My Other Garden


My garden at home receives attention every day as I harvest lettuce and radishes for salads, protect tender young seedlings from sneaky chickens, and thoroughly enjoy the succession of colorful and fragrant flowers (oh, honeysuckle!) There’s another garden to wander in, and it grows wild on mountains slopes and along creeks. Every part of it awakens the senses and will not be ignored: the rush of melted snow water over tumbled boulders; the melodies of thrushes and calls of flycatchers with spaces between the songs; the humidity of the air as mist drapes over ridges above; the lushness of rain-greened grasses sweeping across the hillside; the rough weathered texture of venerable Douglas-fir bark; four parallel vertical lines on a pine trunk from long-ago bear claws; the saturated red of scarlet gilia (Gilia agregata) blending with the purple spikes and lupines and pale yellow of sulfur buckwheat. “Skyrocket” is another name for the scarlet gilia, and when I see it blooming I know that the 4th of July is approaching.

After what seems like weeks of gray gloomy weather, the jet stream has shifted north and warm air is flowing into the Pacific Northwest. The mist has burned away and I have a hunch that my hiking boots will stay dry for awhile. How will the gardens respond to the true arrival of summer? Wait and see…

Scenery or Flowers?

Anemones in the Teanaway

The most difficult dilemma of my day–with just a little time for photography on the fly, do I point the camera at flowers? Or magnificent mountains under a blue sky? The easy stuff was hiking, kicking rocks and flicking sticks off the trail, cutting logs and brush. Crossing snow on slopes was a little trickier, digging boot treads into the sun-softened mush.

Ran out of water two miles from the truck. Next week I pack another quart, or the water filter. This evening I rehydrate and rest.

And that dilemma? Turning the or into and was most satisfying.


When the asters bloom in profusion, it’s no longer possible to avoid acknowledging that the season is changing. Back up to Fish Lake today, and the meadows are taking on a tinge of gold. The tall swirly stalks of hellebore are drying, and the finely dissected leaves of sweet cicely are yellowing. There are still drifts of red paintbrush and white yarrow, but the goldenrod is opening. And then there are the asters–one of the last mountain wildflowers to bloom.

Sigh. Summer has been too short.

We climbed up above five thousand feet in elevation. Mats of phlox are just fading, and there are still shooting stars. These flowers follow the melting snow. There are still enough mosquitoes to require headnets. The day was muggy and warm, but a wind from the west brought clouds and a few sprinkles of rain. Not enough to settle the dust, but still rain.

Down by the Cle Elum River, the huckleberries are ripe and tasty. Some of the leaves are showing a hint of warm color.

Admit it. The season is turning. Take comfort in knowing life is circular. Notice the small wonders each day.