There’s a new post on Daughter on Duty.
I didn’t mean to tell Mama my work day plans included pulling blackberry vines out of the meticulously cared for wild honeysuckle she trained to grow over the section of old fence that was left standing for it, the new fence now nearly a quarter of a century old. But when she asked what work I was going to do, it caught me unprepared with a therapeutic lie.
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It’s raining and blustery this morning. Again. Although 10-day forecasts are notoriously unreliable in these parts, each time I check it there is one sunny day in 10. As I am both a fair-weather adventurer and a fair-weather gardener, at least this time of year when I am also content still to be cocooned with indoor projects, it’s a problem.
Last Monday Flutterby—my new monarch orange Nissan Rogue—and I headed north and west for a hike on the Olympic Peninsula, the first of what I hope will be a weekly adventure from now into autumn. (Read that one here if you missed it). I huddled inside the next three days as the spring monsoons drummed on the roof and spattered against the windows and the valley below the house turned to lake.
Friday we got a bonus sun day, warm even. I should have been fixing my garden gate, planting the beets and potatoes, cleaning up the property from the winter storms. But after an aggravating visit to my mother, full of demands and accusations and her own grumpiness, I was in a rainy mood and blew off the beautiful day. I stayed inside finally energized to do projects I should have been doing over the winter. (What a lot of shoulds in this paragraph.)
Yesterday I got a reprieve, another unexpected sunny day. And a Monday, adventure day! But there is all the work to be done outside. What to do? I check Weather Underground. The next predicted sunny day is a week from Thursday. I compromise: both/and.
I run out to the Manor first thing and find Mama alone in the dining room still dawdling over her scrambled eggs while a staff person vacuums around her. We walk a lap of the hall then return to her room to listen to bad knock-knock jokes from Alexa. “Alexa, tell me a funny joke!” “I don’t understand that,” Alexa retorts. As pissy as Mama was on Friday, she is sweet today and when I take my leave we are both in a good mood.
I spend three hours working outside, then shower and eat lunch. At 1:30 Flutterby and I head out across the lake in the valley. I look at this valley everyday, from the vantage point of the hawks and eagles, but rarely am I down in it. We cross the water and head into the hills, traveling south across the Alpha-Centralia Road, an I-5 alternative to get to US Hwy 12 that goes to the mountains. (See it winding up the hill in the photo above?) My destination is Mossyrock to see if the DeGoede bulb farm is in riotous tulip color yet. I’m quite sure it’s not, but it’s a pretty drive, which is the point of this shunpike adventure.
As we roll along, south and east, I decide to go somewhere else first, in the delicious freedom of being master of my destination. I have driven by the road to Mineral, (population 202 in the last census) countless times on my way to Mt. Rainier, but I’ve never driven into the town. It is home to the Mineral School, an arts residency program in the former elementary school. It is also home to what was the smallest post office in the country (retired now), according to a friend who delivers mail in the Seattle area.
I stay on WA 508 to Morton. We travel through bucolic farmland and wind through deciduous and hardwood forests, not yet showing much in the way of spring green despite all the rain. I round a curve and run into Herself, having forgotten she would be here.
I wait 20 minutes for a work crew to clear the road of a dead fallen maple trunk, finally getting one massive end lifted in the jaws of the bulldozer and chainsawing it into manageable chunks. In all that time only a handful of cars were lined up on both sides. This is rural Washington.
I’m enchanted by a watery grove of birches filled with the bright golden bloom of skunk cabbage. I pull off the road and revel for a few minutes.
In Mineral, I stop at Mineral Lake and feast my eyes on Mother Mountain. Now I’m sorry I didn’t blow off the driveway cleanup and head up to Paradise early—another hour away—which according to the webcam yesterday looks to have a couple feet of new snow. I haven’t been up there in the snow since the then boyfriend, later husband, and I took his Mid-west parents up for a fourth of July picnic, eaten in the parking lot because everything else was still under the white stuff. That was more than 40 years ago. Next time. I make a date with Flutterby.
We turn back toward home and skip over to Hwy 12 in Morton, heading back toward Mossyrock. There are no tulips yet, just vast fields of promise. That visit to Paradise will be timed to the bloom, perhaps at the end of the month. I’ll keep an eye on the 10-day, check the webcams, watch the farm’s Facebook page, make a plan; and then wait for what really happens. I guess this is what retirement is: not without work and responsibilities, but with opportunity to blow it off and live into spontaneity. Life is short, eat dessert first.
Flutterby and I went on our first adventure together today! (Well, not counting taking my mom for an Easter Sunday drive. She loved the heated seats!)
There was snow on the deck when I left, but the sky was going blue. I did not start Flutterby from inside the house to warm her up before I climbed aboard. It was chilly out though—34º according the Flutter’s thermometer. Picked up my road latte at 8:20 and we were off up I-5.
Left the interstate at Tumwater and headed toward 101 N. and the sparkling Hood Canal toward the snowy Olympics and the town of Brinnon to Dosewallips State Park. Temperature up to 42º.
I hung my new Discover Pass from Flutter’s mirror and donned my knee straps, since the meniscus tear in my right knee has been bothering a bit after garden work. I skipped the ankle brace—didn’t have it, anyway, as it turned out. Took my trekking poles, but didn’t use them.
I’ve finally found some new hiking pants that fit my criteria; i.e. crop length, not grey, zippered pockets. I didn’t realize until I got them home that they matched the socks a generous friend gifted me with. And not until I put on my shoes today (that need to be replaced), did I discover they also match the pants. Matchy-matchy.
Washington Trails Association trip reports had confusing information about where to start the hike, so I just picked one: Maple Valley Trail. A mile or so in, I crossed the fire road to Steam Donkey, so named for the machine that dragged logs to the railroad—that also ran through the area—in the early 1900s.
The trillium were blooming at the lower elevation, but other than a few buds, not much else in the way of spring. I chased a flicker with my camera as it flew from tree to tree, but wasn’t able to capture it.
It was a perfect hike for the first of the season. Not too long, about 3-1/2 miles or so. A lovely pond, many bridges across streams. Much of it looked not unlike the woods behind my house, but it was good to be out in the air and the mountains. I’m hoping to beat my epic hiking record set last year, with both new and favorite trails. I started a month earlier, so I’m on my way.
Back at the campground, I ate my lunch at a picnic table then drove on up the highway to the Dosewallips Recreation Area and Rocky Creek Falls, behind the Rocky Creek hydroelectric plant, just a few hundred yards from the road. Breathtaking. Saw two gangs of elk along the road.
Ended the day in Hoodsport with Lemon Lavender ice-cream as the cloud cover (the beginning of the next 10 days of it) began rolling in. Perfection. I love where I live.