I usually start my day looking out my office window before I begin my daily journal entry. Many times this time of year it is pitch black. But, the sun typically breaches the hills above us by the time I am finished writing. I spend several moments just gazing out the window and contemplating what the new day will bring. It is a peaceful way to start the day and outline my priorities on how to make each day a special one.
This morning, I started thinking how things have changed since I moved back west from the Philadelphia area six years ago. This view was then a hillside of grass with our historical irrigation flume in the background. Now the flume is gone and the grass has been replaced with a Japanese inspired hillside planting area. Ground covers are filling in, defining the paths up the hill. This past year we have added the Japanese maple and a lilac tree to help block the scar on the background hillside created when they tore down the flume last winter. Every year the shrubs and trees get a little larger creating more shade. Ground covers spread over the brown earth. And we still plant a new tree from time to time. Things are always changing … just like life.
Thanksgiving is my favorite Holiday. I remember the wonderful times up at the Ranch with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Ben, all of my aunts and uncles, Mom and Dad, and 4 of 5 of my siblings. There were 15 of us back then in the 50’s. Our family has now grown to about 75 comprising four generations: aunts, uncles, our generation, nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, cousins, and all the spouses. Back in the 50’s we were all together up at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. Today, we are spread out over Washington, Oregon, and New York. I miss the old days when we were all together, but time passes and new experiences open up. Each day adds to my list of memories of a wonderful life.
There is so much to be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving!
One of my favorite places to be in Washington State is on Steptoe Butte in the Palouse. It is a place where I can gaze over the rolling hills of the farm land below and dream of the past, present, and future. Time goes by, clouds skim across the sky. Little ‘ant-like’ vehicles move about. Memories flash through my mind. When I was a little tyke, Uncle Ben and I would walk out to the sagebrush ridge past our orchard. We had our special rock where we would sit and look over the Naches valley below. Farmers would be working their fields, driving their tractors back and forth. He would tell me stories both fictional and of his past experiences. I would dream.
I close my eyes, then open them up again. The farm land fades away. In its place emerges a pattern of textures, tones, and curves. The scene below becomes a flowing blanket as the shadows from the clouds traverse across.
I remember the first time I visited this view point. It was the end of the summer of 1972, fifty years ago. Dave Zimmerman, a great college friend, and I were driving down the Oregon coast on our way to visit another couple of friends (Kent Dimmitt and Doug/Candace Norquist) in Los Angeles. I had just received my first camera (a Nikon Nikormat) for my college graduation present from my parents. We were on the lookout for interesting things to photograph. We stopped here and I took a couple of photos that turned out to be one of my favorites from the trip. I still have a slide filed away somewhere.
The next time I stopped here was with Karen on our unofficial (we didn’t tell anyone) engagement adventure in late summer of 1975. Our next visit was on this day in 1976 on our honeymoon. It was so, so romantic!
Fast forward forty-six years. Mary and I were driving down to the Allison Spa and Inn in Newburg, OR to use a wedding gift that we received from my siblings 3 years prior. Covid kept us from using it earlier. On our way down, we took a little side trip to Astoria and then down the northern part of the Oregon coast. I saw the sign to Ecola State Park and decided to stop at the view point. The view was still spectacular! The view point had really changed from what I remembered 50 years ago to be just a small turnout. It is now a beautiful park for viewing Cannon Beach. We took our time and enjoyed the wonderful experience.
Many people seeing these white handkerchief-looking things lying on the ground and shrubs do not have any idea what they are. Getting closer, they look like a large white leaf. They aren’t. They are actually flower bracts from a Dove tree (Davidia involucrata).
I first encountered a Dove tree, sometimes called a Handkerchief tree, on a garden tour in Pennsylvania. Karen and I became transfixed on a huge tree with all of these handkerchief-looking things hanging down. A breeze came up and the air was filled with handkerchiefs fluttering down. It was quite a sight. We made notes to put it on our “bucket list” to add to our Fountainville garden. We never found one.
When I started to establish my wish list for my Selah garden, I chose several of Karen and my favorite trees. A Dove tree was one of those on the top of my list. I still have not located one in our Central Washington local area. When I saw this tree at Heronswood, my interest perked up again. I think I have just the right spot for one in our woodland garden.
We have several walkers who daily walk through our neighborhood. This view is for them as they walk up the road past our driveway. At this point, a walker can look across the street and see another neighbor’s flume section and then look up over the street intersection and see yet another neighbor’s flume section. The three of us have been able to preserve a little bit of history that graced our hillside for over 100 years.
“Rainier Vista Without the Mountain” University of Washington
Yesterday was a special day! Several of our precious group of college friends gathered at the University of Washington to dedicate a bench for one of our own. It was a beautiful day. The sun broke out and spread its gentle warmth on the blooming cherry trees on the beautiful campus. The only thing missing was the “Mountain” on the horizon beyond the fountain.
Our historic irrigation flume is no more. It saddens my heart. This week a construction crew started tearing down the flume to convert our irrigation source to a buried pipeline. One of the first things that attracted me to this location was the surrounding ridge and the historic irrigation flume background. Over the six years that I have lived here, there is hardly a day that goes by that I do not gaze upon the hill and flume. I start each day in my office, writing in my journal. I always turn to look out my window over the Heatherwood landscape and up to the flume and ridge. From our living room we look out over the patio again to the ridge and the flume above.
As we designed and developed our Heatherwood landscape, we created multiple view windows that framed the flume and ridge. Several of our garden “sitting rooms” faced the hills and flume. It was a wonderful “borrowed” background for Heatherwood.
Now the above portion of the flume is gone. We were lucky enough to talk the contractor into salvaging a small portion of the flume and bringing it down to our property. We will carefully place it and build a special garden around it. It will be a little remembrance of the area’s history and the special image of the wonderful background that use to be.
Twenty years have passed since the infamous attack on the American Nation. The memorial pays tribute to the 2,983 people who lost their lives in the 2001 and 1993 terrorist attacks. We must never forget those who were lost as well as the families and friends whose lives were impacted by the lost ones.
We must never forget about the terrorist events themselves. But we must also look beyond the events and search out the root causes that triggered them. Only by addressing and resolving the root causes will we be able to stop such events from occurring again in the future.
I have many wonderful memories of my childhood growing up at the “Ranch.” Many times I spent what seemed like hours, laying on the lawn, gazing up at the clouds, watching them move across the sky changing shapes. Some things never change. On my recent trip to the Palouse, I saw these two trees out in the middle of endless hills of green fields. The bright blue sky was filled with puffy white clouds. I stopped and watched the clouds move across the sky casting shadows on the green hills. An hour went by like a flash as I watched and waited for the shadow patterns in the background to frame the tree while not shading the tree itself or the area in front of it. What a great way to spend a peaceful early afternoon in a beautiful part of our state.