Part Four: Forest

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The last part of my hike was through a beautiful, sun dappled, mossy path.There were light bird chirps from the branches above. Sometimes there was the rustle of the wind or a small moving animal.


This tree is dripping with sap. It looks like an arctic waterfall, frozen from the tilt of the planet away from the sun. 


Sometimes hikes in the Pacific Northwest are like hikes in a fairy tale or fantasy novel. There, in the distance! Is that a small troll hunched near the tree?




Someone left forest art on the side of the path. It looks like a little nest for pine cones. Out will hatch birds covered with pine needles instead of feathers. 

Who knows, maybe the artist who created this work is a famous trail artist (like street artist for the woods.) They could be the Banksy of the hiking world. This is how forest art should be done. Impermanent and using the beauty of the world they are in. They are using the materials around them to create their own art. 


My time spent on San Juan island really was incredible. It is such a beautiful and peaceful place. It is a small island with such abundant natural beauty. 

Part Three: Saltwater

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Saltwater is my favorite. It is refreshing. After a good swim in salt water, my lips taste like salt and my body feels extra invigorated. 


I love finding beach treasures. During this trip, I found a little bone. It is clean from the saltwater and white from the sun. 


What sort of creature did it belong too? A seal? A dolphin? A raccoon? A beautiful beast yet to be discovered by humankind? It is a mystery. Most probably, an easily solved mystery, but a mystery none the less!


A sea monster! It looks an awfully lot like the marsh monster from the previous post.





Sometimes all you need for a shelter is a slanted wall of driftwood and a bed of sand. Comfort comes in all forms.



Sometimes the best place to spend your time is among scattered pieces of driftwood underneath the blazing sun.


I use to have a friend who I met because I did caregiving for her when I was in college. She told me an interesting theory she had about human evolution and saltwater. She thought that at one point, humans were amphibious creatures. We walked around on four legs like most mammals. But we spent a lot of time in the sea. It was the sea that helped us stand on two feet. The waves bobbed our front legs upward, the boyount water kept us stable. Soon, we started to try and move about land the same way we moved in the saltwater.

She was imaginative, my old friend. She read a lot of books. We would go seeking out books together. She'd get stacks of mysteries and pile them around her bed. She could read a whole book in one night.

It wasn't till years later that I was struck with the same joy of a twisty-turny mystery book. I no longer lived in the same town as my friend. I wrote her a letter requesting a list of her favorite mystery novels. Instead, she sent me a whole box full of yellow paged, musty smelling mystery books (The best kind of books!)

One time she told me another story about the ocean. She was camping on the beach when she heard the strangest noises. They were long, baleful howling calls. Not like dogs, almost like a person. When she peeked out her tent, she saw a a huge figure lumbering across the shore. It was a big foot! She could feel the hair on the back of her neck stand up. She closed the tent flap and pretended to be asleep. The mournful big foot wandered onward, in search of something else.

Part Two: Marsh

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The marsh is full of beautiful slime. 


Standing on the edge of the marsh and looking down into the slime, I want to recoil from and embrace the slime at the same time. There is just this curiosity drawing me toward it, coaxing me to reach down and feel the slippery murk. I resisted though and instead just took pictures. 


You've heard of sea monsters and lake monsters....but what about marsh monsters? I see one, right there, it's yellow and fuzzy! .... wait, that is a dog.


If there was such thing as a marsh monster, it would be green with long, swaying fur. Underneath the fur, the marsh monster would be very bumpy. It would have red, droopy lips and drowsy eyes with slime covered eyelashes. It would eat pebbles and grass for breakfast and algae drenched dandelions for dinner. The marsh monster would be too drowsy to be sinister. All the marsh monster would ever want to do is sleep underneath the water with the sun shining through the green haze.


The marsh is a peaceful place, with the marsh plants glowing gold in the afternoon sun....


...and the butterflies fluttering from flower to flower. 



 I use to live near a marsh. It was a birdwatchers paradise. They would be floating on the marsh or hiding in the grass. There was a car that would always park on the road to the marsh. Every single day, the car was there. There was always someone inside. He had huge antennas pointing up from his car. I don't know what he was doing, but he must have had a mission. Looking back, I think he was probably listening to the sky for signs of alien intelligence. Now, when I think of marshes, I think of strange cars and birds. 

Part One: Grasslands

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While visiting San Juan Island, I went on the most fantastic hike! It was a hike with four parts: grassland, marsh, salt water and forest. Today, I will share Part One: Grasslands. 


This pretty white flower was covered with marching ants. Maybe the flower was seeping with sugary nectar. Maybe all the ants were confused and thought they were on cotton candy. Maybe the ants were on a vacation where they got to relax among soft petals and sea air. 



I love when you can see tree's whose shapes are altered by the wind coming in from the sea. It makes the wind seem so mighty.


I got the pleasure of hiking with a merry dog who led the way during our hikes. You can see his fuzzy, eager head above the long grass. He wishes patience is something he never needed to use, but he will wait with grace anyhow. 



The grassland portion of the hike made me nostalgic for home. Where I grew up in California, our greatest natural beauty came from rolling hills coated with dry sprigs of swaying grass. Once, my family went hiking through a trail lined with dry grass and soon, hungry ticks were practically leaping onto our legs in joy. I basically had to run away in fright. I love nature, but there are certain things I do not put up with, blood thirsty ticks being one of them. Luckily, in our grassland San Juan hike, no ticks were discovered.


While walking through the grasslands, we saw glorious beautiful creatures: two foxes. One was black and one was red. The black one was hanging out in a shadow and just blended right into the scenery. But once I noticed it, I declared with grand enthusiasm "A FOX!" I was quickly teased that I was only seeing a tired dog. But upon closer inspection, and when the black foxes orange friend arrived, it was obvious the type of animal I was truly witnessing! They both were majestic creatures. It was almost as exciting as if I had spotted a magical creature. 


I have heard theories that say chihuahua's are actually descended from foxes rather than wolves. Foxes are amazing animals, so I do like the idea that we get to hang out with their descendants. But I also love the thought that the gigantic great dane and the itty-bitty chihuahua all share the same ancestors. It proves how arbitrary physical appearances are and that we all share connections that may not seem obvious at first. 


Sadly, it looks like some of the natural beauty of San Juan island is being converted into less natural uses. But imagine if you were a construction worker with this job those two fellows have. I bet they feel like they got a sweet gig, Getting to build right next to the glistening water and the swaying grass. They probably go home to their significant others and their kids and their dogs in a sense of peace. They probably tell stories of the animals they see during the day. They probably tell stories to themselves when they work and they probably never feel bored. 


Woods and Splintercats

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There are little pockets of forests in Seattle. I use to live near one. 








Often when I am in the woods, my thoughts wander to mysterious, forest creatures. There is one forest creature known to inhabit the Pacific Northwest that I only recently heard of: The Splintercat! The splintercat is a mighty creature who creates forest turmoil using it's abundant physical strength. With a whirlwind of energy, the splintercat crashes against trees, breaking branches, leaving behind brittle reminders of what the trees once were. The trees with their jagged branches resemble large splinters, hence the cats name. It is often the most delicate part of the body that the cat uses to break branches, it's head. So the poor creature often suffers from headaches. As many a headache sufferer could relate, it is difficult to be in chipper spirits with a pounding headache. So the splintercat is often full of angsty gloom and grouch. This is one of the many reasons it is good to leave splintercats to their wild ways. Although it would be enticing to befriend a mythical creature, it is far less enticing to be eaten alive by a mystical creature, looking to distract from a headache. The reason the splintercat is always bumping into trees is because it is in constant search of raccoons and bees. The splintercat has a fine appreciation for the taste of honey and raccoon meat. 

Sources:

"Splinter Cat." Cryptid Wiki. Wikia, n.d. Web. 16 July 2016. <http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Splinter_Cat>.

"Splintercat." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 May 2016. Web. 16 July 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splintercat>.

Under the Deep Blue Sea, or On a Neighborhood Wall

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Here is a mural that is painted in Wallingford. School children painted the sea themed mural back in 1997. It is nice to get a burst of underwater scenery while wandering a neighborhood. 







Less then ten percent of the creatures living in the deep blue sea have been identified. You know what this means, the ocean is still full of mystery! Probably a lot of the unidentified creatures are microscopic creatures, but you never know, there could be a sea monster down there. It would be so exciting if there were some kind of prehistoric monster down there, but it would also be exciting to learn more about the small undiscovered creatures. Most of the sea creatures yet to be discovered are probably crustaceans, mollusks, worms and sea sponges. A sea sponge may  not seem like the most exciting of sea creatures, but imagine a gigantic sea sponge with the intelligence of a human. With so little of the ocean's creatures discovered, the possibilities seem practically endless!

Sources:

Ghose, Tia. "Most Ocean Species Remain Undiscovered." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 15 Nov. 2012. Web. 14 July 2016. <http://www.livescience.com/24805-undiscovered-marine-species.html>.

Watson, Traci. "86 Percent of Earth's Species Still Unknown?" National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 14 July 2016. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/08/110824-earths-species-8-7-million-biology-planet-animals-science/>.

Creative Gardens

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Gardens inspire creativity in people. You can see it in the way people decorate their gardens and they way they grow their gardens. The colors of the garden, the excitement of growing life and the beauty of nature work together to incite a spark in the people who grow and experience them.

Here are some pictures I took of a beautiful community garden in Seattle. Seattle is full of community gardens and they are all so beautiful! This garden has a great mixture of art and plants. I can imagine the gardeners toiling away in their gardens as ideas for art filled their heads.























A long time ago all our ancestors lived surrounded by plants and nature. Then we moved to buildings and offices and enclosed spaces. We may have stepped out of nature, but nature still lurked in our hearts. Research now is finding people are positively effected by plants. Windows to the outside world and houseplants boost creativity and lower stress. Hopefully, with these new findings, plants and nature will be more incorporated into everyday living. 

Sources:

Gargiulo, Susanne. "Can a Humble Houseplant Make You More Creative?"CNN. Cable News Network, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 14 July 2016. <http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/29/business/building-environment-success/>.

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