The Garden, a Stream, and Benji

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

The Faithful Ones in the Early Spring Garden

Under a light rain I venture outside to the spring garden and admire the faithful flowers blooming there. These are the ones who really do bloom where they are planted, requiring little if any assistance from me.

I planted the Clematis a few years ago to fill in a spot of chain link fence.  It has been pleased to do that and more, happily climbing overhead onto nearby evergreens, spreading color everywhere.

This Rhododendron, though completely neglected by me, blooms heartily every year in spite of it.

The Candytuft gets no special attention either,

yet fills the air with its sweetness, attracting the attention of two residence cats, Benji and Tiger, who also appreciate its scent.

Sweet Woodruff provides a nice bed for the bird bath and kitty watering hole,

while this uninvited intruder fills in where I can get nothing else to grow

providing a nice background for a portrait of the handsome Tiger.

All are happy in the spring garden.

~  Susanne

A Tiger in the Garden

While waiting for my coffee to brew this morning I took a quick walk through the garden.  The dew was still fresh everywhere and I found the Lady’s Mantle covered in jewels.

I also found this handsome Tiger sleeping.

Maybe that’s why they call it a garden bed.

~ Susanne

Rainy Days and Setting Sun

By now you may have heard that we are experiencing the rainiest October through April in Seattle since 1895 when records began to be kept.  We have received almost 45 inches of rain since October 1st and April is not over yet.  And yes, it feels like it.

Still, when the sky clears I’ve become fond of chasing sunsets which manage to make an occasional dramatic appearance rainy day or not. Earlier this week I settled for the golden glow in the garden shortly before the sun went down.

And a few minutes later I enjoyed colorful clouds behind the evergreens.

One rainy day followed by a clear evening with two different garden views gave me a little more practice with my camera and the setting sun.

~  Susanne

Tiffany Park Woods Revisited

Behind my house in Renton there are 22 acres of woods.   You can see them through the fence in my backyard where they provide a wonderful backdrop of green making my own gardening efforts easier.

I have enjoyed their quiet beauty and the birds and wildlife who live in them. I’ve welcomed the deer who occasionally peer through the fence and let them prune my raspberry bushes when I forgot to close the gate.

Of all the friendly birds that have stopped by my yard (and there are many), my favorite was the red crested pileated woodpecker. I’ll never forget watching that giant bird with the bright red plume as he stopped for a drink and made my bird bath look small.  I have never seen another one in the wild.

It has already been a couple of years since we learned the woods had been sold.  At the time, neighbors voiced their complaints to the city and various hearings were held. Environmental studies were performed and inventories of wetlands, trees, birds and mammals were taken. But things being as they are it was only a matter of time until the clearing of the land and the building of the houses would begin.

I wonder how the trees feel about it?  Do they know the white tag or the blue tag or the pink tag pinned to their bark determines their fate?  Have the animals perhaps sensed what is coming and already relocated to more permanent homes?

Recently some friendly men came by and we asked them when work would begin.

“Soon,” they replied.

“But we have heard that for years,” we answered and laughed together.

But this time it really is soon. Their mission is to prepare the infrastructure to support the new homes.  Tree felling will begin within weeks and utilities should follow after. The peace and quiet will be gone for too long a time I fear. I wish it was already over and done.

I thought I would take a final walk through the woods before the logging begins and photograph what will be lost.  I follow the trail where young boys run and play and older boys walk their dogs.

I come across this comfy stool fit for a fairy.

and I find ferns with new spring fronds unfurling ..

The bleeding hearts are in bloom…

and the salmonberries are blossoming.

And of course there are the trees.

I find this tangle that will likely stick together while coming down.

They are ordinary perhaps, these Tiffany Park Woods, nothing special except to those who live near them.  Or in them.

I remember the first time I heard the deep hooting of the Great Horned Owl in the dead of night.  I wondered at the size of an owl that had such a booming voice resonating in the woods.  I got up hoping to catch a glimpse of him but of course it was too dark. Silly I know.  There are other owls too but I don’t know what kind. I’ve tried to remember the rhythms of their calls so I could look it up the next day.  But by morning I have usually forgotten.  I will miss the owls.

I grew up next to woods in West Seattle and have fond memories of the many hours spent in them; running on the trails, making beds of the ferns, and playing the games of childhood.  Maybe children don’t play in woods anymore.  But I still believe there is value in having some patches of wilderness in urban spaces.

The woods in Tiffany Park will soon be gone but my woods in West Seattle still remain.  For that I am thankful.

~ Susanne

A Harrowing Night in the Shed

This is Tiger and do I have a harrowing tale for you!  It all started out innocently enough yesterday. Benji and I were sporting about in the garden, helping Bob and Sue with various tasks, digging, chasing, and advising on work to be done.  Bob and Sue tired of the work before I did, while Benji went off to play in the woods. When raindrops started to fall I sought refuge in the shed as the door was open and welcoming.

I must have been really tired.  I dozed off and on for what seemed like hours until I woke up, disoriented to a freezing, dark and dingy room. As my eyes adjusted I could make out the tools and rakes and gloves and chairs and remembered I had entered the shed earlier.  I heard the owls hooting in the woods and the scuffling of the small night beasts and knew it must be after midnight.  How I  wished I was snuggled in grandma’s warm room having a midnight snack of kibble!  But that once welcoming shed door was shut and I was trapped inside.  I shuddered and pondered my fate.

Long ago fears rose up reminding me I’d been abandoned before.  Old lives came back to haunt me bringing memories like arrows with them.  Had Sue given me up?  Humans were changeable after all. I tried hard not to panic and replaced my fears with all the good memories of Sue and Bob and Grandma (and even Benji.)

Then from a distance. It was Sue.  She was calling, calling, calling.  I cried back as loud as I could though it seemed in vain; she was so far away. I cried louder and her voice got louder in return and I knew she was approaching.  In the yard.  Near.

“I’m here!,”  I said.  “In here!  In the shed!”

And when she opened the door I had never been so happy to see her.

“Oh Tiger!” she said with love and concern and (dare I say) remorse in her voice.

“Poor boy!  What are you doing in there??”  And I knew that she had been roused from her sleep to seek me out and they hadn’t really meant to trap me in there; she was a good human after all and really did love me.  And so I followed her into the warmth of the house and accepted her apologies which were heartfelt and profuse.

It wasn’t easy.  But I do feel stronger for having survived such a night.  I shall have to tell Benji all about it.  And it was great to see the humans come through.  I always knew they would.

~ Tiger