“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and winds and birds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens and get as near the heart of the world as I can.”
I think everyone has a special place in their memory that shaped their lives. Yosemite was mine. Every year from the time I was four years old until I was eleven, my family packed up our ‘56 red and white Chevy station wagon and went camping in Yosemite National Park. For two glorious weeks, we lived among the pines and I ran free scampering over granite rocks, playing in the creek and swimming in the Merced River. We slept under the stars and woke to the “shhhhh” of the Coleman stove where my mother was making hot cocoa and cooking Spam and eggs for breakfast. My older brother and I would walk to the Curry Village store to buy Charms suckers so huge, they would last for hours. To top off the day, every evening at 9:30 we watched the “Firefall” (no longer in existence). It began with a park ranger shouting from above “Let the fire fall!” followed by a cascade of bright red coals pushed over the top of Glacier Point 3000 feet up. We would “oooh” and “ahhh” never tiring of this spectacle.
My father took us on bike rides, hikes and mule rides. Then one year Dad hiked the Chilnualna Falls trail from Wawona with my older brother and me. I was maybe eight years old and my brother twelve. It was a challenging hike-4 ½ miles, pretty much up 2000 ft. Though the actual main waterfall cascaded unseen into a ravine below, the top rewarded us with a fabulous view and a wonderland of small cascades over granite in what I called “moon pools”. These were pools rounded from thousands of years of swirling water. I remember exploring these looking for bugs and tiny fish.
My father passed away on May 5, 2017. He requested that his ashes be scattered on top of Chilnualna Falls and so this last week we honored that request. I traveled from Oregon with my son and daughter-in-law and rendezvoused with my younger brother and my older brother and his wife in Yosemite. Over 50 years later we retraced our steps, climbing to the top of Chilnualna Falls where my father will have now have a forever view.
It was bittersweet to revisit Yosemite after so many years have passed. My childhood paradise is suffering from climate change and too many people, but there is still such beautiful magic among the granite cliffs and spires. I am forever grateful to my father for giving such happy family memories in this special place.
R.I.P. Bruce Pass
I learned to look for cairns when I began backpacking in the Sierra Nevada at a young age. Cairns are little towers of stacked rocks to mark the way of a path or trail. In the Sierras, they are especially helpful when traveling cross-country away from the main trail. They are a welcome sight on the granite terrain, knowing you are headed in the right direction.
Since my backpacking days, it seems my entire life I’ve been looking for cairns, literal or metaphorical. Now I build them, usually with my group three other women friends that I been adventuring with for going on over 25 years. Usually, these are for more spiritual reasons, sometimes to mark the passage of a loved one. It is a treasured ritual we have adopted. Below are some of the cairns we have built or come upon.
Continue reading “The Art of the Cairn”
I just returned from a wonderful week visiting Vancouver Island B.C., Canada. Four nights of that stay were at the Point No Point Resort where myself and three of my friends enjoyed, among other things, beachcombing on the stunning beaches in the area. They provided a gallery of natural art.
I’m hoping my photographs can give you some idea of the beauty we encountered.
It’s tomato time here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The only advantage I can see of the hot summers we have been having is that the tomatoes love them. Growing good, delicious, organic tomatoes is an art form and I have gotten good at it- actually a little too good. Frequently I get tomatoes over a pound and they aren’t even the beefsteak variety. But, there are only so many tomatoes the two of us can consume. We have a freezer full now and they are still coming on. Finding the extra homes other than the compost pile has gotten to be too much effort. Next year I will have to go down to three plants. The varieties I grew this year….
- Sungold- (cherry tomato- so sweet!)
- Amish Paste (Prolific and huge)
- Brandywine (the best slicer)
- Black Krim (great flavor)
Really, I can’t take all the credit for the success. I’m just conducting a series of variables that I have figured out to be a good “Tomato Artist.” I need to thank the following contributors to my bodacious tomato harvest:
- Quality heirloom tomato starts
- My partner for tilling the raised beds, hauling manure, and installing a drip system
- The sheep up the road for their great poo
- The cows and horses down the road for the same
- Our composted kitchen scraps
- The earthworms and microbes for decomposing the above
- The earthworms again for aerating the soil and leaving their casings
- The farmer that raised the straw that I much with
- The rain
- The sun
- My own two hands for their labor in planting & tending
To be honest, I am feeling burnt out on gardening right now. There is something so satisfying about growing your own nutritious and tasty food but it is work. Usually this time every summer I swear I’ll take next summer off. Knowing me, come spring the lure of fresh tomatoes with basil and dill will lure me back again.