Wednesday, October 26, 2016

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...

Larches just beginning to change color along the Blue Lake trail, September 2015. Lainey Piland photo

The high country is undeniably stunning during autumn. Here in Washington, we flock to the rugged Cascade mountains to see the golden larches illuminate those rocky slopes with hues warm as sunshine. New England has their gentle hills bursting with red, orange, and yellow-leaved deciduous forests. In Colorado, the Rockies stand resplendent over foothills of glowing aspens.

Filmmaker Jason Hatfield captured the autumn colors of his home state of Colorado in the timelapse film below. These landscapes are truly breathtaking, with aspen trees glowing as if lit from within. Those forests have pure gold poured over them. Ease into this otherworldly beauty and take a nice nature break:



Sometimes, sitting the sterile fluorescent light of my small cubicle at work, it brings great peace and satisfaction to know there is beauty somewhere out there, high in the mountains where the air is clean and all is quiet,  where leaves glow golden in honeyed afternoon sunshine and drift silently to the ground.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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 own Planet Earth moment - spotting a Minke whale off Lime Kiln State Park. Lainey Piland photo

I laughed. I cried. I gasped. I grinned. All in less than three minutes. What could provoke such a wide range of reactions? None other than the awe-inspiring and wonder-filled trailer for the brand-new Planet Earth series from the BBC.

Hold onto your hats and take a look at the trailer for Planet Earth II:



One of the exhilarating features of Planet Earth is the way we're allowed a close encounter with the natural world we'd never otherwise be able to experience. Flying with tropical birds, running with cheetahs, swimming with whales, watching the blurred wings of a hummingbird slowed into a rhythmic throb by a slow-motion camera... all are private glimpses into a world typically hidden from our view. This is a world that we're privileged to live in, but have so separated ourselves from that these wild moments are all but gone in our lives.

There's no release date for the six-part series as of yet, so it's anyone's guess how long we'll have to wait to enjoy this brand-new nature documentary narrated once again by the beloved Sir David Attenborough. In the meantime, let's take some time to experience our own wonder-filled Planet Earth moments right in our own backyards.

Wild nature is brought into our lives daily by the very creatures whose ubiquity tends to cause them to blend into the background. For instance, there are birds everywhere outside. When was the last time you sat and just watched birds hunting for food, flitting from branch to branch, playing, and communicating with one another? How frequently do you inspect the iridescent exoskeleton of the beetle scuttling down the sidewalk, or get an up-close look at the hairy legs and interesting mouthparts of that wayward spider that you've trapped under a glass in the kitchen and are (hopefully!) transporting outside?

Take the time to watch these creatures with whom we share our home. It's a good reminder for all of us that Planet Earth is in fact beneath our feet, above our heads, and all around us - not just on a television screen.

The immature male Anna's hummingbird who hangs out in my backyard. I spend a lot of time watching him!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

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...

The tranquil glacial turquoise water of Lake Twenty-Two. Lainey Piland photo

"Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever."
~Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Whether it's an intentional search for tranquility that leads our feet to the lakeshore, or whether our busy minds are unexpectedly drawn into quiet reflection when we happen upon the ever-changing surface smooth as glass one moment and mesmerisingly rippled the next, there's no denying the powerful serenity to be found in those waters.

Take a look at The Wilderness Society's 30 Prettiest Lakes in Wildlands below and imagine yourself standing on those peaceful wild shorelines:


There are a few lakes from Washington state included in the list! How many of these have you visited?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

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...
 
Fireweed, Cedar River Watershed, Autumn 2015
“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There 

The more we examine and connect with the world around us - on its level, not on ours - the more we realize that beauty can be found anywhere, even in unexpected places, or in things previously thought to be ugly, useless, or even a nuisance. The vivid colors in the plant pictured above look exotic and unlike anything we'd expect to see here in western Washington. But in fact, this is the ubiquitous fireweed plant, transformed in autumnal hues. Fireweed grows everywhere from roadside ditches to subalpine meadows. Their fuchsia blossoms wave atop a tall stalk all summer before going to seed and setting sail on the wind in puffs of downy fluff. Although they look weedy (it's right there in the name!) these plants are utilized by bees to produce darn good honey, and even though they may look like dried, dead stalks come fall, a closer look may reveal unexpected beauty... and perhaps unexpected admiration.

These thoughts came to mind while watching a recent Nature 365 film. Titled Autumn Showers, this film captures all that is beautiful about the rain: the sound of pattering drops, the ripples wrinkling the surface of a creek, a tiny reflecting puddle formed in the upturned fruiting body of a mushroom. How many of us would pause to peer into a pool of water sitting in a mushroom? Most of us likely don't find mushrooms lovely, but a closer look can reveal an unrealized beauty. Watch the film and see for yourself: Nature 365 - Autumn Showers

(Be sure to click the link to watch the film - I am sadly unable to embed the video in this blog post)

Most of us have come to love the western Washington rain and have an affinity for the sounds, smells, and scenes it creates. There's a quality about the rain that we've come to accept and internalize - we may call it beauty, or it may be one of those phenomena "as yet uncaptured by language." Whatever the case, I know I'm not the only one rejoicing over the upcoming showery forecast... be sure to get outdoors and revel in the rain!