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Wanderings: The empty school down the road

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The weather today is chilly and rainy. Through the open window I see gray skies, listen to the symphony of water dribbling through gutters, joyous songbirds declaring the perfection of a gentle rain bath, the hiss of tires on wet pavement as cars drive by. This is a perfectly normal scene for an early June day in the Pacific Northwest. Lately, the rain feels like the only normal thing in our lives. Normalcy has been difficult to find during the past three months of sheltering at home. Springtime is a prime time to get outdoors and witness the world reawakening, growing, and blooming, and normally I'd have explored a few local trails during that time. I missed those explorations this year. I missed my annual trillium hunt . My witness of spring occurred on neighborhood walks and from the patio during afternoons spent in our tiny suburban backyard. And on one sunny May afternoon, I had an unexpectedly lovely time in the empty parking lot of a school down the road. I hadn't wanted

Wanderings: Seeking Spring (2020)

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Backyard trillium, 2018. A few days ago, I trudged around the corner of my house, trying to keep kindled the hope that had sputtered and dimmed as I traced this path over the past several weeks. Each previous trip had yielded the same disappointment. This is the last time I'll check , I told myself. Tiptoeing amidst the bleeding heart now going to seed, I bent down elbows-deep in sword fern fronds, gently parting them and searching the earth beneath. It wasn't there. My backyard trillium wasn't coming up this year. This little "forest garden" corner of my backyard - and at about 10 square feet, I do mean little - contains two sword fern, one Oregon grape, a happily spreading groundcover of bleeding heart, and two trillium plants that I had salvaged from a development site in the Issaquah highlands during a volunteer event with King County. Swooping in ahead of the bulldozers, we salvaged as many plants as we could, taking them home in buckets and plastic

Looking back at 2019

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As I sit here on the eve of a new year and reflect on the past year's adventures, scrolling through the hundreds of images captured on my camera in the past 365 days, I find myself questioning whether this year lived up to my hopes and expectations. In 2019, I had hoped to get outdoors and hike more. I had hoped to get back into writing more blog posts. I had hoped to get braver about taking my now-two-and-a-half-year-old son out on the trails. Did those hopes come to fruition? Nope. Work schedules made it difficult to plan hikes. Lack of free time, energy, and brainpower made blogging impossible at times. I'm still terrified of taking my son out on a long hike and potentially putting him in a situation where I might not be able to protect him. There are still obstacles to overcome, but this year I've found that rather than being frustrated with the limitations in this season of life, I've taken steps to make my peace with them. Rather than looking bac

Wanderings: Horsethief Butte

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On a hot late-August day, my sister and I pulled into an empty parking lot off highway 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. We intended to take short ramble around Horsethief Butte to stretch our legs and eat lunch before piling back into the car for the four-hour drive home to the Seattle area. I pushed the car door open and immediately felt the late-morning heat radiating from the asphalt underfoot. Dry hills rolled away, golden and grass-covered, in all directions. A handful of turkey vultures circled slowly over the rocky bluff beyond the empty highway, dark smudges against the blue sky. Jaw dropped in surprise, I turned to my sister and whispered in shock It's so quiet! It was the sounds, or at times the lack thereof, that most struck me during our visit to the Horsethief Butte area. Soles sticking on hot asphalt. Dry grass rustling against pant legs, dusty trail scuffing underfoot. This looked like prime rattlesnake territory, but thankfully that heart