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.
My fingers have been busy:
Walks around the neighborhood,
New signs, whimsy, architectural elements:
Fall colors evolving…
I have been hunting witches and other Halloween displays, to be shared in a later post.
Portland Textile Month, Tiny Pricks Art Installation
We visited the exhibition window to see the stitchery, made by artists who embroider a quote onto a vintage textile as a form of protest. It is not how I want to spend my crafting time – but I was glad to get a chance to see a small sampling of the thousands of pieces that have been contributed to this crowd-sourced artwork.
Silver Falls State Park
October 19th – We hiked the 5 mile waterfall loop. It was hard to relax and enjoy the scenery – there were a fair number unmasked, seemingly Covid-protocol-oblivious hikers. We cut our day shorter than usual. The waterfalls are always beautiful, and the light streaming through the yellow big leaf maples enchanting.
Deschutes River trail, a smattering of rain, it feels like walking through a purifying mist, and there’s no Covid out here.
I could be wrong, we have passed a few hikers, anglers, a hydrologist; there are boats on the river, workers on the railroad across the river, campgrounds and powerlines nearby.
Maybe because in this low desert landscape, with golden light on the black cliffs and the dry grass of late summer, I feel like I can really breathe out here; the scent of the high desert, and a smattering of rain only enhancing the sense of free fresh air.
Up on the hill now after lunch, golden and desolate views of the rivers, views of the black volcanic rocks that used to enclose cascading waters of Celilo Falls, cascading waters that used to have salmon leaping up them every year, salmon leaping up into the nets of the Celilo people, before the dam.
Windmills on the hills, power transmission lines to the dam, cell towers, highways, train tracks, campgrounds, and yet I feel alone on this golden hillside.
I feel alone even though the powerlines are buzzing above us, the powerlines are transmitting the thoughts and bytes of millions, and yet I feel blessedly alone.
I’m not really alone of course – hiking with Dan, in a respite from the city; the desert is a place of wide open freedom – harsh, spiky, dry, rocky, steep, prickly; hidden hazards beyond each cliff, under every rock, yet wide open above, on an autumn day, I am lucky to be here, to be breathing freely.
Bonus content: More River otters! There were six otters playing in the river near the trailhead –
Celilo Falls, Salmon fishing, before the dam:
“Courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine”
September 20 to 23, 2020
We were able to reschedule our planned trip to the central Oregon Coast until after the wildfire smoke cleared out. We stayed in a hotel, brought our own food, and walked on the beaches and trails, following all the covid-safety protocols. Many of the parks and trails along the coast were closed due to the recent windstorms and wildfire smoke event, or due to Covid precautions. But all of the beaches were open for walking.
Sunday, September 20th
We arrived in Yachats in the evening, in time to walk along the rocky outcrops near our hotel as the tide was receding, and watch a lovely sunset, with pelicans and gulls.
Monday, September 21st –
Washburne to Hobbit Beach at low tide – A lovely three mile walk toward Haceta Head.
After our beach walk we continued south along the coast looking for more adventures. Our next stop was to see a swath of carnivorous plants.
We followed the north side of the Siuslaw River to it’s mouth and took a walk along the North Jetty, where we again saw pelicans and plovers.
Exploding Whale park
As we drove back toward Florence, this park caught our attention. It is named for the infamous attempt to dispose of a washed up dead whale with dynamite, on a nearby beach, about 50 years ago.
Haceta Light House
We stopped briefly south of Haceta Head in the early afternoon to see the lighthouse through the fog. On our return trip north in later in the day, the view was much clearer.
Monday, September 22nd
Wax Myrtle Trail and Lagoon Trail, Siltcoos River
Campgrounds in this area were closed, and the trails were particularly empty on this beautiful September day.
As we walked back upriver on our return hike, another hiker pointed out three river otters who were swimming upstream and eating fish along the way. We followed along with them until they disappeared upriver. This is my first time seeing them in the wild!
We walked partway around the nearby lagoon, where these beautiful plants floated on the surface.
South Jetty, Siuslaw River
We drove back north toward Florence, and decided to drive out to the South Jetty of the Siuslaw River, just across from where we had walked on the North Jetty the previous day. There were plenty of people out there, also plenty of room to walk on beaches and in the dunes.
Sunset in Yachats
We had a lovely colorful sky outside our hotel.
Wednesday, September 23rd Yachats
We woke up to wind, and predictions of a storm coming in. We walked a short way on the beach in the wind before heading north toward home.
Seal Rock and Ona Beach
On our drive north, we stopped to look at the Seal Rocks, in the wind.
We stopped at Ona Beach, just to the north of Seal Rocks, and walked out to the beach.
These might be our last pelican sightings for the year.
Rain started as we headed back to the car. I felt so refreshed from our few days in the fresh air and wide open spaces of the Oregon coast, and thankful that I could be there during this difficult year of pandemic, climate and political crises.
Sun out today, white clouds, blue sky, it looks the way it should.
Today we are going to actually do something.
Today we are going to the coast.
Today when I woke up I felt so helpless- thinking about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and all the political turmoil that is part of the way we live now, spiraling down through conspiracy theories of my own regarding the complete fall of our democracy bit by bit throughout this administration, and how it will go on if the election fails again.
And Covid, and wildfires, and the fact that I can’t hug my son, and seeing my daughter is risky…a whirling spiral life of anxiety….and I am priveliged to take a break but cannot really, though I have my home, my town – safe places for the most part, for now…
I woke too early, at 6 am with these thoughts. I opened Facebook and there my friend Helen was posting in the wee hours last night about her own anxiety, her fears. And so many people told her she was not alone, they shared her fears.
I am sitting here in the sun in my kitchen window, watching the post-wildfire-smoke neighborhood come back to life. We donated money to political, food assistance and wildfire relief organizations. We are going to take some long walks on the beach this week, and clear our brains a bit, return refreshed and newly ready to proceed under the most stressful circumstances of this year, do whatever we need to do, whatever comes next. I hope.
September began with a heat wave, too hot for hiking. I went on my usual walks through the neighborhood, noting the late summer flowers and early signs of fall.
And I finished sewing my summer kimono robe.
We were planning some adventures after the Labor Day weekend, when the trails would be quieter. Instead, quite literally, all hell broke loose. In my last post, I expressed my “hope for a late summer without a local fire season.” I could never have predicted the late summer snowstorm in the Rockies that created an ‘unprecedented’ giant windstorm that swept westward across the continent, fanning the flames of wildfires in every combustible forest on the west coast of North America. We were safe at home, watching in horror, as the news kept getting worse.
Satellite photos from September 11th show the smoke being pulled far out to sea:
After the winds died down, the heavy smoke settled in, limiting visibility, and making breathing painful. We learned how to use the AirNow app to monitor our air quality, constantly refreshing the page, hoping for better results.
For six days I did not go out of doors at all – grateful to have a safe home to harbor in, knowing there were so many families evacuated, and many with their homes burned. Many have still not been able to return; meanwhile the firefighters, Red Cross, and all the social support services have stepped up to aid those in need. I have only gone out once, so far, to pick up a prescription and some groceries. Nobody is walking our neighborhood streets – the air has been too bad. Today it finally shows signs of improvement, and we may be able to step out in the next day or two.
Once again, knitting to the rescue. I have had time to finish a few projects:
And make progress on other projects:
Awake and say
“What time is it?
What day is it? What season?”
but not dark,
End of summer in a strange year
when all the cues are gone,
and now gone again.
Most things closed down again.
Wildfire smoke blankets our part of the planet.
Fall approaches, but is it the fall of our civilization? Or autumn?
Invisible viruses still pervade the air.
Not quite invisible smoke particles dim our sight, harm our lungs.
A metaphor for the insidious gloom covering our entire nation in an unprecedented election year, the outcome to determine how we will breathe going forward.
We took two hikes in Indian Heaven Wilderness, a beautiful patch of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Mt Adams and Mt St Helens in southern Washington. A few small volcanic peaks rise above the rolling forested landscape that is also spotted with dozens of lakes, and covered with ripe huckleberry bushes in August.
August 20, 2020 – Indian Racetrack Lake and Red Mountain
Views from the top:
Some details along the trail:
Hike #57, 6.8 miles, 1500 feet
August 28, 2020 – Thomas Lake trailhead to Junction Lake
The other ten lakes were seen on this hike.
Some details along the trail:
Hike #58, 6.8 miles, 630 feet.
Meanwhile, we are floating along through more days of pandemia – some days we see no one at all, only virtual connections to the outside world. Our neighbors leave us tomatoes. We leave them apples and plums and wave across the rose bushes. Downtown is still burning up with civil unrest while I go on placidly through the days of late summer, of pandemia, of this administration… I virtually hold my breath, knock on wood, pray, cast spells, wish for a begin to a return to ‘normalcy’; hope for a late summer without a local fire season, hope for a scientifically tested efficacious vaccine, and hope for a fair election that will allow us to emerge from impending climate change, covid and facism. And I knit…
I cast on a hat and some socks…
My daughter attended the 57th March on Washington,
-and this artwork crossed my social media feed:
I am still struggling a bit with the new WordPress format….
8/17/2020 – I’ve had a birthday, which we celebrated with a hike and a socially distanced takeout Thai dinner with our two sons. Despite the palpable pandemic/political chaos tension in the world I have much to be grateful for. Although I am missing having our usual summer get togethers with extended family, so is everyone in the world right now. I am especially grateful that we saw almost every relation last year, between two weddings and a graduation trip to the east coast. My latest acromegaly lab tests all look good, and, we are eating homegrown tomatoes and basil almost every day.
I have been knitting, knitting, knitting away on a few projects, fingers keeping the anxiety away.
My neighborhood walks continue to reveal signs of encouragement and solidarity.
Also in the neighborhood, late summer flowers, shadow play, interesting architectural elements, and tinges of the autumn ahead….
Two hikes on opposite sides of Mt Hood –
Burnt Lake August 5, 2020
My birthday hike on the west side of Mt Hood was mostly through shady forest, on a hot day, with a few stream crossings, and late season flowers. The other time we hiked here the mountain was under a cloud, so today we were very glad to see the beautiful reflections of Mt Hood in the lake. Hike #55, 8.5 miles, 1500 feet.
Notable flowers and plants:
Newton Creek to Timberline Trail, August 10, 2020
We started from the Elk Meadows trailhead, then walked uphill along the Newton Creek Trail, stopping for lunch near the Timberline Trail junction where we enjoyed lovely views of Mt Hood and Gnarl Ridge. We then walked south on the Timberline Trail toward Mt Hood Meadows for a short distance before turning back. Hike #56, 7.7 miles, 1600 feet.
Editing note – This is my first post with the New WordPress Editor, so there are lots of formatting inconsistencies. Not loving it, but I suppose I will get used to it as I continue hurling forward into the future, keeping my synapses sharp by constant novelty….