NATURE’S SPRING PALETTE

This week during our walks we were treated to some of the most beautiful flowers I have seen in a long time. We took a bit of a different route and were treated to a wonderful array of colors on display in the front yards around the neighborhood.

Laburnum Tree

The tree in the photo above was our first encounter along our new route. The colors were so vibrant, with the bright green leaves contrasting well against the stark yellow of the flowers. Upon looking this up on Google, I found that this is the Laburnum Tree, also called the Golden Chain Tree or sometimes the Golden Rain Tree. Either one of those names very aptly describes this lovely tree.

Moving on along, we rounded the corner and came upon this gorgeous bush on a driveway. Linda immediately recognized it as a Rhododendron. We have seen these bushes around Yakima but I don’t believe we have ever seen one this big here in this dry climate. It was gorgeous!

Rhododendron Bush

A little farther down this same road we came to a house that we have admired for quite a while. This house sits on a corner right across from the park where we often walk (when it’s not crowded). This house has some pretty roses right at the corner, but on this particular day the Bearded Irises drew our attention because they were absolutely stunning (see picture below). I was so glad I had brought my phone along because it takes some really good pictures. There were also several beautiful Columbines in full bloom (which is the featured photo at the top of the blog). We tried to grow a Columbine in North Carolina, but our yard just did not have enough sun.

Bearded Iris
Columbine

We made our way back home from the walk, our bodies not only rejuvenated from the exercise, but our souls as well. I feel like it always does me good to get out into the fresh air and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, especially now during this time of quarantine and isolation.

The day before this walk, we were talking over the fence to our next-door neighbor (at an appropriate socially-distant span) about the Wisteria vine that is growing along the fence. We remarked how this vine never seems to have any blooms on it, when all of a sudden I spied one solitary bloom on our side of the fence. I quickly took a picture of it for posterity.

Wisteria Vine

There weren’t many opportunities for videoing anything new this past week as we didn’t go out anywhere for a walk other than around the neighborhood. However, as I sat out on the patio one day I noticed several bees buzzing around the Chive blossoms that surround our sitting area. I grabbed my camera and came away with this video below (parts of this video have been edited in slow-motion).

Video of Bees at Chive Blossoms

Our latest puzzle was one by artist Charles Wysocki that was given to us by our good friend Linda H. (you know, Summer Girl’s BFF). Unfortunately, we were unable to finish this one because the part up at the top was just too difficult for us. Puzzling has to be fun, and if you find that a puzzle is starting to frustrate you too much, that’s when it’s time to stop. So we almost got it done, but not quite. We passed this one on so someone else can enjoy it.

Charles Wysocki Puzzle

Today, Wednesday, May 13th, is the first day I have been anywhere to a place of business in two whole months! Today, Linda and I ventured out to the Country Farm & Garden Center so I could get my plants for this year’s garden. I am so excited about having a garden this year since I didn’t get to have a real one last year due to being gone on our Back East Trip. So, I guess I went maybe a bit overboard (or maybe not), because here is a picture of the plants I got.

Plants for Garden 2020

It may not look like much now, but keep in mind that these plants will get significantly bigger than they are now. Hopefully this year’s garden will be a big success, because we definitely need some success about now. Keep your fingers and toes crossed. Now all I have to do is wait another week or so to plant, just to make sure we don’t have a late-season frost. In the meantime, I still have weeds to dig up, leaves and old straw to rake up, and soaker hoses to check for holes.

PARTING SHOT:

This week’s Parting Shot was taken as Linda and I sat outside on our front porch, having our Friday evening drinkiepoo…our favorite time of the week. Summer Girl would have joined in with us, but she was just too tired from having slept all day long.

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

RENEWAL

I am so glad that Spring is finally here and the weather is getting warmer. It is so nice to see things being renewed, right in front of your eyes, after a long winter. It makes you want to get outside and do things, although now we are very limited in the sort of things we get to do. This past week, Linda stated that she wanted to go somewhere to walk besides just around the neighborhood. I figured that the Yakima Arboretum would be a good place since it has wide-open spaces and if we went early enough, might not be crowded. So we headed that way one morning on the early side and there were only about three other cars in the parking lot when we got there. We immediately headed for the pond area because I wanted to see if there were any baby ducks or geese around. Although we didn’t see any babies, we did see this guy on a fishing expedition.

Yakima Arboretum

The heron stalked around on the edge of the pond for a while, but never did catch anything while we were watching. We were standing in the shade and the grass was wet, so we decided to move on so we could get in the sun, as the air was rather chilly that morning. A little squirrel bid us farewell as we left the shady area, and a robin atop a tree welcomed us into the sunlight.

We walked on around different areas of the Arboretum, enjoying all the beautiful colors that were evident in the tree blossoms.

Clockwise from top left: English Hawthorn, Sycamore Maple, Unknown (couldn’t find a tag), and Japanese White Pine

Moving on, we approached a tree that looked entirely purple from a distance. Even the bark on the trunk looked purple, but when we got up close to it, the purple hue on the bark went away. I suppose it was due to the reflection of color from the great number of purple flowers on the tree. We found a tag on this one and it said it was a Redbud Tree. We had a small one of these trees in our yard in North Carolina but we never got to see it bloom.

Redbud Tree

We had such a good time at the Arboretum that we decided to take a walk at Randall Park one day last week. I was somewhat hesitant because that is a very popular park and I was afraid it would have too many people there for my comfort level. Once again, we went kind of early so there were only a couple of cars there when we arrived. Although it was a beautiful, clear day, there was a chilly wind blowing so we immediately headed for the viewing area. My main reason for going to the park was to check on the baby duck and geese situation. From half way between the parking lot and the viewing deck we could see a family of ducks gliding across the surface of the pond. Once at the deck we could see them better, and I counted 11 babies swimming around. I was so excited to finally see some baby Mallard ducklings. We saw a lot of adult Canada Geese, but no babies. It must be too early yet for them to have goslings.

Mallard Family

As I was on the viewing deck, I saw a female Red-Winged Blackbird hanging around near the edge of the deck. When she flew off, I moved over there to see if she had a nest going in that area. Much to my surprise, I found this guy basking in the sun.

Sunning

When we first walked up to the pond area, we happened upon an egg sitting in the dirt. A few feet away was another egg just sitting in the dirt. A young couple found what looked like the beginnings of a nest in the bushy area nearby, so they gathered up the eggs and placed them there. I’m not sure why they were not in a nest to start with, and at that point the eggs were most likely not viable, but it was nice to know that these two young people cared enough to attempt to rescue the eggs.

This past week wasn’t all about getting out into Nature and taking walks. We also had the occasion to have some excellent beer, which was given to us by the husband of one of my previous co-workers. He and one of his friends have been brewing beer as a hobby, and he graciously gives us bottles to sample whenever they come up with a new batch. So far, every single bottle that he has given us has been excellent! Linda and I both have said that we would pay good money for this beer. Most of the craft beer around this area is very hoppy (IPA’s and the like), and seeing as how Yakima is the hop capital of the United States, and the second-largest hop producer in the world, it is somewhat understandable. But I can’t for the life of me bring myself to really like hoppy beer. The beer we get from our friend, however, is very smooth and drinkable. A couple of weeks ago we were gifted two large bottles of Stout beer. Since I am not a big fan of stout, I let Linda have both bottles (although I did taste it, and it was very good). Saturday night Linda had a bottle of the stout, and she said that it was the best stout she has ever had. Now, that is saying something because she really likes the dark beers. Irish Death, which is a locally brewed dark ale from Iron Horse Brewery, is her favorite beer. She said that this stout was almost as good. High praise coming from her. She enjoyed her beer in the Disneyland mug that belonged to her father, seen in the picture behind the mug.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. When you no longer have your mother with you, it is basically just another day. And with the Covid messing around with everyone’s plans, it certainly isn’t like it used to be for anybody. But whether your mother is still alive or not, and whether you get to be with her or not, you can still indulge yourself in precious memories of her. I received an email this morning from King Arthur Flour (KAF), one of my favorite recipe blogging sites, with a link to today’s blog (link below).

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2020/05/06/baking-with-mom

The title of the blog is Baking With Mom, and it has several of the bloggers and associates at KAF recounting stories of baking with their moms. This got me to reminiscing about baking with my own mother. She was a pretty good baker, and I have yet to taste a coconut cake or fruitcake that could rival hers. But the thing I remember us baking together most often was Toll House Cookies. We would bake up several batches around Christmas time and give some to neighbors and keep some for ourselves. She had this huge, red round tin container that we would keep them in. And of course, when they came out of the oven, we just had to have one or three to sample, just to make sure they came out okay. So this Sunday, take the time to recall some of your own memories of your mother, be it baking with her or doing something else entirely. It is so, so true what they say…she will not always be around.

Momma in her kitchen

This brings us to the end of this week’s blog, and to that feature that I know everyone just loves…the Parting Shot. This week we have a two-fer; a picture of the last puzzle we finished, and also a picture of Summer Girl helping us finish it. I do not know how we would have been able to finish it without her help.

Join me every Wednesday (barring any unforeseen circumstances) for more from the Southerner in the Northwest.

AH, SPRING!

Spring is well underway here in Yakima, and the birds and bees are doing what comes naturally. So are all the flowers, which are popping up all over the place. Just walking around our front yard this past week, I was able to see quite a few beautiful blooms on display.

Most noticeable are the tulips that are around our driveway. Our bigger pink tulips have all bloomed out now, but the smaller ones that are a variety of colors are out in full force. I think my very favorite one is the red surrey with the fringe on top.

Lace-Fringed Tulip

Some of these beautiful Red Lace-Fringed Tulips are coming up in amongst the Baskets of Gold, and the color contrast is absolutely stunning.

Another one of my favorites is the Purple Tulip that we have in front of the porch. These little guys are having a time fighting their way through our mass of Variegated Solomon Seal plants.

Not to be outdone is the two-toned Peaches & Cream Tulip. I don’t know what the actual name of this one is because there are a bazillion different tulip variations, but that’s what I like to call it. It is a beauty.

“Peaches & Cream” Tulip

The tulips aren’t the only things blooming. Our Lilac bush is busting out with blooms all over, and they smell so sweet. We have seen several different kinds of lilac bushes in the neighborhood on our walks, and most of them are a much lighter color. Ours is a very deep purple, with each flower outlined in white. I found the name of this one online, it is the Sensation Lilac, and the white edging is very distinctive on this particular bush. I think it lives up to its name.

Sensation Lilac

We have seen some bees around the yard already, but the plants that they really flock to, the Catmint and Salvia, are not blooming yet. One good note, though, is that at the end of the growing season last year, I found three new Peony plants coming up near the one I had. They have survived the winter and are now growing up. Here is a short video showing the baby peonies, with Mama peony at the end.

We’ve had some bird activity around the yard, too. The back bird feeder has been getting visits from the male Red-Winged Blackbirds a lot lately. They usually descend upon it in the evening in groups of three to five or six birds. We see the females a lot less often, but I did manage to catch a group of them a couple of days ago. Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch…

Our favorite Quail couple is still visiting us almost every evening, and sometimes during the day. Mrs. Quail has even been seen up on the bird bath, drinking her fill of water. I love the way the male stays right at her side to protect her. I imagine that she is carrying his babies, or will be soon. When I started to take this video, I couldn’t see the female at first because she was ensconced in a dirt hole. She looks so happy to be getting a dirt bath!

Linda spied our little Ruby-Crowned Kinglet yesterday, but I wasn’t fast enough with my camera to get a picture of him. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled the next few days in hopes that he will put in another appearance. He is so cute, I hate to miss him when he passes through!

I think Summer Girl may be getting tired of us being around the house All. The. Time. She has gotten quite fussy when I interrupt her daydreaming to take her picture. If she keeps on, she will lose out her spot in the Parting Shot to one black labradoodle…just sayin’.

That’s it for this week, my friends. Remember: stay home, stay safe, and wear a mask when you go out…oh, and wash your hands! See you back here next week.

A Little Background

While I am learning how to use WordPress, I will be making some short blog posts from time to time. This one has a little background on our move out here.

Below is a picture of what put it in my mind to move to the Northwest…

In case you don’t recognize this majestic mountain, it is Mount Rainier, located in Washington state. My partner and I took a trip there in 2005, and I was so struck by the beauty of this area that it occurred to me we could actually live there, or at least nearby. Once the seed had been planted it wasn’t long before we began making plans to see if we could actually do it and move all the way across the country.

Welcome to the New Blog

This is my first blog post written on WordPress! I decided to move the blog to this platform to see if I could “jazz” it up a little bit. And with the Covid going on and all of us being on lockdown, I needed to change my routine and present myself with a challenge to learn something new.

Already I can see that getting this site up and running is going to be a lot harder than it was using Blogger. My main hope is that it will be worth it to me for writing the blog, and that it will present a more enjoyable experience for my readers.

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