Tonight before sunset I visited one of my favorite trees in the park nearby and found it standing proudly against the clouds assembled behind.
Looking forward to a change in the weather after a week of too hot and dry.
“Benji,” I said. “What are you doing under there? It must be the weather, huh? ”
“Catchin’ some shade,” he said. “It’s too hot for me. The sun penetrates my fur and slows me down. Zaps me of all my strength. Like this,” he said.
“Oh Benji, I understand, ” I replied. “I’m feeling rather lethargic myself with these temperatures in the eighties. We’re just not used to it anymore.”
“True, ” he said. “But I still have more energy than you do because I’m a cat and I have youth on my side. Wanna see?”
“Okay, Benji, yes. You made your point. You still got it.”
~Susanne and Benji
We often neglect the things in our own backyard as being too local or too familiar. And so it was for me with the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge which I had passed by many, many times on my way to somewhere else.
“Someday,” I would say to my husband Bob, “we’ll have to stop.”
But we never did. All these years. Until today. After being sick and housebound all week, Bob was desperate to get out and enjoy the summer weather we were having. The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge would be perfect for a day trip and simple hike. After stopping by our favorite coffee shop (you know the one) we headed south for the hour drive to the Refuge.
A little background first for those of you unfamiliar with the Nisqually. There is a big beautiful mountain in our neck of the woods which has more glaciers than any other peak in the continental United States. One of those glaciers on Mt. Rainier is the Nisqually, the source of the river that flows from the mountain into Puget Sound, forming the rich Nisqually River Delta. The Glacier and River were named after the Nisqually Tribe who have lived in this area for thousands of years.
The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 to protect the delta and its diverse fish and wildlife habitats. It was renamed in 2015 to honor Billy Frank Jr., a Nisqually Indian activist for Native American rights, who played an important role in getting treaty fishing rights restored to local tribes.
We arrive at the Refuge and after browsing through the Visitor Center, take the Twin Barns Loop Trail, an easy boardwalk through riparian forest. Here we are dwarfed by enormous maple trees which overshadow us. The air is warm and fragrant, and rich in the chatter of birdsong. The peace is pervasive.
The boardwalk continues through the Refuge to several overlooks including the Nisqually River Overlook below.
Further down the trail we meet a photographer who shows us pictures he took of baby Great Horned Owls. He’s carrying two large cameras, binoculars and a tripod. I’m carrying my new and much smaller camera but am not skilled, nor patient enough to photograph birds – yet. I am content rather to watch them flit through the brush and listen to their music, and luxuriate under the tree canopy. I do manage to photograph more sedentary fauna and flora including this frog and turtle sunning themselves….
and these cattails releasing their seeds from velvety tops.
The Loop Trail was enough for today and we were both rejuvenated by our visit to this wonderland. We vow to return again for the other trails and to experience the Nisqually River Delta in all four seasons.
Summertime and the livin’ is easy here in the Pacific Northwest. After the longest rainy season on record, summer arrived with gusto this week with temperatures in the seventies and eighties. We poor, cold, and waterlogged natives embraced the sunshine and are soaking up the long overdue rays while they are here.
That includes me as I head to Coulon Park in the heat of the day where I find the irises in bloom and bright as the sun,
and these walkers blending in with the green.
The view of Rainier to the south was striking as always..
but the Olympics floated in the haze somewhat ghostly to the west,
reminding me that I will welcome the cleansing of the next refreshing rain. I am after all, a true native.
This is Tiger and today was a good day to be a cat. The sun was out to warm my fur and cheer my soul. And even better, I had the catmint all to myself on this glorious summer day.
Catmint – it’s what’s for lunch.
After a busy day out and about in long lines and traffic and life’s uncertainties, I made it back home and went into my garden to rest. Here the lavender never fails to cheer,
while the scent of the woods, the sound of birdsong and the beauty of the stream lifts my spirit. The stream was made by my creative husband a few years ago. A flip of a switch causes the water to flow. I love the soothing sound it makes and how the light reflects upon it in the early evening.
Benji joins me and stops for a cool drink,
before striking this handsome pose.
~ Susanne and Benji