Not Just a Walk in the Park

The city of Kirkland, a suburb sitting straight across Lake Washington from Seattle, isn’t the place you’d expect to find deep woods with giant trees and a lush abundance of native plants.  But an effort has been here made to preserve the land – at least some of it – and though logging took its toll long ago, the forest in O.O. Denny Park retains the green magic of a pre-suburban time. I like to wander along the narrow, muddy trail here, wide-eyed with wonder…

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There are giant Red cedars and Douglas firs and the forest floor is packed with Sword ferns. A rushing stream carves a deep V into the ravine, where salmonberries, Devil’s Club and trillium vie with moss and lichens for the narrow light streams filtering through the canopy. It thrills me that it’s all just blocks away from busy suburban streets.

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The park is named for the first white boy born in Seattle – Orion O. Denny. This was the Denny’s country place; later it was a camp. There is nice lake beach access, making it attractive to families in the summer, but I prefer the woods, the trilling wrens, the towering trees and wildflowers.

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One Douglas fir, “Sylvia”,  is 600 years old.  It measured 255′ tall before a storm broke off the top twenty years ago, and at about 27′  in circumference, it still impresses. (The little square at its feet is a plaque).

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The other day I saw the strangest thing in Denny Park –

I was a yard or so off the trail, facing into the woods. At my feet I saw a small red purse, zipped up and carefully wrapped in plastic, and stuffed into the cavity of a decaying branch on the ground. I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t bent down to inspect a wildflower. It seemed like it had been there a while, but I couldn’t be sure.

I was curious, but something made me leave it where it was…fear? propriety? Maybe both.

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O.O. Denny Park – a magical place…

IT’S IN THE DETAILS

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge – In the Details – is about the difference between capturing a whole scene – say a big view landscape – and its details.  Moss is everywhere here in the Pacific Northwest, making for fantastic Dr. Seuss trees, enchanting mystical rain forest scenes, and, when you look closely, amazing textures and colors.

These trees are on the side of a road, somewhere within 25 miles or so of Seattle – I don’t remember exactly where because it’s not uncommon to see trees completely covered with moss. Our moist, cool weather creates ideal conditions for it. People think of Seattle being on the West coast, but actually there’s a mountain range between us and the coast, and that, plus another one to our east, traps lots of moist air. And BTW, it does NOT rain all the time here – it’s cloudy and it drizzles intermittently. Real Seattlites go without umbrellas.

The strange mossy tree stump graces the Quinault Rain Forest, whose location down-slope from the Olympic Mountains and close to the coast means it receives about 140 inches of rain a year.

This is a Juniper haircap moss, Polytrichum juniperum, on Echo Mountain, a 900 ‘  rocky outcrop near suburban Seattle that harbors a bog and some rare wildflowers. These spore capsules are on female plants – the male plants are separate. This common moss grows on every continent, and has been used as a diuretic (that’s what Wiki says).

Take a step back…

I think this is Juniper haircap again, in the Quinault Rain Forest, a place that’s supposed to be too wet for it. Maybe I’m wrong. Mosses are complicated – the Seattle area has easily a hundred species or more, and you’d need a microscope to identify some of them.

Moss intermingles with lichens on every inch of these trees in Wallace Falls State Park, in the Central Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.

Back on Echo Mountain, moss takes on brilliant colors and supports an unusual spring wildflower, Sea Blush (Plectritis congesta).

At Bellevue Botanic Garden, across the lake from Seattle, ivy finds a comfortable place to anchor on a mossy tree trunk.

At a park nearby, looking up – instead of ivy, licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) has found a foothold in a lush bed of moss.

Speaking of lush beds of moss- this roof supports quite a load, and I bet there’s some inside, too! (On Whidbey Island).

More images that get Lost in the Details can be found here.

Mid-August

Mid August is almost here and you don’t need a calendar to know it. Earth holds its breath for a few days – everything is still, heavy with light and summer dreams, waiting to move forward into autumn.
 
A late afternoon elegy of sunlight breaks through the tree line along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, speaking of summer’s impending dispersion into fall.
 

This photo was taken (but sometimes I think they’re given to me) at a preserve near Woodinville, WA. I felt uninspired – glum, even. But I forced myself into the car and went searching  for a little deliverance. It came gradually:  a field of flowers, a jay, a wren, a creek, leaves, seeds…and color and light.