LOCAL WALKS: Preserve Pleasure

1.

A play on words:

I find pleasure at a nature preserve.

Thankful the land was preserved,

I return repeatedly,

my pleasure thus preserved.

Treading lightly, respectfully,

I help preserve the preserve

for the pleasure of all beings

who live and visit here.

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2. Western redcedar and vernal pool.
3.

Certain places become touchstones: we discover an appealing place, explore it, find pleasure there, and return many times. The site gains prominence in our personal lexicon of landscapes. A placid lake surrounded by a conifer forest became such a place for me shortly after I moved to Fidalgo Island. I hadn’t known that decades ago, a group of far-sighted people protected about 2800 acres (1132 ha) of forest land in the center of the island, preserving the area for passive recreation. Once I learned about the Anacortes Community Forest Lands, I began exploring them. Soon I found a touchstone at a place called Little Cranberry Lake. The forest around the lake abuts residential streets packed with one-family homes but it still feels blissfully serene, thanks to thousands of trees that march across the hilly terrain, right up to the edge of the lake.

Just what is the pleasure that I find at the preserve?

It’s the surprise of a water snake swimming in gently swaying S curves, the drama of dozens of blackened trees recovering from a fire, and the white hush of an unexpected snow shower in March.

It’s the slow motion of wavy reflections in calm water and the delight of orchids pushing through soft layers of moss and lichens.

It’s the solid feeling of my own two legs striding down a forest trail or jumping from rock to rock.

It’s the muffled buzz of a Chestnut-backed chickadee and the knowledge that I’m free to go where I choose, at my own pace in this sheltered, serene place.

4. Pond lily leaves emerge from the wetland.
5. One afternoon in 2019, an early spring snowfall took me by surprise. As a whitened sky passed its bounty to the earth all became quiet – the only sound was the light tap of snowflakes landing on leaves.
6.

For a few years, I was in the habit of going to Little Cranberry Lake in the afternoon for a walk along the lake and up into the hills. I had a favorite circuit: cross the tip of the lake, follow a trail around a finger of downed, half-submerged trees, and fork left to climb a hill studded with massive rocks. At a small opening near the top of the hill, I would pause to admire a few old Madrone trees and photograph wildflowers set against pale, gray-green pillows of reindeer lichen. Then I would head back down and return to my starting point by tracing a rock-strewn trail along the lake’s edge. I would gaze at dozens of tall, dead tree trunks dotting the shallow lake and wonder what plants grow on the boggy island in the middle of the lake. Stepping from rock to rock, studying reflections of tree branches, and looking for wildlife, I often entered a blissful, meditative state. On summer days I wouldn’t get back to the parking lot until close to dusk. Sometimes I varied the route and explored the other side of the lake. Always, the preserve offered pleasure and peace.

Then I began seeing broken glass in the parking lot. People were taking advantage of the isolated location and breaking into locked cars to steal anything they thought they could sell. With regret, I stopped using the north lot and switched my Little Cranberry Lake walks to the forested wetlands and beaver ponds south of the lake. Access to that section is from a parking lot on a busy road, where break-ins are less likely. It’s been interesting to explore a different part of the preserve but I’ve missed my lakeside walk. Until a few days ago I thought I would have to walk an extra mile each way to get to the trails I used to enjoy. But I found out there are places on residential streets where you can park safely and enter the woods near the lake. I tried it last week. It was good to walk in those woods again, and good to know I can revisit the lake easily. There are many other trails in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands to explore, and another 2000 acres (809 ha) of state, county, and city parkland on the island so there’s no reason to complain! But I grew very fond of Little Cranberry Lake over the course of those first years living here. You can see why in these photographs, all made during the time when late winter transitions to early spring, from 2019 to 2023.

*

7. Lake reflections and intentional camera movement; reflections of cedar boughs, and reflected sedges.

*

8.
9. Puddle abstract.
10. A view across Little Cranberry Lake.

***

On this Spring Equinox day of new beginnings, it might make sense to formulate an intention to support the preservation of nature in any small way we can. I’ve been reading an excellent book called “On Time and Water” by Icelandic writer Andri SnΓ¦r Magnason. He asserts that although earth’s problems have reached a scale we find extremely difficult to comprehend, “…it’s possible to nudge the world. That the world is not just an out-of-control and meaningless flood, always in flux; it can be influenced, can be steered in the right direction. Our purpose is to be useful, to make a difference, to increase knowledge, to point the world in the right direction if it’s off course.”

***

11. Swamp lanterns (Lysichiton americanus) brighten the wetland for a few weeks.
12. The city once logged this land for income but now it is protected.
13. Stumps serve many purposes. Beginning life on a nursery stump gives trees more light, an advantage in a dim, conifer-dominated forest. Eventually, the stump will completely disappear under the growing tree. Western hemlocks (Tsuga heterophylla) often begin life this way.
14. Deer are plentiful on the island but I don’t often see handsome bucks like this one.
15.

*

16. Plentiful moss (left), evergreen plants like Sword fern and Dwarf Oregon grape (middle), and some aquatic plants (right) add green to the landscape all year long.

*

17. The modest Osoberry (Oemleria cerasiformis) blooms very early in spring.
18. Moss spore capsules, wet from the rain.
19. This iPhone photo from a few days ago was made while I sat on a rock and gazed across the silent lake. A lone merganser and two cormorants were the only birds to be seen.
20. The subdued, mid-January sun sets behind the clouds at Little Cranberry Lake.

***


56 comments

  1. Dear Lynn
    beautiful pictures of a beautiful area like always.
    We are lucky, as we live in a kind of security zone. As quite a lot of rich and famous folk living here, the police has a special eye on it. Nevertheless, years ago the locked outboard of our boat got stolen.
    Thanks for sharing πŸ™ πŸ™
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lovely scenes as always, first to last. The branches and leaflets in the first one have such a nice delicate feeling. And the skunk cabbages have a great cheerful display going on, I guess a spring Lantern Festival instead of winter. I particularly like #18 – – these tiny, alien-looking capsules being extended out, as I guess they did before there were ever dinosaurs or even ferns, very cool.
    So glad to hear this lake area has been conserved or preserved. Which has planted an idea, both of those terms are also used for fruit jams, time for a PBJ sandwich, see ya.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The wiggly branches in the first photo are our native Red huckleberry bush, which produces nice berries that the birds almost always get before any humans can. I’m very fond of the crooked, green branches and twigs. Love the idea of a spring lantern festival! About a fifth of this island has been preserved, which is a very good thing because the pressure is on – lots of people move up here from California, for example, and they build big new houses. Good to hear from you, Robert, PB&J forever!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A wonderful set of photos, Lynn. I particularly like #17 and #18. Your use of shallow DoF is beautiful, especially with highlights in the background. Another favorite is #13. The exposed roots of the tree are a terrific subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I may have said a while ago that shallow DoF is the main thing that prompted me to get a “real” camera years ago to replace my point-and-shoot. More than anything, that’s what I wanted to do. When II got the Oly 60mm macro I went for it so it’s gratifying to read your comment. Nursery stumps are common in the forest here but they’re usually surrounded by so much “stuff” that it’s impossible to photograph them clearly. And the forest is quite dim so anytime I can make a clear photo of one, I’m pleased. Again, thank you!

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  4. Your photos, as always, are gorgeous and this writing is luminous “…the white hush of an unexpected snow shower in March. It’s the slow motion of wavy reflections in calm water and the delight of orchids pushing through soft layers of moss and lichens…” And I’m especially encouraged by the passage you included from Magnusson about it not being too late to “nudge” our dear planet. Wonderful post today. Thank you.

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  5. Return many times” is the key to creating such a particularly intimate place. Only when we return again and again to prove our love does the place become ours.

    I have never seen this process be shown in such a credible and heart-rending way as here in your pictures. They prove that you have every right in the world to feel the lake and its surroundings are yours.

    And how painful it must be to be driven out of there by the behavior of other people. Once again the “ideal world” destroyed by people, if only because the feeling of being safe there is destroyed.
    There is so much we must preserve. And always, always from humans. Why are we like this?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All intimacy is achieved only through continuity. There is always something new to discover in each new contact, dialogue, look, sharing, gesture, etc.
    In the paths of nature, the process will not be much different: the more traveled, the more intimate and present. It is from this closeness and gaze that the beautiful details are born, so well represented in this post in images and words.
    Many congratulations on such a beautiful set of photographs!
    How happy these places must be to have you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful photos that together convey your love of this place. I was taken by the brightness of the swamp lanterns and the subtle beauty of shot 18 in particular πŸ™‚ And like the idea that we could nudge the world in a better direction, although I fear a lot of us need to be nudging, not just a few.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have keen eyes, Sarah, and I really appreciate your thoughts about the photographs. As for the nudging, it’s all too easy to feel despair but that book does provide a slightly more hopeful frame of reference. Check it out if your stack of to-be-read books isn’t already too high.

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  8. The art of seeing the beauty with miracle eyes. I could label favourite images, yes number 7, 9 ….. 18 etc. but what I perceive through the images and words are the wide-open eyes behind the camera.

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  9. All splendid, thank you, a portal to so much further rumination. Thank goodness for “friends of…” the groups of tetchy, stubborn citizens who rise up to start protecting something vulnerable — and then, with a bit of luck and the stars in helpful alignment, cause assorted corporate & political interests to put their muscle behind it as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, in fact, the city owned the land and was logging some of it for income. When a group of local residents found out, they were furious and formed exactly that – “Friends of the Forest.” And the rest is history. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love your answers to ‘Just what is the pleasure that I find at the preserve?’ Your answers provide us insight into your experience! My picks for this post are #1 and #8. They are similar ideas but very different outcomes. Delicate and spring-like for the first, and graphic and moody for the second. Going back to favorite places that speak to us allows us to be intimate with the location and create unique, intimate images … as you have shown!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Including that paragraph came to me as I was walking around somewhere…I realized that would bring it more to life…these posts have to marinate for a while. So it’s good to read your comment (i.e., someone noticed!) πŸ˜‰ And your comment about the photos is interesting. I’m very drawn to trees but specifically to branches – I even use that as a keyword! Now I’m thinking a little more deeply about what this attraction to branches is and how I might make a post using it – thanks to you. Thanks so very much, Denise.

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  11. The subtle color and composition in the first of the three reflections in 7. really draws me in. It brought back memories of the fine strands of peacock feathers in a large, vibrant jewel-toned turquoise glass vase as they spread against the off-white wall in my mother’s bedroom when I was a child. It fascinates me how different items in nature – sometimes vastly different in type and setting – mimic one another’s forms.
    A beautiful post! I also enjoy the way you describe how you enter in to find pleasure among the various aspects of the natural place you love. I’ve met folks who don’t understand why anyone would want to go to these places. They imagine it would be boring. Your narrative invites them in, I think. Provides guidance to make the magic accessible. Perhaps I take such invitation and guidance for granted, that I was freely and abundantly given all my life by my family. It’s a gift you’re giving here, for some who may have missed the possibility of this way of seeing and being. Thanks, as always for the moments of tranquility and pondering.

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    • It’s really intriguing that those three subdued images could bring to mind such a colorful memory – but it was something about the repeating patterns, I guess, Whatever it was, it is utterly fascinating! Thanks for telling me, that makes me happy. This is why we show images, to spark something, and hopefully something pleasant. πŸ˜‰
      What you say about finding pleasure outdoors is interesting, too. I’ve thought about how some people just don’t have a feeling for it. That’s OK. It takes a lot of open-mindedness on my part to say that because part of me wants to say that everyone desperately needs and is greatly benefited by time in nature. But we’re all different. Anytime I can invite someone in though, that’s powerful. My family fostered an appreciation of nature, too, but of course that’s not everyone’s experience. I suspect most people – maybe all – who are here are already in that camp but I will keep inviting people in, to the best of my ability. Thank you again, Sheri, for your interesting, perceptive comments.

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  12. Yes, I understand very well why you love your path so much! I am glad you found a way to return. All photos are beautiful. I could choose a few as my favourite pictures, but all of them are so nice, so I won’t make a list here. 7 is a wonderful series, I love it, and 6 reminds me of a picture from an impressionistic painter from last century. What you wrote about your favorite path reminded me of my little path behind the house. The one that has been “renewed”. I loved this short path, it was only a few metres, but it was a little wilderness with lots of wonders like long-tailed tits and squirrels, both moving close over my head, moss and dead treetrunks and more. I still miss it from time to time, when I think of it, how it was. As you said, one can’t complain, but it was special to me too. I like what the icelandic author said and I agree. Too often we forget about it, at least me. So: Lets go for it πŸ™‚ You made a good start!

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    • Hi Almuth, I’m glad this reminded you of your path. It’s the same thing that we experience, isn’t it? I hope the changes they made to your path grow in more this year so it gets a little wilder again. Thanks for what you said about #6 – I was really happy with that one. It was an extraordinary afternoon. I had no idea it was going to snow. It got chilly and then there were flakes, then more flakes, and everything turned into a magical wonderland. I’m pleased that the three photos in #7 appeal to you, too. Patterns! Structures! πŸ˜‰ Have a good weekend!

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  13. Your clever play on preserve set the stage. I found this to be completely meditative and I felt relaxed as I clicked on your images, Lynn. I lingered over the trio in #7, especially the cedar boughs…beautiful. And how lucky to be there to capture the snow flurries with their painterly textures. Stunning. Thoroughly enjoyed walking with you. 😊

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    • The quiet of the first three months of the year is something I appreciate more and more. It gets under your skin. I’m glad you felt it – thanks for stopping by, Jane. It’s been anything but quiet where you are and it looks like there’s yet another round of rain coming your way – well, if it lets up for long enough to go out with your camera, it’s sure to be a great wildflower season. πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks, Alison. The dark months are really very appealing and it’s always good to know what you’re trying to communicate actually gets across. πŸ˜‰ I hope you have enjoyed the sun lately though – there’s a time for everything, right?

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  14. I found number 5 very peaceful, calming, and nicely composed. Great opportunity and capture of the buck. Handholding freed you to get that where a tripod might have missed the shot (assuming that I am correct about that assumption).

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  15. Nice local walk; somehow feels ‘familiar’.. I like the fresh, green joy in nr1; I like the dark contrast in nr2; I like the Seurat-feel in nr6; I like the left one in nr7 most likely because I have a very familiar shot..; I like the trees around the trunk in nr12; I like the Yin-Yang feel in nr15; I like the Red-Green tiny ones bowing their heads in nr18; and the Silence in the last one. Too bad that the parking feels unsafe these days. Looking forward to your next visit there. See you!

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