LOCAL WALKS: Boundless

Lest anyone think I’m completely tone-deaf or have my head in the sand, I recognize the pain and despair caused by the horrifying mass shootings in this country. I’d like my readers outside of the U.S. to know that I’m deeply embarrassed by my country’s wrong-headed attitude about guns. When I think about parents with young children – even my own unborn grandchildren – I lament the fear and anguish in the face of the unthinkable they live with. One thing we can do is to bring some shred, some little piece of positivity into the world and offer it within our own sphere of influence. Whether it’s art, political action, or simply a listening ear and a hug, we need to counteract the evil.

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There’s a quote from Chuang Tzu (also called Zhuang Zhou or Zhuangzi) that describes how I feel sometimes when I’m outside: “Leap into the boundless and make it your home!” How’s that possible? I think that connecting deliberately to the precise place on earth where I am with all five senses can turn almost any place into a true home and an open, curious mind makes possible a leap into the boundless, the unexpected, the limitless.

Of course, having an open mind isn’t always that simple when the concerns of the day linger in one’s mind. I’ve noticed that it’s easier to let go of petty worries and irrelevant expectations now that I’m retired. Being older probably helps, too. When I worked full time I longed to spend more time outside and I would wait all week for the chance to visit a garden or wander through a park. I worried about the weather, too, and by Saturday my brain was crammed with needs and expectations – not the best mindset for relaxation and creativity! If that sounds familiar I hope you’ll go easy on yourself. Maybe you can take a minute to let all the ideas about what you want to do fall away when you’ve finally gotten your chance to enjoy yourself. There’s no need to do anything more than just appreciate what’s in front of you: your own life on this beautiful planet.

Fifteen photographs made on recent walks in familiar places

with camera in hand

and as little as possible in my head,

eyes up,

eyes down,

eyes all around.

Looking. It’s what we do

in our boundless homes

on earth.

1. I stepped outside one morning when the sun was shining and the air was fresh. Our Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) look great this year after a pretty wet spring. Watching the fronds unfurl day by day, week by week, is deeply satisfying.
2. Sword ferns have a peculiar growth habit you can see here, a downward droop and an upward push that happen at the same time. The plant in the first photo is further along. The first time I saw these oddly shaped fronds, I was taken aback. Ten years and thousands of plants later they still delight me. Sword ferns grow luxuriously here, carpeting the forest floor all year in bold, green fountains. (The colors aren’t realistic in this photo; I used an Adobe preset and made changes in processing).
3. Late one Saturday afternoon I took a walk on a little-used trail. I saw no one: perfect! The trail is short and doesn’t go anywhere interesting enough for most people. But the little hillside clearing at the end of the trail was magical that day. As many as a hundred nodding, brownish lilies were blooming with lush, green moss and bright yellow buttercups. Our chocolate lilies – Fritillaria affinis – don’t grow very tall and tend to disappear into the background because of their unusual coloration. I couldn’t make a good photo of the meadow but a single blade of grass from last year caught my eye.
4. Heart Lake Road cuts through a public forest near the middle of Fidalgo Island. There are two parking lots and several pull-outs for people planning to hike a trail or fish on the small lake. I chose a pull-out on the side of the road one day and stopped the car. As I got out and was locking the door I glanced across the road and saw this handsome male Wood duck (Aix sponsa) perched on a stump. Wow! These beautiful birds are here most of the year but are rarely seen. I didn’t have a very long lens and didn’t want to get closer for fear of scaring him so I photographed him from where I was and cropped later. Even with that stick in front of him, he was a pretty sight.
5. My favorite fern, Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) is infrequent on Fidalgo Island because our summers are too dry, except in places like this shady cliff with cool trickles of water from winter to spring. It seems there’s always a breeze and never much light where these ferns grow. I decided to go with it, letting the leaf tips blur and the background stay dark.
6. In mid-April on a lovely spring day when the Salmonberries were beginning to bloom, I saw this little insect and managed to get a photo. iNaturalist tells me this insect is in the Leaf beetle family, Chrysomelidae.
7. Across from a ship repair yard in town there are stacks of beautifully rusted metal pieces being stored. I like composing the shapes into neat rectangles.
8. A closeup of a metal support, with apologies to Linda Grashoff** who has made an art out of photographing the surfaces of dumpsters (among other things) and who inspires me to pay more attention to things like this.
9. Here’s a tiny wildflower, the Western spotted coralroot, an orchid that depends on fungi in the soil for nourishment. Multiple small flowers grow on thin, reddish stems about a foot in height. Corallorhiza maculata is blooming now in our island forests. Robert Frost’s poem, On Going Unnoticed uses this plant to talk about being overlooked but if you take the time to investigate the flowers, you’ll be unlikely to ever overlook them again.
10. This little guy is called a Grainy hermit crab. I photographed it underwater in a tide pool at low tide. I check the tide tables so I can poke around certain places when the tide is exceptionally low, something that tends to occur at new and full moons.

*

*

12. It was a sunny, windy day by the water, making photos difficult. I decided to show the wind by using a slow shutter speed (shutter priority, 1/6 second, F22). I focused in the middle distance to reveal some yellow flowers. The image was overexposed – I should have adjusted the exposure but it was getting late and I was ready to go home. I dragged the exposure down in Lightroom but kept the grass bright because that’s what I saw.
13. On another rainy day I went out just as the rain stopped. The Madrone leaves were kind enough to bead up the raindrops and hold them in place for me to see.
14. A single leaf of a Fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum) springs up from a bed of moss in a forest clearing.

15. A tangle of wild honeysuckle vines (Lonicera sp.) threads through the forest and catches the last rays of the setting sun.

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**You can find Linda Grashoff’s photos of dumpsters here.

The quote above is from The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu (ed. Columbia University Press, 1968) – ISBN: 9780231031479

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61 comments

  1. At a time when it seems that all of our senses are being bombarded with the horrible happenings all around the world, I find I have to take a break and become immersed in nature and shut all the rest out before it drives me mad. Your offerings are another sublime release. I always look forward to seeing what you present to us here… away from the cares and troubles… at least for a temporary respite.

    The ferns… oh those delightful ferns. Seems we can’t quite get enough of them (1 &2)
    That wood duck (4) is magnificent! What a glorious catch that was!!! We have them here, but they are extremely elusive.
    Ahhh… love the way the maidenhair fern shines out in (5). I’d call it a perfect capture!
    9- You’re capturing some marvelous and likely elusive orchids, too. I’ve never been lucky enough to glimpse this one even if it does extend into our neighborhood.
    Thank you, as always, for sharing your delight and discoveries in your wonderland up north! πŸ’ž
    Wishing you a happy week sliding into June (ALREADY!!!) 😳

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you had a respite from the insanity here, Gunta. I think our Wood ducks might be somewhat less reclusive than yours but still, one certainly doesn’t expect to see one perched so close to the road! He kept shifting his weight, too, because he couldn’t get both webbed feet completely on the stump. But he stayed a whil and wasn’t spooked by a guy fishing from a kayak who came quite close. The man didn’t even see him. πŸ˜‰
      I hope you do find a Coralroot one of these days. Maybe the woods around you aren’t quite wet enough. They’re easy to walk right past, too, because their colors blend in. iNaturalist shows a handful of observations near the top of Humbug Mountain and one near Patrick Creek and the Natural Bridges, south of Spruce Island.
      “Up north!” Well, kinda. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

      • Humbug is more of a challenge than I can handle these days. We’ll have to check out Patrick Creek. Both of those seem to be coastal areas. The orchids we’ve been finding have been up in the hills. A goodly climb in altitude with quite a different climate… snow, even!!! 😏 Sounds like I should check out iNaturalist, but I think I’ve been too forgetful or spaced out…. perhaps you’ve given me the nudge I needed. πŸ™

        Liked by 1 person

        • It can take a little getting used to but once you’re comfortable with it, it’s really fun to see what people are finding in your area. I get that you’d think forests are more likely for orchids but we’re surrounded by water so our Coralroots are never far from it, even though they’re always in the woods. They depend on certain fungi – I think it’s the same one that makes Russula mushrooms, the goldish or reddish ones with white flecks on the cap and white flesh (they’re a little like Amanitas but less bright and more common. I’m sure you’ve seen them around.). Here’s a good article about them from an organization in California:

          Click to access 0213-05.pdf

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  2. Apparently we take similar paths to endure the horrors of this world, dear Lynn. We try to focus on the simple things right here in front of our feet in order to be able to temporarily free our minds from all the oppressive things.

    I enclose here for you the translation of a text that I wrote in a similar state of consciousness as yours recently.

    content

    to life
    give in
    on ballast
    waive
    Β bad or good
    to limit
    on simple
    joy
    of now

    Your photos follow the same path: the small, the detail, the family … everything that seems tangible and understandable, that gives security and peace, attracts, surrounded by a friendly blur that hides the context.
    The Canada geese show us how it’s done.

    I hope, still, for our world, for our dreams of peace, for you and Joe. Love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Ule, thank you for the poetry. I used Google translate on the one in your post yesterday but their version made no sense at all. I think I get it now. The simple joy of now is easier to experience when we aren’t thinking in terms of good or bad, isn’t it? And it’s hard not to think in those terms when faced with the news these days. On the other hand, I find it pretty easy to lose all of that once I’m outdoors – thank god for that! Yes, the Canada geese show us. Don’t you love that little one with the big piece of sea lettuce? Yum! πŸ˜‰
      Dreams of peace? Perhaps for our grandchildren. I have doubts about how much better things can get in our lifetimes. I hope I’m wrong. Thank you for being here. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m always thankful for the opportunity to enjoy your great posts. How easy it is nowadays to get impressions from everywhere, even of an extremely cute little Canada goose, which I really find adorable.
        As you say: we won’t see a peaceful world in our lifetimes. But we can be happy finding a peaceful and quiet corner here and there.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s all out there if you take the time to look, isn;t it, Lynn? There is enough sorrow in our personal lives without wallowing in the woes of the world. Some things are impossible to understand. Gun madness…. why a ceasefire isn’t possible in the Ukraine? I prefer to hide behind my sunny walks, but it doesn’t make me unaware.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. beauty. loving those ferns and also all that splendid oxidation. oh, and the raindrop-clad madrone leaves, of course…

    β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺ
    β–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ferns are so much fun at this stage. Splendid oxidation, now that’s a good description! I love it.
      The overcast, rainy day look of the Madrone leaves must be familiar to you…that northern feeling, contrasty, with lots of bright growth. Or maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “just appreciate what’s in front of you”.. πŸ™‚ I could easily live with that! I truly hope that billionaires like Musk, Branson and Bezos hurry up with their space trip-ambitions and then invite all their rich friends and leave the Earth behind for something way better… And then we stay down here with what is left of the plants, the trees, the animals; and all of us would feel a lot more comfortable. πŸ™‚ Fine set, Lynn!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Sigh. Thanks for the respite from this cruel world, Lynn. Your eyes see nature’s gifts beautifully. The unfurling fronds are favorites, as you may guess. The wood duck is a great sighting, along with the tiny orchid, crab and the backlit madrone leaves- so good. And I visited Linda’s site and enjoyed her dumpster close-ups!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Jane, I’m glad you visited Linda’s site. Glad you enjoyed this post, too. Yesterday I found a different kind of coralroot orchid in a local park, the first of that species that I’ve seen anywhere since 5 yrs ago at Mt. Rainier. It’s so good to be able to get outdoors with the camera! Have a good day and thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you let the background go black for the Maidenhair fern. And the bit of trickling water is an extra treat. If you predicted that I’d go for #s 7 and 8, you were absolutely right. Thanks for the mention, tooβ€”and of course no apologies are necessary. Your command of focus and depth of field is so well documented in #9. What a lovely little flower to boot. I wonder if you would have had as lovely a photograph as you do in #12 if you had exposed β€œcorrectly.” It’s really nice. Number 15 pairs nicely with #3, which is pure Lynn. No one could ever think you are tone deaf, Lynn, and I agree that putting what positivity we can into the world is important. Your photographs serve that need.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You noticed the water with the Maidenhair fern. πŸ™‚ #9 is a Spotted coralroot. They’re really pretty little flowers…but yesterday I found 3 Pacific coralroot flowers in a local park, the first I’d seen in 5 years. I didn’t even know they grew here. I have to work on that DOF for those small flowers – it’s tricky. I’m glad you like the bright grasses…and #3 and #15 are from the same day. Thank you for the good words and for your appreciation of this world – none other! πŸ˜‰

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  9. I really appreciated the introduction about an incomprehensible reality in your country. And unfortunately itΒ΄s difficult to see a solution, when weapons are so ingrained in the tradition of nation. We’ll see which lobby is stronger….but I think I already know which one it is.πŸ™„
    It’s really a difficult and very sad subject.

    Moving on, I always really like this idea of ​​being present in the present and enjoying every moment. I always try to do that…….but I also have little plans/ideas in mind to do when I retire. I think it’s impossible not to have them!

    Regarding your photos and their captions, they are always a moment of pleasure for eyes and always the possibility of knowing some more details of this nature that cohabits with us.
    Thank you for sharing and I wish you a good week… of present moments!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Any solution will have to be multi-faceted, that’s for sure. Lobbying and money are big problems and so is the alienation so many people feel, and the lack of genuine support they get. Difficult and sad, yes.
      There’s no question that our minds are constantly busy with ideas and plans and various narratives but we try to let that go, right? And being in nature seems to be one of the best ways to do it. I’m so pleased to read your comment, Dulce, and I wish you a happy week, too.

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  10. There’s a certain irony here. I remember, back in my more active days, there was a saying to help relieve some of the stress; “don’t sweat the small stuff.” But yet, here it’s the small stuff, noted mindfully, that provides beauty and relieves some of the stress of recent craziness.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Great photos. I would never think you didn’t care. I just wish more people did. Or at least enough to go beyond’ thoughts and prayers’. The politicians that have taken so much money from the NRA and gun lobby as well as those that oppose any sort of common-sense gun laws because ‘they are going to take all our guns away’ have blood on their hands!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A lot of people must care, but so many feel powerless, I think. And I worry that people don’t seem to be able to think critically anymore, thus we have millions of people following empty ideas. And when will we take all that money out of politics?!?!? I agree, Howard, and it’s maddening.

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  12. You had me at the first sword fern. Gorgeous! And keeping our eyes on beauty and life is one of the ways we can keep sane and healthy in a broken world. No need to apologize for that. Thanks for sharing what you see.

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    • We try to be peaceful…it’s easier in a pretty place when you’re not hurting for food or a roof over your head when you’re not answering the bell every day anymore…I can’t complain, right? Thank you, Denise. πŸ™‚

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  14. I really love all that you’ve said here – It’s a constant dance isn’t it between appreciating the small moments, and as you say your own sphere of influence, and yet staying aware. I can get so distressed by some news, it makes me feel almost guilty for any pleasure I experience or even share. In those times I know it’s best for me and the world to retreat at times and focus on the things in my immediate world. I often remind myself that all these other delights, of nature particularly, are also our present reality – the beauty and immediacy of your fern frond isn’t diminished by the horrors of larger world events, it’s an important reality, the reality of other worlds within our human one..no idea if that makes sense but it’s how I get through these things sometimes! Your contributions are important and I for one appreciate them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being sensitive has drawbacks as well as gifts, right? That hint of guilt at not doing enough to fix the world and focusing on beauty is probably the same thing that motivated my first paragraph. I love the world too much not to get out there and enjoy it though. You too, I’m sure. Your comment is beautifully written, thank you very, very much. Take care!

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  16. Absolutely, we must also notice the positive & good, for that too is part of reality and gives us strength: both/and, not either/or. Love the sword fern unfolding pattern, I’ve been watching that here too and marvelling at its precision and distinctive angles; also love the Wood Duck, how can something so wildly exotic be right here paddling around in front of us?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s nice to hear you’ve been admiring the Sword ferns’ unfolding, too. They’re very happy this year, with all this rain and the cool temps. Your question about the Wood duck is what strikes me as well – what luck! They seem out of place. We’ll take it!! Good to hear from you, Penny.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I mentioned it before, I think I love every picture here. I can see and feel something special in everyone. I love the way you processed the fern in the 2nd picture. It has a wonderful depth, a bit of myth. The Maidenhair fern is wonderful too. I love the light you captured here. It must be these kind of angled leaves, that makes it so beautiful. The single blade of grass is such a wonderful moment of being, being there and enjoying. I think we think or see sometimes in a very similar way. Great minds think alike, right πŸ˜‰ Something like that catches my eyes too. 14 is astonishing and touching. This single leaf, already so nice! 15 is great. I am a big fan of lines and this coincidentally drawn picture of the vines is great. Another thing we share. The goslings are so cute, especially the one with the lettuce. So sweet πŸ™‚ And the duck is extremely pretty. I will stop in a minute πŸ˜‰ but I love 12! Wind in pasture, this is so beautiful and you captured it extremely well. I always want to touch and stroke it, when it looks like that. Marvellous πŸ™‚ What a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You dove in and had fun, thank you! You know, I hesitate to use the kind of processing used in #2 because, well, it’s hard to explain. I guess I always want to find a way to maintain realism but bring poetry to images, too. Many of the processing styles like that one seem too easy in a way – probably because that one began with a preset, a set of “instructions” that are applied automatically to an image. Then you can alter it if you want, which I did. These presets have strong styles, kind of like advertising. Do you know what I mean? It’s more challenging to start from scratch. You can see I’m conflicted! πŸ˜‰
      Of course, great minds…and I like what you said: This single leaf, already so nice. That sounds like zen or a haiku. The tangle in #15 is something I see all the time here but it’s very hard to photograph, as you can imagine. Coincidentally drawn, yes, like the vines are drawing in space. That’s why we both love it. There’s a certain freedom, too, in the way vines move through three dimensions, like birds. The light in #12 seems to me like the light I see in many of your photographs. Have you tried using longer shutter speeds and moving the camera, or letting something that is moving be blurry because of the slow shutter?

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      • I know what you mean about the processing, but I didn’t know anything about it, so I was unprejudiced πŸ˜‰ I thought it looked good. With another motive maybe it won’t work, but I liked it here. Conflicts can be productive, right πŸ˜‰
        From time to time I do. Sometimes I use the blur filter on the computer πŸ˜‰ I often use the automatic, but you are right, I should give it a try more often. You reminded me of pictures I made around christmas, where I moved the camera late at night while walking. Some were interesting. I think I have to look for them. I totally forgot about them – thanks! πŸ™‚

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  19. Love those ferns!

    Of course all of us who “know” you understand how you feel about the state of the States right now. I think focussing on nature is a great way to both escape and externalize less than happy situations. I generally no longer express my feelings about politics and some of the ramification those practices result in. It’s not that I don’t care, but I feel folks would rather get some relief from troublesome times and if my images provide that then I am providing a better service than ranting about thi or that. People will either agree or disagree and I seriously doubt anything I say will change anyone’s mind. In a way, I guess such a post would provide some “companionship” and support but I feel I’d rather share beauty.

    I like the concept of turning wherever we are into home. We tend to box ourselves in to either our specific living structure, immediate neighborhood, or group (tribalizing) when the Earth is our home and all the creatures our brethren.

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