Yesterday evening we were on the look-out in our favorite owl-spotting glen and had just about given up; we sat down on the bench overlooking the little creek and then, looking up, there was the owl perched quietly 10 feet above us! We sat in awe for ages watching it watch us, the butterflies, and other walkers obliviously passing underneath=Owl Blessings.
We started our afternoon saunters in late April, and over the next few weeks got to know this family of Ravens. It turns out that historically, Ravens nested in the Washington Park Arboretum, but until 2019 they had not been seen for 100 years. This year there were three hatchlings, and boy-oh-boy were they ever raucous! I caught them all doing their own saunter; usually we'd see them up in the trees or perched on the back of our favorite hidden bench.
Douglas squirrels: The Douglas Squirrel lives in the coniferous forests of North America's west coast. It wanders playfully throughout all parts of the forest and treetops, but prefers lingering close to the forest grounds (WA Nature Mapping). We not only have been seeing this chipmunk-sized boisterous squirrel in several locations throughout the Arboretum, but on a hot steamy evening we watched TWO of these little darlings chasing each other around and around and around an enormous tree trunk. What a joy.
I just finished reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and I’m halfway through The Wild Silence which is equally engaging. Raynor and her husband Moth have been whiplashed by circumstances out of their control: betrayed by a friend, they are evicted from their beloved home after a three-year legal comedy of errors--which is catastrophic--but dwarfed by the news that Moth is dying of an incurable degenerative disease.
What to do whilst figuring out what to do? As they are packing up their home they come across Paddy Dillon's guide to The South West Coast Path and they think "why not?" In their youth they were avid hikers and wild campers and the 630-mile Salt Path is calling to them. As Raynor recounts their physical and emotional journey along the Salt Path, you are drawn into their encounters with the seabirds and meadow animals, people on the path and in the villages, and the odd and unusual occurrences that she and Moth experience as they navigate their grief and plot their future.
Bookends: two years ago I discovered two books by Cheryl Strayed which came into my life at a critical time--Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Together, these four books have been like good friends supporting me on my own salted path. I am grateful for these women who write of loss, love, betrayal, truth, healing, and the transformative power of nature. "Loss sets you free. In the empty void it leaves anything can happen." R.W.
Note: I listened to the audiobooks which are read by the author(s). I also purchased the books and Raynor Winn's covers are illustrated by Angela Harding.
February, you were brutal: high winds, wintery mix, snow, rain, below freezing temperatures...
you've whip-lashed my garden, my bees, and my spirit.
I indulged in several winter blues-busting field trips, including the Seattle Aquarium and Volunteer Park Conservatory. It works!
This lovely watershed map was hanging at Seward Park;
here are some Seattle Public Utilities links to our watersheds and watershed projects.
This winter Seattle broke its rainfall record with 44.7 inches of rain (that is almost 4 feet!) between October and April, making it our wettest winter since 1895. We also had our coldest winter since 1985, which means that even if you are a winter person at heart, you too are ready to sit on your patio with an umbrella drink (and complain about the heat :^)
Sunday stroll around Seward Park
Carl S. English, Botanist and Horticulturist One of the rare trees in the private nursery
In May, while visiting the Ballard Locks, our paths crossed those of Stephan Munro, groundskeeper for the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden.
We were in search of the silverleaf oaks at the Ballard Locks, and not only did we find these magnificent trees, but as luck would have it, we found Stephan putting finishing touches on his newly-mapped tree and garden tour. He graciously offered to take us on a tour-de-oaks, (including silverleaf oaks Quercus hypoleucoides, California Live Oak Quercus agrifolia, tanoak Notholithocarpus densiflorus, and Garry oak/Oregon white oak Quercus garryana), as well as giving us a behind the scenes peek at his plant and tree nursery.
The new map is the work of Stephan and his talented intern; it takes you through the gardens on a tour of 70 trees, and it is much more detailed than the previous map. Like Carl S. English Jr., Stephan is a horticulturist working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it is obvious that he is enthusiastically carrying on the traditions that Carl set in place.
Learn more about “The Man Behind the Ballard Locks Gardens”, and be sure to put the new Carl S. English Gardens Tree Tour on your ToDo list this summer!
Behind the scenes with Stephan Munro, horticulturist and storyteller
We experienced the super(blood)moon lunar eclipse along with friends and family from West Seattle, Minnesota, and South America on Sunday evening! The convergence of lunar eclipse and full harvest perigree moon is a rare event, and somewhat (un)predictable due to LOTS of different things in motion in the universe. I was able to capture this image of the final stage of the eclipse from my backyard (handheld with my 70-300 zoom lens).
Mark your calendars for October 2033, the next time everything lines up:
All images © Tracey Byrne 2015