Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.


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Reflecting on the Universe at Sol Duc Rainforest

Reflecting on the Universe at Sol Duc Rainforest

On its journey through the universe accompanied by ancient trees growing in this old-growth rainforest, sunlight streams through their canopy of green. Pacific wrens ascend to search out spiders and insects, establish territories and with robins, to sing the morning awake. 

Sunlight greets the forest floor.

Sunlight greets the forest floor.

I stand in silence on a duff-lined trail entranced by the forest’s beauty––witnessing a scene complete unto itself as the sweet odors of spring embrace and envelope me. Below ground billions of fungal strands connect and branch off, securing moisture, minerals, medicinals and starches to enliven that said gift of air.

These ancients stand in witness to the journeys made up and down the Sol Duc River Valley. Like whales in the oceans that carry the history in their bones and songlines in their blood, the trees along the river hold it in their wood and sap, in their roots and mycorrhizal connections.

Ancients of the Sol Duc River Valley.

Ancients of the Sol Duc River Valley.

Some evergreen, needle-forming Douglas-fir, and Western hemlock stand tall and majestic, many lean; others on the ground offer their rotting trunks to nurse a plethora of emerging seedlings, living bacterial communities and countless bugs.The older deciduous, Bigleaf maples hold tons of epiphytic plants eking out their rainforest existence atop lichen-strewn, mossy branches in which voles and spiders dine.

Ringed so by ancient ones, skunk cabbages and ferns, a spring pond mirrors back days of blue sky, nights of slivered moonlight and of canopies filled with stars and mysteries cradled in waters cold from chilling autumn rains and snow melt. 

Sol Duc Reflection Pool in the Ancient Groves

Sol Duc Reflection Pool in the Ancient Groves

Perhaps human ancients trod similar duff-lined trails among forest beings, taking in the history, storing it in their bones. They gave witness as they traveled through the universe. I like to think their reflections helped form the beauty way… and through us, it continues to happen.

Until our next journey, peace be unto you…

And a special thank you to Michael for his awesome photos of the reflections!

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Meeting the Weaver of Butchart Gardens

Just a Ferry Ride Away

A few summers ago, our friend Dawn who was visiting from Hawaii, suggested we all take the ferry across the Straits of Juan DeFuca and tour Buchart Gardens, fourteen miles north of Victoria, BC. Since I’d never been there but wanting to, it sounded like the perfect thing to do. Michael declined as he knew we needed “sister-time.”

Dawn and I along the Dungeness River

Dawn and I along the Dungeness River, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State.

Our port of departure was Port Angeles, approximately a half-hour ride to the west of our home in Sequim, Washington. We were to board the Black Ball Ferry Line “M.V. Coho” for the ninety-minute trip across the Straits. The “Coho” wasn’t the only vessel on the water that day. Besides the normal marine traffic of fishing fleets, cargo and container ships, oil tankers, tug boats, military ships and nuclear submarines, the indigenous tribes of Washington and the First Nation peoples of Canada were setting out on the continuation of The Paddle to Swinomish, WA. in their traditional cedar, ocean-going dugout canoes.  The long dugouts, decorated with traditional designs and paints, were departing Port Angeles when we arrived and we took time to watch them being blessed and launched into the waters.

Paddle to Swinomish traditional cedar dugout canoe.

Paddle to Swinomish traditional cedar dugout canoes.

The first thing we noticed when we got to the ferry terminal was that since it was the height of the tourist season, we quickly had to adjust to standing in lines. Queuing up for the ticket purchase to ride the “Coho”, to get on the ferry proper, to get off the ferry, and then winding our way down the ramps and through Canadian Customs got us firmly into the habit.

Victoria is a lovely city, vibrant and full of cultural and architectural wealth spun into a world community. It was difficult not to make Victoria our destination and spend the day, but after a few questions on how to get to the public transit bus that would take us out to The Gardens, we became American tourists in a foreign land off on a botanaical adventure. According to a brochure I picked up on the ferry, once a limestone quarry and cement factory operated by her husband, Jennie Butchart began reclaiming and transforming the future site of Butchart Gardens in the late 19th century into what today is series of gardens now covering fifty-five acres. The closer we got, the more intrigued we became.

The following is a prose poem I wrote describing our July 18, 2011, visit to the astonishingly beautiful Butchart Gardens.

Approaching Victoria, BC, Canada

Approaching Victoria, BC, Canada

 “Meeting the Weaver of Butchart Gardens”

Upon arrival at the Butchart Gardens bus terminal, we tourists descend the steps of world-renown BC Transit Route #75, search out the loo and relieve ourselves of a long, herky-jerky, stop-and go, winding ride.

Then adjusting camera straps, pulling out the credit cards, we simultaneously charge the ticket booths and pass through the turnstyles like horses at the Derby sprinting out of the starting chutes, determined to make it around the floral track at a fast trot only to be slowed to a snail’s pace as we encounter congestion at the first garden entrance.

I notice bickering spouses, sniveling children, bored husbands and pouting teens with texting fingers ablaze, looking neither right nor left but eyes on screens following the shirt tails of the person in front as we slowly snake along making me think if this was a good thing to do.

Finding our place, setting our pace in The Garden.

Finding our place, setting our pace.

We adjust, spread out, leaving room for the slow walker, the sad, the flamboyant foreigners posing for photos, the boisterously-happy- finger-snapping yappies, the snuggling lovers, the plant fanatics, the photo junkies, the cane-bearing shufflers and the wheelchair-bound needing to do their own thing at their pace.

Meanwhile my judgements arise and pass away…descriptions noted and filed.

Star Garden.

Star Garden.

Soon these queues begin to form threads of humanity dispersing throughout the gardens ultimately guided by our thoughts and emotions and supported by the the fae and spirits who reside here, for they know there is magic in the social web co-creatively being woven as the mystery invites us to explore.

The Weaver of Butchart Gardens plies these impulses into our own personal thread. She entices breezes filled with fragrances and pheromones wafting about the Garden to assist in igniting within our souls a need to search out a fulfilling experience or memory.  We begin to follow our thoughts and intuitive insights hither and yon, around and in-between plants, strangers, lovers, insects, creeks, along pathways, around sign-posts searching for the elusive adventure or hint of future possibilities.

Surrounded by beauty.

Surrounded by beauty.

I began recognizing that the Spirit of Beauty entices the visitor to traipse down every path, wander under every canopy and search out every floral-covered corner in the Garden while maintaining a restricted vocabulary of “oooohs and awwwws.” The Spirit of Fragrance bids welcome through coaxing and subtle aromas softly sifting through on the breezes. The Spirit of Touch adorns the plants with soft, fuzzy leaves or velvet-like petals inviting the hand to pet and caress, squish and fondle. The Spirit of Impatience herds us to the displays of conifers and hollies, cacti and thistles. And the Gazing Ball in the Rose Garden invites us with its crystalline-filled magic to linger, reflect, and imagine a world filled with peace and love.

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

At times the individual gardens become crowded and more like riding bumper cars; at other times a party atmosphere prevails; some gardens are cosmopolitan with groups of Japanese, Italian, German tourists talking and laughing throughout; while in still others, sedate energies swirl by tugging at our feet, encouraging us to walk slower, more attentively.

And as we walked the floral track, the flowers called out their names and told us about themselves: “Hi, I’m Yellow Rose, full of friendship and joy.” “Hello, I’m Peruvian Lily. I also offer friendship and give you my devotion.” “Hi there! I’m the spiky Gladiola, full of strength and passion.” “Ho! I’m Oregon Grape. I’m bitter and will help tonify your blood and clean your liver.”

Oregon Grape.

Oregon Grape.

Not only the Spirits of Nature but the Spirits of Hunger and Purchase propel us via the homey fragrances of baked goods, of a finely brewed cup of coffee, the sound of clinking silver on china in the open-air restaurants, the sight of tongues lapping up the lemon ice, and tinkling of cash register bells behind the gift counters reminding us to fulfill our needs, rest awhile, reflect.

Through four hours of time and the six principal gardens, we weave our threads into a tapestry of color, fragrance, texture and sound embellished with nodding of heads in passing, faces softening in smile, and finding ourselves sitting on benches listening to the melodious tones of languages foreign to our ears becoming as pleasant as the bird song filtering down from the tree tops.

Sunken Gardens.

Sunken Gardens.

And as we approach the finish chute and the major exits, the children seem less fussy, the husbands hold on to their spouse’s hand, conversations are quieter and the pace becomes even slower. It’s as if all who have walked the paths want to finish this race together, savoring the moment not just as a camera impression or a photo on a post card, but one held in our hearts and woven into our memories.

Reflection pool in the Japanese Garden.

Reflection pool in the Japanese Garden.

Homeward Bound

The trip back on the bus was still herky-jerky, stop and go for Dawn and I, but we had lots of talking about plants and impressions of our day to share. Fortunately once we arrived in Victoria, we had time to stroll the Inner Harbour, admire the artwork, listen and watch as the buskers performed, catch a light supper and buy a few gifts. Then back to queue status to get on board.

Mosaic Orca in the Inner Harbour at Victoria, BC.

Mosaic Orca in the Inner Harbour at Victoria, BC.

Leaving the harbor, we got to check out the scenic house boats moored along the wall, the yachts in the marinas and the cute little water taxis zipping by to pickup and deliver their customers. I do enjoy spending time in marinas and harbors, imagining what it must be like to be aboard ship and away from land for weeks at a time!

House boats in Victoria Harbour.

House boats and yacht in the harbour of Victoria, BC.

Our trip across had a few more swells to ride out which made me wonder again of what it would be like on a larger ocean-going vessel! Alas, I was hoping to see some whales from onboard but the fogs closed in and we saw only a few waterfowl and gulls close by the ferry.

Our approach to Port Angeles was beautiful, the city aglow through the lightening mists. Another few queues to get off, to go through security and customs and even, ha! to get past road construction on our way home; but by then, we were pros.

Port Angeles Harbor, Washington State, USA.

Port Angeles Harbor, Washington State, USA.

I do hope you consider visiting Butchart Gardens. It’s a particularly beautiful space and graciously cared for by a friendly staff and knowledgeable gardeners ready to answer your questions. And in the gift shops, there are seeds for sale. This is where I fell in love with the Tibetan Blue Poppy! I came home with several postcards to remind me of it, and my time with Dawn. Lo and behold, just the other day, my neighbor pointed it out to Michael and I growing in his nursery bed. Memories of my love affair with it came rushing back and I knew I needed to put my notes in order and revisit the Weaver!  Thanks for visiting. Aloha!

Tibetan Blue Poppy grown at Butchart Gardens since the 1920's.

Tibetan Blue Poppy grown at Butchart Gardens since the 1920’s.

 


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The Practice of Wordsmithing

“Such power and grace held by the forming of lines, dots and curves we call words.”

Crafting the appropriate words to place in an obituary comment section or to say to the family of the deceased are among the more challenging opportunities for wordsmithing especially if the deceased is a relative. Each word must be selected with care to convey compassion to the family and oneself for our shared loss; yet with some transitions, the actual death may be a blessing although perhaps not perceived as such by those closest to the departed. 

Sunset in memory of Uncle Bruce

Sunset in memory of Uncle Bruce

This past week I had the opportunity to pass along my condolences to my brother and to my late uncle’s family at the loss of our elder, the last of my mother’s siblings. At the advanced age of 89, Uncle Bruce suffered from a neurological condition and for years had suffered from severe arthritis. His passing was a blessing and he went by way of the “elder’s friend”: pneumonia. It came as an emotional jolt to some in his tight-knit family even though we had been prepared for a time that this was almost inevitable.

The crafting of the words in such situations got me to thinking how powerful written and verbal expressions can be. Each word has its own energetic action; each must be expressed in some manner in a context that bears its own impulse. The words are then perceived and deciphered within our energetically streaming bodies, and expressed through contemplation or action. 

My poem on “The Practice of Wordsmithing” tries to capture some of this awareness. It is written as a Pdf  to keep the poem format and may be read by electronic readers.

Thank you and may the power and grace of words be with you!

The Practice of Wordsmithing*