Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

The Best Season

December 12, 2016

In the memoir, Poser: My Life in 23 Poses, author Claire Dederer talks about how my yoga classes often have a theme related to the seasons.  Claire was my yoga student for years, and wrote a book about her life and, in part, about me/my teaching, so she would know the truth about my interest in the seasons and how we are affected by seasonal changes. Spring fills us with hope!  We are more energetic in the summer.  Kids do much of their growing spurts in the summer.  We tend to shed more hair in autumn.  My mother used to say in Sicilian, “Cadano li castagni”, which translates to “chestnuts are falling” because my chestnut-colored shedding hair was everywhere. We need more rest in the winter.  We crave light foods in the summer such as seasonal fruits and vegetables.  In the winter, we crave warm soups and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and root vegetables.

Below is a poem I shared yesterday during the two yoga workshops I taught in Seattle.  The poem has to do with the seasons (!) and is followed by photos, shot throughout the years, representing the four seasons.  I took all of the photos with one exception: Rick took the tulip against the blue sky.  The author of the poem is Wu-men Huikai.  He was a Chinese Zen master who lived from 1183-1260.  He wrote poems about enlightenment and called his poetry “sacred poetry”.  He also wrote social, political, and anti-war poems.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

“Ten Thousand Flowers in Spring” by Wu-Men

SPRING

Nothing like a tulip to say SPRING

Nothing like a tulip to say SPRING (Ocean Shores)

Fawns

Fawns (Ocean Shores)

Simone's poppy

Simone’s poppy (Simone’s garden)

Fragrant late spring rose

Fragrant late spring rose (Simone’s garden)

SUMMER

Summer Dahlia

Summer Dahlia (Carl’s garden in Stehekin)

Flower Power of Summer

Flower Power of Summer (Stehekin Garden)

Lilies in the Sun

Lilies in the Sun (Kelley’s garden)

AUTUMN

Color of Autumn

Color of Autumn (Fremont, Seattle)

Fire walking

Fire walking (Wallingford, Seattle)

Autumn Boots

Autumn Boots (Wallingford, Seattle)

A long stretch of Autumn

A long stretch of Autumn (Capitol Hill, Seattle)

WINTER

Jack Frost painted this fern.

Jack Frost painted this fern. (La Push, Washington)

Frosted vegetation

Frosted vegetation (La Push, Washington)

l1320800

Simone’s Lovely Garden

May 13, 2016
Poppy

Poppy

Today’s blog post is a visual meditation of sorts.  I spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with Simone on Wednesday.  We walked in her neighborhood and then enjoyed her lovely garden.  The weather has been unusually warm and sunny, so we also dined outside amid her garden in full bloom.  She had asked me to bring my camera over to capture the fleeting beauty of the poppies, roses, and other flowers growing in her garden…and so I did!…be sure to scroll all the way down to view the short slide show.

Fragrant Rose

Fragrant Rose

Rose seemingly floating in the garden-intense RED

Another fragrant rose seemingly floating in the garden-intense RED

Poppy

Poppy

Enjoy the brief slideshow below and don’t forget to view it on full screen and turn up your speakers.  Thank you, Simone, for growing such beautiful flowers for all of us to enjoy!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This picture slideshow personalized with Smilebox

Fridheimar Greenhouse

October 5, 2015

Fridheimar Greenhouse yields 300 tons of produce annually in an interior space, run electronically, covering 5000 square meters. Produce from the greenhouse at Fridheimar’s consists uniquely of tomatoes and cucumbers. The tomatoes at this particular greenhouse contribute 18% of Iceland’s tomato market. Tomatoes are vine ripened, and immediately sold in supermarkets throughout the Iceland. Fridheimar’s greenhouse tomatoes are fresh, tasty, sweet, and organic.

L1320430

Helena is one of the owners of the greenhouse. Together with her husband, she has been working the greenhouses for over 20 years. Helena talked to us about Iceland’s sustainable energy used to power her greenhouses. 90% of Iceland runs on clean bio sustainable geothermal energy and the greenhouse we visited was a fine example of how a country can use high technology and geothermal energy to produce food without harming the environment. Imagine delicious tomatoes grown in a country so far north that it receives only four hours of sunlight per day during the cold winter months!

The greenhouse growing culture got started in the 40s and 50s in Iceland. Today’s greenhouses are high tech greenhouses controlled by computers. The computers control the opening and closing of windows and the turning on and off of the high pressured sodium lamps used as grow lights. The computers even read the outdoor wind and make appropriate changes to create a perfect environment for tomato and cucumber growing. Helena told us (first group) that by using the computer on her iPhone, she was able to control the climate in her greenhouses while lying on a beach in Thailand!

At Fridheimar’s Greenhouse, artificial and chemical pesticides are not used. They do, however make use of one natural pesticide. It is a small green fly, whose exact name I cannot recall, whose job it is to feed on small microbial critters. The small green flies are the good guys.

Helena and her husband also make use of bumble bees. Cucumbers are self pollinators and have no use for the bees. Tomatoes, by contrast, rely on the bumble bees for pollination/ fertilization to produce fruit. One queen and hundreds of worker bees are flown in from Holland every few weeks. They arrive in a box, ready to work. Worker bees live 6-8 weeks. There are up to 600 active worker bumble bees at any one time at their greenhouse. Bumble bees are extremely industrious and one worker bumble bee can do the work of several honey bees. Compared to honey bees, bumble bees rarely sting. Bumble bees only sting in self defense.

Once the tomatoes start to ripen, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and piccolo tomatoes are picked weekly. Cucumbers, on the other hand, are rapid growers and they are picked daily! Everything is carefully picked by hand and the work of harvesting is labor intensive. All produce is ripened on the vine. Of the tonnage produced in tomatoes and cucumbers, none is exported. Everything is for domestic consumption.

After the explanation, we enjoyed a fabulous tomato soup lunch. Fridheimar Greenhouse has a lovely bright cafe within the greenhouse, complete with a bar and dessert offerings. We ate tomato soup served with the best of breads, made in onsite geo thermally run ovens. They even produced a gluten free bread that was, according to a gluten free member of my retreat group, some of the best bread ever produced! Might I mention the bread was served with Icelandic butter?

Fridheimar Green House where tomatoes and cucumbers are grown by tons!

Fridheimar Green House where tomatoes and cucumbers are grown by tonnage!

Greenhouses are bio sustainable and make use of 17 hours of sunlight from geothermal energy-run lights

Greenhouses are bio sustainable and give 17 hours of sunlight from geothermal energy-run lights

dd

Bumble bees to fertilize the plants in the tomatoes and cucumbers: Queen Bee and her drones

Bumble bees to fertilize the tomato plants: Queen Bee and her drones

Helena passionately explains how the greenhouses work!  She and her husband have run the green houses for 20 years.

Helena passionately explains how the greenhouses work! She and her husband have run the green houses for 20 years.

Bread

Bread made and served at the greenhouse!  They also served gluten free bread and Russ said it was the best gluten free bread he has ever eaten in his life!

Lisa sits down to tomato soup made from Fridheimar's tomatoes.

Lisa sits down to tomato soup made from Fridheimar’s tomatoes.

Tomato Soup Recipe!

Tomato Soup Recipe!

More bread served with the soup!

More bread served with the soup!

Oh, and more bread! (always served with delicious Icelandic butter.)

Oh, and more bread! (always served with delicious Icelandic butter.)

Dessert!  Yes, someone ordered this tomato ice cream served in a planter.  Apparently, it was really good.

Dessert! Yes, someone ordered this tomato ice cream served in a planter.

The Forest Breathes

July 28, 2015

I get a natural high from walking along forest trails and this year I have had ample opportunities to be out in nature, hiking through the most alluring landscapes.  Rick and I just got back from our annual trip to Stehekin, Washington with Leslie.  While Rick fished the rivers for trout, Leslie and I hiked miles and miles of trails with her dog, Winnie.

No roads lead to Stehekin!  In fact, you can only get there by plane, boat, or hiking.  One of the many charms of Stehekin is its remoteness.  Once in Stehekin, there is a road that stretches from the landing to the Stehekin Bakery and beyond to some trail heads.  The only vehicles are the ones that have come over on a barge from Chelan.  In order to have a vehicle, you must be a grandfathered-in property owner or lease holder.  Wild untouched Stehekin is part of the North Cascades National Park.  Around 100 people live here year round.

We took a float plane to the landing.  It is about a 50 minute flight from Chelan to the Stehekin Landing:

oo

The next two photos are hilarious (to me, anyways!).  You can see how small the plane is.  Rick, in green, to your far right, is smooshed into his seat with two other beefy men!  Leslie and I, on the other hand, had ample space between us because Leslie bought a seat or a “space” for Winnie.   Winnie burrowed and hunkered down into the floor of the plane where she felt secure and Leslie and I got to spread out a bit.  Rick was wedged in so tightly that he was unable to look back to see us. I made sure Rick was in a humorous mood before I showed him these two photos!

00

Tight Quarters!

00

Ample Space on the flight for Fran, Leslie, and Winnie! (feeling a wee bit guilty about all the space!)

One of the people who lives in Stehekin year round is Karl, the man who, year after year, plants and produces the best organic vegetables in his Stehekin Garden.  In addition to vegetables and fruit, he sells honey, candles made from his bees’ wax, dried herbs and teas, goat cheese made from his goats, whole wheat crackers, muffins, granola made with his honey, salad dressings, and pesto made from his homegrown basil.  Every time we arrive at the cabin, I make a dash for his garden to see what vegetables and fruits are available.  This time around I bought organic nectarines, peaches, blueberries, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, and a muffin!  When I arrived at the garden, I was greeted by barefooted slender Karl.  His earthy wholehearted hugs are most welcoming.  His vegetable garden is fringed with dahlias and other beautiful flowers which, he is quick to tell you, he does NOT sell.

00

Karl’s dahlias, after a much-needed morning rain shower, are nearly smiling.  We were at Karl’s when it started to rain.  We sat under the eaves with Karl and waited until the rain let up. 

00

Hope you like dahlias because there are many in this blog!

00

One of Karl’s bees busily pollinating a dahlia.

00

00

During the winter months, Stehekin is covered in snow.  Karl’s garden and goats rest in the winter and Karl spends his winter days cross country skiing, meditating, doing yoga, reading various books, and writing.  You can see his spirit-infused writing on various white boards at the garden.

00

Health is Wealth, written by Karl

00

A bearded Rick talking books, poetry, nature with Karl at the garden.

00

00

Inner Peace by Karl

Leslie and I took a hike to the Buckner Orchard and to Rainbow Falls.  This is our favorite hike to do on our first day in Stehekin.  We saw so many deer in the apple orchard on this day.

00

Long Term Parking at the Buckner Orchard

00

Winnie takes in a long drink at Rainbow Falls. 

Like Cuba, Stehekin has trucks and cars that have been around for a while and still running.  In order to get a car here, it has to be barged over as was this 1967 Chevy back in the day.  I was looking at some of Leslie’s old photos from years ago and noted that today the Forest Green ’67 Chevy Truck looks almost identical to how it looked back then.

00

The Cannon’s 1957 Chevy. 

00

Winnie, ready to hike!

Another favorite hike is the Lakeside Trail, along Lake Chelan.  The trail starts near the landing and goes on and on towards Chelan.  It is a rolling trail with a constant view of Lake Chelan.  Parts of the forest have been victim to forest fires and as we hiked we saw blackened trees that have survived past fires as well as charred stumps that were not so lucky.

As we stopped for lunch at a bluff overlooking the lake, Leslie was pulling some items out of her backpack and came across her favorite poem, Lost.  She always carries this poem with her and from time to time, on our hikes, she reads it aloud.  I asked her to read it on this hike.  I am always moved by this poem.  The name of this blog post, The Forest Breathes, comes from this poem. She reads it so perfectly:

LOST
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree of a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

-David Wagoner

David Wagoner was Rick’s professor for the MFA program at the University of Washington.  We went to a reading and heard Wagoner read his poem, Lost.  He prefaced the poem by telling us that he never imagined this poem would be so well received! Wagoner still seemed to be in disbelief that this very poem is the favorite of many outdoor enthusiasts, including Leslie and myself.

00

Burnt trees from fires past.

00

Another hike: Agnes Creek Trail

00

View of Agnes Gorge

Well, since our fisherman, Rick, caught a 19 inch trout (!!!), he decided to join Leslie and me on this morning’s half hour steep hike up to a viewpoint.  From our viewpoint, we had the best view of the Stehekin Valley.

00

View of the Stehekin Valley

Rick’s prized trout, was dinner tonight!  We brought it back to Chelan with us and Timothy grilled it with rosemary and lemon slices.  Four of us feasted on the best trout ever!  Here it is below, about to be grilled.

L1300974

Anacortes

July 20, 2015
Another wonderful place in Washington discovered (for me) this past weekend.  Simone and I drove up to Anacortes, where we stayed with friends Janet and Steve.  Like so many others, I have been to Anacortes before because it is the point where we catch ferries to Lopez Island, Orcas, and San Juan Island.  However, I have never taken time to explore Anacortes.
Beautiful AnacortesThe town is named after Anna Curtis, wife of an early settler named Amos Brown.  And all this time I thought the name of the town sounded very Spanish, but it’s not!  We were there for the Shipwreck Festival, which is basically rows and rows of tables set up on the streets where vendors sell just about anything from used clothing to garage sale type items to crafts and furniture.  Every vendor is ready to make a bargain and, though I had no intention of buying anything, I got some good deals (amongst them a cute sunhat and a set of 6 blue water glasses).  Read on to see the weekend through many photos and captions!  I think this blog post is a record for number of photos posted!  I just can’t trim down to any fewer photos!  Enjoy..

We ate delicious meals.  Ingredients could not have been any fresher: vegetables straight from Janet and Steve's garden and from the Farmer's Market

Dahlias!

Loki the Cat and more from the garden...with all this heat, peaches are ripening early this year!

Anacortes Farmers' Market

Heirloom tomatoes at the market

Beautiful Carrots and Roots

Janet gets down to the business of buying purslane.  The market vendor told us how purslane is really good for the lungs.  Here is what I found out about delicious purslane: "Purslane is a nutritious weed increasingly used in agriculture and cooking recipes. This herb is high in vitamin C and metabolism-regulating Omega-3 fatty acids. "  I even read that it has more Omega-3 fatty acids than most fish oils!  I think I will add it to my herb garden.

Squash and Yellow Zucchini

It's Dahlia season!

Summer bouquets at the market

Seen earlier in the day at the Shipwreck Festival!

Back at Janet and Steve's house, Steve reads to me from his novel in progress!

Postprandial Walk

View along the trail

Since Janet and Simone were admiring this enormous drift log, I thought I'd capture it on film.  The light was divine.

Pugalicious!  A very sweet 14 year-old pug resting on a bench along the trail.

Sunset coming on.  Hot summer days and gorgeous sunsets is how I will always remember this summer.  It has been and continues to be amazing.

Sunset in Anacortes, along the Guemes Trail.  Does it get any better than this?

Sunset in Anacortes

And today's hike through a Madrona Forest!  Madronas are perhaps one of my favorite trees!

Madrona Trunk I

Madrona Trunk II

Splashes of Color for the Fourth of July

July 5, 2015

It is 10:28pm as I begin posting this blog.  It is Independence Day and the city of Ocean Shores is celebrating America’s birthday along with the rest of the county.  As I write, there is a constant boom, bang, pop in the air as people light their fireworks on the beach.  So much excitement in the air, literally!  This has been an unusually dry summer for this part of the world, so the city of Ocean Shores, Washington has forbidden fireworks anywhere but on the beach.

Meanwhile, as I walked through the garden today, admiring yesterday’s weeding and maintenance work, I thought about how the garden, too,  seems to be celebrating the 4th of July through bursts of color that rival tonight’s fireworks.  My garden seems to be saying, “Happy Birthday, America!”

Crocosmia "Lucifer"

The hummingbirds go crazy for this: Crocosmia “Lucifer”

Potted plants on the deck

Potted plants on the deck drenched in sunlight

A collection of rocks and shells welcome you as you enter the house.

A collection of rocks and shells welcome you before you enter the house.

Sword ferns love the moist environment of the shade garden

Sword ferns love the moist environment of the shade garden.

Bright as fireworks

Bright as fireworks

This fragrant antique rose that I started from a cutting dipped in rooting hormone is as big as my hand

This fragrant antique rose that I started from a cutting dipped in rooting hormone is as big as my hand!  The color says POW!

Liberty Apples.  We vie for these along with the raccoons.  Who will get to them first this year?

Liberty Apples. We vie for these along with the raccoons. Who will get to them first this year?

My dad's fig tree grows big beautiful leaves in the fruit orchard.  I have yet to taste the figs!  We need more sun here at the coast, but maybe someday, it will yield figs for me.  I already dream of eating them plucked fresh from the tree as well as making a fig and goat cheese pizza...and why not?  I will make an amazing jam of these figs when they finally grow on this tree!  My dad brought a cutting over from Sicily.

My dad’s fig tree grows big beautiful leaves in the fruit orchard. I have yet to taste the figs because they never ripen in our coastal climate. We need more sun here at the coast, but maybe someday, this tree will yield figs for me. I already dream of eating them plucked fresh from the tree as well as making a fig and goat cheese pizza…and why not? I will make an amazing jam of these figs when they finally grow on this tree! My dad brought this tree cutting over from Sicily.

Climbing roses

Climbing roses and butterfly bush intermingle.

Firecracker colors

Firecracker colors!

dd

Blue blue sky for the 4th of July!

Blue sky as backdrop for the 4th of July!

Garden view from the house

Garden view from the house (with my brother-in-law Jim’s birdhouses…many have resident chickadees busily feeding their chicks!)

Summer Solstice

June 15, 2015

We are fast approaching Summer Solstice.  This is my favorite time of the year.  I love the light, the sunshine, the warmth, and the late sunsets.  Little Renaissance is alive with climbing roses in full bloom.  The garden appears to thrive on neglect and I marvel at how lush the greenery is.  It has been so warm out that the plums look like they might be ready to harvest in a week or two!

Dragon Driftwood

Dragon Driftwood

The days are long this time of year.  This past weekend has been filled with sun drenched days.  There is a lovely group who comes out to Little Renaissance twice a year for a yoga retreat weekend filled with creative yoga sessions, lunch out in the garden, long walks on the beach, great company, and lively conversations.  This was the weekend we shared with them.  So much fun!  Such a great tradition.  (Just ask me about booking a weekend with us!.)

Crab

Crab

Rick using his magnificent telephoto lens to capture the two bald eagles on the driftwood!

Rick using his magnificent telephoto lens camera to capture the two bald eagles on the driftwood! (My camera is quite limited, having not much of a telephoto lens.)

Double header-headstands.  Skye brought her headstand bench, too!

Double header-headstands. Skye brought her headstand bench, too!

Skye Kickin' Air

Beautiful Sky, Ocean, and Skye!

Sand Crab Shell

Sand Crab Shell

A Feast For The Eyes

May 2, 2015
Precious Tulips

Precious Tulips

Both yesterday and today I was able to capture some colorful shots which bring to life the color of spring from a visit to the West Seattle Chinese Garden and the idyllic life of Seattle houseboat living from today’s waffle breakfast gathering after yoga class.  Enjoy these photos and the captions that tell their stories.

dd

Simone and I went to the Chinese Peony Garden in West Seattle.  Simone read about these fabulous peony trees planted there, so we had to go!  We found that hardly any of the peony trees were in bloom and there were very few buds.  We felt lucky to see this yellow beauty.

Another yellow peony.  Please don't kill ants if you see them on your peonies!  No ants, no peonies!

Another yellow peony. Please don’t kill ants if you see them on your peonies! Ants help nurture the peonies.

Chinese design

Chinese design

Peeping in on the tulips at the Chinese Garden.

Peeping in on the tulips at the Chinese Garden.

After yoga this morning, the class enjoyed waffles at Carol's boathouse.  I so enjoy looking at the colorful houseboats.

After yoga this morning, the class enjoyed waffles at Carol’s boathouse. I so enjoy looking at the colorful houseboats.

"What can I bring?" "Flowers." Sometimes you get what you ask for!  Lilacs, rhododendron, Solomon's Seal in a vase!

“What can I bring?”
“Flowers.”
Sometimes you get what you ask for! Lilacs, rhododendron, and Solomon’s Seal from Simone’s garden!

A cooking magazine lying about

a cooking magazine lying about

The table waiting for waffles and hungry yogis

Carol’s table waiting for waffles and hungry yogis..

Houseboat shelving laden with the best cookbooks ever!

Houseboat shelving laden with the best cookbooks ever!

This is what a cooking lover's kitchen looks like!

This is what a cooking lover’s kitchen looks like!

Waffles:  Almost every square filled with French

Waffles: Almost every square filled with French butter and maple syrup!

Joyful Playful Ceramic Art made by Carol's sister, Joy

Joyful Playful Ceramic Art made by Carol’s sister, artist Joy Brown

Channeling Mom

September 22, 2014

Once upon a time I was going to write a blog post titled In Her Shoes, but I never wrote it.   After my mom passed away and I had to help go through her belongings, I discovered that her brand-new never-worn shoes and her barely-worn vintage size 8 shoes somehow fit my size 7 foot!  I stashed some of her shoes into my suitcase to take home with me and donned one comfy pair for the flight home.   I suppose the title came to me then, but the follow-through to write didn’t.

Ma's shoe on Fra's foot

In Her Shoes…they fit me perfectly!

Today’s the day I will write about Channeling Mom, about how I hear her telling me how to grow beautiful flowers while I tend my garden, how to cuss at a spider in Sicilian to chase away fear as I walk right into a web strewn across the door to the greenhouse, how she whispers in my ear not to fear bees as they practically land on my arm, how to admire birds, how to keep fresh water in the bird bath so that the birds will continue to delight as they bathe and spread their feathers.

Mom was crazy about yellow flowers!

Mom was crazy about yellow flowers!

Late summer blooms

Late summer blooms

The earth smiles through her flowers.

The earth smiles.

Freshly filled birdbath

Freshly filled birdbath

Right after I took the first photo, this mamma squirrel swiftly appeared to get some water.  Fast as lightning, she is a blur in my photo.

Right after I took the first photo, this mamma squirrel swiftly appeared to get some water. Fast as lightning, she is a blur in my photo.

Birdbath, Namaste Frog, and Thirsty Mamma Squirrel.

Birdbath, Namaste Frog, and Thirsty Mamma Squirrel.

And my mom continues to whisper in my ear as I go to the market to buy olives, Sicilian sea salt from Trapani, olive oil, onions, cheese, flour, and yeast to make olive bread rolls, or impinialata, a specialty from Grotte.  And as I make and knead the dough for the impinialata,  I hear mom’s funny jokes about the texture of the dough (“Fra, vidi?  Ava essiri comu la panza di to ma!”  Franny, you see?  The dough’s gotta be soft like your ma’s tummy!) Later, as I roll out the dough with mom’s rolling pin that is now mine, I hear her say, “Fa lu chiu finu! Accusi!” “Roll it out thinner!  Like this!”

Olive Bread Rolls (Impinialata)

Olive Bread Rolls (Impinialata)

Her words still reverberate in my head as I pull the baked impinialata from the oven.  My house smells like Nonna’s house in Grotte.  Never mind that it’s between lunch and dinnertime, Rick and I sit down to feast on the piping hot olive bread.  In my head, I hear my mom commending me on my hard work.  “Mi!  Buonu vini!” “Oh my!  It came out good!”  Compliments are not so easy to come by from mom to me, so I feel happy…even if this is only a conversation inside my head.  What really makes me happy is when I hear Rick say, “Franny, this is about as good as, if not better than, your mom’s impinialata!”

So worth the labor!

So worth the labor!

Our beautiful summer in the great Northwest is coming to an end, but the sun still shines and every day is a delight. And my trip to Sicily is right around the corner.  I am leaving on Tuesday and will be leading two back-to-back yoga retreats in Sicily just outside of Catania.  After the retreats, I will stop by and see my relatives in Grotte before heading back home.  I don’t know if I will eat impinialata.  Hardly anyone makes it any more because it is too laborious to make by hand!   Two years ago, my sister Nora and I did find some impinialata in the local bakery in Grotte and we discovered that the dough was rolled out by a machine.  Imagine that!  My mom would flip! She would also be quick to comment on how the machine fails to roll out the dough thin enough, the way she taught me.  The best part of going to Grotte is, of course, seeing my family.  A part of my mom lives on in her brothers and sisters and I get to be engulfed in their love!

Sunset at Grass Creek I

Sunset at Grass Creek I

Sunset at Grass Creek II

Sunset at Grass Creek II (with remnants of the pilings from an old pier)

Sunset at Grass Creek III

Sunset at Grass Creek III

Dog Days of Summer

August 13, 2014

Here’s a journey that must be told through photographs.  Our annual trip to Stehekin is always filled with such immense beauty and this year’s adventure was no exception.  Stehekin provides a sacred wilderness that seems to defy time.  Leslie, Winnie, and I filled our days with various hikes, while Rick spent his days fishing for trout on the Stehekin River and writing haiku.

Stehekin Garden

Stehekin Garden

Below are the many photos that should come with the scent of pine and pitch, the smell of the glacial light-blue river, the ever-present distant smell of a camp fire which, sadly, comes from the forest fires that are raging in various areas in Washington state.  The following photos should also come with sounds:  the tired fearless engine of the ol’ family truck as Leslie shifts it into gear and gets going, the rushing river, the tumbling waterfall of Rainbow Falls, the sound of our footsteps on the trails, the chattering of the squirrels as Winnie scares them up trees, the wisps of the wind coming off Lake Chelan, the never ending conversations that Leslie and I share on the trail, the high pitched hum of mosquitoes on the River Trail, and the occasional loud clapping of our hands as we come around a bend on the trail in order to warn any bears that might be just around the corner because,  no, we don’t want to surprise a bear!

Enjoy Stehekin, Washington and a few photos at the end from Chelan.

Our first evening sunset in Stehekin.  The smoke from the fires was kept at bay because of the wind (blowing in our favor), but once the wind died down, the Stehekin Valley slowly filled with smoke.  Oddly, the smoke made for what Leslie referred to as  "dramatic Cathedral lighting".

Our first evening sunset in Stehekin:  Tradition calls for a postprandial walk to Rainbow Falls.  On our way back from the falls, the sky turned red.  The smoke from the fires was kept at bay on this first night and the whole next day because of the wind (blowing in our favor). However,  once the wind died down, the Stehekin Valley slowly filled with smoke. Ironically, the smoke made for gorgeous photos and dramatic Cathedral lighting.

Back at the cabin, Winnie kept busy chasing squirrels up trees.

Back at the cabin, Winnie kept busy chasing squirrels up trees.

A visit to Stehekin is not complete without a visit to The Garden, where I stocked up on the garden's veggies, fruit, and goat cheese.

A visit to Stehekin is not complete without a visit to The Garden, where I stocked up on the garden’s veggies, fruit, and goat cheese.

Dahlia I (dinner plate size!)

Dahlia I (dinner plate size!)

Dahlia II

Dahlia II

Dahlia III  Karl grows these dazzlers in his garden. I love the variety in the Dahlia family of flowers.

Dahlia III   Karl grows these dazzlers in his garden. I love the variety in the Dahlia family of flowers.

And this year, Karl added a roofed structure to protect his fridge and tables bearing honey, beeswax candles, salves, and herbs.  Beautiful Navaho weaving.

And this year, Karl added a roofed structure to protect his fridge and tables bearing honey, beeswax candles, salves, and herbs. Beautiful Navaho weaving.

Winnie is very comfortable in the old truck!

Winnie is very comfortable in the old truck!  We think she had a truck in her pre-rescued life.

Reminders of fires past....

Reminders of fires past….

Ah, this cold water feels good on my hot paws!  And it is oh-so-refreshing to drink!

“Ah, this cold water feels good on my hot paws! And it is oh-so-refreshing to drink!”

Woman's Best Friend  (I think of all the photos, this one captures the Lakeside Trail the best).

Woman’s Best Friend (I think of all the photos, this one captures the Lakeside Trail the best as well as the JOY these two have found in each other!).

Hair whipping wind coming off Lake Chelan

Hair-whipping wind coming off Lake Chelan

My friend Winnie

My friend Winnie  (Oh, by the way, the water really is that blue!  The water comes from melted glacial water carrying silt that creates this unique blue color.)

Back at the cabin, our Haiku-Fisherman Rick has caught us a dinner sized trout!

Back at the cabin, our Haiku-Fisherman Rick has caught us a dinner sized trout!

Rick in his fishing raft on the Stehekin River.

Rick in his fishing raft on the Stehekin River.

Sit and Stay a while!

Sit and Stay a while:  my reading bench

I know it says "River Trail" but it could have said "Mosquito Trail" and would have been more descriptive.  We have never encountered mosquitoes like this on the River Trail!  Deet Jungle Juice Off Repellent needed to be reapplied again and again, but worked and kept us going.  Met some firefighters at the trail head, one who tried to warn us about the mosquitoes (we thought he was being wimpy and exaggerating the whole thing because we have done this hike before and it is buggy but worthwhile, but, in fact, the firefighter was right!)  We later met a baby-faced forest ranger on the River Trail.  He had countless welts on his arms, so I sprayed him down with OFF and he was very thankful!

I know it says “River Trail” but it could have said “Mosquito Trail”, which would have been more descriptive. We have never encountered mosquitoes like this on the River Trail!  DEET Jungle Juice Off Repellent needed to be reapplied again and again, but worked and kept us going.

All good things come to an end and our time in Stehekin went by quickly.  This was taken before departure by float plane.  Here is our float plane waiting for us.  Rick had to carry Winnie.  Winnie looked like a damsel in distress hanging on to Rick. with her hind legs clamping down on his hip bones and her front paws on his shoulders!  You can see how much smoke from the forest fires has moved into the Stehekin Valley.

All good things come to an end and our time in Stehekin went by quickly. This was taken before departure by float plane. Here is our float plane waiting for us. You can see how much smoke from the forest fires has moved into the Stehekin Valley.

Back in Chelan:  Miss Coco

Back in Chelan:  Full-Figured Coco (she is adorable!)

Mr. Tickman with his pose of total abandon and his belly that begs to be pet.  This little boy magically wriggled his way into the Fichtner household.

Mr. Tickman with his pose of total abandon and his belly that begs to be pet. This little boy magically wriggled his way into the Fichtner household.

Irresistible Tickman

Irresistible Tickman

I think this bowl of kibble says it all!

I think this bowl of kibble says it all!

And lastly, this is MY hydrangea!  Leslie's mom planted her and called her Francesca.

And lastly, this is MY hydrangea! Leslie’s mom planted this bush and called her Francesca.  This makes me so happy!


%d bloggers like this: