Mountain hike

ski resorts are great places in the summer too

Mount Spokane State Park (Quoted from their website):

In addition to alpine winter recreation, the Park offers year-round recreation including nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, camping, horseback riding, biking and hiking trails, berry picking, sightseeing, and more.

You can get a map of the park

We drove up a gravel access road and parked, then went for a short and easy half day hike.

It is amazing to see the ski runs without snow on them. They seem a lot steeper in summer because you are actually walking up the hill not riding a lift, so the rate of ascent is more noticeable and sticks in the memory.

This hill has great views of the ski area and so much more. Gazing from the summit in summer can take your breath away.

There are many types of flora (including Huckleberries) and fauna birds, four legged critters and scurrying little guys, in lots of kinds of well-maintained trails. Inviting photographers to take mucho happy clicks home. The variety of trails, terrains and spots to see is quite extensive. Check out their website which gives 47 things to do in the park if you run out of ideas.

We discovered some historic structures while we were there including the Civilian Conservation Corps Cabin (CCC) which we posed beside, and it is not much further up the hill to see the Vista House both built in the 1930s. This park is another Inland Northwest “gem” for outdoor lovers.

Baby asparagus

What does young asparagus look like?

Identifying who are not the weeds.

Never having grown this before, I had a hard time trying to figure out which were the weeds and which were little baby asparagus sprouts. I know I pulled out many of them before I figured out they do not look like the spears that we steam and put on our dinner plates.

From the pictures you can see how different they are from what is harvested. They have a skinny little stem with fernlike leaves, almost looks like a carrot top at first. They grow taller kind of fast, almost making a hedge as they branch out with more feathery leaves.

  

At the roots more spears appear peeping their heads out of the soil. The rules are to let the shoots smaller than a pencil go on up and make seeds, if you take a look you can see the seed pods beginning to be formed as small green orbs about the size of a sewing pin head. They proceed to turn black before they fall off onto the soil below. If you squish them in you hand they crack open and have many many tiny seeds inside.

We harvest the fatter spears that are between 6-9 inches tall. Simply using a sharp knife I cut them off right at the ground and drop them into the basket. Homegrown steamed asparagus is very tender and sweet at the table. It is well worth the effort to grow.

Garden first up…

asparagus?

A tall plant of the lily family with fine feathery foliage, cultivated for its edible tender young shoots, eaten as a vegetable and considered a delicacy.

I was beginning to think our asparagus in the garden would never get established. Just when I was about to give up, last year a few shoots arrived… just enough to win a stay of execution from me.

When multiple little heads popped-up early this year as the last of the winter snow was still melting, I was surprised and so glad we didn’t give up. We have had some really nice vegetables at our dinner table since. I look forward to more and more as the row seed’s itself now.

Asparagus patches are not for the “instant gratification” type of gardener cause you have to be willing to let this plant establish itself before you get any type of satisfaction from your labors. It is an addition to your garden that takes quite a while to become productive.

Patience is the key.

The story began 2-3 years ago, buying roots that are expensive (so are the seeds), with care the seeds seem to be the better way to go money wise. When the little guys first come up, they are feathery little shoots and it is really easy to confuse them with weeds. If they survive my indiscriminate weeding due to their foreign appearance, they eventually get enough root to start shooting up the familiar looking spears on the side the next year. I will make it a point to get some closeup shots to show you how the “young guys” look in the next post, hopefully you will be able to avoid my mistakes.

Planting asparagus is a worthwhile adventure to take in your gardening journey as long as you have enough patience to wait for the miracle, this fellow Inland Northwest gardener proclaims!

 

 

Granite Falls, Nordman Idaho

We took an easy hike this weekend, our destination was “Granite Falls” just above Nordman, and Priest Lake ID. It was a bright sunny day but there was a noticeable chill in the air whenever you were in the shade. You can see there were still patches of snow… This was a total departure from blue screen hypnosis or chatter for us.

Nature in the Inland Northwest…. Ahhhhh! Going up just past Nordman ID and Priest Lake to a Cedar Forest Reserve is  Granite Falls trail. This is a short hike 1.5 miles on a well maintained trail with easy grade and many switchbacks through huge noble cedars reaching up high into the air. There are many places to experience the roar of water cascading over solid granite formation, where you are chilled by the moisture in the air. Wow! the power of moving water. Makes you see how small we are in the whole system of nature. This was a revealing adventure for our family to take together. It was as though our souls were able to surface and share more meaningful expressions of emotion and thought as we journeyed through the beauty. It was an inspired afternoon full of amazing natural wonder and an infusion of beauty.

Don’t be Koi… #7 finished

Don’t Play Koi With Me

11”w x 11”h watercolor on 140lb WC paper

The final part of the water kingdom is done on her left side bringing the darker blues continuous behind her with a quick absence bleed of color at her back tail fin. This is how I give an impression of movement in the water there. The final touch I feel drawn to do is some darker splatters throughout the water for bubble impressions. I am pleased with her bright moving attitude! C’est fini!

Don’t be Koi… #6

#06

Don’t Play Koi With Me

11”w x 11”h watercolor on 140lb WC paper

The underwater world keeps going as I proceed on her right side adding cobalt blue, Prussian blue, ultramarine along with violet. The trick for me is to not do too much. I don’t want it to be a solid background, instead wanting to see variance and depth. the other side of that is that I don’t want the water to compete with the main subject of the sassy koi. Hoping to get not too much and not too little. Slowly and carefully I proceed.

Don’t be Koi… #5

#05

Don’t Play Koi With Me

11”w x 11”h watercolor on 140lb WC paper

Our lady koi is ready to enter into her world. How is she going to look underwater? This is my favorite thing about watercolor painting. Wet on wet! I absolutely love the way that the colors bleed pool and spread when you give them water to travel on. There is no better experience than carefully wetting where you want color to transform and then dropping color and watching the magic in front of your eyes. Beginning at the extreme curve of her body and working my way under her chin her underwater world appears.

Don’t be Koi… #4

#04

Don’t Play Koi With Me

11”w x 11”h watercolor on 140lb WC paper

I continue to add color to her scale areas getting the majority of her done. The next area is her back tail where I am opting to give her a real colorful fin to stand on for her statement. The tricky part for me here it to give her an impression of standing on two legs without giving her legs at all. How do you make fins kind of sort of be legs? Well here is my best stab at it.

Don’t be Koi… #3

#03

Don’t Play Koi With Me

11”w x 11”h watercolor on 140lb WC paper

At this point I begin to add the areas of different colors on my koi character taking turns between adding scale patterns and shadow shape. She is colorful with white, gold, orange, red and black patches. I add darkness in layers we are able to see the depth of her open mouth which makes her expression have much more impact. The darkness on her right chin makes her lips seem to jut out toward us. As I work with the eyes I darken where the shadows are along with her iris. Isn’t it great how watercolor allows you to carefully bleed the edges of the shadow to gently show a curving eyeball? I noticed her dorsal fin is not right and am able to correct that with darkening in the back that reduces it to the correct size.

Don’t be Koi… #2

#02

Don’t Play Koi With Me

11”w x 11”h watercolor on 140lb WC paper

You may notice that I was in the middle of doing a couple’s wedding portrait but I put it aside and did this real quick because the meeting was the next night. I have had to learn to be able to quit one project and hop onto-the-next whenever customers put a hold on something. It works well for when I tend to procrastinate too long too.