Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why We Live Here: Signs of Spring in Western Washington

With our especially chilly and wet March this year, most Northwesterners are getting impatient for warmer and sunnier days.  I was tempted to hop on a jet and join a friend returning to Phoenix this week (80 degrees, sunny, and dry!), but work obligations keep me tethered here. 

So instead I take  a walk through a lowland forest in Seattle's Carkeek Park during a  welcome sunbreak this afternoon. 

And I fall in love all over again with where I live. A lowland Pacific Northwest forest offers up many early spring treasures.

While I love traveling around the world, nowhere do I feel more at home than walking through a temperate Northwest rainforest. Our lush forests west of the Cascades are thick with an underbrush of sword ferns, salal, Oregon grape, and a host of native flowers like bleeding hearts and miner's lettuce.

And plenty of moss of course.

Today I notice lots of sweet spring flowers like red-flowering currant. I even see a few salmonberries starting to blossom. Stinging nettles, a darling of local foodies and chefs, are emerging from the forest duff.

Along Piper's Creek, a tired-looking great blue heron sits streamside, not moving when a toddler and I venture within just a few feet before noticing him.  I wonder if he's nearing the end of his life.  The late fall salmon runs are long gone now, so I'm not sure what drew him here.

With all the rain we've had the last week, there's lots of mud and a little lake around one of the picnic tables in the Carkeek gully. No picnic here today.

Delicate white snowdrops, although past their peak, are in bloom too. These are not native to the Northwest but are remnant bulbs from a long-abandoned orchard.  Since then the snowdrops have multiplied and spread through a patch of forest near a small tributary to Piper's Creek.

The way I see it, my walks in these Northwest woods are as important as eating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.  I feel nourished by my walks through all this thriving native plant life.

How about you? What signs of spring have you noticed recently, wherever you live?


auntteam said...

It's almost bluebonnet time when there are fields of blue. Also Indian paintbrushes, the century cactus (blooms once every 100 yrs) etc. The rosebuds and azaleas are decorating the area with bursts of vibrant color.
In a couple of weeks I plan to pack a breakfast picnic and head out to Washington on the Brazos (breakfast by the Brazos River is always nice) and pop over to Independance to see The Antique Rose Emporium, stop in Brenham for a Blue Bell ice cream (the best in the world)and head for home. It's Bluebonnet time!

Betty said...

Jill, the ground is covered in white due to a sleet/graupel storm in the last half hour. What spring?

jill said...

You paint a colorful, vivid picture! Sounds beautiful, especially a picnic.

Yea, same at my house, crazy weather!

Suzan Huney said...

Hi Jill,
Earl and I pruned our plum tree yesterday. I thought about all the years he has waited for harvest. He checks for softening, then would announce one day that they'd our plums were almost ready for picking. Alas, for some years now, the racoons get to the plums first, and Earl is lucky to pick a few.

jill said...

Thanks for the sweet little snapshot of your world. Those raccoons are annoyingly pesky creatures.

Anonymous said...

Brr JillM:
It's been chillingly damp out in the wild. Had to do jumping jacks several times. Can't wait to tromp around when warmer weather arrives.
Fredi the Yeti

Dave Wenning said...

Beautiful post. So, why is everyone still dressing like it's December?

jill said...

Ha Dave,
Good question! I'm bundled up in several layers and wore my woolly hat this morning. They say it's supposed to warm up this weekend to at least normal (50s) temps this weekend, crossing my fingers!

Seanna said...

Jill: Let's make nettle soup. Keep me posted when you think those nettles are ready to harvest.--Seanna

Anonymous said...

A stumbling Buddhist, skiing adventurer who likes tea, is that you or is that me. Dharma smiling at you.


jill said...

Thanks Matthew! Tea, skiing, adventures, and the dharma, great combination, huh?