Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Uncommon Harvest of Blueberry Bushes

Blueberries ripen in the Pacific Northwest in late July and early August. My mother has two blueberry bushes in her yard that produce considerably more blueberries than her household can comfortably consume. It has become an early August tradition for me to spend an hour or so picking blueberries from her bushes. Although I am quite capable of picking by myself, my mother always comes out to pick with me. We spend that hour in comfortable work and talk.

This year, my mother was traveling when the blueberries ripened, so I took my husband instead. As we were picking, I realized I missed my mom. At this time of life, one wonders how many more years I will be able to pick blueberries with her.

In the dark days of this winter, we will rummage through the freezer to find those reminders of late summer sun produced by my mom's blueberry bushes. As much as we will enjoy the berries, perhaps they are not the principal harvest.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Above Street Level (And Climbing)

I have long envisioned time as level. We go from birth to death in a single direction on a valley floor, like a drive across the Bonneville Salt Flats. But as I think of it now, time also has a vertical element. As I get older, I gain perspective not only from looking back, but viewing life from the height of time.

At this stage of life, I'm looking from the Stone Shelter at Cape Perpetua. Is Everest in my future?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Weather, Part 1

Our springs in the Pacific Northwest are inexplicably similar to our winters. I admit to being cranky about this sometimes, but even when the weather seems the same, spring lighting causes just enough variation to make familiar places new again.

Advice from the Old Broad (whether you asked for it or not): nature is always changing something, so look around!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Where sky meets earth, where water meets land, the changing of seasons, habitat edges, beginnings and endings: this is where the action is.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Columbia River Maritime Museum, Astoria, Oregon

We enjoyed this first class museum with hands-on exhibits and lots of benches (I notice these things now).

Before entering the museum, I looked at the Coast Guard boat displayed in the huge glass window; it's almost standing on end. Did they have trouble fitting it in the space? Inside I learn that in heavy seas, a boat could get to this pitch.

In addition to the regular museum, we toured the Columbia Lightship, pictured above. This ship served as a floating "lighthouse" near the mouth of the Columbia River. A crew of 18 lived aboard for two or more weeks at a time.

As we went on board, a friendly volunteer advised us to go down the steep steps into the living area backwards like a ladder. Once there, I had to compare the tiny space with my only long-term sea experience, which was on a cruise ship. After 2 days at sea, that big cruise ship seemed more like a prison than a vacation. If I had to live on the Lightship, they'd have to pad the walls. (Oh, and have paper bags on all the hand rails.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Roughing It?

One hot July day between my junior and senior years at college, I and a friend naively drove into Yellowstone expecting to get a camping spot. The ranger took pity on us and gave us a little tiny space between actual camping sites because, of course, the campgrounds were stuffed full of people, tents, RVs and vehicles. Our accommodation for the night was the cheapest plastic pup tent I could find. Our sleeping bags were the only cushion between us and the ground.

Last fall, in a nicer tent and cots, Cal and I spent the night in several national parks and monuments. It was a great trip and we saw a lot. But as an Old Broad, I claim the right to be comfortable.

Now we have a middle ground. We still have our trailer but, I'm sorry, RVing is not camping. A tent is great until you have twenty mph winds bending the tent poles nearly to the ground (which we did) and the threat of thunderstorms (we ended up staying in a motel). I also confess that my enthusiasm ebbed one morning when we pulled up the tarp and found two spiders the size of my computer mouse.

The above is our latest effort to still be camping but in comfort and in unpleasant weather. It plops right in the bed of our truck and and folds into a box for transport.

See you out there!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Where Ever I Go, There I Am

The perspective from Powell Butte Nature Park makes me think I know right where I'm going. A mile later I remember how easy it is to get lost here; well, not lost really, but momentarily misplaced. Wandering and backtracking, I manage to walk in excess of 5 miles on a 3.2 mile trail. Back at the car, I'm not disappointed with the hike. I've got no place to go and plenty of time to get there.