Okay, so I sort of told a lie to the grocery checker.
Well, maybe not a lie, per se, perhaps more like spinning a yarn. Everyone chats and one cannot be in a hurry when checking out at the small town grocery store. (aside to Brooke- thanks for letting me know of your Marfa experience, it has been so valuable in adjusting to small-town life) All of the check-out line workers are so nice and friendly; they are such a welcome way to engage in the small town life. My favorite checker is quite the cook and will comment on some item in my basket and ask what I am going to do with it and tell me about a new recipe she made with the ingredient. Her recipes are spot on with my tastes, too, which is amazing to me! I mean, there aren’t that many vegetarians around here. Because of this engagement with each shopper, I do not mind waiting my turn to check out because I know that the checker will spend just as much time chatting with me as with the person who was just before me and that all seems fair enough. This trip, though, I could tell the person behind me was in a bit of a hurry and also I am quite picky about how my stuff gets bagged so as Mr. Checker was scanning I grabbed a bag and started putting my stuff in the it. The checker commented that he would do it, “Not a problem, I don’t mind doing it,” I replied. He said again, “I’ll do that for you,” and had a rather firm tone. I don’t know where this came from, maybe because I am fighting off a virus, maybe I was channeling that Texas tale-telling character, maybe it was his firm tone- I don’t know- but what tumbled out of my mouth was, “No, it’s okay. I’m certified back home to bag groceries.” Now, that isn’t really a lie, right? I mean, if something is so ridiculous then it is obviously just a funny story or practical joke, a teasing for humorous effect, and not to be taken seriously, right? But then he did take it seriously. And instead of telling him I was teasing, I expanded on the story to him and to my shopping companion and it could be now that the urban myth of how the Whole Foods customers in Texas are so doggone picky that WF has to train and certify people to be able to bag groceries could be traced back to this incident. I would apologize but I’m not feeling any remorse.
Wow, so this is SPRING!
In Houston I think our spring lasts for about 20 minutes before charging headlong into summer. If you don’t believe me, do an internet search on how many times the people in charge have had to ice down the azalea beds so they don’t bloom too soon before the big Azalea Trail, which, if you haven’t experienced, is totally worth the trip to Houston in March. While the rest of the country is still wearing down coats and boots, you can be tooling along beautiful mansions and gardens in your shorts and floppy hat before going to enjoy a sangria at one of our many amazing restaurant patios.
But back to Spring in the Pacific Northwest, it is just like the calendars of spring that you find in the Hallmark store. Daffodils and other bulbs poke their little heads out of the ground on a welcoming spring day only to be covered in snow 4 days later. It’s like the weather is getting in on the practical joking, too, “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to send those dirty down coats to the cleaners and get out the shorts and T-shirts? Psyche!”
Sticks and bundles of sticks that looked like some left-over flash flood carnage begin to have little buds and you are like, “Oh, you’re alive?!?!” And if there are hills in your area, and there is not a single spot on this side of the Cascade Range that is not near a hill, you may get to see the budding and blooming occur in succession as you climb up from the warmer valley bottoms to the cooler hill and mountain tops.
The big draw for the tourists and even the settlers back in the 1800s is the trees. Awesome doesn’t begin to cover it. Massive cedars, gorgeous stands of alder with their white trunks, spruce and fir keeping the green backdrop while the aforementioned trees go topless for the winter.
And then there is the driftwood on the beaches. Massive logs tossed like pick-up sticks along the beach just above the average high tide line showing how powerful the storms can become to move such beasts.
Many of the trees here are quite hardy specimens, even with some major damage that knocks them down, they continue to find a way to grow and even bloom! I appreciate these horizontal trees for their ability to provide respite from the day’s work without having to sit on the undoubtedly wet or elk-poop-covered ground. One apple tree even has a beverage holder in it!
Too bad Shel Silverstein didn’t hang out here or The Giving Tree might have had a whole different twist. I mean, really, that is the saddest story of dysfunction I can think of, well, maybe also that one about The Gift of the Magi where Mickey and Minnie each sell something to buy the other a present that is then useless because it… you know the story and to me it is a sad story of commercialism over communication. Yes, I know it didn’t originally start with Disney but, like many kids of my generation, I was exposed to Disney before O. Henry and you know how powerful first impressions are. So anyway, Shel’s story is more like an Easter Island situation but could have been a coexistence situation had The Boy been a little less self-absorbed. Out here on the Flying S Farm we support sustainable logging practices and we have a conservation easement so not every tree gets cut down and certainly not these trees that make such great recliners. Imagine this apple tree in the late summer, hanging out with a book and a lemonade and then just reach out and grab an apple when you are feeling peckish.
This tree played one of the scary trees in the Wizard of Oz. It is obviously a character actor because it isn’t really scary in real life.
This is the yogi tree, it can hold Reverse Warrior forever. Looks like it probably will.
These are the scary trees. You must always, always know what you are getting into before you fool around these.
Monty made an error in judgement that almost caused his death just minutes after this photo was taken. Btw, this is a photo he insisted on as I did not think it a good idea to saunter out on the logs but there is no telling him anything when a photo op is presented. Yes, that is at least three times narrowly escaping death for him that I know of: 1. Getting hit by a car which resulted in my adopting him, 2. Playing Mufasa in the stampede by running into a herd of elk, 3. Jumping into the water at a tangle of trees on the river and then almost getting swept underneath the logs if I hadn’t ran out on the logs to grab him, which was also a little dangerous. Kids, don’t swim near log jams.
Beavers like trees, too.
This is a rather rural area which helps with all the trees, naturally. (Ha!) Everywhere you go, most people are really quite nice and friendly and they love their trees here in the PNW. Some people, like me, are here for the beauty of the area, some make their living off of the trees through logging practices. For the most part, everyone appreciates the trees and what they add to our lives. There are two trees held in great reverence, both are cedars and they grow quite close to each other in the Olympic National Park.
The other is billed as the third largest cedar in the world and is a bit further off the main highway. It is known as the Duncan Memorial Cedar Tree. A brief Google search did not turn up who Duncan is but I think it is about the loggers who were clear-cutting the area being awed by the tree and choosing to save it from being felled.
To file under the friendly and helpful category, the locals have gone to great lengths to help the tourists, especially the city-dwellers, by identifying so much of the forested area. In case you don’t get to see big trees in the city, many are labeled so the cosmopolitan visitors can know and appreciate what they are seeing. “This here is a tree and that over there is also a tree.”
The locals also have a sense of humor and poke a bit of fun at the urban tourist’s expense. In case you are a big city dweller and not very educated in forestry, a good rule of thumb on tree identification is that it has a (usually) brown cylindrical base with a (usually) green bit on top. If you do not see the brown base, called a trunk in tree parlance, it might not be a tree. In the photo below, do not be fooled by someone saying this is a deciduous tree and is going to leaf out come summer. Pay attention, do you see a trunk? If not, it probably isn’t a tree. Hmmm, I’m not the only one who likes to have a little practical joke fun, am I?
The trees enjoy the joke, too.