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Showing posts from 2017

Looking back at 2017: Top 5 most-read posts on the blog this year

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Here we are once again, in the last few days of the fading year, reflecting on the past twelve months and looking forward to what the New Year will bring. Admittedly, I was preoccupied much of the year with caring for my son who was born in May, so I wasn't able to keep up with the blog as much as I'd have liked. However, as is tradition, let's take a look back at the top five most-read posts on the blog this year:

1. Environmental Issues: Plastic Pollution While holding the title as the singular material responsible for the convenience and ease of our daily lives, plastic is also causing an ecological disaster. It's time to consider a new approach to our lives that involves less plastic. Much less. No plastic, if possible.


2. Wanderings: Saint Edward State Park (again) One of the best things about hiking is that you can return time and again to the same place, and not once will you have the same experience. Here, I introduce my son to one of my favorite places.


3.…

Evergreen State Shirts are Here!

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This Nature Nerd decided to take on a fun project this holiday season, and I'm excited to share with you the very first shirt design from A Day Without Rain! This design idea has been in my head for a few years, and I finally found a way to make it happen.

I'm very excited to sport my new shirt on the trails next year, and I hope you all will join me in showing your love for our Evergreen State!

Shirts are on sale now through December 14th.

ORDER HERE


Environmental Issues: Plastic Pollution

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Salty sea breezes, crashing waves and footprints in wet sand. A visit to the beach brings back nostalgic memories of youth, offers opportunities for discovery, and leaves one with a refreshed perspective as we stand before the frothing tide and gaze outward at the vast ocean. When we look at the ocean, we see an immense body of heaving water stretching to a horizon we'll never reach. What we do not see is the alarming volume of plastic churning within those waves.

While holding the title as the singular material responsible for the convenience and ease of our daily lives, plastic is also causing an ecological disaster. I recently attended a workshop put on by the King Conservation District, Horses for Clean Water, and Plastic Ain't Our Bag on the subject of reducing our use of plastics. Although this is an issue with which I've long been familiar, even I was surprised at the information that was presented on the issue as I sat in horrified awe in the classroom at Brightwa…

Wanderings: Saint Edward State Park (again)

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One of the best things about hiking is that you can return time and again to the same place, and not once will you have the same experience. The landscape changes with the seasons, the weather, the time of day. What you notice - hear, see, and smell -  will vary depending on your companions, mood, the pace at which you're walking.

Saint Edward State Park has long been one of my favorite places to visit, and has been featured in many posts here on the blog. It was the place where, on a field trip with my college ecology class, I first forged a connection with nature in a way that piqued my curiosity, commanded my respect, and fostered a sense of stewardship. It was the first place my older sister and I hiked together, the beginning of our adventures which have since taken us to some pretty spectacular places. It was the place my husband and I frequently visited to escape the summer heat when we lived in a condo nearby. It was the first place I took my son for a hike …

Musings: Earth Day 2017

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I wasn't going to write an Earth Day blog post this year, but had an eleventh-hour change of heart and am blinking blearily at the computer screen late on Earth Day Eve, trying to string some coherent thoughts together. The dire state of things in Washington DC on Earth Day 2017 has thrown additional environmental catastrophes into our realm of possibility, with potential effects that will reach far beyond the borders of our own country.

The Environmental Protection Agency has had "environmental protection" removed from its mission; the president is rolling back protections for clean air and water; tar sands pipelines are being greenlighted despite the known pollution risks and contributions to climate change; and a proposed wall along the US-Mexico border is an affront not only to humanity, but to the endangered species whose habitat spans across the border. And, as we reach a never-before-seen-in-the-history-of-humanity 410 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon…

Wanderings: Seeking Spring (2017)

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Yesterday, in the warming afternoon hours following a cool and rainy morning, my husband and I headed for the Trillium Trail in the Redmond Watershed Preserve, seeking to find this trail's namesake flowers, which should have begun to bloom. We'd strolled through the Watershed two weeks ago, more for exercise and fresh air than anything else, but I'd secretly hoped we might catch a few early trillium. Alas, at that time the forest was still well in the grips of winter and there was nary a trillium to be seen among the damp humus of last autumn's fallen leaves.

The spring trillium hunt is an annual tradition for me. When I was a child, my grandpa and I walked through the woods around my house to count as many trillium as we could find. Now that my grandpa is no longer with us, my husband - who is a trillium-spotting pro - accompanies me on the yearly quest for these simple white flowers. The trillium hunt is a way to reconnect to the memories forged in those childhood r…

Going Green: Lights out for climate during Earth Hour 2017

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Ready... set... lights out! Well, not just yet. Make plans to turn off your lights for Earth Hour on March 25th at 8:30pm local time to demonstrate your solidarity in the fight against climate change. With more than 170 countries and millions of individuals participating, Earth Hour is truly a global event during which we can come together and commit to fighting this problem affecting us all.

The need for action and solidarity in the fight against climate change has never been greater. In 2016, a year that was globally the hottest on record (surpassing the longstanding record set way back in 2015), atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hit 405 parts per million (ppm). No human being in the history of our species has lived on this planet with carbon dioxide levels that high, until now. It seems like just yesterday we passed the 400ppm milestone, and now we find ourselves on a rapidly warming planet, staring down the likelihood of reaching 410ppm this year or next - a number well above the…

Musings: Behind the Scenes of my Vantage Point

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This post was inspired by Light... read on to find out more. 


There's always some self-doubt and second guessing involved. The trees begin leaning in at the right angles, the ravine sweeps and curves in that familiar way. Click, click. I squint at the screen of my camera and frown. Nope, this isn't it. I follow the trail another hundred feet or so, curve around a corner and stand on my tiptoes to aim my lens over a thicket of salmonberry brambles that grow taller and make this endeavor slightly more difficult with each succeeding year. Click, click. Again, I look at the camera screen and this time everything is perfect: the maple trees arching overhead, sheltering the salmonberry and devil's club-filled ravine below, where the trickling seasonal stream meanders through, unseen.

Of all the trails, nature preserves, and parks I've wandered and photographed, this right here is my favorite vantage point: two square feet of muddy trail clinging to the hillside above the rav…

Environmental Issues: Washington State Climate Change Update

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information recently released updated climate summary reports for each of the fifty states, looking at how climate change has affected each state, and projecting future changes as global temperatures continue to warm. As is to be expected, the news isn't good.

I perused the summary report for Washington state to see how conditions and projections may have changed since I reported on the 2014 National Climate Assessment nearly three years ago. Here are the three "key messages" of the updated climate summary:
Key Message 1: Mean annual temperature has increased approximately 1.5°F over the last two
decades. Winter warming has been characterized by a far below average number
of occurrences of extremely cold days since 1990. Under a higher emissions pathway,
historically unprecedented warming is projected by the end of the 21st century.  Key Message 2: Rising temperatures will lead to …

Wanderings: First Day Hike at Saint Edward State Park

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For the fourth New Year's Day in a row, my husband and I headed out to one of the fabulous Washington State Parks for a First Day Hike in the chilly winter sunshine. In previous years, we've visited Deception Pass State Park, Wallace Falls State Park, and Cama Beach State Park. Thirty-two state parks hosted official First Day Hikes this year. Although Saint Edward State Park wasn't one of them, we decided to revisit this familiar and favorite place for a leisurely hike, knowing these trails were still within the ability of my nearly-six-months-pregnant, tired, achy body.

With temperatures hovering right around freezing and the previous night's trace of snowfall still an icy crust on the ground, we bundled up in the car and then made a brisk beeline for the South Canyon trail. There were just a handful of cars in the parking lot, and I could count on one hand the number of people we passed on the way down the cold and shaded trail, greeting each with a jubilant "H…

Environmental Issues: Light Pollution

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Growing up, I lived high on a hill above the Snoqualmie Valley, where most nights the lights from the prison in Monroe suffused the night sky with the orange glow of perpetual sunset. The glow was particularly noticeable on overcast nights, when the cloud ceiling dispersed the orange light over even greater distances. At the time, I had no idea that what I was seeing was, in fact, pollution. Light pollution.

While light seems an innocuous thing (and in the case of the prison, a necessary thing), when it occurs at the wrong time of day or year, in too great a quantity, in the wrong color, or without direction, light can be a harmful thing for the environment, for wildlife, and even for humans.

Impacts on the environment
Light pollutes the night sky, and energy used to produce the light can pollute the air and atmosphere with carbon emissions, since much of the world uses fossil fuels to produce this energy. Our climate is changing and earth is warming due to humanity's carbon diox…