A rare day of sunshine and blue sky lured us out of Portland toward Catherine Creek. After a fabulous wood-fired pizza at Solstice in Bingen, we set off along our usual trail down into the ravine. Then we decided to follow the trail as it forks west through old oaks on a bluff high above Catherine Creek.
I hadn’t been that way for awhile and had forgotten how beautiful it was. And how steep. I’ve been exercising in Portland, but there’s nothing like the first steep hike of spring to remind me I need to get in better shape.
Something about these leafless oak had me snapping lots of photos.
Once we reached the ridge, we strolled downhill for a few miles with wide, open views across the gorge. It was bright, and it seemed everything I wanted to photograph was straight into the sun. I haven’t studied photography. My strategy is to take lots of photos and hope a few turn out alright. I don’t do much composing. I remember an admonition from somewhere that you should always shoot with the sun behind you. But with Mt. Hood looking like a whipped cream peak, I had to try. But the sun blazed beside it. I felt foolish snapping so many shots right at the sun. But, this does capture the Mt. Hood-in-your-face feeling from up there.
I’ve never had much luck with wildflower shots at Catherine Creek. But I liked how the light glinted off these grass widows. To capture the view behind, I had to shoot into the sun again.
And for a close up of grass widows, I shot towards the sun as well.
Turns out I like my photos shot into the sun better than any others.
Out West, in the land of conifers, we don’t have the color spectacle that blesses New England this time of year. But our few wild deciduous shrubs and trees do add some lovely accents to our evergreen forests and browning grasslands (…)
With all the rain out over the last few weeks and the challenges of getting the summer garden in, I’ve been grateful for food that sprouts with no effort on my part. I might not want stinging nettles in my cultivated garden, but I like having a patch on a distant corner of our property. […]
I’m ecstatic to be back on our property in Northeastern Oregon. There’s lots to do: organizing inside the yurt to make cooking and storage more convenient, building a spring box and laying pipe to get potable water into the yurt, putting in the garden. And there are many challenges: a muddy road, cars that get […]
I’ve spent most of my life among Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga sp.) Although I love other trees and plant communities, Douglas fir forests still speak to me of home. In the Pacific Northwest, they’re ubiquitous from the Cascades to the coast. Douglas fir and other conifers of the region are why I’ve never felt at ease in the deciduous forests of eastern North America (as lovely as they are), where bare branches in winter make me especially homesick….
It was hard to leave our yurt in northeastern Oregon with Western larch (Larix occidentalis) in full copper-yellow glory. But when the flanks of the mountains there blaze with what looks like a procession of candles, it’s time to get ready for a harsh winter or move to lower elevations….
This time of year, I’m one of many throughout the West enthralled by – and worried about – one of our most striking fall color trees: Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides ). Utah and Colorado have acres and acres of aspens. In northeast Oregon, we have smaller groves dotting the more prevalent bunchgrass slopes and ponderosa […]
I’m excited to try my new steam juicer on this first crop of wild elderberries. Mixed with a little honey, the juice disappears pretty fast in our home. But later batches may make it into jelly, wine, or apple pies.
Here’s a small taste of Saturday’s hike on Zumwalt Prairie, the largest Nature Conservancy reserve in Oregon and the last remnant of bluebunch wheatgrass/idaho fescue-dominated prairie in North America. Thanks to the Wallowa Land Trust for organizing a great outing and to the local Nature Conservancy office for leading it. Looking east over section of […]
One of the things I like about writing regular posts on various species is that it challenges my own tendency to overlook or take for granted species that are common, mundane, or unpopular. Last week, I had the good fortune to take a brief vacation in the high desert country of Central Oregon. I decided it was time to learn more about a plant I see everywhere throughout the Great Basin but know little about: Artemesia tridentata, or sagebrush.
I hate lawns. I dug up most of mine on a city lot in Portland, Oregon and replaced it with fruit trees, berries, vegetables, and flowers. In the parking strips, I planted drought tolerant species. Now on our property in Northeastern Oregon, I’m battling a much larger swath of smooth brome and other introduced pasture grasses to establish an orchard and kitchen garden.
Growing up in Seattle on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, I always thought of ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa, also sometimes called Western Yellow Pine) as exotic trees. They belonged to what we called “the other side of the mountains.” Whenever we drove over Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie Pass, the first glimpse of ponderosa pines thrilled me. I knew we had left behind the rain and dense undergrowth of douglas fir forests (which I also loved) to more open stands where I could wander miles without a trail…
I suppose it’s inevitable that a temperate forest-dweller like me would be amazed by the oddities that grow in the desert. It’s been two weeks since I returned home to Portland, Oregon from a brief trip to Arizona, and I’m still sighing over the blooms I saw in the desert…
I craved trilliums yesterday but didn’t have the energy to drive far. And with 92,000 acres of green space in Portland, Oregon, I didn’t have to. I drove ten minutes across town and entered 645 acres of trillium heaven in Tryon Creek State Park. A washed-out footbridge detoured me onto a horse trail, but I […]