Midsummer's Walk ~ a photo essay (OS Archives 2011)

At the top of our street there is a beautiful walk, one of my favorite choices for the now-daily routine. There is something about starting out from home and heading straight uphill that acts as an excellent warm up for my sometimes-reluctant muscles and mind.

Today I have company along. As our strides fall into a rhythm, Husband, Kona the dog, and I steadily pass rectangles of homes and yards that make up our mostly elderly-feeling neighborhood. Two-thirds of the way up, we pass the ditch trail:  a level meandering path that follows the irrigation canal throughout the hills above our valley.

We continue on, a different type of walk in mind today.

As we pass the last of the homes, the view of the top meadow opens up, green and gold fronds waving in the afternoon light. My formerly fit legs begin to quiver with their lack of stamina, a direct consequence of this year's double enchantment:  writing and Open Salon. My growing writer's enthusiasm has been motivated and enhanced, as well as obstructed and delayed, by my many delightful hours spent here with you, fellow Open Salon writers and readers:  writers, jesters, philosophers, artists, musicians, warriors, friends and concerned citizens, spread all across our planet.

Never a dull moment, but...the daily walk has returned.

 This is the rewarding sight when the trail's slope begins to soften, when we stop to catch our breath and gaze back over our shoulders. This insta-camera I have with me today does not do justice to this view, but hopefully, you get the idea.


Those volcanic slopes visible across the valley are younger than the slopes we stand on, their colors changing chameleon-like throughout the year. The current apple-green of spring is soothing, as the crisp brown tones of late summer create vigilance --  townspeople scan hills anxiously and regularly then for telltale wisps of a beginning wildfire.

The slopes on our side, the side we live on and walk over today, aren't volcanic at all, they are the much older, basalt remnants of ancient coastal islands, the valleys' ocean bottom days evidenced routinely by the ubiquitous smooth oval groundrock.



Our trail continues on, marching toward an inviting side canyon just on the back side of the mountain.

 Once over the ridge, we head downtrail towards the forest where the vegetation changes quickly. The scent in the air builds, grows rich as well. The canopy thickens overhead as we choose the smaller path at a fork, the big leaf maples' presence telling us water is near. It's a good ten or more degrees cooler back here, a nice respite from the heat up top. A hundred yards further, a first glimpse of the creek is seen beyond the maples' sheltering boughs, although the melodic sounds have accompanied us for awhile.



Next, we head over the first bridge to our favorite spot.  This is where we usually stop for awhile and just listen to the sounds of waterfall and creek.


I begin to suspect my camera is no longer welcome. 



                                                        The falls are beautiful though...



"I cannot commune with nature properly with your                                           gadget flashing garish light..."




They're right. 

The camera is put away.


 ~ Later ~


Our hike has progressed after silent reverie by waterfall. All bare feet and paws have been refreshed by the just-past-ice-melt waters, irritations soothed by the creek's first-day-of-summer chords, a distinctly more robust tune than the autumn melody offers.

The camera surreptitiously makes its reappearance as we cross the second bridge downstream. The canyon deepens, the trees struggle to maintain their grip on the steep walls.

They often don't.



                                     We are just in time for a rare sighting of the hybrid                                                                           Glowing-Eyed Otter-Dog.                                                                            

                            (Glowing-eyed odd-er dog, she is..) 


The advancing hour is noted by the sun's rays through the canopy. Soon they will drop back beyond the ridge. 


This is our signal to head back up out of the canyon before the gathering shadows of dusk draw the bigger animals in to drink and hunt. Bear are routinely sighted in our area, and the dates of any seasonal cougar sightings are courteously posted by foresters at the trail's head.

This townsperson has learned the hard way that these postings, other than offering caution to local hikers, also mean:  Keep your small pets inside at night!

We begin to venture back uptrail, hiking steeply up out of the canyon toward more sunlight and the drier topography above. We pass the manzanitas stretching skyward, their velvety sinuous branches tempting a caress. I never stop marveling at the softness of their bark.


Edible manzanita berries are shown below, but the tannin content and resulting dry mouth prevent usual foraging excitement.

Any photo blurriness is due to my optometrist antipathy.


These are madrones below, technically bushes in the plant kingdom, also related to the manzanita. This wood is so hard, yet the bark so smooth and luxurious, even our cats' claws can't grab hold. It's hilarious to watch a bemused cat slipping down a madrone trunk like it's a greased pole. 


This is the one area I've lived where madrones and manzanitas grow, they are part of the many specialties of this area.

We trek further, past the meadow full of blooming white yarrow flowers, although yellow is the more usual blossom color. Yarrow is one of the Midsummer herbs that ancient Celtic tribes picked, part of the sacred Nine Herb bundle gathered for the twelve day Summer Solstice ceremonies.

Having lived in these mountains' long winters for several years now, I understand more fully the ecstatic partying and rituals the ancients participated in to celebrate the sun's longest stay of the year. 


     Are those blue blossoms cornflower or batchelor's button, I wonder ?    

I get those two confused. 


Below is a wild patch of lilac bush, its blossoms so pale compared to the more deeply saturated lavenders one buys in the garden stores.

It's possibly a leftover from some long-ago homestead.  



As we loop around back to the top meadow where we began, we soak in one last panorama before heading back down our steep suburban street toward home. 




Yes, there's a wonderful walk at the top of our street.

All it takes is being willing to begin.




RATE: 44


JUNE 24, 2011 4:56PM

THANKS! how lovely your world is.
Thank you for this lovely walk, I enjoyed every minute even though I never left my chair. Wonderful photos, I love the Otter Dog.
rated with love
dianaani: Thanks, I wanted to share...

Romantic: I hoped it would feel that way, our Odder Dog is sheer joy and silliness... 
: )
Your part of the world is so different from mine. Thank you for sharing it in images and prose. I had never heard of, or seen madrones and manzanitas before. How rejuvenating that walk must have been...
This was great. My poor leg does need some exercise. The waterfall and bridge remind me of the Olympic Natl Forest.
Fusun: I'm still getting used to it myself! but we do love it here...glad you came along : )

trilogy: I hope you're healing well! Glad to offer a hike while you're getting better...
Oh, thanks for taking me with! I enjoyed this lovely walk...more than you will ever know. Next time you go, let me know!
You live in a beautiful area. I enjoyed the walk today. Now I need to get my butt out of this chair and really walk!
This was beautiful.. I like the glowing otter dog hahaha. I have one of those back home hahaha.
Those berries are edible?
It is so funny as I get told to put the camera away. One day Steve saw someone taking a picture of a telephone pole and he gave me a look like I should join him hahaha
Rated with hugs
Oh! I just enjoyed two days of walking in our local parks and having seen the glory of your photos I'm thinking I better get out of town and up to the mountains. Shame on me for being a lazy girl. You're a good girl to get me off my fanny too!
magnificent and boy do i love river jacks R.
You might call it an insta-camera, but that eye !
These and your words made it real, and funny too. I love the look on your guy's face by the waterfall. I know that look. 
What a wonderful corner of the world - thanks for posting this.
thanks, great photos!
I felt like I was walking beside you. Beautiful writing about such beautiful country. Great Post!
What beautiful pictures, and I especially love the shot of the irritated dog.
You live near such great beauty. Thanks for sharing the walk with us. And that is one cute dog.
Have I told you how much I love Oregon? This is beyond beautiful, JT. Thanks for letting me tag along.

I feel myself breathing a little more deeply since joining you on that lovely excursion!
that is some beautiful country you get to take walks in, JT, especially the madrones (arbutus) growing wild there. they seem to like to grow where they naturally occur better than where some of us, ahem, try to plant them. beautiful photos, and thanks for posting them.

oh, i wonder if that isn't a variety of ceanothus and not a butterfly bush out there in the wild. they have flowers that look like lilacs and range from palest blue, even white, to bright and/or dark blue. those bright green leaves on the plant make me think it might be.
Robin: Thanks : )

Sheila: I really wanted this to feel like you were coming along ! Glad you liked...

lschmoopie: We do live in a beautiful area...I tell ya', getting started on that walk can be the toughest part : )

Thanks, Linda -- I couldn't resist including that photo, just perfect isn't it? I was getting annoying. : )
Manzanita berries are edible, but not tasty at all...

L'heure: I do plenty of level walks ! This one is definitely worth it though, glad you came along. I'll come check out your park : )

Thanks, Jon : )

Kim: Thanks : ) (damned emoticons are addicting, you know)
I love that expression on my guy's face too...well, sometimes. It's a pretty universal expression, no doubt. 
I've really gotten to love photography living out here, no pesky extended family anywhere to clutter up holidays and weekends....
(truly, the single "con" of living here)
Thanks for the encouragement !

VES321: Thanks !

scanner: I appreciate that, glad to see you : )
Hey! I was in the mood for a walk in a beautiful place. And, what a gorgeous place. Inspiring to know that there is such beauty out there.

Is that your husband- with the moustache? He's a cutie, if it is. 
Curious about your optometrist antipathy. Thanks for this lovely experience, JT.
Your camera and writing skill could make any walk a treasured one. We could put you on Mars..and you'd have us all longing to walk the dunes.
Oh How fun! I loved that picture of the sunbeam coming through the leaves. I don't do well going up hill so thank you for taking me with you. I can't walk without my camera and it is so lovely to share.
Very nicely done. (despite the downer 'tudes you got from your companions, funny). Your landscape is quite different from mine here in Pennsylvania, I really enjoyed this tour of Oregon. Steep hill!
Let me know if there are nay inexpensive rentals out that way. Enjoyed your images and more. Really nice place...maybe i can come visit?
Thanks for the beautiful walk and for sharing your gorgeous photos!
Your Oregon vistas and foliage is just gorgeous! Nice taking this walk with you this morning!
So hot down here, walks are curbed for a spell, but you have inspired me! Gorgeous stroll.
How beautiful! We have cobbles on the Massachusetts coast like those you show here. I wonder what that means geologically? You are lucky to have sighted the elusive glowing-eyed otter dog. I have always wanted to see one.
Lovely photos (I'm glad you didn't put the camera away for too long!) And thanks for taking us on this walk. I wish I could appreciate nature the way you do. Just wonderful and refreshing.
Torman: Thanks, yes, she was not thrilled with that flash. : )

Catherine: We adore her...she's a rescue, now our guard against wicked other...dogs.

Lezlie: No! I didn't know you love Oregon...and I love Atlanta, so, we must be similar in some fashion-- plus we both have good-looking sons : )

Why thank you Monsieur, and yes, there is much deep breathing with that hike...sometimes we drive up that hill, then hike. I tend not to torture myself. : ) 

Candace! Nice to see you : ) You are a knowledgeable one I see, what climate are trying out your arbutus?
You are completely correct that isn't a butterfly bush, I was thinking lilac, thought I wrote lilac, and proofread Lilac every time...the leaves gave it away, they're not as deeply veined as ceanothus and have a smooth edge.
I'll fix that....
These photos, your writing and this scenery are amazing! What a beautiful world! Thank you for sharing your part of it. I love to see photos of where friends on OS live.
A virtual walk in the season of summer in Oregon. Thanks for the vacation for which I didn't have to pack!
fernsy: Glad you came for a walk! ...and yes, that's Handsome Husband. He gets all the attention. : )

hugs, me: Hear! hear! It's been a long time coming this year...

JD: Wow. Your lovely comment has me walking on air! Thanks! Nice to have you come by...

zanelle: Thanks! I thought that light through the trees shot turned out well too : )
...and this is just what I was hoping for, that you all could come along! 
(That hill, I tell you, I have cursed and cursed at that hill...but the rewards are worth it. It's the coming down part that gets my knees, so we do drive up sometimes... : ))

Thanks, Rita: It is so different here, and just lovely. 
But so is an old Pennsylvanian stone farmhouse and fireflies all around a summer's eve...I'm a Bucks County native, although we left when I was two...we still visit family there.
Glad you came along!
What a wonderful post. I always love photo essays about the outdoors, but your lyrical writing makes it that much the better. Thanks for sharing your walk with us.
Dreamy, beautiful photos.
Ahhhh, I am refreshed! Thanks for taking me along.
The effort you put into your posts. I hadn't checked the cover in a few days, but I sure am glad I did today. Emily, or the ed-temp du jour, got this one very right. Ditto nana.
Crikey, it's slow today, sorry to have a photo-laden post actually hit the cover and it takes forever to load...

Hi Algis: Your camera would love Oregon! You can PM me by what you mean by "rentals"...
...cheap means hostels around here.
I'm glad you liked : )

Thanks Susie : ) We are both mountain lovers...

Cathy: It is a nice walk, glad you came along!

Linnnn: It gets really tough when the temperatures soar, doesn't it? It gets very hot here as well, just enough to fool the tourists into thinking they want to move here....but winter is really the main season. Glad to inspire!

greenheron: It means the area was once ocean bottom to have those smooth cobbles....and that rare otter dog is so cool a companion, I wish everyone could spend time with her. Depression could be completely eradicated. The planet needs her, really.
Thanks for taking us along!
Thanks, Alysa -- it's hard for me to put away the camera! I'll just get all the scratches and bug bites while you hike vicariously. Then we're both having fun : )

Glad you came by, Little Kate -- I love to see other corners of the world as well. These mountains are just one area we've lived in, but we seem to have settled...but bad, not bad... if you don't mind small towns and going to bed at 9PM. : )

mhold: Good! Mission accomplished : )
I think I too would walk there everyday if I could see that beauty and smell the damp earth. How beautiful this was to read and see the pictures.
My word! This is hands down among the best photo essays I've ever seen/read! Thanks for taking us along with you!
It's indeed a blessing to have such splendid environment and views where you live in. From the Asian part of this world where my apartment is, am surrounded by tall buildings and more buildings... :-) Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful! Thank you for posting this.
Beautiful! I'm totally taken with the manzanita trees--the light in color on the bark in the first picture is wonderful. Thank you for bringing us along--I loved the visual, verbal, and muscular exercise.
What a beautiful place to live. Thank you for sharing. -R-
Thanks, nana: I'm fond of those photo essays as well, it's fun to have a peek at someone else's corner. I'm glad you came along over here : )

Thanks, Christina ! Nice to see you here...

You also, Matt, nice to see you. Glad you're refreshed! I tend to be exhausted after that walk.

Stacey: I appreciate that so much! It does seem like the cover is no-man's-land too often, but I'm glad you found me : )

Lea: With all your travels, have you been by S. Oregon? Glad to see you : )
beautiful. thanks for taking us along.
Lovely walk through photos. Thanks.
Enjoyed the walkabout, your part of the world is lovely. Wonderful photos.








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