Soos Creek reflections

I missed a great photography moment today... a little girl running to rescue three goats, enticing them to follow her by scattering goat kibble. Really. I couldn't make this up. Wish I'd had my camera in hand, but I'd left it in the car when I went to herd the goats off the road. Oh, well... lesson learned.

I guess someone felt sorry for me, because when I parked and walked toward the trail, camera in hand, something told me to walk to the bridge railing and look at the creek. And the light and clouds and sun and reflections were amazing.


First snow in the Olympics

Every fall (and sometimes more often) we spend a whole day driving up to Sequim and Port Angeles, then driving back on WA-101, which runs down the west side of Hood Canal. It's a drive we both love, especially in the MX-5 with the top down!

Today we took the dead-end road to the oyster beds near Dewatto Bay, and as we rounded the curve, there were the Olympics above Hood Canal, dusted with the first snow of the season. What a beautiful sight.

The back road from Dewatto to Seabeck is a favorite of ours, especially this time of year, when the leaves have changed color. Much of the road is overhung with giant maple trees, and I love driving under the canopy of branches.

We stopped in Seabeck for breakfast at Barbie's, a tiny place on the end of one of the fishing piers. Great food, worth the drive. I'm more than a little partial to the fish sign that hangs over the door, and wish I could find one of my own to hang in the cabin. It's made of tin, handpainted, and is hollow. It seems the perfect sign for a cabin on a lake, don't you think?


Red wheel

Our next-door neighbor has a project: building a fence between our front pasture and theirs. Howard has been at it a couple of years now; first he had to tackle the towering jungle of blackberries that had taken over both our pastures. The original 1970s cedar and wire fence was flattened a decade ago by blackberry vines and winter limbfalls, and I didn't really mind as I no longer had horses to contain.

Today I went out to inspect our English walnut tree, our own fairly large project we'd like to get done before winter. Two massive tree-sized limbs came down in the February ice storm, and the plan is to turn most of it into firewood, plus a few projects of my own (walking sticks, rounds to dry for garden "paving" stones). Dave just mowed the pasture (and blackberries) so we can get to the tree, and once the weather improves, we'll start. I suspect this project may take as long as Howard's new fence.

It was a gorgeous day, so I walked over to check on the fence project. And I noticed a new addition to Howard's place: a tractor with a bright red wheel, peeking out from underneath a canvas tarp.  Rain... a lot of rain... is predicted for tomorrow. Should I walk back to the house and get my camera? Or wait until tomorrow? The urge to photograph the tractor won out. Good thing... the rain arrived on schedule, and the next day, the red wheel was gone, safely tucked underneath the tarp.


Toilet in a box

I've seen some interesting packing jobs in my life, but this was a hoot. It bears a bit of explanation: We live in an 89-year-old farmhouse in the middle of five acres of pastures and woods in a narrow valley. We've been there for 26 years now, and have never stopped loving it.

But buying an old farmhouse is not without challenges. Having fixtures wear out is part of owning a home, but when the upstairs bathroom toilet tank sprung a leak, we were stymied. You just can't go out and buy a replacement tank for a wall-hung toilet. So we did some online searching, and learned that our toilet was made in the early 1970s, and that we could buy a new tank for $600-700. Just the tank, without a lid.

Really? I don't think so.

More searching brought us to a guy who refurbishes fixtures from old houses and resells them. He had two used tanks with minor blemishes that would fit our toilet, for $80. Sold!

The tank arrived yesterday morning, right on schedule. When Dave lugged the box in from the front porch, we both started laughing. The seller promised it would arrive unbroken... I guess packing it in a box marked "Eggs" would just about ensure that!

I have to wonder what the UPS guy thought, as he lugged a 40 pound box of eggs to our front door.


Rain in the Northwest

It's raining today, the first rain in a very long time. This morning I built a fire in the woodstove... the first of the fall. It's been colder than this already in October. But there's something about a drizzly Northwest day that makes my bones shiver inside my skin, and I can't get warm unless the house is warm and toasty.

The cats love it too... instead of disappearing upstairs to sleep on the guest bed, James has stayed close to the woodstove all day. The window blinds are open to the view over the orchard and pastures, but it's gloomy outside, and has felt like dusk all afternoon.

This is one of my favorite photographs of autumn in the Northwest. It was taken near Preston last November, on the first day of snow in the Issaquah Alps. If you look close, you'll see the dusting of snow up near the ridge line. It was cold and windy and grey, a perfectly beautiful autumn day.

I've spent my day going through photographs in Photoshop, choosing new pictures for my blog header, and editing photos from our recent week in Bend, Oregon. I'll be posting a trip journal soon.


Socks and cats

Socks have always been a favorite thing of mine, right up there with soft, cozy sweaters. I think it's part and parcel with my love for fall. Each year, I can hardly wait until the heat of summer has passed, so I can pack away my shorts and tank tops, and make room for my sweaters. And even though I go barefoot as much as possible during the summer, my sock drawer never gets packed away. My favorites get mended, and I wear them until there's no saving them. (Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how to darn socks.)

I love all kinds of socks. Stripes and argyle, tweed and plaid, polka dots and flowers, cotton and wool and chenille. Even reindeer and Santa Clause and snowflake socks for winter.

My big blond cat loves socks as much as I do. But she's more of a plain vanilla kind of cat: she prefers Dave's plain cotton socks to my wild patterns. If I'm folding clothes, or packing a suitcase, if socks are involved, she's there. She'll reach out and snag the socks and pull them close, then she'll take a nap right in the middle


Waiting to pounce

Temperatures falling.
Leaves falling.
The locust and birch
fall in gentle drifts,
yellow and green, still soft.
The maple leaves hang on
until crisp and dry
Then fall straight down
with a rustle.

Overnight, summer has receded
leaving the feeling 
that winter is peeking
over my shoulder...
Waiting to pounce.


Sharing the cabin with family

Owning a cabin is wonderful. Sharing it is even better. Sometimes it's with friends, sometimes with family.  My sister comes out in the fall with her daughter and granddaughters, to pick huckleberries, and later on, to hunt the elusive chanterelle mushrooms.

This weekend we had our Australian nephew, Matthew, plus my sister's family (most of them, anyway). We sat on the deck and talked, took the canoe out, took endless photographs of the newest member of the family, Vivian. We cooked and ate, and almost slept out under the stars (before Ella got nervous about sleeping outdoors). We snuggled down on the deck until late, watching the stars and satellites. It was a great weekend. We missed Caroline, who is back home in Hawaii, and Jeromy. Next time!

This is my sister, Laurie, with her new granddaughter, Vivian Claire.
Fifty-nine years ago my parents chose the name 'Elisabeth Claire' for their youngest daughter. There are now six girls over three generations who share one of these names. My parents would be very pleased.

We all took a turn in the canoe this weekend, and my sister even consented to sitting on the floor in between the two seats, so the girls could "oar" her around the lake. Somehow the distinction between an oar (for a rowboat) and a paddle (for a canoe) escaped Callie... we all tried, and I even got out an example of each and gave a demonstration, to no avail. She persisted in calling a paddle an oar, to the amusement of us all.

The weekend was warm enough that the girls convinced the adults to let them take our floatation chairs for a test drive, which led to a tow around the lake by grandma and grandpa in the canoe. So glad we have kid-sized life jackets at the cabin. It would have been a real bummer to deprive everyone of so much fun!


Waking up at the lake

It’s 8:00 am, and the lake is a mirror. Someone’s just backed a small fishing boat down the gravel access road and pulled away, leaving the boat at the shoreline. Not a sign of fish rising. The ripples reach my side of the lake, and mist drifts across the surface.

It’s overcast today and cool. There’s no sound but a single bird chirping in the trees outside my aerie window, where I lie on the bed, watching the lake wake up for another day.

The fisherman is back. He’s set the electric motor in place and hops on board. Standing, he drifts quietly along the shore, casting his line in the shallows, and drifts out of view.

I hear the sound of wheels on gravel. But it’s not another fisherman, come to share the lake. Maybe another weekend cabin owner?

The mist is building. Soon the lake will disappear, as inevitable as the arrival of fishermen in the early hours. I’ve marked the arrival of both countless times from my small cabin at the water’s edge. I never get tired of the small quiet events here. This time—waking up at the cabin—is my favorite time here. I pull its peace over me like a blanket and smile.

Another crunch of tires on gravel. Another small boat appears at the end of the ramp. And the lake disappears behind a silver curtain of mist.

Time to build a fire, and start the coffee brewing, and pick up my book. And as I settle down to read, I reflect on the small, quiet events that are part of each day spent here. Strung together, they make cabin life a very satisfying life indeed.


Sweaters and socks

I pull on a sweater & socks each morning,
for days that start cool and foggy,
barely blue by ten,
golden by noon.

The horse trail fills up with leaves
that crackle under my feet.
I kick through them as I walk, and it makes me smile.

Soon my breath will bring little clouds of mist,
and skies will fill with the sound of Canada geese
arriving for winter.

The days will stay cool but bright,
the nights dark and full of stars.

Winter is coming soon,
but for a few short weeks, it's autumn,
and my favorite time of year.


Sailboat for a lake

Sailing. Miss it. There's just something about being out on the water in a boat that goes nowhere unless you provide the propulsion. Rowboat, sailboat, canoe, kayak, even an air mattress! Nothing to disturb the peace and quiet.

In the 15 years we've owned our lakeside cabin, we've seen exactly two sailboats, tiny 8-ft. boats like an El Toro... until the weekend before Labor Day. We were sitting on our deck, talking with the friend we'd invited out for the weekend, and through the trees I spotted a large moving spot of white. "Sailboat!" I called out, as I grabbed my camera and waited for the boat to come out into the open. I focused, snapped a few pictures, then zoomed in on the sail insignia. It was a Lightning, a one-design boat that Dave learned to sail during a long-ago summer in the Tri Cities. Our friend Dick owned the boat, raced it, and he was an excellent sailor. When he was in college, he lived on Lummi Island and sailed to Bellingham every day to attend classes Western Washington State College. I got my turn on this boat, too. We spent a few weekends at the Ecker family home on Lummi, and Dick always brought the sailboat with him.

The Lightning is a great open cockpit boat for a lake. It's trailerable, is 19 ft. and stable, has a heavy centerboard for stability, and carries a lot of sail for its length, so it's fast. It carries a main and jib, and can be rigged to fly a spinnaker, too. Older boats are wooden, newer ones are fiberglass.

It was awesome to see a Lightning on our lake, and I hope it's a permanent resident.