Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Solitary Thanksgiving Joy

Friday, November 27th, 2020

We all know the holidays this year are fraught. I live on the opposite side of the country from my family, so I don’t usually get to indulge in our big enormous wonderful Thanksgivings, which we traditionally celebrate with Hatch relatives the day after Thanksgiving.

But I have friends like family nearby in Virginia, so I usually go to one of my friends’ houses and celebrate with their family. I have two friends who live nearby whom I’ve known since 3rd grade (in California!) and celebrating with them, I never feel alone. Last year was more difficult than most, since my mother was dying, and passed two days after Thanksgiving, after many of her kids had gathered and sang hymns to her while her sister played the violin. A rainbow even came out! But I was in Virginia, and celebrated with my friend’s family who had suffered their own loss of her stepfather that year. But that was a hard Thanksgiving — and there’s no way this year wouldn’t be better.

Since I work in a public library, I figure of all my friends, I’m the most likely to pick up Covid-19. It would probably be worth it to celebrate with my friends if the only risk was that I’d catch it from them — but I would feel horrible if I gave it to them or any of their parents. So this is my year to celebrate Thanksgiving alone.

It’s also a time for reflection. First, my former father-in-law passed away the Sunday before last. So close to my parents’ deaths, that’s hard. But I started a project of compiling pictures of him that I had taken over the years. (I’ve been digitizing negatives.) Those pictures reminded me how happy I am that my kids had devoted and involved grandparents while they were growing up. (My own parents had a much bigger family and didn’t have so much attention to spare. So I loved that my husband’s parents did.)

Then yesterday happened to be the ten-year anniversary of the day my divorce was final. At that point I still didn’t want to get divorced and still hoped that somehow we would still be reconciled. But you know what? These last ten years have been good, and full of blessings. And I no longer want to go back to that marriage, even if I could.

When I thought about a menu, I decided I was hankering for roast beef. So I found a crock pot recipe on the internet. Last night, I made the homemade cream of mushroom soup it calls for (delicious!) and Chocolate Angel Pie (basically chocolate whipped cream in a meringue shell).

But this morning I didn’t set the alarm and slept late. By the time I got the ingredients thrown into the crock pot, it wasn’t going to be ready until 8:45 pm!

And then I realized: Who cares? I could have a late breakfast, a late lunch, and a late dinner, and no one at all would be upset with me. And I wouldn’t think anyone was upset with me. Later, I sat on the balcony reading and thought how nice it was to not have to hurry up and get ready to go anywhere. Yes, a solitary Thanksgiving has its own wonderful charms.

But the truly wonderful part happened on my walk.

I was taking pictures of leaves, marveling at how many beautiful ones are still out there.

While I was walking, I was praying. It’s Thanksgiving. I was thanking God for my life. I was thinking about how those ten single years have been lovely. I was counting my blessings. Thinking about the new online groups I’ve joined since the pandemic hit. Even though I’m not around family, I’ve got new friends who love and appreciate me. And life is good.

And once again, I got to thinking that maybe I should stop asking God to find a life partner. Sure I’d like to find someone before another decade goes by, but maybe I should just focus on all the good I already have in my life. After all, I’m not an easy person to match. Maybe God isn’t answering that prayer because He knows I’m happier single. Life is good, and this day has been nice not trying to please anyone but myself.

When I walked back to the lake (My walk takes me past the lake, into the woods, and then back.), I was still looking for the great blue heron who likes to come by, with no luck. Wouldn’t it be nice to see him for Thanksgiving Day? But it was such a beautiful day for giving thanks.

And then I remembered the Theme I’d chosen back in January for 2020. I already blogged about it. The theme is to ask with Shameless Audacity, as Jesus tells us to in Luke 11.

So I did it — I prayed that God would let me see a great blue heron today, for Thanksgiving. I acknowledged that it was shameless audacity on my part to ask for it. But I did ask. And then I kept walking, thinking it wasn’t going to happen this time. And that’s okay.

A couple minutes later, some ducks splash-landed on the lake next to me. Fun! I thought that at least I could take nice pictures of ducks.

But while I watched a second group of ducks land, right behind them came a great blue heron! It squawked at them, then decided it didn’t want to land next to them and swooped in a big circle around the end of the lake — and came straight toward me!

It kept squawking, as if to say, “YOU WANTED TO SEE ME?!! HERE I AM!!!” (I’ve never been sure I heard a great blue heron’s voice before, in all the time I’ve watched them.) It veered away from me and flew further down the lake.

Then it flew onto a rooftop, and I happily took about a hundred pictures of it with the sky as a background.

But wow! If I thought my request was shamelessly audacious, I didn’t begin to predict the shamelessly audacious answer I received. That heron buzzed me! I wanted to see a heron? It flew at me, squawking!

I’ve been looking at Creation Psalms lately, and yesterday it was Psalm 139 — The Lord has searched me, and he knows me. Right now, Tauren Wells’ song, “Fully Known,” is playing. “I cannot find the reasons why you’d give me so much.” God knows me, and he delights in giving good things to his children.

And I feel so thankful.

I know what my next shamelessly audacious request is. What’s yours?

Noticing

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

On Sunday, I received a wonderful gift.

I’d had kind of a grumpy week. I was scheduled to work six days in a row. (I’ll get a 3-day weekend this coming week.) I ended up taking one day off because of a light headache I just couldn’t shake. Every day at the library, I asked numerous people to please wear their masks, and I was starting to get angry about it. That persistent headache wasn’t helping, even if I knew it was just a migraine and I didn’t have a fever. On Saturday, I was person-in-charge and two people in a row displayed some aberrant behavior, though I was relieved that they did leave the library soon after.

All that to say, it was a stressful week.

Sunday was my day off. I hadn’t taken a walk by my lake in a week, so this was my opportunity, before online church. The week before I hadn’t even bothered to bring my camera, because I felt like I was taking pictures of the same flowers each time. But sometimes on Sunday mornings, I’d seen deer, so I brought my camera that day.

And my friend the great blue heron was there! Though the heron is a regular, I hadn’t seen much of him since the shelter-in-place order happened. Perhaps it didn’t like how many people walked by the lake.

But today the water was very still, and the bird was very still, and I got a whole sequence of cool mirrored pictures.

It even flew to the nearer side of the lake and I got the picture at the top of this post.

Then walking on. I spotted a butterfly whose wings were different on the inside and the outside. Patiently waiting, I got shots of both.

My walk takes me by the lake, then in a meadowy part with big bushes, then beside some woods. Then I turn around and come back. I hoped to see deer in the woods as I had the week before, but nothing this time. Instead, when I got back to the meadow, there was another butterfly, and this one was posed with the sun shining on its wings. When its wings were together, the sun didn’t shine through, but when it opened its wings, they lit up spectacularly as they were now thin enough to be transparent.

The butterfly was, however, a bit stubborn. I’d wait and wait for it to open it wings, and it wouldn’t do so until I lowered the camera. So catching a few times with the lighting felt like a triumph.

As I walked back toward the lake, in a place where the path is constrained by bushes on one side and the lake on the other — there in the bushes, right next to the path, two fawns were sitting and eating leaves.

What could I do? I stood and took pictures, of course. Eventually a jogger came by and joined me. When she decided to go on, that got one of the fawns to get up and walk out of the bushes.

After that, I was wondering if the heron was still there, lurking behind the tall grasses where I couldn’t see it. As I checked, I heard an enormous splash and saw a bird rising up from the water. It turned out that an osprey was fishing in the lake and continued circling — in a way that tantalized me into trying to get its picture.

By that time, I felt simply overwhelmed with blessings.

Last time I blogged here, I talked about God giving good gifts to His children. This felt like gifts given with good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. My cup overflowed!

I hadn’t done anything to deserve such blessings. I’d been grumpy! But that got swept aside.

Then in the online church service, my pastor Barbara Miner talked about how Jesus notices us. The text was from the story where Jesus is going to heal a synagogue ruler’s daughter who has died, and a woman in the crowd touches the hem of his robe and is healed. Jesus, on an urgent mission, stops and turns and notices the woman. She must have been mortified! She wasn’t trying to be noticed! But Jesus calls her “Daughter.”

Pastor Barbara reminded us that Jesus notices us and challenged us to notice others.

And that got me thinking of my walks by the lake. When I don’t bring my camera, I don’t notice things as small as butterflies. (Okay, I would have noticed those fawns! And probably the great blue heron, too.) I would have marveled at the osprey and then kept walking. But wanting to get pictures made me really look, really notice.

Last year, I got a better camera, with a stronger zoom, and my pictures got dramatically better. Even before that, I noticed that little flowers by the path have a whole new look when you zoom in. Butterflies are just a speck until you zoom in and notice their beauty. And it might take some waiting before they light up for you.

Isn’t that like people? I was reminded of Pastor Tom Berlin’s sermon months ago, where he talked about using Mr. Rogers as an example of paying attention to people.

If I can zoom in and focus on people, it’s so much easier to notice their beauty.

As a kind of icing on the cake, the next morning I worked the late shift and got another walk in, and got to see yet another species, a great egret.

Now, my lofty goal was to start zooming in on people and noticing the beauty of their souls. So far at the library, I confess that most of the zooming in I’m doing is on Nosers who aren’t wearing their masks properly.

But I’m writing this whole post as a reminder to Notice.

When I Notice God’s gifts, I end up feeling overwhelmed with blessings.

And how amazing that Jesus notices me. And I’m going to say He noticed that some blessings would lift my spirits right about now.

And maybe I can pass that on and practice noticing others.

Blizzards and Contentment and Trust

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

BlizzardwithCardinal

We had a blizzard last week. I live in the DC area — you might have heard.

I find with a blizzard, people tend to either love it or hate it. I LOVED it!

We had plenty of warning — so my workplace at the library was closed on Friday just in time for me to get home just as the flakes were beginning to fall. Then they continued to fall — extremely thickly — for the next more than 30 hours.

The area isn’t prepared for such a rare event. With 30 hours of heavily falling snow and more than 2 feet of snow on the ground, this did break records. So besides the weekend, when I hadn’t been scheduled to work (but all activities were cancelled), I got Monday and Tuesday off work.

Snow days are gifts of time. Plans get cancelled, and you get to take time out of your routine. This time, for the first time in four years on a snow day, I had my son (newly graduated from college) home with me, so I wasn’t all alone.

After the blizzard ended, on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I went for a walk through the snow. It was incredible! I love to walk around my lake on a sunny day, but this was a whole new adventure and each day was different.

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Mind you, each excursion was so much work, I’d then wipe out my afternoon by taking a nap to recover. There was a part of me that thought I should “use” the time. But it was so worth it.

And I’ve felt good! All my life, I’ve been plagued by headaches — until recently and “the change” — and I haven’t had a headache all month! Not even going out in the cold and snow! Not even with major weather fronts coming through! This all still feels miraculous and wonderful.

And I got time to work on my website and add cool math stuff, and I have a manuscript being considered by an editor, and I’m doing things at work (when we’re open) that make me happy, and life is just very good. And did I mention I got to walk in the snow this week?!!! (And it was so cool!!!)

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All this boils down to — I have been Happy lately. Very Happy and Content.

So I’ve been thinking about Contentment in the context of trust. And, yes, in the context of singleness.

One of those prayer requests I mentioned in my post last month? I’d like to find a new life partner.

But this past week, I’ve been happy and content in the here and now — and I think that helps me to trust.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us present our requests to God with thanksgiving — and the result will be peace.

I’ve found this week that it helps me trust that God will bring me good in the future if I focus on how much good God has given me in the present.

I do realize there’s a balance. You want to be content — but you don’t want to be complacent. You want to be thankful for the present, but you don’t want to fail to grow as a person.

For example, I had a wonderful time in the snow. I have a garage and only one car, and I live in a condo which hires a company to clear snow — so I didn’t have to do any shoveling. I was happy about that, maybe too happy — I didn’t help my neighbors much. (In my defense, I’m not really supposed to carry heavy loads since my vertebral artery dissection and stroke four years ago. But that wasn’t really my motivation.)

In the example of looking for a new life partner, it’s good to be content — but how much should I be putting myself out there, looking online or going to meetups? If I happily become a hermit, is my trust in God expecting Him to do a miracle and bring someone into my shell? I do think there’s a balance.

I’ve had a small personal breakthrough in the past few years. I feel like I’ve come a long way in forgiving my ex-husband, and I have friends again who are men — from a variety of settings. I admit, I had generalized some of my anger and was leaning toward the “Men are skunks” view. (It was interesting recently. Something came up that had me shaking my head about “men” — and I was able to trace it back to a specific incident where I was still angry with my ex-husband. Once I took that out and looked at it and did some forgiveness work — it also took out the generalized anger.) And it’s so nice to get past that, and men add something to my life. (Mind you, my girlfriends have ALWAYS been there for me and are the ones who helped me even survive my divorce. But there was a gap in my life.)

There’s a balance in that, too. All these men I’m friends with are either married or for some other reason not an appropriate life partner for me. And it’s easy, in a low moment, to get discouraged by that fact. To jump to the conclusion that it will be impossible to find a nice single Christian man appropriate for me and even God can’t pull it off and start feeling sorry for myself.

But choosing contentment — I can see how those friendships enrich my life and even add male companionship (in a friendly way), which I was missing and does me good. And instead of stressing about the fact that these men aren’t ever going to marry me, I can find a whole lot of joy in what they do bring to my life.

Just yesterday, my sister posted an amazing poem that reaffirmed this idea for me.

We may always love, but we may not always serve.

This also applies to my ex-husband. I had to come to the place where I can love him — yet release him and go on with my life, not wanting to be married to him again. To remember the good, but accept that this is past. If I’ve truly forgiven him, I can still love him and wish him well. But I have had to accept that there is no longer any way I can serve him. (In the past, when I would try to do something nice for him, he definitely didn’t take it in the spirit it was offered.)

I had to see that wanting to serve someone has a selfish side. Can I be happy that so many of my men friends have beautiful relationships with their wives — exactly the sort of relationship I’d like to have with someone?

Well, the answer is that — when I’m content, I can.

And when I’m content, it’s easier to trust that God is going to take care of the future.

And when I’m content, it’s even easier to brush up that online profile and do a little looking. But also not be too horribly disappointed when that man with the interesting profile never answers my message.

It’s all a dance.

I was talking with my son today about being a rule-follower (which I am). He says he likes it when there are clear processes. (Looking for a job after college is not a clear process!)

I think the path of trust is also like that. Not a clear process. A place that needs balance. You want to be content but not complacent.

And then, every now and then, you get a wonderful gift of a Blizzard!

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Two Herons at the Lake

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Thursday is my late day to work. I hadn’t been feeling good, but I wanted to go for a slow walk to try to get back into the groove. When I got to the lake, I saw not just the great blue heron, but a great white heron, both on the wall. I decided it would be a good day to substitute a photo shoot for my usual walk. I went back for my camera.

The great white heron didn’t tolerate my snapping for long:

And soon he was so good as to pose by the rainbow in the fountains on a sunny day.

I love the way the wildflowers blooming by the lake change every week. This is one of my favorites, because it reminds me of a flower we had in Gundersweiler, Germany.

I love the bunnies I see every day on my walk. It’s getting where they aren’t scared of me, which feels a little pathetic.

And more flowers and lake.

Next, it posed by the gazebo.

I love the way the great white heron and its reflection shine in the sunshine.

I should mention that the weather was also fabulous. Bright and sunny, but cool and breezy. Even though I wasn’t feeling good, that time at the lake started off a great day.

Hiking at Great Falls

Monday, June 17th, 2013

When I go on a beautiful hike and take more than a hundred photos, I like to try to challenge myself to choose the top ten. And then if I stop at 19, well, that’s okay, too.

Friday was my birthday, and the weather was wonderful, and I went for a lovely walk along the River Trail at Great Falls National Park. Here are 19 of my photos.

There were lots of great blue herons flying around and also sitting and posing. I’ve already posted about the Great Blue Heron of Happiness.

These first several are from the Overlooks at the start of the River Trail.

The parts that weren’t looking at the amazing river were wonderful for being a peaceful walk in the woods.

Though mostly, it was both: Peaceful woods overlooking a majestic river.

I could *not* resist retouching this photo a tiny bit:

And I finished up back at the Overlooks:

Simply a beautiful day!

Sunday Songs – Bluebird of Happiness

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

My birthday was Friday, and I received an amazing gift from my friend Lauri Ann.

I woke up with a vestibular migraine, which I’d had more than a week. I was feeling rather down. Lauri Ann’s gift was the only thing I had to open. (No offense to my family — I am always late with their presents, too. And this time, I didn’t get my new address out to people.)

It is an antique locket, owned by singer Jo Stafford. It was given to her by Gordon MacRae when they recorded the song “Bluebird of Happiness.”

Lauri Ann included the words. What a nice reminder that I have so many things in my life to be happy about now!
“Remember this: Life is no abyss. Somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness.”

In fact, I remembered that I’ve been enjoying seeing lots of birds from my balcony. I thought it would be nice if soon I’d see a bluebird.

But I didn’t end up reading on my balcony Friday, like I’d planned. People (not me! Yay!) were doing noisy yard work. So — I went to Great Falls National Park. And had a wonderful hike along the River Trail. And my migraine left before I got there.

And you know what? I saw many, many great blue herons. Now that I know what they look like, because of the one that lives on my lake, they were easy to spot. One was right below me when I looked down from the overlook.

So you know what I decided? I’ve got not just a bluebird of happiness, but a Great Blue Heron of happiness! Whenever I see him — and I spot him almost every day now when I walk by my lake — I get a reminder of how much I have to be thankful for. And the locket is a lovely reminder as well.

“Hold your head up high,
Till you find the bluebird of happiness.
You will find greater peace of mind
Knowing there’s a bluebird of happiness.
And when he sings to you,
Though you’re deep in blue,
You will see a ray of light creep through,
And so remember this, life is no abyss,
Somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness.”

Correction

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Turns out … the Egret is not an egret. He (or she) is a Great Blue Heron. And the story about them mating for life is not true. This is what happens when you tell a story like that to a Librarian. My coworker, James, made me look it up. (I’m ashamed I didn’t think of it myself. He gets the Librarian points there!) We used books first — field guides, and once the basic identification was made, websites helped.

But the important thing about the story is absolutely true: A big awesome water bird lives on the lake outside my window!

In fact, this morning I went walking by the lake, thinking I had gotten out of my system any need to bring my good camera along.

Today the Great Blue Heron was very near the path, wading in the rocky part by the sidewalk. While I watched, he caught a fish! He then walked onto shore to eat it, to the part of the shore I’d recently left.

I took pictures with my phone, but he’s merely a speck. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching him.

Another fun thing that happened at the library:

I was sitting at the reference desk next to James, this young co-worker who had me look up the Great Blue Heron. (Clearly a very intelligent guy is what I’m saying here.) A patron walked up to him and said, “I’m looking for The Beautiful and the Damned.

I couldn’t help myself. I said, “You’ve found us!”

Walking by the Egret

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

I haven’t posted on Sonderjourneys in a long time. I was too busy journeying!

In April, I purchased my first home — a two-bedroom second-floor condo with a lake view. I’m still settling in — not unpacked yet. But I have started doing a walking program. My first regular exercise program in my life! I’m using the book Walk Your Butt Off! It’s got a 12-week program in which you gradually increase your speed. I have completed the 4-week preliminary program for sedentary people, and today started the second week of the main program. It is just not a chore to walk beside my beautiful lake! Feels like a privilege to have a reason to walk there!

And today my walking got slowed down when I spotted the egret posing on the wall. I snapped some pictures with my phone, but it doesn’t zoom, so I knew the bird would be hard to make out.

Mind you, one of the selling points of the place was that my realtor told me that an egret lived on this lake. She said that egrets mate for life, and when one dies, the other will nest forever after in the place they were last together. This is a solitary egret, and he’s going to live here until he dies. (I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s sure a nice story! And I have indeed seen him several times now.)

Anyway, when I came back after walking to the other end of the lake, the egret was still there. Since he was staying so long, and since it is my day off, I decided this would be the perfect time to come back with my good camera. I did, and he was still there!

I thought it was a good time to also snap some pictures of the pretty flowers growing around the lake.

(You may not notice, but there’s also a mallard duck sitting on the wall.)

And did I mention, this is right outside my home?

After I took the first and best picture above, my batteries instantly died, and he flew away. But he obviously didn’t fly far, so I thought maybe I could find him. (While first taking more pictures of flowers.)

Sure enough! He was right by the path a little farther on.

I loved the way the fountain had a rainbow this morning.

And I kept snapping pictures of the egret until he got tired of me and flew to the other side of the lake.

Such a beautiful way to start my day!

Silver Falls with Family

Friday, November 25th, 2011

September 3, 2011 — The day before my youngest brother’s wedding, and the family was gathering in Oregon. On Saturday, several of us planned to go to Silver Falls. That was one place I’d wanted to see, because I remembered hiking there as a child. (You can go behind the waterfall!) We didn’t get going as early as planned, and then one sister and her husband needed someone to take them back early so they could get the flower girl to the rehearsal. I was the logical person to volunteer, since I wasn’t sure how much hiking I could handle, since I was still recovering from my stroke. So I didn’t go very far at all, but what I did was lovely indeed.

Here’s the group that went hiking:

My son and I are on the right. Two sisters went, with one husband. Two brothers went, with one wife. And my Aunt Donna came along, with her son (whom I’d last seen when he was about 12 years old) and his wife and son. So that’s a tiny section of my family, but it was lovely to be with them!

Now, of course, I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the Falls:


Our first view of the Falls. Of course, we had to take pictures!


Here’s my sister Marcy snapping one.


And here’s my sister Wendy.


Getting closer to the Falls…


Forgive me, but I always like taking pictures of leaves lit up by sunlight.


Here’s a view through the trees.


Closer to the Falls, you get more of a feeling of how big it is.


Here’s my brother Randy and his wife Vickey.


And I had to take one from behind the Falls, the thing that thrilled me so much as a child.


Here’s the bridge at the bottom of the Falls.


The Falls were especially pretty from the other side.


This is my sister Marcy and her husband John. We’re now on the bridge I pictured earlier.


And here I am with my son Tim.


Sisters!


A last look at Silver Falls from below, before starting the upward climb.


Tim found a side trail to explore.


Another glimpse of the top of Silver Falls.


I was fascinated by all the moss on the trees in Oregon and Washington. It was how I remembered forests — but hadn’t seen in years. And this set had leaves lit by sunlight as well.


And one final look at Silver Falls, before going back to my Aunt’s house, taking a nap, and then getting ready for the Rehearsal Dinner and even more Family.

It was a lovely day. It was probably good I took the shortest loop, since the climb back up completely wiped me out. But I was very glad to get out and about with wonderful people whom I love very much — but don’t see very often.

Washington State!

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

I was born in Washington, DC. However, my parents moved back to their roots when I was only a year old, and the first place I remember living was Kent, Washington, outside Seattle. We moved away when I wasn’t quite six years old, so I have a lot of memories that I know were when I was really young, simply because we were living in Washington.

I suspect that living in Washington is where I learned to love GREEN. And oceans and boats (or at least ferries) and rivers and trees and fall color and snow and mountains. When we lived in Washington, we often drove down to visit my grandparents in Salem, Oregon.

Now, more than forty years later, I’m staying with my Aunt Susie in that same home in Salem, Oregon, and today we drove into Washington State.

First, I should mention that yesterday, I got to visit Powell’s City of Books in Portland, and got to spend time with my older son, Josh, who recently moved to Portland. We went out to eat afterward at the wonderful Mamma Mia’s Restaurant. It was food for my soul to have time with both my boys. Here they are at the restaurant:

Now, Tim (the one on the right) is about to be a Senior in high school, so he’s looking into colleges. Once Josh moved to Portland, he thought maybe he should check schools in this area. Well, Josh found a school that sounds very distinctive — The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. They don’t give grades, but instead offer narrative reports, and they also let students design their own majors — which sounds very good for undecided students like my son.

So, we decided to spend the day today driving up to Olympia and back. The excuse was to visit the college and talk with an admissions representative. But a big part of my reason is that I love Washington State and wanted to spend part of my vacation there.

A cool thing is that there was one part of the trip — the same one my parents took many times between Salem and Seattle — that I am absolutely sure I remember from more than 40 years ago. It’s the bridges. The big green bridges. And when you’re going back to Salem, there are several small bridges, but then the great big bridge is the last one, and it means you are now in Oregon, and we’re almost there. (Or at least a lot closer.) I started singing “Over the River and Through the Woods, To Grandmother’s House We Go,” and I actually got a flashback from when I had just learned that song — in KINDERGARTEN! — and was singing it as we went to Grandma’s house in Salem. It blew me away, just the sheer amount of time that passed, and then the memory just burst to the surface. I also hadn’t thought I’d remember anything about the trip — and then I saw those bridges, and so much came back!

I enjoyed the school visit, and they were very friendly and helpful. Unfortunately, Tim lost a screw in his glasses and a lens popped out, so he was alternating between looking out of one eye or not being able to see, poor kid! (On the way back, we had my aunt’s GPS lead us to a LensCrafters right off the freeway, and they fixed it for free.) But I think he got some idea of what the place looked like!

One thing I really enjoyed was walking down a little trail right on campus and being plunged into an old forest, covered with moss. We even saw a deer on campus, behind a building!

I could not possibly walk in a forest without taking pictures, so here are several:

Of course, you have to imagine these trees completely surrounding us…

And you have to remember that the weather was absolutely perfect, sunny but slightly cool…

And the moss on all the tree branches gave it such a mystical feeling, reminding me, again, of the childhood experience of walking in a redwood forest and taking home a piece of wood with moss on it…

And being in this forest felt so RIGHT…

And I found myself thinking, “Now THIS is what a forest should be!”…

So I feel quite confident that my childhood experiences established my concept of a quintessential forest…

And it simply did my soul good to be in such a forest again!

…And would you look at the sheer size of those ferns!

I did surprisingly well at Evergreen. We didn’t do a lot of walking — just the little hike — and I never did get fuzzy-headed. I got a little bit tired driving up, but we made quite a few stops on the way back, so I didn’t have any real trouble.

Oh, and one of the best things about the day was that my son read me stories from The Chronicles of Harris Burdick! We got through seven stories, which is half the book. They are written by a wide variety of authors, and all have something strange about them (as fits the pictures), and it was a wonderful way to spend the time, as we passed through gorgeous countryside.

So, it was a simply lovely day. Absolutely perfect weather, a trip through beautiful countryside, plenty of nostalgia, time with my son, a short hike in a forest, and a good book read to me by someone I love. Wow!