these past weeks of harsh temperatures but it looking better this week…I love the greens…today I’m drawn into the delicacy of the Red huckleberry…so pretty ~ smiles and joy your way ๐Ÿค—โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ซhedy

    Liked by 1 person

    • The temp feels rather harsh here, too, but I know it’s nothing like what you have up there. I’m glad it’s looking a little better…spring isn’t quite right around the corner for you but it WILL come. We actually have maybe 15 or more cm of snow today!! So glad you liked the Red huckleberry image. That delicacy is easy to walk right past but I love to photograph it.

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  9. Hi Lynn, Your post shows the diversity in the landscape so well. Your opening and closing shots set the sense of place and your close-ups show the intimate beauty of this area. I love your mirrored reflections. The monochromes of the dried bracken fern and the huckleberry are wonderful along with the lush greens in the moss in 7 and 13. Wishing you a great weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Penny! It may not be the biggest park around but it is a choice one! There aren’t very many low-altitude/sea level old-growth remnants left. It’s a treasure and so were the people who saved it. I appreciate you b eing here. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I like the idea of โ€‹โ€‹universality of air and water, vital elements for all beings on the planet. And that circulate in it, as Lynn remembers so well.
    About this place, both the lake and the forest are really magnificent, as well as the photos. They reflect well the tranquility of the walk and also the tranquility of the photographer.
    Thanks for sharing and I wish you a nice Sunday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are almost the only person who said something about the writing and the ideas I tried to convey. Thank you so much for that, Dulce. The ideas are important to me but they easily get lost when people look at the photos (I am not complaining about that!!) It would be hard to be anxious for long in that forest. I’m glad you enjoyed the images and I wish you an excellent Sunday!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Words that express interesting ideas or more personal emotions cannot be ignored or overcome by the impact of images, however fascinating they may be.
        Because, in our life too, we cannot connect only to what the eye catches, but also to what is not directly shown but which is associated or underlying.
        However, in the blogosphere, I already realized that, in general, the image “wins” in relation to ideas … just as “wins” always the one that gives less work and is faster.
        This is the “quick and easy” world we live in, isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s true, we are all in a hurry, myself included. At least in WP there’s a chance that people will really pay attention. Instagram promotes a very superficial look at images, I think. I’m slowing down right now after a walk in the snow. It feels good. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Beautiful photos and the detailed images are perfectly chosen. They do make the story universal. It could have happened in many countries around the world.
    I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say you love nature very much too.

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  12. Beautiful photos and the detailed images are perfectly chosen. They do make the story universal. It could have happened in many countries around the world.
    I don’t think I’m mistaken when I say you love nature very much too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Alison…I’m glad, and it’s a miracle those big trees are still there. At sea level, very few pieces of old-growth forest like that remain. I’m reading about logging on Vancouver Island now…what a story, what a struggle!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t expect to come out here all those years I lived in New York City until I flew to Seattle for a vacation – after that, it was time to move out here. So maybe you will get here one day, but meanwhile, I’m more than happy to be your eyes! Thanks so much, take care and stay healthy!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Talking to the trees | restlessjo

  14. I like what you wrote at the beginning, in the second section after That’s the Story.. Your words are so true! What strikes me most in this post are the big trees. They have something strong and protecting. No wonder, indigenous people often speak of mother earth or of mother and father in relation to nature. And the last sentences from N. Myers remind me of so many Myths of creation (Schรถpfungsmythen) from people / nations all over the world. One can see how they developed their ideas of genesis (I hope I use the right words here ;-). I love the lush green of ferns and mosses, that are so jungle like. My favourite picture in black and white is #19. So tender and poetic, almost like a drawing. # 5, 6, 7 and 13 are wonderful and the lichen is cute!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good, I’m glad my musings meant something to you. ๐Ÿ™‚ What you said about the connection between the quote and various creation myths makes a lot of sense! Yes, your words are right. Ferns and mosses provide a year-round tapestry of green in these woods (oh, except now, when they’re covered with snow!). I love your reaction to #19 – like a drawing, tender, poetic – that’s just what I tried to do, I think. Thank you…let’s hope the biggest trees live for another hundred years. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  15. “Be fruitful and multiply” is probably my least favorite piece of biblical advice. What almost happened to Fidalgo Island and has happened to so many beautiful natural locations gives good reason for that. Our human drive to populate is a pox on the planet. But that is human nature…if only our kind would be satisfied with keeping the population balanced rather than going overboard in our procreation. Add to that human greed and the landscape suffers. What a dour fellow I am. ๐Ÿ˜€

    That first image is all it takes for me to wish I lived closer. So much beauty contained therein. And then followed by so much more. I do have a favorite, heightened by my appreciation of your creative eye,..”Dried Bracken Fern” is so ethereal and lovely. The fronds are dancing and happy, dried or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s interesting that you respond to the first photo because I made more changes to it than I often do. It’s kind of a chaotic scene without a good focus. I softened areas, I used pretty strong (for me) split toning in LR to bring out the colors, etc. But the goal was to make a decent photo that conveyed the feeling of the place and I guess that worked. ๐Ÿ™‚ You must know Bracken fern – it’s easy to pass by because it can seem weedy but the fronds can be so graceful. That image went through very radical changes, but again, it was a way to convey that lovely curve at the tips that caught my eye. Thanks so much, Steve, I appreciate your comment.

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