A Scruffy Patch of Woods

We walk across the Forest Service compound, past the warehouse and shop and dumpsters, through the boneyard and into the corral. Climb over the wooden fence, glance out into the cemetery, and keep going. It’s a place to walk, to get into the trees. I call it the scruffy patch of woods. The ponderosa pines aren’t very big, and there are rotting stumps from the last time it was logged. Douglas firs are coming up underneath. You can hear the freeway; wheels of commerce grinding the pavement, city dwellers escaping for the weekend, lots of people in vehicles going from one place to another.

You can also hear flickers and chickadees, and your own feet moving through the pinegrass. Don’t think too much about the ticks that might be lurking there, but check yourself when you get home. There are glacier lilies and spring beauties. There are elk tracks in the damp soil. The air is warm and soft without the wind biting through the jacket.

It’s not the Big Wild, not the steep ridges and rocky spines of the mountains. It’s not pristine. Those places are still covered with snow, and inaccessible to a person whose heart isn’t able to carry her there yet. But the walks are helping the heart grow stronger, and I am grateful to have scruffy woods close to home. Grateful to be upright and breathing. Grateful for spring, and friends to notice it with.

Glacier lily, taken by new camera!
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Glacier Lily

During my daily walk two days ago, I was pleased to see glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) blooming with their spring beauty companions under the ponderosa pines. These are the crocuses of the wildflower world–harbingers of spring, undaunted by cold wet blustery weather. Around here, you can follow the edge of the snowmelt into July, and these yellow flowers will uncurl from the mud as spring proceeds up the mountainsides.

The drawing and watercoloring go smoothly. It’s when I put the sketch into the scanner that I shake my head at how it reads the colors. The flower is right here, I’ve been looking right at it. How come the computer doesn’t believe me? I try to adjust, and it just makes it worse. Frustrating.