I don’t know what’s the matter with me.
Okay, that was just throat-clearing. I do know what’s wrong with me. After an intensely stressful but absorbing couple of months due to my Dad’s health crises, I’m back at home (for the moment at least) because he’s more or less stable and I had to go back to work. After being so focussed on him for so long, I don’t quite know what to do with myself as I try to re-adjust to normal life. I still think about him hourly, mulling over the current clutch of challenges he’s facing, trying to come up with some solutions, but I’m also trying to get some perspective, trying to remind myself that I have a life separate from my parents’ lives.
And because I’m home, I’m also no longer in the intense worlds of hospitals and the city, both of which I enjoyed (despite the horribleness my Dad has been going through), due to the intelligent and interesting and almost invariably kind and generous and thoughtful people I met there. And the whole medical system I find both bizarre and fascinating as I try to figure out how things work. And the city itself is stimulating and exciting because I’ve lived away from it now for a decade and a half and I’ve grown used to a much slower pace and smaller range of distractions.
At home, I have animals. And peace and quiet. And many, many acres of our own woods and pastures with which to reacquaint myself. So that’s what I’ve been doing, readjusting my rhythms and my focus to the small, quiet things, trying to be present and pay attention. (Yes, I’ve been meditating, so mindfulness is high on my list of priorities.)
After weeks of being aware of the deepening beauty of Vancouver and North Vancouver as summer merges with autumn, I’m letting go of my wistfulness at leaving the ocean and mountains and the incredible variety of scenery. Instead, I’m turning my attention to the comparatively nondescript landscape of home.
When I went out for a walk with the dogs yesterday morning, I set myself a challenge. I took my camera, with the thought that I would try to shift my focus to the small things. You may recall that I did this months ago (you can see those posts here and here) and decided to try it again yesterday. And what follows is what I found.
I have a particular fondness for plants with blue-green foliage, like this little specimen growing in the driveway between the house and the barnyard. I have no idea what it is, but I admire its texture and colour.
Here’s another one, a little less blue, but with a broad lobe at the toward the end of the leaf that ends in a crisp, curved point that I find charming. It looks a little like the invasive weed hoary alyssum, which I’ve been removing from this ranch for the past decade, but it’s a different plant. I have no idea what it is, though, any more than the one above.
And here’s another blue-green specimen, a juniper with a good show of berries.
One of the things I love about roaming the fields and woods at this time of the year is that the spent and drying plants that flowered earlier in the season reveal such beauty in their golden tones and the feathery perfection of the leftover flower structures. This one is pearly everlasting, a plant I knew well as a child summering in the Gulf Islands. It has a wonderful name, don’t you think?
And the sweet clover in the meadow also has a feathery quality to its tiny, delicate remnants of blossom.
And all the grasses have their own allure. As I walked, I decided that I would leave the bulk of the grasses for another time, since in their variety of colour and habit they deserve more attention than I wanted to give them today.
We don’t get the rich autumnal reds and oranges of the eastern side of the continent here, not in the leaves of native trees. But they do appear, every now and again, in tiny splashes of colour on the forest floor. This one is St. John’s Wort, which I confess I don’t remember ever having seen turn this vibrant red.
And have you ever seen a strawberry leaf this colour? Wild strawberries grow all over our land.
Other shots of red shine out of dim corners of the forest: Oregon grape, some vacciniums, some of the snowberry leaves, and something I don’t recognize that has an unusual magenta tint. That deep pink really shouts out because of the rich huge of the wintergreen foliage around it.
Almost nothing is in bloom now, but I did find this solitary clover blossom in the shade of the pines, the dew still clinging to its petals. Don’t you love those little spikes of orange and rust among the acid greens of the moss under the clover?
And over at the pond I found a few daisies, the last blooms mingling with the desiccated petals of earlier blooms and the dried seed heads of blooms that faded even earlier in the summer. To me, a patch like this is far more interesting at this time of the year than in the spring and summer, precisely because of this range of specimens across the stages of each flower’s life.
The deciduous trees and bushes in our woods have, of course, begun to change colour, but the changes are less intense here than in other regions. I love the dew pooling on this one.
And Sass seems to be taking note of this larch twig, which probably parted company from its parent tree in the windstorm we had a few days ago. You can see that the needles have turned from deep coniferous green to acid green and yellow and soon they'll drop off the branch entirely.
I enjoy the huge variety in the ways the autumn leaves begin to deteriorate: each has its own pattern of damage and variegation, quite different from the uniformity and perfection of the early leaves in the spring.
This birch caught my eye because of the contrast between the black strands of witches’ hair amidst the glowing gold of the leaves.
Over by the pond, I found the remains of the lupine patch, the seed pods of which have turned a velvety silver. You can see the shapes of the seeds inside the pods. Don’t the pods look like caterpillars? or cocoons? What a peculiar plant.
As well as all this plant life, I found a few other interesting things, such as the entrance to someone’s home, at the base of a tree. I’d love to know who lives there.
And I like the way the sun fills the clearing at the top of this slope: it looked so inviting that the dogs and I actually went that way yesterday.
And can you see how nicely my dear husband’s skid trails are greening up, now that we’ve had some rain? He always seeds down the skid trails and landings after he finishes logging, and it’s amazing how much the grass turns what looks like a raw scar into something much more natural-looking. I love Django’s helicopter ears in this photo.
I have lots more to show you, but I think that’s enough for one post, don’t you? Thanks for coming along on this walk with me and the dogs. I wish everyone had a bit of woods and field to walk in every day: I think the world would be a better place for it. I try always to be mindful of and grateful for the fact that all this beauty not only lies right outside our front door but also belongs to us. We don’t even have to share it with the bank, since we paid off the mortgage last spring. You can’t smell the fresh air, laced with the scent of trees and dying leaves and drying grasses, or feel the breeze on your face, or hear the birds, but you can still share the visual experience of this walk. And I’d like to think that seeing these images might give you a bit of a break from your day,. Happy equinox.