Yakima River "Farmlands"

The last week of April, we spent a day doing a guided fly fishing trip on the Yakima River. We fished the stretch they call the Farmlands, from the west side of Ellensburg to the Ringer Loop boat launch. We caught fish, hooked fish, lost fish, and had an absolute blast.

We learned so much from Stefan Woodruff, our guide from Ellensburg Angler, who was patient and always explained exactly where to cast and why, told us when we'd thrown the line correctly (the positive feedback was great), and taught us how to read the river. He knew the river intimately, and by the end of the day, it felt as though we were on our way to knowing the river, too.

This time I was brave enough to take my big camera out on the boat, and was glad I did. It was a beautiful sunny day, with perfect temperatures. At noon we beached the boat and Stefan grilled up steaks for lunch.

Highlights of my day were the five-pound whitefish I caught (it's in a previous photo), and this 17-inch rainbow that fought every step of the way before I landed it in the net. And then there was the even bigger rainbow that I played for nearly ten minutes before he flipped himself off the hook... just as much a thrill for me as the other fish I caught that day.

I was always skeptical of guided river trips until we did our first trip last fall, on the south fork of the Snake River. Now I'm a convert. It's the perfect way to learn a new river, mainly because of the knowledge your guide has to share. Plus it's a great way to improve fly fishing skills. The guide teaches you new skills to apply to their particular river, and you practice the stuff you already know, fine-tuned with feedback from your guide. What could be better?


Spiky green and orange

I didn't plant Oriental poppies in my gardens, they just showed up one day. And they thrived. So every year or so I divide the plants, and move them around, and now they're everywhere. They're very polite perennials, though. No overseeding or taking over, pushing other plants out of their way. They just set fuzzy green buds in the middle of spring, then one at a time, pop open into a riot of bright orange.

Since most of my choices for perennials are pinks and blues and purples, the orange fits in quite well.

But I think the bud stage steals the show. I just love those huge green spiky flower heads, just before the orange starts to peek through.


Old gardens...

I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines
Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield

When we bought our old farmhouse nearly thirty years ago, one thing that delighted me was the mature rhododendron garden that wrapped around the patio. There were two dozen bushes in all, plus azalea bushes, more than I've ever seen in one place. Since we moved into our little farmhouse in October, it was a long wait until April, when they started to bloom.

Memory is a funny thing, because when I think back I remember them as always being large and lush. But then I come across an old photograph and realize they were once just normal size.

I love tangled cottage gardens, so over the years I encouraged the rhodies to grow bigger and bigger, and in their old age now, they're practically trees, soaring way over my head. They make our outdoor living area private and intimate, and for a couple of months each spring, give us non-stop color.

I still don't know what any of the varieties are. But that doesn't really matter.


Gardens in spring

However many years she lived, Mary always felt that she should never forget 
that first morning when her garden began to grow

I admit it... I am a fair weather gardener. And many years, I don't plant anything new, or move anything around, or plan new beds or borders, because we're often out on the road in spring and early summer, exploring the world outside our little farm. It's tough to bring new plants along, when no one is there to water them.

My hands-off approach works for me, because most of what grows around my little farmhouse has been established for a very long time. The trees and shrubs and perennials are mature, and they seem to do very well without any help from me...  they set fruit and burst into bloom and push up through the ground all on their own.

Still, I impatiently wait for the rains to quit, and the ground to warm up enough to start cleaning up the flowerbeds. A few weeks of weeding, nurturing the volunteers (anyone want some baby Hellebores?), checking each day for signs that my plants are alive and well. That's the kind of gardening I love.

The last time I put in new perennials was four years ago, when I planted one end of the patio border with a few of my favorites... lady's mantle, orange poppies, speedwell, and these gorgeous perennial bachelor's buttons. I love watching them push out buds, with a mosaic-like symmetry that I find beautiful. Then the purple-blue petals start to show at the tips, then the flowers burst into bloom. They are one of my favorite flowers to photograph, and if I'm careful to deadhead them, they'll bloom way into the fall.

Each year, I think I'm most excited when the lilacs finally bloom. Our four shrubs were old when we bought the property, and I still have one of the original shrubs. The rest have fallen victim to ice storms or old age, and I've let sucker plants grow up to take their place. This year they lasted longer than they normally do. Usually the lilacs burst into bloom, are gorgeous for a few days, then it rains, and the wind blows, and they're gone before I know it. But not this year. The lilacs were a joy for a couple of weeks.

Spring never disappoints me.


On the reading stool in April

Research into various photography topics stacked the stool this month (and will spill over into May). The lunar eclipse fueled some of it; reading about photographing the night sky. Contemplating switching from PhotoShop Elements to Lightroom is also something I'm looking into. But mostly, the past couple of months I've been reading everything I can about landscape photography, which is my absolute favorite.


Sean Arbabi's The BetterPhoto Guide to Exposure
Harold Davis' Creative Night Photography
Lee Frost's Landscape Photography
Alan Hess' Night & Low Light Photo Workshop 
Rob Sheppard's Magic of Digital Landscape Photography
Peter Watson's Reading the Landscape
Art Wolfe's New Art of Photographing Nature
Jennifer Wu's Photography: Night Sky


Anne Cleeves' Raven Black and White Nights


Birds and spring (TT)

This time of year, I keep an eagle eye (no pun intended) on the bird feeders in my orchard. They are such fun to watch... eating and finding mates, flying here and there with nesting material in their beaks, and swooping to catch bugs. Every so often, I pass the window when the birds take a break to eat, and I snap their picture.

Posted today to Texture Tuesday, using Kim's kk_stay texture (Overlay @ 45%)


Old Town...

Over the past few years, one of our friends has restored two gorgeous Old Town canoes. They have wood frames and are covered in canvas. He just bought another one to restore as a retirement project. The new one is short, and they're tough to find in that size. The wood is in perfect condition, it just needs replacement cane seats and exterior paint. And maybe a fresh coat of varnish.

When we visited last weekend, Jim had pulled all the canoes out on the porch of their lakeside home, getting ready for a canoe club rally next weekend. I think they look perfect there, and was glad of the chance to see them up close, and take photographs.

I think they're works of art, don't you?



Jamie, affectionately known as James (also James-the-cat, Blondie, and Honey Bunny), departed this life today. Of all the wonderful, funny, affectionate cats who have shared our life over the decades, she is the one I will miss the most. She adopted us the summer of 2003 as a young cat, moved right into our house and into our hearts, and I can't believe she's gone. She was too young, and I feel cheated... I wanted more time with her.

Goodbye, James. I will love you forever.



There was plenty of building material along this river in the Cascades. I like to think the architect marked the perfect spot to photograph the river.

This rocky riverbank reminded me of our time spent at Ruby Beach last summer, when we made a game out of finding the perfect stack-up of flat stones to make a tower.


Spring comes...

The high country is the last to see the brilliant spring greens of the deciduous trees, so a detour home from the east side was definitely a must. Yakima canyon to White Pass, then over Chinook Pass toward Mount Rainier. The mountain was playing hard to get today, buried in clouds and invisible from just above Tipsoo Lake. But the Naches River was picture perfect, and we even saw a big spring salmon.