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Tag Archives: Methow photography

This is my busy season. I’ve had two weddings to photograph within one week so that means LOTS of computer time. It is important that I continue to get out and enjoy the beautiful place where I live for my overall fitness – both physically and mentally.

Last week Jennifer and her horse and two dogs joined Luna and me for a walk on the four mile long Black Lake trail. It follows Lake Creek on a gentle grade making for easy walking without huffing and puffing. This was a test for Luna to see if she could tolerate being around a horse. She has a long-standing fear of large ungulates stemming from an incident when she was less than a year old and managed to anger a large draft horse so much that the normally gentle animal turned and appeared to try to run Luna into the ground. Never mind that the horse was behind a fence and Luna was barking her fool head off. You can imagine how immense this draft horse was from her point of view. And those hooves! Luna turned and ran all the way back to the house where she waited under the porch til Betty and I went back for her. So now, along comes Jennifer and her horses and she suggests that we all go riding together. Luna is friends with Jennifer and her dogs so when they were all fine with the big animal Luna sort of fell into step with the rest of the group although she did not like it when the Whiskey, the horse fluttered her lips and made that funny horse noise and she was mostly sure to keep a good distance between herself and the horse.

 

For the life of me, I cannot find this flower in my field guides. I know I’ve looked it up before and figured out its ID but not this time

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It is a vine with clematis-like flowers

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Riding through the burned forest

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My, what big eyes you have!

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Lovely wildflowers in this burned forest

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Since it is a burned forest, every year, more snags fall across the trail. Here, we were near the lake but were turned back by the deadfall.

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Jennifer manages to keep the dogs’ attention with a good story or maybe the promise of treats

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It burned in 2003

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Paintbrush and lupine and Luna wondering why I have to stop to look at all the flowers!

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The dogs found comfort in this old beaver pond. Unfortunately, Luna chose to get out in a mud hole, and emerged coated in mud up to her belly.

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Jennifer got a good laugh out of that, especially knowing I’d have to take Luna down to the raging creek to wash her off before we could get in the truck.

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Lake Creek

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This month started out unseasonably hot and we worried that the green hills would soon be brown. The weather gods have taken care of that worry. There has been rain most everyday for the last couple of weeks, it seems. Maybe I only remember the wet days and have forgotten that some were sunny? I have gotten used to wearing my rain gear. Yesterday by the time we returned to the car, my shoes sloshed. But still, it was gorgeous – green lush grasses and lots of wildflowers still in bloom. Our dogs enjoyed the temperature and ran and ran and ran.

 

Mary Ann has told me about these delicate flowers that are found along the lower part of the trail

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Geum triflorum also known as prairie smoke or old man’s whiskers

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A large patch of balsamroot

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Old aspen trees

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Frida

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This majestic pine tree is slowly dying

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Aphids on a Lomatium seed head

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Another seed head without aphids on the same plant

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Looking back, to the south. You can see tiny Deadhorse Lake in the distance

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Tiny yellow composites with bitterroot buds surrounding

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Blue penstemon and the yellow composite

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And with a buckwheat

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Same type of buckwheat with tightly closed buds

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Blue gray sky. Green hills. In the foreground, the pale pink spots are all bitterroot about to bloom.

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Frost Lake, known by other names is just one of several lakes that dot these hills

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Grouse droppings

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Thompson’s paintbrush

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This is the height of the wildflower season on our hill. The elevation of our house is about 1850′ and the colors of spring can be fleeting in this arid climate. Yesterday, before the wind came up, I was particularly struck with the beauty and diversity of this dry site’s wildflowers. Last week’s warm weather has been replaced with the more expected breezy and cool weather of spring.

 

Balsamroot, Balsamorhiza sagittata – the signature spring flower of for this valley

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Thompson’s paintbrush (I think), Castilleja thompsonii

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Calochortus sp (sometimes referred to as Cat’s ear)

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Agoseris sp., again I am not sure

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I am pretty sure this is bastard toadflax (not a pretty name for a delicate flower), however where I have seen it before it was more of a salmon color. Comandra umbellata

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Columbia puccoon, Lithospermum ruderale

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Bitterbrush, Purshia tridentata

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Lupine, Lupinus sp

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And another view of balsamroot, looking down-valley to Balky Hill and beyond

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Around here the biggest disaster the people worry about is wildfire. Last year we had more than our share of fires in North Central Washington and many folks were trapped in their houses for days in hopes of avoiding the choking smoke. I am reminded of this now with the US Forest Service doing controlled burning in hopes of preventing uncontrolled fires in the future. The smell is strong in the air and I can see the smoke’s haze all over the valley.

One gift of fire is the morel mushroom. The fire morel is a delicacy that is hunted with great zeal in a burned landscape. My uncle came to visit this week in hopes of getting the mushroom season off to a good start. He had studied last year’s fires’ locations and aspects and picked one area to explore. He was right. With the little bit warmer weather we are finally getting, the fungi are just starting to show themselves and we both came home with about a gallon of them. He said the ones we harvested are most likely natural morels and that the fire morels will come on a bit later. On our menu last night was morel risotto! What a treat.

 

 

The landscape looks very bleak.

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I heard and saw Black-backed Woodpeckers who come into a burned forest almost immediately to consume the insects that have arrived to consume the dead trees.

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Many of the morels were growing out from under rocks and burned roots. This is a nice looking one.

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I also heard Canyon Wrens’ beautiful songs from the cliffs above.

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Every Spring, it’s a big project to move the finished compost to the garden beds and turn over last year’s accumulation of garden waste for next year’s compost. Sunday, despite forecasts of 30% chance of showers and some high winds, I was going to take care of the compost.

 

Getting started. You can see that the mountains are obscured by the ‘scattered showers.

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There’s my two-year-old compost. It filled the pallets a year ago.

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And that is last year’s garden waste.

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The whole setup is framed with seven pallets held together with baling twine from old straw or rotten hay bales.

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Beautiful compost! Gardener’s gold.

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My garlic was planted and mulched last fall.

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And it gets compost to get it through the growing season.

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With some help from Ken all of the compost is distributed to various garden beds and one flower bed.

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Here is a cross section of last year’s gardening efforts!

Shortly after this image, it began to rain and then it rained pretty hard. The wind blew and it snowed sideway too.

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Once the storm passed I returned to the compost project. Here I am getting through the hard part of turning it over and moving it. Also, I replaced the center pallet. It was rotting away at the bottom. There is old horse manure in the wheelbarrow that I layered in the pile. It will help it ‘heat up’ and break down.

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There it is finished. I topped it with some of the dead grass from our lawn mixed with some more manure.

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Next year’s compost!

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All tidied up and ready for more garden waste

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And the garden beds with the compost spread around and garlic mulched again. In the background you can see the beehives. Since it was so cold, they were not out and about.

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