Gardening + Nature

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Baker City:

What a gem of a town, with an abundance of fine architecture under baby blue skies. We breakfasted at the Lone Pine. It felt like it was plucked out of Portland, with finely executed, yet simple fare, and impeccable service with a dazzling smile. A hush of Stevie Wonder singing on the hi-fi and lights dimmed to ward off the impending heat made for perfection.

The Strawberry Mountain Range and the hubster yukking it up for my amusement. I could not ask for a finer companion! Which reminds me, TODAY is his birthday. Send him happy thoughts, won’t ya?

Pelican and White Faced Ibis at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. So VERY many birds! I’ll update this later with all that we saw. Updated!

American Coot . American White Pelican . Barn Swallow . Black-Billed Magpie . Bullock’s Oriole . California Quail . Cormorant . Dusky Flycatcher . Eastern Kingbird . Golden Eagle . Great Blue Heron . Great Egret (or maybe Snowy) . Killdeer . Mallard . Mourning Dove . Northern Harrier . Red-Winged Blackbird . Sandhill Crane . Turkey Vulture . Western Grebe . Wilson’s Phalarope . Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Diamond, Oregon, population five. What a truly special place. A friend waxed poetic about the Hotel Diamond probably thirteen years ago, beautiful and remote, with one of the best meals of his life. We did not forget. Run by a father and daughter, with a mere nine rooms, it is quaint and comfortable with beautiful paintings and historical photographs lining the walls, an old timey screen porch to stave off hungry flies and wicked mosquitoes, and fine and hearty fare (this is ranch country, after all), served family style, every evening at 6:30. Book early and come hungry! And forget about television, phone, and internet, this is truly the back of beyond. A good book, the company of a dear friend (or new ones – Hello Diane, Manfred, and Paulina!), and the sublime scenery will be enough and more.

lupine

Our picnic in a grove of aspen trees at Lily Lake. There is something magical about being alone among wildlife. Everything humming and acutely alive, the pulse of the earth seen and felt and heard, I feel how small I am, how fleeting this moment, this breath, this life IS, and inhale ever more deeply to take it all in.

yellow indian paintbrush

desert buckwheat

 a tiny alpine penstemon, I think

indian paintbrush

desert buckwheat

wild onion

Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert down and beyond. It’s a study in contrasts, with lush green, cool, crisp air, and a myriad of wildflowers flanking a desert that receives a scant six inches of moisture a year.  The wildflowers were magical, and I was positively giddy at the abundance and variety. Heavenly! If you know them, please help me identify what I do not know and correct me where I am wrong. I’d be most grateful!

We took the Steens Mountain loop road, the highest in the state of Oregon, which is 66 miles of, at the moment, very nicely graded gravel. We heard horrible tales of it in previous incarnations and were most grateful that it was Mini Cooper navigable, though the desert side is N O T for the faint of heart. A single narrow lane, with nary a guard rail and hundred-plus foot drop offs, the hubster and I white-knuckled it much of the way.

I don’t believe there could have been a finer end to the day and this leg of our journey.

Stay tuned for Summer Lake!

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And so it begins…

Breakfast in Pendleton:

Home of the Round-Up

Cabbage Hill View Point

Wallowa

Kombucha break in Lostine

Gazing upon the Wallowas

Toward Hell’s Canyon

Zumwalt Prairie:

Some fourteen miles of winding gravel wound us in and around one of the largest intact bunch grass prairies in the world. Vast, my friends, with us and the animals the only life for miles upon miles. I watched the hawk, a red-tail, I think, swoop down to seize it’s prey and carry it to the utility pole, the snake writhing and coiling some thirty feet from the ground. My heart quickened at the wonder and privilege of it all.

Filthy prairie feet

Wallowa Lake:

Our wee cabin was called the Fawn, and we loved it!

The baby robin was terribly sweet and let us get quite close before her unsteady wings carried her off.

I bought two books and some deliciously scented soaps at this gem of a shop!

Enterprise:

A sweet town full of kindly and hospitable strangers.

Arrowhead Chocolates

They gave us spoons dipped in chocolate while we waited for our treats. The hubster was in heaven!

Joseph:

Named for Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce (that last sculpture is his likeness), Joseph is a prince of a town. With a world famous foundry, beautiful landscape, friendly people, and Stein’s top notch distillery, it’s easy to find a reason to stay.

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Good morning! A quick hello to share our strawberry bounty with you. We planted a patch last year and boy howdy are we reaping the rewards. Each morning for the past two or three weeks (not sure, it’s a strawberry haze!) we pick a big handful like this. Super sweet and delicious!

I was a little worried that we would have more competition from our wild visitors, with near-ripe berries disappearing in the midnight hours early on. Apparently there are quite enough for us all now, with so many ripening at once.

Which reminds me, the opossum visited in broad daylight the other day. We saw her scrounging for fallen birdseed under the feeder and went outside to see. By the time we got there, she had hidden in the strawberry patch, and as she came out fiercely hissed at me, which was a surprise. Normally, we chat a minute before she saunters off. Then the hubster spied the reason, she had a baby clinging to her back! It was a wonder to witness that bit of adorableness. I gave her some space, and she darted for the shed, making funny noises to coax the baby into her pouch; because, as we discovered, opossums are marsupials. To think we probably wouldn’t have learned that had we not planted strawberries! Gosh, I really do love nature.

She, this jasmine blossom, twirled for me, fabulous float on the water of the bird bath, skirting the edges, sharing her scent, delighting my eye.

One Community is a monthly project in which participants photograph their homes and community with a theme in mind. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Why don’t you join us? It’s fun! Post one or more photos for each of this month’s theme words, road, float, sprinkler, and oasis, and add your blog post to the link-up. Easy! It began yesterday, June 5th, and stays open for one week.

Snap happy!

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Holy cats!

Pictured at top has got to be among the top five best bathroom wall decorations of all time (though it is much brighter in person). If you do not know where it is, I am not going to tell you (save in North Portland), not because I am one to keep secrets like that, but because my delight upon first laying eyes on it was so spectacular and mirthful that I would rather you not expect it in hopes that you experience the same moment of wonder.

And Paris, bundled tightly post bath. My little sausage. “Let me out!”

Out snapping the peonies. Sadly, the season is winding down. And how about that last shot? Some sort of bee-mimic. We shared a magical, I see you, moment, inches apart and eye to eye. Wish I could have captured that one!

Mock orange: this tiny sprig scents the entire bathroom.

Out under the clerodendrum, eyes skyward and fingers plunged and twining the grass.

A sunset walk, eager for more of these, that soft hour of quiet, the revealing of different mysteries.

Happy Memorial Day, grateful for this great land that is America!

Have a listen to how I am feeling…

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