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.