Category Archives: The Intimate Landscape

The small details, shapes, and textures that catch my eye.

Remember When?

“Smudgepot Line Up”
Selah Ridge, Washington

Looking down on this row of smudgepots from the old cherry orchard brought back many memories of my childhood. Sixty years ago, I can remember waking up to skies covered with smoke. A thin film of soot covered anything that was open. The soot could even seep in through cracks into our house. Walking outside I remember feeling the smoke in my lungs. These pots were used to produce heat to protect the spring flowering buds from frost. The oil-burning smudgepots were placed between the rows of trees to produce a warm bed of heat. Cherry trees were the most susceptible to the frost because they typically were the first to bloom in the Spring.

Smudgepot lighting was always a special time when I was old enough to work in the orchards. I can remember hanging out in Grandpa Brown’s bunk house with several other school buddies in an evening when a frost was expected. We were suppose to do homework, but that never happened. We would “horse around” and then try to catch a little sleep. When the temperature stated to drop, we would rush out and light the oil in the pots. We would then monitor the temperature until it rose above freezing. We would then rush back out and turn the pots off. After shutting down the pots we would go home and get ready for school. I left my oily and smoky clothes in the garage. I would shower and get dressed, then head down to school. Most of my school pants were white denims. It didn’t take long to get them covered with the soot left by a previous night’s smudging. After school, we would go back out to the orchards and refill the smudgepots to prepare for the next freeze.

THOSE WERE THE DAYS!

Water in the Ditch!

Naches-Selah Irrigation Ditch
Selah Ridge, Washington

We decided to take a walk around our neighborhood hills and orchards yesterday. We discovered that our spring irrigation water had been turned on and had reached the ditch above our home. It is time to start our spring watering cycle. As I’ve mentioned before, this ditch was constructed and put in use in the 1880’s. This is one of the few open areas still remaining. The area directly above our house has an old wood flume. I am looking at it right now from my office as I type this post. It will be replaced by an underground pipe in the next few years. I will be sad to see the trace of our past removed.

There Is Light Ahead

“I Can See the Light!”
Yakima Arboretum, Washington

The path in front of us may seem daunting. It is dark, winding and uncertain. We have a long way to travel, but there is light ahead. There is a path, we must all pull together, keep our faith, and help each other remain on it. Falling off the path is not an option if we are to reach the light.

The peak of the pandemic is a few weeks ahead. Maintaining our social distance from each other is critical to minimizing the size of the peak. Let’s all stay on the path!

Getting Ready …

Dogwood Bud
Heatherwood Spring

I have been keeping a close eye on our dogwood tree buds. A few are getting ready to start their bloom. The sepals on this bud are starting to pull back. Soon the blossom will start to appear. The yellow blur in the background is a Wintersonne Mugo Pine. I had to stand on my tip toes to line the bud up with the Wintersonne. It was hard to keep the camera steady on my toes. (I was too lazy to go in and get a tripod.) I took a million images to get one that was reasonably crisp. It was a good way to pass the time!

The last couple of weeks, I have been spending way, way too much time sitting around. My excursions have been short trips to the garden to take a few images. I have made a resolution to be much more active in April as we will be pretty much staying at home.

  1. I will take a daily walk or mini-hike with Mary around our neighborhood and hills around our home.
  2. I will work/play a bit each day in our garden to get it ready for spring.
  3. I will experiment with new techniques and approaches with my my camera to improve my overall skills.

And above all I will make the most of each day as I enjoy the wonders of the world around us!

A Path Leading Forward

A Path Leading Forward
Yakima Arboretum, Yakima WA

It was a beautiful spring day, and we needed to get out and wander a bit. The Yakima Arboretum was just starting to show its cherry blossoms, so we decided to take a little walk. It was a little early in the blossoming cycle. The trees were not in full bloom, so we will go back in a couple of days.

It was still nice to be outside for a peaceful walk in the Arboretum. We saw only 5 or 6 people wandering around like us. It was easy to keep our “social distance.” As we were leaving the arboretum, we walked along this meandering path to the exit. The path zig-zagged along the way. We couldn’t see the end, but we knew where it was. It reminded us of what is in front of us all. As with the Coronavirus, the path is not straight. We will need to take different directions to adapt how we will live with this difficult situation. We don’t know where the next step will be. But, we must keep our faith and move forward.

The Path

We’ve seen it before—the curving path.
The end is out of our reach,
but it has promise nevertheless.

We are left to wonder where it goes.

“Uncharted territory” has become a cliche,
and we want answers—the right ones.
The path must lead forward because

we want to know what the ending brings.

Yet the path itself has curves
from one side to the other.  Its shape
suggests an ebb and flow of life’s fortune.

We take the uncertain journey as that is the gift.

Mary Dahlin Graf

A Star Harbinger

Star Magnolia
Heatherwood Spring

Looking up at me
bright and brilliant as a star
brings spring’s warm glory.

The Seattle Japanese Garden posts a daily photo accompanied with a haiku. The haiku form is a 3 line poem consisting of 17 phonetic syllables. The first line has 5 syllables, the second 7 and the third 5. I thought I would give it a try (at lease for one post).

The star magnolia is the second plant in our garden to bloom each year, following the forsythia. We do not have any spring bulbs planted … yet. This spring we are planting several shrubs and trees that will produce even earlier blossoms. Hopefully this fall we will get some spring flowering bulbs in the ground.

Bittersweet

Flowering Plum Blossom
Heatherwood

Our first flowering plum blossoms peaked out yesterday. Their blooms really say it is Spring. The rest of the trees start to come out soon after the Flowering Plum. Our driveway is lined with these plum trees. When they are in full bloom, it is a beautiful sight.

These plums are planted only about 8-inches from the edge of the driveway. Their branches encroach and rub any wide vehicle that enters. In addition, they drop their fall fruit all over the driveway creating quite a mess. I have made the hard decision to remove them after they bloom this year. It makes Mary and I very sad. They will be replaced with Green Vase Zelkova’s planted a save distance from the driveway.

I really wish that the plums would have been planted in a spot that considered their mature growth patterns. As we develop Heatherwood, we are planting trees spaced for their mature form even though it will take years for them to fill in.

Something To Look Forward To

Japanese Garden Waterfall
Heatherwood

Last week we cleaned the Japanese garden stream bed and turned on the water. Previously we added an Adirondack settee that I made over the winter to the top viewing area. It is a great place to sit, relax, contemplate, and just enjoy the wonderful world around us.

When I get up in the morning, I like to pause and think about little things that will “make my day”. Today, I thought about sharing my morning cup of coffee sitting in the Adirondack chair with Mary. It will be a wonderful way to start the day.

Immersed in Warmth

North Star Spruce
Heatherwood Spring

This image just gives me warmth. The warm spring sun was highlighting a Wintersomme Mugo Pine. It was radiating its bright yellow winter color. My assignment was to find something interesting to put in front of it. The tip of a young North Star Spruce called out “Here I Am.”

The Coronavirus and “Social Distancing” will be with us for quite some time I am afraid. To me, “Social Distancing” is the wrong term to use. “Physical Distancing” is really what we should be addressing. With all the means we have for remotely communicating including social media, there is no reason that we need to lock our minds and souls up and quarantine communication and connections with others. Physical distancing is important in today’s time, but nothing is stopping us for reaching out and saying, “Here I Am!”

It Has Started …

Viburnum Starting to Bloom
Heatherwood Spring

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I have been watching this viburnum waiting for it to bloom. A few of the bud pods are now opening up. Very soon, white blossoms will appear form each of the individual flower buds. Maybe tomorrow!

It is an exciting time of year in the garden. Little needles are starting to emerge from buds on the evergreens. Tiny cones are starting to form. Buds on our cherry, plum, crabapple, and pear trees are swelling. A few leaves are popping out on our October Glory maple. Needles are turning from their winter yellows and browns to their spring light green. Things are happening!