Thanksgiving approaches and once again I am baking three kinds of pie, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and a turkey breast. There will be mashed potatoes and (store bought) gravy, roasted brussels sprouts, and veggie lasagna. For four people. We will be grateful for abundance and eat all the leftovers for days. We will be grateful for all the years we could share the meal with a larger group of family and friends. I will even make just a little bit of whipped cream for the pies, to keep with tradition, this year when we struggle to keep the traditions afloat. We won’t be using the good china, the antique gravy boat, or grandma’s silver. We won’t be lighting candles or lingering over the table. We will be in the backyard, grateful that it is not raining. Grateful that after a negative covid test and continued social distancing, we can set up a separate table for our son to join us, and we can sit together for as long as the weather holds. We will be grateful to have lots of warm clothes, hand knitted socks, scarves and sweaters to keep us warm while we celebrate our first, and hopefully our last, Covid Thanksgiving. November 25, 2020
-on a midweek getaway, to a self-contained cabin in Packwood, Washington, with our own food, following all Covid-19 precautions. We have seen the stunning wildflower displays of summer a few times, and had long been wanting to see the the mountain in fall colors.
September 29, 2020 – Comet Falls/Van Trump Park
This trail, west of the Nisqually River and Paradise, follows Van Trump Creek all the way up to the stunning Comet Falls, then farther up the slopes to magnificent views of Mt Rainier from Van Trump park. (P.B. Van Trump was one of the first to stand on the summit of the mountain, in 1870). A very challenging and satisfying hike (7 miles, 2500 feet).
The trail continued upward steeply, into Van Trump Park.
Views of the glaciers from a new angle:
The trail down seemed steeper than the trail going up; that might just be my knees talking.
We stopped at a couple of roadside viewpoints on our way out of the park.
We could not resist stopping to see the mirror image in Reflection Lakes.
September 30 – Naches Peak/Tipsoo Lake Loop, smoke haze at Sunrise, Silver Falls.
We hiked this loop trail (4 miles, 600 feet), with our views increasingly shrouded in haze. Wildfire smoke began drifting diffusely in, creating a grayish white sky that was so startlingly blue yesterday.
We were almost alone as we walked around Tipsoo Lake, admiring the beautiful reflections in its mirror-like surface.
Then we hiked the loop around Naches Peak – following the Pacific Crest Trail.
We passed a small lake with a friendly chipmunk.
Once over the shoulder of Naches Peak, we could see the Dewey Lakes to the southeast as the smoke haze increased.
The trail circles back west, with stunning views of Mt Rainier when there is no haze, as it passes more small lakes.
We stopped to admire Upper Tipsoo Lake near the trailhead before finishing the hike.
After lunch we drove up to Sunrise, elevation 6400 feet, but the smoke haze obscured views, so we didn’t stay.
Instead we hiked to Silver Falls, on the Ohanapecosh River, through old and mossy forest, to see clear turquoise waters, and bright falling waters cutting through a slick rock gorge. All in all a lovely ‘recovery’ day from yesterday – the hikes being not so steep. We hope the smoke will blow out for tomorrow.
October 1 – Paradise, Golden Gate Trail, Panorama Point
The mountain was ‘out’ behind a thin veil of translucent haze! Smoke would gather throughout the day below us to the south on the flanks of the Tatoosh Range.
We hiked across Paradise Valley, and up the Golden Gate switchbacks and granite steps, to the High Skyline Trail that circles the valley (6 miles, 1700 feet).
We saw a black bear foraging in the meadows below, and at least eight marmots foraging and nest building on our way up.
The slopes were still green, and full of fading wildflowers with a few remaining blooms.
Once to the ridge, stark, glaciated landscape dominated.
A mountain goat was resting near one of the snow fields in the cirque.
Over the rocky top above Panorama Point, near Pebble Creek, we sat on the rocks and ate our lunch with a full mountain view: 7000 feet of vertical relief, glaciers and sculpted rocks. We heard an occasional boom as something up there, heeding gravity, fell.
We made our way back down the steep granite steps, past Panorama Point and more glacier views.
The bear was still roaming in the valley below.
We crossed through the brilliant red huckleberry foliage on the flank of Alta Vista.
After a last stop at Edith Creek and Myrtle Falls, I was done walking for a while. My legs were tired, my cup full! I have to agree with the sentiment carved in the steps at the trailhead. This is one of the most beautiful places I have been. I feel so lucky to have seen it in the fall!
November 11th, 2020 – Well yeah!!! Biden and Harris won the election! We will have a new administration in January! Action will be taken on the pandemic, on climate change, on humanitarian treatment of every person, with intelligent, informed, common sense in decision making.
And, our new vice president Kamala Harris represents the breaking of the glass ceiling for so many underrepresented and often abused populations of people! What joy!
Halloween was celebrated in a subdued way.
My neighborhood trees have gone through their beautiful color change cycle. Just today I walked through red, yellow and orange paved sidewalks. Rain is turning leaf piles to mush. The city clean up trucks are coming tomorrow.
For me, now that I know that our current president will be replaced by someone with decency, I can feel my stress levels decreasing. So many events this year involving breath – the coronavirus, the smoke from wildfires, the political morass…I am beginning to breathe more freely again!
Another thing I can do again has to do with my crafting. I love quilting and sewing, but for me it is a different sort of creativity than knitting. And for me, all the stress of the past four years has found its best relief in knitting. I am grateful, and I will keep on knitting. But on Friday night, when my son told me I really did have reason to be optimistic, I got the notion to pull out a languishing quilt top. Quilting is a different creation process to knitting, and not nearly as immediately satisfying as picking up needles and frantically knitting until I calm down a bit. I have already basted the quilt, and am making decisions about thread and pattern, so soon will be stitching.
I have no delusions that our national way forward will be easy. Almost half of the nation voted for our country to stay on the same path. I believe that people are allowed to believe whatever they want, but there should be a wall that separates church and state. White supremacy is wrong. I and more than 75 million other Americans, not to mention millions of global citizens, have been holding our breath these four years, knitting frenetically in my case, waiting to be able to breathe again. When all the law suits and the recounts and the lame attempts at coup are done, we will all be inhaling deeply, exhaling freely, back on the path of decency, with many long hills still to climb, but a worst scenario overcome.