Gardening + Nature

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Sunday afternoon, the Denver Botanic Gardens, every living thing humming along happily at its peak. We breakfasted at my Grandpa’s (Hello!). I made smoked salmon (from Alaska!) benedict on super soft challah, roasted asparagus, and a fruit cup of last hurrah strawberries, plums, and Palisade peaches. I was smart enough to think ahead, concocting the richer than rich hollandaise (the hubster’s FAVORITE breakfast topping) the evening before, no stir, stir, stirring while mad with hunger after our hour-long drive north. To use Grandpa’s word, it was “delish.” He liked my apple jelly, too.

We met our friend Rob (fun shot!!) at the Gardens, our first meeting since arriving back, ambling and snapping photo after photo, falling into our usual and quite wonderful routine. Mostly of details, nature front and center, some man made delights, too, we hold no prejudices.

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The Last Frontier. Land of the Midnight Sun and Dr. Seuss-like flowers. Alaska! Did you see the glacier in my last post? Giant and gorgeous, let me tell you. The mantra for the entire state, I think.

I went to cuddle and bounce a sweet baby boy; jump and run and play with a delightful three-year-old; and while the hours with fantastically neat adult persons. It’s Solveig and Family, with the fine bonus of traveling to Alaska to get the job done. What a wonderfully jam-packed and magical time, truly. I saw mountains, so many mountains, verdant and snow capped; glaciers, ice, changing tides, mystical boreal forests, and practically needed to wire my jaw to keep it from dropping at the stunning beauty of it all. We visited the state fair. I ate wild salmon and reindeer, syrup and tea made from birch trees, jams and jellies from salmon berries, fir tips, and Sitka roses.

And the baby boy is perfect – cuddly and healthy, and, probably goes without saying, adorable. Luna – do you remember Luna? – is a scrapper, a full belly laugher, and light up the room smiler. She calls me “Your Friend.” “Will Your Friend jump on the trampoline?” “Will Your Friend play with me?” “When can your friend push me on the swings?” “Can Your Friend read me a story?” “Where is Your Friend?” “WHY does Your Friend live so far away?!!”

Beautiful Mama. Proud, too.


John Grade – “Floats”

At the Anchorage Museum now, one of the most unique I have ever visited, as the collection and the various exhibits are very specific to the far North (Anchorage lies at 61 degrees). There is art (and sound) that explores the existence of polar bears, the isolated life of the Arctic, as well as indigenous works. They are beautiful, often stark, and sometimes haunting. They also have places for kids (and, ahem, their adult companions) to learn about science by blowing bubbles, jumping, climbing, even making earthquakes!

The highway to Seward and a stroll along the coastal trail, which hugs the Cook Inlet. If I had one regret on this trip, it would be that I left my long lens and tripod at home. My eyes devoured what my camera could not. Next year!! The hubster and I will return together and make up for it.


One week ago, in the great state of Colorado, we took three whole days off from housework. No painting, sawing, digging, cleaning, washing, shoveling, building, or destroying. It hardly seemed believable, zooting the Mini down our sleepy street before the sun had fully risen. Westward we drove, snaking through the canyons and park lands, highways 24 and 9 and 40. Clouds low and clinging, hushing the bold landscapes of granite, evergreen, sage, and tumbleweed, a nod to Portland, an old chapter blanketing this new one.

There are pages older than Portland, too – disparate parts merging and diverging, all these stories in one lifetime. Lake Dillon, glittering and beautiful, I watched it as a child, over days, seasons, and years, barefoot and happy on Ptarmigan Mountain. So much is different now, so many more people, so many more houses, so many more cars, but that lake and my memories of it, remain unchanged. I like that.

We stayed at the Hot Sulphur Springs, not-at-all fancy but wonderful, the smell lingering, in my hair, on my skin, until Wednesday. Of the nineteen pools, we had two favorites, soaking and floating for hours upon hours, daylight to the glow of sunset to darkness and stars. We loosened every muscle and forgot every care, at least for a while. We met a doe and her fawn at our window, bid them good moring and good day, conversed with a boy full of curiosity, befriending the tiniest of snakes. I laughed and dipped my toes in the Colorado. The two of us slept like the dead. And you bet we had a slice of pie, our backsides parked on a curb like a couple of kids.

And nature, always dazzling, the bees feasting on thistle, and that tiny creature (a vole?), recent lunch for some bird of prey, nose and whiskers still intact.

Homeward bound and the beautiful Gore Range. A shame to my native state, I am not a Bronco fan, AT ALL, and would rather make a fence out of skis than actually ski. But I will cheer on a burro race in Leadville and feast on burrito after burrito, any where, any time. This was in Buena Vista. Indeed.

Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.

Amelia Earhart

We saved EVERY cardboard box to come into our possession for more than four months before fashioning a gigantic wonky quilt (you’re seeing about a tenth of it), bound with newspaper saved over the same amount of time. There goes my first shovel from a pile as tall as me. There, too, hopefully, go the weeds underneath, to make room for the beautiful above.


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