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.