Saturday, July 30, 2011

Perspective


"Hey! Want to hike Sauk Mountain tomorrow?"
Duh.
 Of course!


What refreshment we found in the mountains!
From up high, our struggles seemed so much smaller.


And what a glorious day!
The fog was vanishing as we ascended the trail, rounding the switchbacks to the top of Sauk Mountain high in the North Cascades.

The snow was still melting, ferns uncurling, and wildflowers blossomed everywhere.




Laughter and fresh air worked their medicine.


Oh, the glacier lilies, the violets, the lupine and Indian paintbrush!



And then the take-your-breath-away fun of being nearly nose-to-nose with the marmots!
They are so fearless if you sit still and quiet.



This was the sentry, and believe me, he can send out an ear-splitting whistle. 
This morning he didn't much care for the sight of a retriever on the trail.



We're down from the mountain now, but the scent of heather, moss and fir lingers along with the perspective gained from spending a few hours hiking and laughing with loved ones.
And I am wondering about you, my friends. 
Where do you like to go to get re-centered again, to gain a sense of perspective on life?
I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A wild life

One of my favorite cheap thrills is savoring small miracles over and over.

Isn't that why we sketch and photograph and soak ourselves in beauty? 
So we can recall it all later.


Mountain vistas...
... and tiny living things observed closely...






Observing nature is the perfect way to pick a great color palette, 
though I admit to getting lost in the details of bug eyes or flower stamens.



Sometimes I get so busy with the details that I forget to look up and be dazzled.
 
Life has its harsh realities (this poor fish in the claws of an osprey reminded me of that rather unfortunate metaphor!) but even there we see majesty.


Sometimes it's essential to simply sit still and listen to birdsong and the whisper of wind in the trees.


And then we're off again!
We can all probably agree with A.A. Milne, who said, "the world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just ducky


I've always had a fondness for ducks.


There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more charming and cheerful than ducklings.


Mr. Wonderful was crumb-tosser for my latest duckling photo opportunity.
See the bread in this little guy's beak?


What a thoughtful look for a baby duck...


... while this one looks exactly like a wind-up tub toy!
Maybe I fell in love with ducks when I was just a tiny child playing in the bath.
Are you smitten, too?


I laughed at their antics and Mr. Wonderful pitched breadcrumbs with a smile.
The ducklings were cheering us up.
How could they not?




The sun was shining, the scent of pine blew across the lake, and a parade of happy ducks came to wish us well.

You just have to smile when there are ducks in the picture!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Soaking in the beauty



"You live a fairy tale life," she said.  "Nothing bad ever happens to you."
But she just doesn't know; you don't blog about heartache.

But I'm breaking that rule today. 
My husband and our precious son have each had very hard news lately and our family is reeling. That probably makes our week away in the mountain even more precious.

We have been hiking and fishing, surrounded by beauty and beginning to heal just a bit in the beauty.


Which is why the wildflowers have spoken to me so much.
Locals say it's the best bloom season in 100 years in the Sierra Nevada, thanks to the rain.

Sierra lilies, trout lilies, mules ears, monkshood, columbine, pink skyrocket, lupine,Whitney's locoweed...



All this reminds me of how many places in the Bible we are told not to worry.

"Don't worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for what he's done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand." Philippians 4:6-7


One of my dear blog readers told me she thinks God put so much beauty all around us to remind us how much he loves us.

At every turn I see some little breath taking beauty and it's as if God has left love notes sprinkled everywhere to remind us that he's got us covered; brighter days are ahead.


We are on the Sierra trails, putting one foot ahead of the other in so many ways.
My sketchbook is crammed with ideas; the camera is getting a good work out.
We are planning for the next chapter of life.

And though we've had tears, we are full of peace and expectation.


In spite of tears and heartache, there is so much to smile about.

Quaking aspens. Meadows crammed with bloom.
Ducks. Blue skies and green leaves. Glaciers.

God left us all these love notes to remind us:
Everything's going to be okay.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Going out for dinner

It's that time of year when I love to go out to eat.
And I'm  not talking restaurant, no siree...

This is something waaaaaaaay nicer!


Time to pack up and go out for dinner.
Literally.


Eat in the gazebo.
 
Hike up into the mountains...


or simply toast summer in the backyard.


When you eat out, it's extra fun to play with your food.
I love serving the simplest of dishes, but taking time to make it look extra pretty.
Pair dainty dishes with rusty pails.
Garnish with flowers in ridiculous excess.

Why not?


Here's a fun idea for Scandinavian style sandwiches. It's easy to adapt to your circumstances (be sure to substitute ingredients like the salmon and mayo if you're going on a hike and have no refrigeration, for example!)


Cut circles of bread and cheese. Assemble some finger-lickin' fillings like smoked salmon pate, flavored cream cheese, avocado smooshed with lime juice, and so on. Stack the ingredients, using the sticky ones between the bread and cheeses.
You'll want the stacks about the same height as a cucumber (see photo and next step.)

Peel cucumbers and slice into very thin, long strips.
Wrap around the stacks and secure with toothpicks.

Tuck into boxes, surround with ice in ziplock bags, and add a few pretty garnishes. 
I favor lemon and dill if you're using salmon as I did here but fancy radishes, tiny baby veggies and edible flowers are also lovely.


When you are ready to eat, simply plop the cucumber wrapped sandwiches on a plate and garnish.

They are as delicious as they are pretty.


Happy dining out.
Cheers!

If you're in the Sierra Nevada next week, meet Mr. Wonderful and me in the mountains. I'll be the one beside the creek dipping brushes (and probably toes) while munching on a Scandinavian sandwich. 

Shall I bring one along for you, too?
Let's all go out to eat!