Stairway to…

“However steep or ramshackle they may be, don’t ever despise the stairs which take you up to higher levels.” **Mehmet Murat Ildan

Stairs. Ever since I was a little kid I have been intrigued by stairs. Where do they lead? What’s up there (or down there?) It is the mystery of the unknown that piques my curiosity. On our recent trip to Fort Casey, we discovered a part of the fort separate from the state park. Overgrown and abandoned, it was as close I will ever come to finding a lost civilization.

Moss grows thick to carpet the gray concrete

I love to walk up the wide steps and think about the people who built this place. Fort Casey was constructed in the late 1800’s to defend the entrance to Puget Sound in case of enemy invasion. Now we know the fort was never called into action, and it ended up being used as a training facility for the armed forces. I close my eyes and picture fresh faced young men, enlisted and ready to fight for their country, running up and down these concrete steps. Did they practice their drills and wonder if they would have to man the giant guns aimed out to sea? I can only imagine.

Another thing I think of as I run my hand across the moss and weathered concrete is Mother Nature. The blackberry and wild rose vines reach across the expanse of man made materials making it clear that she will reclaim her own, given time. We humans aren’t always as mindful as we should be of her many gifts, and I find comfort in the brambles. Even as they tug on my coat sleeve as I pass, they remind me that our beautiful Earth will endure.

Peace. Love. Amen.

Just Add Wonder ~

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” **Rachel Carson

Walking in the woods with kids is not to be confused with taking a hike. The world that exists under the canopy of an old growth forest is akin to a magical fairy land when you take the time to meander. I took the youngest grand ones on a nature walk last week, on a trail that skimmed the edge of the Lake Roesiger, wove through the trees, and crossed a couple of rustic bridges. Watching them explore, and teaching them the names of native growth, reminded me of my own youth spent exploring the twenty acres I grew up on. It also reminded me that a person doesn’t automatically know a fern is a fern or a horsetail is a horsetail… somebody has to teach the names. It was such a pleasure to point out my favorites, such as salmon berries, (yummm), and to be on the look out for stinging nettles, (ouch!)

The Babies…

Even coming across some trash left behind was an adventure. “Oh no! Look what the litterbuggers left! Clean up, clean up!!” And we all gathered the litter and continued on our way, making a mental note to bring a bag with us next time. There is a sense of wonder as we check out different shapes of fungus clinging to the trunk of a cedar tree. Thick moss on a log becomes a velvet cushion and a black and yellow centipede becomes the pied piper as we follow him for a bit, amazed by his many legs.

Lime Kiln Walk in the Woods

Lime Kiln trail was a beautiful walk in nature. Being partly on the old Monte Cristo Railroad grade, there were remnants of industry long since discarded and the shreds of history left behind. No hurries, no worries, not only was there time to ponder the men who made a living here more than one hundred years ago, but also to see how Mother Nature reclaims her own if we leave her to it. If it wasn’t for faded pictures at the trailhead, you wouldn’t believe a railroad once chugged along the bank of Stillaguamish River.

Three of a Kind, plus a puppy… checking out the array of moss clothing the low branches.

Not having children of her own, Rachel Carson borrowed her nephew to share in the joys of discovery. “…to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it…” Reading and knowing these words are true, I borrow my grandchildren for companionship and to take a peek through their eyes. When I do, I rediscover the mysteries of the wildness and remember the days that I so enjoyed as a kid in the woods at the bottom of Bunk Foss Road. To spend time with them and pass on my love of nature to the next generation is a gift to all of us.

Peace. Love. Amen.