Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

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Lavender Festival

Last week several of us from Franke Tobey Jones visited the lavender festival held by:

Blue Willow Lavender Farm
10615 Wright Bliss Rd KPN, Gig Harbor, WA 98329
253–225–9030

I’ve been wanting to attend a lavender festival ever since moving out here, so I eagerly signed up for this trip. Here are three things I learned.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) So Many Varieties!

I had no idea that there are so many varieties of lavender. The farm featured several rows of different varieties, all labled:

varieties of lavender

(2) Not all Lavender is Lavender

Some lavender is white:

(3) Lavender is Used in Many Ways

The gift shop contained so many items that use lavender: soap, body lotion, essential oil, flavoring for food and drinks. I bought some tea:

lavender tea

Bonus

Lavender fields

lavender fields

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Northwest Trek

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-badge-new

Trip to Northwest Trek

Earlier this week we took a trip out to Northwest Trek near Eatonville, WA, USA. A facility of Metro Parks Tacoma, Northwest Trek focuses on both flora and fauna native to the Pacific Northwest. Its main feature is a 450-acre free-roaming area, containing meadows, forest, and wetlands, where many non-predatory animals live with only minimal human intervention. Visitors ride trams around the area to view the animals in their natural habitat.

I usually concentrate on the animals, but this time I decided to look at some of the plants as well. Here are three of my favorite things from this visit.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) Salmonberry

(2) Roosevelt Elk Bucks

Elk bucks

Look at these six big guys lounging around. Right now their antlers are growing to make them attractive to the females come mating season. Antlers are covered with a substance called velvet. If you were to touch the antlers now, they would feel like soft velvet rather than the harder substance they will later become. But please don’t touch these growing antlers! They can grow as much as one-half inch per day and are suffused with blood vessels. If you were to touch them, you could feel the animal’s pulse as blood feeds the growing velvet. Because of the large blood supply, even a small tear in the velvet could cause the bull elk to bleed to death. That’s probably why these bulls are content to sit around instead of risking a possibly fatal nick to their antlers.

However, this bromance will end at about the end of July, when hormones begin to surge at the beginning of the rutting season. Then there will be fierce competition among the guys to attract the females. After mating season ends, the antlers will fall off. Then next spring the whole process will start again.

My thanks to my husband, who happened to be on the correct side of the tram, for letting me use this great photo.

(3) Red Elderberry

red elderberry

Red elderberry bushes grow along stream banks, in swampy thickets, in moist clearings, and in open forests. These bushes are common along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The small red berries are not palatable and can cause nausea when raw. However, the cooked berries were an important food source for native coastal peoples. The berries are still used to make elderberry jelly or elderberry wine.

 

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-badge-new

Usually I feature things that interest or amuse me in these weekly postings. And of course I’m grateful for things that interest or amuse me. But this week I decided to focus on the “exercise in gratitude” part of this challenge’s definition.

Here, then, are three things for which I am especially grateful.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) Nature’s Bounty

(2) My Family

My Family
My Family

(3) The Beauty of the Earth

 

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: A Lesson in 3 Trees

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

A Lesson in 3 Trees

It’s amazing what you’ll notice once you start paying attention.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) What does that tree remind you of?

sloth tree

This tree reminded me of a giant sloth, complete with hanks of shaggy fur.

(2) How big is a Giant Sequoia?

Giant Sequoia

This big: And still growing!

(3) Where do pinecones come from?

formation of pinecones

Why, they grow on trees, of course.

Have a good week of looking at the world around you! Let me know what you find.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-participant

Beautiful Purple Iris

The record-breaking warm temperatures we had last week brought lots of people, including us, out to visit local parks. We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of Tacoma’s main park, Point Defiance Park.

Point Defiance Park includes many separate gardens, including Northwest Native Plants, Iris, Rose, and Dahlia gardens. Last week’s warm temperatures also brought out spring seasonal flowers in abundance, such as the iris pictured below.

Since my favorite color is deep purple, I was delighted to find these three beauties in bloom:

(Click on photos to see a larger version.)

Until next week, I wish you all well!

Photos © 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Nerd in the Brain for the weekly challenge Three Things Thursday:

three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy

three-things-thursday-participant

Last Saturday was the first non-rainy weekend day we’ve had in a long time. The absence of rain and a temperature in the high 50s brought lots of people, including us, to the beach area of nearby Point Defiance Park. As we walked along the beach, we watched a dog swim out to fetch a ball thrown into the water and four children work a see-saw made of a flat log placed perpendicularly over a round log at the water’s edge.

Here are three things from our walk. Although there was no rain, the day was overcast, so these pictures are somewhat subdued. (Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

(1) Long Live Harry Bosch

A couple of weeks ago Amazon Prime released the second season of its show Bosch based on the mystery novels of Michael Connelly. When I tweeted that we were spending the day watching all 10 episodes, I received a message from Connelly’s web master offering me a Bosch ball cap.

Bosch hat: front

Our walk on the beach was my first opportunity to wear my spiffy new cap. Fans of Michael Connelly’s Los Angeles Police detective Harry Bosch will smile at what’s on the back of the cap:

Bosch hat: back

(2) Horsetails

Vegetation is beginning to break through. These things that look like striped asparagus are the earliest growth of horsetails:

horsetail sprouts

Later the stalks will branch out and look more like what they’re named after. Here’s a photo of some plants that are further along and have already begun to stretch out:

horsetails beginning to leaf out

Horsetails love wet areas. Here are a few more interesting facts about horsetails from Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon:

(a) Ancient Romans ate young common-horsetail shoots as if they were asparagus. They also used the shoots to make tea and as a thickening powder.

(b) Common horsetail is one of the most widespread plants in the world and often turns up as a bad garden weed.

(c) Common horsetail was the first vascular plant to send up green shoots through the debris of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

(3) Fog Bells?

We’ve seen these things in Point Defiance Park before, right near the water’s edge, but aren’t sure exactly what they are:

fog bells?

All we can figure out is that they may be fog bells. Here’s a close-up of one:

possible fog bell: view from below

It looks as if the curved pieces swing back and forth, allowing the protruding rods to strike the clapper (the thing that looks like a long fire extinguisher).

A Google search turned up no information about these things. I did, however, discover that fog bells have been used since about 1850. If that’s what these things are, fog gongs might be a more appropriate term.

If anyone knows what these are and how they work, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

In the meantime, have a good week.

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Welcome, Spring!

Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

three-things-thursday-participant

I’m not a gardener myself, so I’m not as knowledgeable about flowers and plants as many other folks. But I don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate the flowers that mark the arrival of spring, those reminders that our dreary winter will give way to warm weather and bright patches of color.

Here are three such signs of spring we’ve observed around town. (Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

The rhododendrons, Washington’s state flower, aren’t quite in bloom yet, but this daffodil nearby means that it won’t be long:

daffodil

I’m pretty sure this flowering shrub is an azalea. If it isn’t and you know what it is, please let me know in the comments:

azalea

Purple is my favorite color, and purple iris is one of my favorite flowers. Aren’t these beautiful?

purple iris

Have a good week!

© 2016 by Mary Daniels Brown

Hoh Rain Forest

We drove through the rain for the last hour or so of the trip yesterday. Since we had rain for the whole week we were here last year, I expected that the rain would continue, but we awoke this morning to bright sun.

We decided to take advantage of the good weather by visiting nearby Hoh Rain Forest. We had hoped to go last year, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. It’s about a 30-mile drive from the lodge to the visitors’ center. (See the map in yesterday’s post.)

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

Located 30 miles from the coast on the west side of Olympic National Park, Hoh Rain Forest receives about 140 inches of rainfall annually. Some of the largest trees in the world grow here. Western red cedar and western hemlock grow up to 200 feet tall, while Sitka spruce and Douglas firs can reach 300 feet.

Types of trees in Hoh Rain Forest
Types of trees in Hoh Rain Forest

The rain forest environment is also perfect for ferns:

Ferns love the rain forest
Ferns love the rain forest

We took the trail called the Hall of Mosses. Mosses cover the trees, making trunks and branches look like green fuzz.

The heavy moisture in the air muffles sounds. If you look up, you’re likely to see the tops of the evergreens swaying in a breeze that you neither hear nor feel.

Elk scat
Elk scat

Roosevelt elk live here, where they find a rich food source of all the plants that grow on the forest floor. Elk are especially fond of salmonberry bushes, which they keep trimmed well below their growth potential of 15 feet. We didn’t see any elk, but we did see evidence of their presence:

 

Three Things Thursday

Another Thursday, another edition of Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

Three Questions and Answers

1. What’s that bird?

That’s the question we asked our waitress when we saw this bird:

Belted Kingfisher

We had taken the Tacoma Narrows Bridge over to Gig Harbor for a follow-up visit with the eye doctor after my cataract surgery. When we stopped for lunch after the visit, we saw this guy. Soon another bird who looked just like this one appeared as well. They both perched, though not together, where they could watch the water. We assumed they were probably watching for fish to eat.

The waitress didn’t know what kind of bird this was, so when we got home we consulted Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Nancy Baron and John Acorn.

Answer: It’s a belted kingfisher. And yes, they were having lunch, too, watching for fish to dive for.

2. What does that mean?

While watching the belted kingfishers, we spotted this sailboat moored nearby in the marina:

Sailboat Zaftig

When I asked my husband what zaftig means, he checked his phone.

Answer:

adjective, Slang.
1. (of a woman) having a pleasantly plump figure.
2. full-bodied; well-proportioned.

—Source: dictionary.com

3. What WERE they thinking?

That’s what I thought when I saw these bushes for the first time:

hedge bushes

I wondered why anyone would sculpt their bushes into this suggestively phallic shape. When I noticed similarly shaped bushes at other houses, I assumed that the home owners must employ the same landscaping service.

On a recent Franke Tobey Jones outing, I heard a woman on the bus explaining this mystery to her friend.

Answer: The deer, which we have a lot of, eat the bushes. The tops of the bushes are wider because the deer can’t reach that high.

So I was right: The home owners do have the same landscaping service.

Road Scholar Program: Day 2

Today began with more of Dana’s presentation “How Nature Works.” He emphasized the way that fire serves to maintain nature’s balance. This is a salient issue because the recent wildfires in Washington burned close by but were stopped before reaching downtown Winthrop.

According to Dana, Ponderosa pines have developed thick bark that protects them from fire. Brush fires burn quickly, and when they sweep through a forested area, they are gone before they can burn through the bark of a Ponderosa pine and harm the interior, living part of the tree. These fires burn low-lying vegetation that competes with trees for nutrients from the soil. When allowed to burn freely, these fires keep down the growth of vegetation on the forest floor. But when the fires are routinely extinguished, low vegetation builds up so that, when a fire does arise, there is plenty of fuel for it to burn through. This is why the recent fires were able to spread across the area so quickly.

(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)

Later, on a walk along the trails near the lodge, we saw the tall Ponderosa pines, with their distinctive orange bark:

Ponderosa pines
Ponderosa pines

Dana also took us to the nearby beaver pond. Despite the name, beavers no longer live there because the owners of the land now trap and relocate them when they show up. The reason, Dana told us, is that beavers would cut down all the aspens that surround the pond within about 10 years.

beaver pond

Although we didn’t get to see beavers, we did see both ducks and geese swimming on the pond.

The second part of today’s program was the introduction of “Northwest History in Story and Song” presented by Hank, a singer, historian, and storyteller. Hank discussed the European exploration of the Pacific Northwest. He punctuated his slide presentation with songs that capture the spirit of the people who manned the ships that came looking for the Northwest Passage. Such songs represent the oral history tradition that prevailed before most people could read and write. On the ships, the shantyman sang songs that provided the rhythm necessary for whatever job the men were performing: The more rapid the action, the more lively the song.