It's the start of wildflower season, and it's looking like a great year for hunting the alpine wildflowers.

At a mile high near Mount Rainier National park, the bear grass, lupine, and paintbrush are in full bloom, in meadows free from snow for just about two weeks.


Dawn's early light...

The band of pink appeared around the horizon at 3:30 this morning. With nothing but windows between me and the horizon, it was impossible to miss. I was amazed at how much color was in the sky, so long before first light. I guess that's because my bunk is a mile high.

I looked out the window for a bit, then decided that with no clouds in the sky, the sunrise would be ho-hum, and I rolled over and went back to sleep.

DW woke me up at 4:45. "You're going to miss the sunrise," he said. I rolled over again, but knew that I'd regret it later if I didn't get outside with my camera. So I pulled on my sweatshirt and sandals, and went out into the light.

We're expecting a lot of people to come up today, to enjoy the view of the mountain, stay for a picnic, maybe go hiking. It's a great place to celebrate the 4th of July.

But for now, I'll take in the serenity and quiet of this special place, alone on top of a hill.



Today was our first day at Suntop. We left clouds and rain behind, and at a mile high, broke through the clouds to find sun and clear skies. A photographer walked up the trail to the lookout about an hour before color started showing in the sky. And it lingered on and on, well beyond last light. At 10:30, I was still walking around with my camera, looking for one last photograph.

This was the most magical sunset ever.

The setting sun lit up clouds in the Puget Sound lowlands like waves on the ocean

One of the lookout's original folding chairs from the 1930s



We're volunteering at Suntop lookout for a couple of days, sort of like backpacking but with bunks and a killer view.

Mac the geocaching travel bear will come along, to visit geocaches and ride the trails in my backpack.


My father's garden...

I have vivid memories of working in the yard when I was a child. It was a family effort, weeding the flower beds (my sisters and me), mowing the grass with a push mower (my dad), raking leaves in the fall, and hauling everything to a pile by the burn barrel to be burned once dry. The joys of growing flowers escaped me then; it was just a lot of work.

After the yard was spruced up, Dad would fire up the barbecue and we'd have a picnic in the back yard. I remember warm summer days and soft breezes, blue skies, web lawn chairs, and ice cream floats. Those were good days.

My dad loved flowers, but I only have sketchy memories of what actually grew in the yard. There were azaleas and rhododendrons, and a thorny witch hazel in one corner. And there were a lot of trees: locust, mountain ash, dogwood, and hemlock. Mom loved the shade; we girls always wished for just a little patch of sun for sunbathing.

We moved to our little farm in the fall, so I had no idea what would push up come spring. Like my childhood home, the gardens were full of rhododendrons and azaleas, and surrounded by trees. I was happy to find daisies and primroses, and especially pleased to find rose campion, something I remembered from my parent's yard, but had never seen anywhere else.

I loved that connection. Memories of home and childhood, every time I look out the windows.

. . . . .

Rose campion was being cultivated in English gardens by the 1600s, and came to America in the 1700s. The first mention of Rose campion in American gardening literature is in Thomas Jefferson's garden book, where in 1767 he recorded that the Lychnis was in bloom at his boyhood home. It's a hardy biennial that blooms in early summer, with brilliant magenta flowers and fuzzy gray-green foliage.


Real daisies...

I love daisy time in the Northwest. For weeks, my pastures are full of them, and they fill the ditches and the roadsides with their happy faces. With a little help, they also thrive in my flower beds. My husband calls them "real daisies," and refuses to consider the claim of any other.  When you grow up here, where they grow in such abundance, it's hard to disagree.

Raspberry to salmon...

The color contrast between blossom and berry is amazing... that's the Northwest salmon berry. I'm always happy to see the bright cerise blooms in early May, one of the first blooms in the woods here.

The blooms stand out, but when the berries make an appearance, they hide behind the leaves, peeking out only if you look for them.



Lately it's been a struggle to find a quiet time to sit and write. It seems as though everything is in a turmoil, perhaps a quiet turmoil, but still... hard to settle down and focus on writing my daily journal.

Here's my life the past three weeks: Interviewing roofing contractors. Interviewing painting contractors. Driving around to look at historic neighborhoods to get ideas for paint colors. Pulling weeds. Dismantling a couple of dozen patio pots and moving plants around. Cleaning out the potting shed. Finishing up a charity quilt top. Evening out with the dinner club. Two evenings in downtown Seattle, one for a meeting, the other for a cooking class and dinner. Searching for a new home for 16 beautiful old double-hung windows that came out of the farmhouse (years before we bought it). Washing a pile of old woolen fabric, turning it into felted wool. Planning a family camping trip for August. Getting ready to spend a few days babysitting a lookout tower. Cleaning out the old chicken coop, which was my tack room for all the years I had horses. A PSE energy audit. A drive around Mt. Rainier on the first day Chinook Pass was open (an annual tradition for us). A long-overdue trip to the dump, dragging stuff out of the house, the garage, and the barn (this felt especially good, except that it was 95 degrees that day, and the old truck has no a/c). A pulled back muscle that benched me for more than a week. And of course, our daily geocache.

No wonder my blog has been neglected, and I haven't even looked at the photographs I took in the garden last week. Or quilted any of the quilt tops I finished so far this year.

The roofer starts tomorrow, and that's a big relief. Getting the painting job started will be an even bigger relief. With five buildings, painting is a big job around here, and it will be good to finally settle on a contractor.

And then, maybe I can breathe again, and get back to my normal life.



It was hot before 10:00, but still we rummaged through the house and garage and barn, finding things with no value, loading the old truck until it was full. We had to leave some things behind, an old door that can't be repaired but just wouldn't fit. And lengths of drain pipe that DW just couldn't bring himself to get rid of. I know there's more junk to get rid of, but it will wait for another day.

It wasn't the best day to run around in a truck with no air conditioning. I was wilted by the time we finished at the dump. After wading through fair traffic to get to our favorite pub in Buckley, I thought the gods were looking out for us when we found a parking spot right in front. But no... the gals were swamped and frazzled (kind of like I felt) and their way to deal with the stress was to do absolutely nothing. So we left, headed south away from the madness, and finally found our dinner.

I watered the garden when we got home, and the peonies look as wilted as I feel. Tomorrow will be even hotter, so this may be the end until next year.


Spring in the valley..

The Kittitas Valley in central Washington has a rich farming heritage, and the broad open valley is home to more than a hundred barns. Many are on the Washington Heritage Barn registry, and many sport brightly colored quilt blocks. Because Kittitas Valley is also home to Washington's only barn quilt trail.

It's one of my favorite places to photograph historic barns. The light is beautiful and the views are wide open. Best of all, most of the valley is still being farmed. Some farms are managed today by the third generation of the original families.

Adding this barn to Tom's Barn Collective today. Check out his page for more beautiful barns.