Another Spring Visit to the Japanese Garden, April 2022

Another nice thing about visitors (besides: visitors!) is that we get to return to some favorite local spots, perhaps sooner than we would have on our own. I’m always ready to visit the Japanese Garden; every time is different, and I find new ways to be amazed by its magical intersection of natural beauty and thoughtful design. Catching my eye this time: the bonsai collection (recently moved out from their winter protection), fresh looks at some of the design features, and the continuing spring color show.

You can read Nancy’s reflections about this day on her blog.

(Click any of these sample images to go to the full gallery.)

Wisteria Bonsai
The Bridge
Japanese Camellia

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, April 2022

The Tualatin River NWR is another regular outing for us: close to home, with plenty of seasonal variation. On this visit the first signs of spring were evident, and many migrating waterfowl we’d seen over the winter were still on site. In another few weeks, the trails that close during nesting season will re-open, and I’m sure we’ll be back there soon.

Nancy wrote about this visit on her blog.

(Click on the image to see a gallery of my photos.)

Japanese Garden Bonus: Netsuke Carvings

During my recent visit, the Japanese Garden had an exhibition of netsuke, carved figures used in the Edo period to secure purses to pocketless kimonos. At a time when the merchant classes were prohibited from any display of opulence, the functional intention of these objects provided a loophole for small bits of showy fashion. (Since the netsuke bound the purse string to the kimono belt sort of like a bolo tie, the term loophole might be, oh, never mind.) Here’s a sampling from the exhibit.

Spring 2022 at the Japanese Garden and Tryon Creek State Natural Area

For the last day of March, a two-fer: I went for an early morning visit to the Japanese Garden, and in the afternoon, Nancy and I went for a walk at Tryon Creek State Natural Area.

For most of the year, the Japanese Garden is all about shades of green, and the magical spaces that thoughtful design can create. But for fall colors and spring blossoms, it’s showtime! This time there were cherry trees in full bloom, camellias, azaleas and andromeda, plus more light and less frozen fingers — all signs of the changing season.

Another herald of spring is the appearance of trillium among the ferns on the forest floor. It may have been our initial spring in Portland when I first noticed trillium in bloom at Tryon Creek Park, so that seemed a fitting place to look for them after seeing a few at the Japanese Garden, and hearing of “thousands” at Forest Park from another enthusiastic visitor there. It did not disappoint.

Both the Japanese Garden and Tryon Creek Park are places we visit throughout the year. I enjoy having a familiar frame to consider all the seasons; it makes it easy to find the beauty all year long. But ya gotta love spring and all the showboat flora. And, it’s nice to finally lose a layer of clothes and some of the mud on my shoes.

(Here is Nancy’s blog inspired by this outing.)

(Click on an image to see a gallery of all my photos from this day.)

Home from Nisqually: Silver Lake and Ridgefield

After our day at Nisqually, we left Centralia the next morning and raced the rain back to Portland, with two stops along the way: Seaquest (WA) State Park at Silver Lake, and Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The Wetland Haven trail at the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center (across the highway from the state park camping area) provides up close views of the mountain, and a boardwalk through the wetlands. At Ridgefield, for the second time this winter we drove the Auto Tour in the rain. Always worthwhile, despite the weather challenges. I have many photos of in-focus raindrops with blurry birds in the background, a tribute to the camera’s autofocus capabilities, but otherwise not very interesting. The Pacific Northwest is going to force me to build up my manual focus chops.

More about this trip on Nancy’s blog.

(Click on an image to visit the full gallery.)

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, February 2022

At the end of February we finally made it to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, outside of Olympia, Washington. This amazing sanctuary has been on our to-go list for a long time, encouraged by the photos and descriptions on our online friend Bonnie Rae’s blog, and it did not disappoint. It wasn’t exactly a “winter warmth” getaway from a weather standpoint, leaving Portland in the snow, arriving at the Visitor Center the next morning with the temperature inching into the 30s, keeping our balance on the crust of ice on the trail and boardwalk. But there was a different warmth in spending long slow hours exploring a beautiful place, encountering creatures we’d never seen, and getting to know new friends. Thanks for hosting us, Gretchen Staebler!

More about this trip on Nancy’s blog.

(Click on an image to visit the full gallery.)