wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Mr. Lonely Pine

On our recent trip to Montana we saw nature at its fiercest; from fog to blizzards, rain and snow, to evidence of raging wildfires.

This region of eastern Washington is normally fairly dry, but a recent fire made it even drier. It may have been last year or longer ago that the fire went through here because the grass has had a chance to grow back.

A lucky few trees were left untouched by the fire. The rest were probably torches until their fuel burnt out.

Here is Mr. Lonely Pine, wondering where his friends have gone. Why, and how, was he spared?

What will happen to these acres of charred logs? It must take many years for them to fulfil the “ashes to ashes” ritual.

And someday the forest will regenerate and once again host insects, rodents, birds, reptiles, and small mammals (and a few big ones like these cattle).

But see how dry and long the grass is. The highway passes close by here. Be aware if you’re a smoker, and don’t toss out your cigarette butt, no matter how sure you are that it’s out.

 

They’ve named me Mr. Lonely Pine

And they are not so wrong,

I pine away and sometimes whine

If wind blows all day long.

 

I’m one of few surviving trees

Untouched by raging fire,

You should have seen it when the breeze

Whipped flames up even higher.

 

I stood in terror, trembling,

Of course I could not run,

So I began dissembling,

And twiddling my thumbs.

 

I squeezed my eyes shut, every branch

Was shivering in fright,

Next thing I knew, upon the ranch

The blaze burnt out that night.

 

And still alive I praised the gods

That spared me yet a while,

I wondered how I’d beat the odds,

I couldn’t help but smile.

 

I whispered like a pine must do

To coax the baby trees,

And soon they sprouted and they grew,

And now they’ve reached my knees.

 

I’m not so lonely anymore

These young ones chat with me,

And contrary to old folklore,

I talk, though I’m a tree.

 

I want to warn you if you drive,

A cigarette can kill,

To throw it out while it’s alive

Can burn the whole dang hill.

 

So let’s all take a bit of care

Bad endings you have seen,

If you are handling fire, beware

To keep our forests green.

 


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Home Stretch

Once we left the blizzard belt behind and got into the lower mainland of BC, we could smell the salt water. More than ever, we had that “horse to the barn” feeling. It had been a long drive from Central Washington that day, and we were glad to be driving beside the industrial area along the Fraser River, if only because it meant we would soon be home.

The road was busy with tractor trailers and industrial vehicles, but it was the quickest route to the ferry terminal where we would connect to Vancouver Island. (At this point, we are near Surrey and New Westminster, suburbs of Vancouver, which is on the mainland of British Columbia. Our home town, though, is on Vancouver Island, a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland. The city of Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island.)

Here, with the Port Mann Bridge up ahead,  we were traveling at highway speed with trucks and vehicles on all sides. Ahead of us, a large piece of wood lay in our lane. It had fallen off a truck, and looked similar to a loading pallet, but bigger, more like a part of a wall for some pre-fab construction, about five feet by eight feet and about three inches thick. We had no room to go into another lane and no way to avoid it without causing an accident.

I imagined our freshly changed trailer tire exploding as we drove over the wood. The bumping and crunching noise was horrendous. We sucked in our breath through gritted teeth and waited for disaster to strike us.

But the angels were watching over us (maybe they thought we’d had enough trouble already), and we continued on, relatively unscathed.

I remembered earlier that day, pulling over at a stopping place by an auto wreckers’ near the U.S. border and seeing a nearly new trailer that had run out of luck. I also remember thinking that it still had pretty good tires and wondered if they wanted to sell them to us.

By some miracle, we arrived at the terminal with about half an hour to spare before the next ferry left. But the ferry was already full and we expected to have to wait for another sailing. Luck was in our favour for the second time that day. Yes, the car decks on the ferry were full, but there was room on the deck where only transport trucks and trailers were carried.

In the photo below, most of these cars did not get on that sailing, but we got on because of having the trailer. This was one of the first times it worked in our favour.

After a two-hour crossing and another two hours of driving, we arrived at our own “home, sweet home.”

It was not blowing a blizzard and actually was quite pleasant.


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A Cool Trip – Part 1

We left Vancouver Island on our way to eastern Montana. Having waited out the unexpected September 30th blizzard, we hoped to find that the worst was over after a few days of traveling.

In the southern interior of British Columbia is the Similkameen Valley, probably best known for being a wine growing region of the South Okanagan.

For us, it was a good place to stop for a quick coffee and sandwich while the dogs stretched their legs.

Then we continued on with our truck and trailer to the U.S. border into Washington and Coulee City.

The Coulee City Community Park provides RV parking and a lovely setting on the south end of Banks Lake, a reservoir created in 1942 after the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River.

Our stay at Coulee City was perfect, but the worst was yet to come. Stay tuned.


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Passing By

Leaving the dreary, rainy west coast behind took a few hours longer than expected, as the wet weather stretched eastward for more than 100 miles.

But on the highway between Hope and Princeton (in BC),  the clouds lifted and the day became quite pleasant. Ruby and Emma were happy to get out of their traveling crates to have a quick swim and a dash along the banks of the Similkameen River.

At Osoyoos we crossed the Canada/US border and headed for Omak and then eastern Washington. The sun played games on the fields, turning them golden when it peeked out over cloud banks.

The pullout after reaching the summit at Mullan Pass in Montana allowed time for a five-minute break and the snapping of a photo.

Winding our way along the Clark Fork and the Missouri Rivers, we ooh-ed and ah-ed at the scenery. Rocky formations on one side, and gorgeous river on the other.

As we got closer to our destination in eastern Montana and the hills were not so pronounced, we saw more coyotes, hawks, and several groups of pronghorn antelope. This bunch allowed me a quick drive-by shooting if I promised not to hurt them as we whizzed past.

Having arrived, I will post eastern Montana photos for the next while. Had to laugh as I wrote that “I have arrived.”


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Ivy Comes Home

After a visit to Vancouver Island, my sister-in-law’s dog, Ivy, is back home in Washington State. It was a long trip.

Ivy Comes Home

 

A week away to visit friends

Was lots of fun, but soon it ends.

It’s time to make the long trip back,

She gladly would have helped to pack.

She’s missed the safety of her home,

And from her mistress, she’ll not roam.

Afraid of being left behind,

Our Ivy isn’t hard to find.

She’s in the car seat, set to go.

“Please take me home. I’ve missed it so.

And when I’m snug at home in bed,

A blanket warm, up to my head,

There’s no place else I’d rather be,

Than in this bed as Queen Ivy.”

Here she is checking out the kitchen, still tangled up in a warm pair of pants that just came out of the dryer.

“Did you call me for breakfast?”


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Chilly Day in Olympia

In the city of Olympia, Washington, the state capitol building looks over an inlet that is so far back from the ocean, you would think it’s a freshwater lake. Beside that “lake” is a well-cared-for park and walkway. But it was chilly here last week when I visited here. With the cold snap that hit the western Washington area, you had to pick up the pace if you wanted to keep warm.014

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The grasses at the water’s edge tell the story. It’s darn cold.020

I’m sure there’s a rule about not feeding the birds, but obviously people have been feeding them. Why else would birds congregate near the shore with people so close by? For that matter, isn’t that seagull getting awfully cozy with the people in this photo? I’d say they’re quite used to being fed. 

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Still, I once saw a family feeding ducks in a park, and I wondered if the Cheezies the ducks consumed would shorten their life. It can’t be good for them.

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The hen mallard has two drakes fussing about her. Lucky girl. These ducks are so common to the west coast I hesitated to post this very ordinary photo, but their plumage is  magnificent just now. I thought they deserved to be shown off.  Maybe I’m wrong about the Cheezies.


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The Last Hurrah

The Education Building in Olympia, Washington, looked to me like a castle where Sleeping Beauty might reside.DSCN4833

On the lawns in front of the building is a monument to a man who was twice governor of Washington. He must have been a good man. Read the inscription and see if you agree. I think he deserved to have his statue in this place of honour.

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Here he is, standing proud and tall. But alas…just when you think you’ve arrived …DSCN4840

Well … some things are just beyond your control, and Mother Nature has the last hurrah.
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