Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

This alder's golden leaves were stunning against a deep blue autumn sky.
"The days may not be so bright and balmy—yet the quiet and melancholy that linger around them is fraught with glory. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell—some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power."
~Northern Advocate
We're well into the fall season now with foggy mornings, shorter days, and breezes that bite our nose and cheeks a bit more sharply. Forested hillsides are burning orange and gold in the slow smolder of autumn. Although this is a season wherein we bid farewell to pleasant summertime things like migratory birds and their cheerful songs, endless daylight, and leafy green boughs casting shade on hot afternoons, there's something about autumn that ignites a sense of warmth, joy, and inward reflection that we look forward to every year as those leaves begin to blaze with color and flutter gently to the ground.

That autumn "glory" is defined differently for each of us, and might be found in the form of warm sweaters and hot cider, pumpkin patches and mud, hiking into the high country seeking golden larches, strolling through a city park along a wet sidewalk papered with yellow and orange maple leaves... but regardless of the means, we all end up in the same place: fleeing to the outdoors to enjoy the delights of the season that particularly speak to our individual hearts.


I have been slacking on my adventures and blog posts lately, as I recently purchased my first home and moved just last weekend. Now that the dust has settled, I'm looking forward to exploring my new homeground in Snohomish County and sharing more Musings and Wanderings... and after the big move, I think I'm feeling a "Going Green: Environmentally Mindful Moving" post coming! Stay tuned for that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

My best attempt at a minimalist nature scene, taken a few years ago in the Snoqualmie Valley.

The past several weeks, we've been focusing more on the inspiring aspects of nature, but this week let's take a dip in the calming and refreshing side of things. Mother Nature Network recently shared a gallery of minimalist nature photos that are as calming as a massage and refreshing as a dive into cool water.


This article is intended to give tips for photographing minimalist nature scenes, but if that's of no interest to you, just do what I did and ignore the words, and feel your heart rate lower and breathing deepen as you scroll through the images. And then, perhaps, take note of the simple, calming beauty of a nature scene outside your window... these are available anytime you need a nature break during the day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

Immature male Anna's hummingbird - a frequent visitor outside my window. Lainey Piland photo

I recently discovered via social media that this week is National Wildlife Refuge Week, so I thought we'd mark the occasion accordingly here for Nature Nerd Wednesdays. The United States contains more than 560 wildlife refuges, providing vital habitat for thousands of bird, fish, amphibian, and plant species, hundreds of which are endangered.

Some wildlife refuges are open to the public, and there's one here in Washington State that I hope to visit soon: the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Olympia. I've driven past this place more times than I can count, but have never visited. Here's a film from Wild Northwest Beauty Photography for your Wednesday nature escape; offering a glimpse into the Nisqually refuge's diversity of wildlife and wild scenery. (I'd recommend hitting mute on this soundtrack before watching... the electronic/techno/dance music doesn't jive well with the imagery, at least not for me...)




There's tremendous value in spending time quietly watching and observing; mindfully connecting with the wild lives with whom we share our home ground. Visiting a wildlife refuge is one way to accomplish this, but  simply sitting next to a window in our homes and offices for a few minutes and watching birds, insects, or squirrels going about the business of their lives can offer us a break from mundane tasks, spark curiosity and imagination, and foster an invigorating connection with the wild lives outside of our human ones.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Nature Nerd Wednesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...


"Whenever I renew a commitment to studying raptors or gulls or crows or the birds in my backyard, more are given, more show themselves... The more we prepare, the more we are "allowed" somehow to see."
~Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Crow Planet
I find Lyanda Lynn Haupt's writing on urban wildlife to be endlessly lovely and inspiring, and so many of her observations ring true in my experience, both in the urban wilderness and the "out there" wilderness. The more I've dedicated myself to studying and observing the world around me, the more I notice, whether it's watching the hummingbirds outside the window of my home, or learning the names of plants and trees I find along a trail in the remote Cascade Mountains. Each interaction with nature where I apply conscious effort toward learning and study helps to develop my eye and leaves me even more prepared to notice more of the same, further enriching my connection to, and fascination with, the natural world.

The quote above reminded me of an experience I had during a recent trip to the Methow Valley. My husband and I were walking the trails through the lonely hills at twilight, appreciating the scenery, wide-open vistas, and fresh air. My husband has a knack for finding wildlife sign, and pointed out a game trail crossing our path. Looking up slope from the trail we were traversing across a hillside, he pointed and in a hushed voice informed me there was a deer up the hill from us. I scanned the brushy hillside, its warm autumn hues turning cool in the blue twilight. It took me awhile to find the female mule deer whose large, intelligent eyes surveyed us coolly from her hiding place, where only her head was visible. Take a look at the photo above: can you find the doe?

Being in the Methow Valley, I knew we were bound to see some deer. But I didn't know how to see deer. This is something my husband has studied, but I have not. While my husband can point out a well-camoflauged deer that's several hundred yards away and barely visible, the best I can usually do is to point out a deer grazing in a grassy green field a few dozen yards away... the kind of deer you'd only miss if you were walking around with your eyes closed. Had I known how to see deer before this, how many more deer would I have seen in my wanderings? How many deer -- or other wildlife for that matter -- have I missed, lacking the knowledgeable eye attuned to spotting them?

I just love how these moments cause us to reflect on our own awareness of the world around us; how little we know and how much more there is to learn. How, after moments like this, we step out our front doors, gaze out the window, hit the trails more fully tuned in and prepared to see those delights which were previously beyond our ability to notice. And how much the richer we are for it!

Oh, and that doe? She's right here: