Tuesday, June 24, 2014

First Days of Summer

We've had a beautiful week 
for the first days of summer. 
Remember those magical days 
as a child, 
knowing the whole summer stretched out ahead,
with all the wonderful possibilities?

Watermelons, cook-outs, swimming, games of softball, tag, and  hide and seek.
Catching fireflies, fishing, building forts, picnics, running to catch the ice cream truck.
Popsicles, peaches, riding bikes or walking to the corner store to buy penny candy.
Spending all day at the beach, sand castles, bare feet, picking berries and flowers to take home.

I would take my little sketch pad 
and walk down the forest trail from my home, 
to the field at the edge of Syzinski's farm,
my faithful dog, Mittens, by my side. 

Sketch of Band-Tailed Pigeon

I would stay for hours, sketching, picking wildflowers, 
and eating the picnic lunch my Mother would pack. 

Just me and my dog. 

Wild Daisies and Columbia Lilies in Western WA
 I was always a nature child,
exploring the fields and woods around my home in rural Massachusetts.

My favorite flowers back then were the regal, spotted Tiger Lilies 
that seemed to grow everywhere. 

And here, I have found some wild lilies growing
3000 miles from my childhood home, 
a lovely surprise on a summer day. 

I still love to explore the fields and woods around my home.

Here is a plant you would never want to pick.

Aptly named 'Devil's Club', the stems are covered in vicious thorns.

This woodland plant is medicinal and grows in thick colonies
 along the side of the sloping hill below my house.

Another medicinal plant that grows wild here
is Foxglove (Digitalis). 

They love to colonize disturbed ground and can be found growing 
in abundance on old logging sites. 

Don't let its fairy-like bells fool you, though, 
these beauties are deadly poison. 

This tall woodland flower with spotted throats is called False Nettle. 
These are growing in a little wooded glen beside my driveway. 

Every summer when I walk to the gate to get my morning paper, 
I visit these dainty flowers on my way. 

This is their hidden home on a little mound by an ancient snag. 

Growing nearby are the tiny white and sometimes pink flowers of Siberian Lettuce, 

a relative of Miner's Lettuce and an important food source to early settlers, mostly loggers and miners.

I live in a former coal mining town that is no longer here.

We have found remnants of its history on our exploring expeditions.

An old iron and Purex bottle were found at the site of an old foundation.

Perfume bottles and cold cream jars were also found.
The jar with the cover was a gift from my sweet Sister-in-Law from New Hampshire
who found it on a similar exploration.

I love to think of the women who used these at the turn of the century.
There was once a hotel and several cottages
by the creek.
We found a rose blooming, a plum tree,
 and comfrey plants growing

Strange findings in the middle of the forest.

My youngest son found this coal cart wheel along the banks of the creek,
at the base of our little mountain.

It now rests quietly in retirement in front of the tool shed.

Made of iron and extremely heavy,
we used it as a portable tie out 'anchor'
for my children's ponies.

Here is my youngest daughter, Jennie with 'Dusty'.
'Freckles' stands in the background.

I would ride Freckles and Jennie would ride Dusty
as we went on adventures on the dirt roads and trails

The children grew up and the ponies lived out
their retirement here as pampered pets.

On a recent exploration I found this mossy rock placed on this old tree stump.

A mystery......who placed it there?
Probably my Mr., as he loves to leave little surprises for me.

I love to see what is blooming and growing on my daily excursions.

Here some blue berries of Oregon grape are ripening in the underbrush.
These are edible.

The Salmon Berries are also ripening -
named for their beautiful salmon color.

These are rather bland tasting, but a favorite of the birds.
I have watched fat-bellied Robins hovering like hummingbirds
just to pluck them from their slender branches.

The Red Elderberry are also ripe and the reason
 why the foothills are teeming with birds.

These are toxic to humans, but a favorite of the birds
 and grow in abundance here.

By season's end, every last berry will have been consumed.

Speaking of delicious berries - the blackberries are in bloom!

Visions of pies, cobblers and tarts are floating through my mind.

Of course, I never go anywhere without my faithful companions,
Champ and Whitey.

These golden summer days stretch out before me
like beautiful jewels on the necklace of time.

Like that child from long ago,
I wake up each morning excited
to experience each and every day.

Wishing you all lovely summer days
full of fun and exploration.

And plenty of watermelon seed fights :)

"There shall be eternal summer in a grateful heart"
- Celia Thaxter -

"How sweet I roamed from field to field,
and tasted all the summer's pride"
-William Blake -


  1. Si !! lego el verano por el hemisferio norte !! nosostros por aca con frio ! a disfrutar ese maravilloso campo con esas lindas flores

  2. Hi Karen, thanks for the walk and explaining what each flower is and the name. It is so pretty there and I love that pretty pencil sketch you made! The horses are nice too. What a lovely post! Wishing you a wonderful summer!

  3. I love seeing all of your native plants and flowers. I feel like I came along with you on your hike. Summer is my all time favorite time of year. ( I love your sketch too:)

  4. Great to see summer pictures lots of greenery and flowers.
    I like all the bits and pieces you have found and how you used them in your garden.
    Your sketch is very good how did you get him to sit still long enough to draw him.

  5. Hi Karen,

    It is so lovely coming over to see your beautiful summer photos - looks so lovely there with all the flowers and fruit growing around. Here the rain is lashing against the window pane, so good to see your summer. Love the pigeon sketch.
    Happy week

  6. Dearest Karen,
    What a lovely early summer walk with you.
    There is always another surprise out in the garden, almost daily we could make photos and discover new growth.
    You got some lovely berries for all the feathered and furry friends living in the woods.
    Lovely photo with the ponies.

  7. Gorgeous post, Karen!

    And thank you so much for your comment over at my blog. YOU inspire me, having gone through a very similar experience. I see your lovely home & life, and know that one day we will be able to slow down with all of our big projects and have more time to simply enjoy this beautiful life.

    Have a lovely summer day, my friend!

  8. I love the shot of the Foxglove. And the picture of Jennie and Dusty is priceless!! A beautiful and very "summery" set of photos here my friend :-)

  9. It was lovely to take a turn around the garden with you! I love the old cart wheel, it is a great find and lovely to have it displayed in your garden! xx

  10. I always love your little tours, and the finds on your mountain have been great. Love that wheel especially. I wonder if kids today get to experience that feeling of summer magic. Life is so different now than it used to be and so much more fast paced. Not so much time to just explore and "be". Those were times that I just loved and look back on with great fondness.

  11. you love your area and it comes through loud and clear. :)

  12. Loads of great finds on your walk- I love the old buried treasures. I have a brown purex bottle which I am sure is not that old, but I know it was my grandma's so I treasure it. That wheel is very cool!

  13. What an adventure right in your own back yard. I always enjoy your garden tours!

  14. I can always count on sweet loveliness from you, Karen :) Beautiful post, my friend.

    Have a wonderful day and lovely summer! Hugs to you!

  15. I really enjoyed moseying along behind you here, and hearing of the wild plants & flower in your area. I would love to root around looking for lost and forgotten treasures in the undergrowth, and you've certainly found some interesting items. Love that. I too used to wander through the woods and along the creeks that surrounded our home, and would always have my chocolate lab Emily with me. She was a lovely dog who enjoyed sitting still by the creek to watch the kingfishers and herons with me. Wendy x

  16. Karen, you made me think of so many summers both in Maryland (Dad was stationed there three different times while I was growing up) and Alabama, my real home. Watermelon seed fights, playing in gurgling brooks, making home-made ice cream in a churn, running and playing in the grass, looking up at the branches of the trees above and listening to the bird song, playing hopscotch, climbing my grandmother's apple trees. It was a great time to be a child! And great places. I feel badly that my grandson cannot go out and play in the summer like we did--we live in the desert, of course, and also life is scarier now. So much has changed, and we try hard to give him as much of a 50s to 80s childhood as we can muster. It's hard. Too many video games for one thing, but that's another story. Anyway, loved your photos! Oh, the wildflowers and plants are so wonderful! One of my great loves is wild plants. I had just purchased a great book about wild plant foraging (NOT desert but really lush green foliage plants!) right before we moved here three years ago. I've instead started a study of the desert plants. After all, God "planted" me here instead of western Va so this is where I need to love and enjoy, right? Check out my latest post, by the way, which blogger placed BELOW the one before it...it's about Learning to Bird. I couldn't move it to the top, no matter how hard I tried! I'm afraid a lot of people will miss it. Will be taking a blogger break in a couple of weeks and should have a TON of pictures when I get back online! :-) So that will be fun. All my best, dear blogger friend. Have a great summer!

  17. Beautiful photo's Karen! I enjoyed seeing the photo of your daugher with her pony. Such a sweet photograph.

    Have a lovely day!

    Madelief x

  18. What a wonderful free childhood you had Karen, I was raised in a city...we did visit the park often...Love your photos the one of your precious daughter is beautiful...Thanks for sharing... Hugs May x x

  19. This was a most lovely visit dear Karen! You have a way of gracing your posts with such beauty and charm. I too remember the days of old when I was young and all the lovely things that come with childhood. You mentioned many of the things I treasure within my heart.
    What a sweet name you had for your dog when you were a young girl, mittens. :)
    Have a beautiful rest of the day.
    Joy! Debbie

  20. Summer looks fantastic where you are at. Enjoyed all the plants and flowers and such. Is Whitey an American Eskimo? We had one for nearly 17 years. I miss him.

  21. Hi Karen, beautiful way! I enjoyed seeing the old objects, I also think the people who have used and how they were what they were going through, digress in time ...
    How do you draw well! You should show more your drawings, I'll love it. I am yet to post because I encourage my guests but soon I will actualize.
    I love ponies, are gorgeous, such a lovely photo of her daughter.
    A big kiss and a beautiful thursday for you and blue eyes.

  22. A beautiful tour and I especially love seeing the Foxglove.

  23. I loved seeing your sketch, Karen! Oh my, I'm in awe of the beauty that surrounds you. xo

  24. How wonderful are all of those pieces that you found! I too find them enchanting thinking of what they were used for and who owned them! WOW! Is is ever beautiful by you Karen! And how amazing is it to grow up riding with your mom! That is a sweet childhood indeed! And your artwork is beautiful! Just beautiful friend! I would say that summer is setting in just perfectly in your neck of the woods! Happy week to you friend! Nicole xoxox


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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