#realhappiness

 

rowenasunrise
Sunrise from Rowena Crest, Oregon.

For a couple of Sundays now I have been getting up early and heading east into the darkness of pre-dawn.  The camera and tripod loaded up to catch sunrise pictures in the eastern Columbia Gorge.  Being outside, far from the city, as the day begins and the sun breaks the horizon – that is my happy place.

One of my creative inspirations is the YouTube channel by Thomas Heaton.  He is a photographer from England who produces fantastic videos about his adventures in photography, near his home in England and all over the world. 

sunrisehappydetailed
Silent except for the cry of the hawk.

He is collaborating with the BBC on a project called #realhappiness.  In a nutshell – encouraging all of us to get up early and get out in nature.  Thomas’s involvement is soliciting photographers (that means you) to submit sunrise photos from their happy place to the instagram hashtag #realhappiness.  Check out this short video and be inspired.

Catherine Creek – Wildflower Mecca

There are some iconic wildflower hikes in the Columbia Gorge and Catherine Creek is at the top of that list.  With its dry climate the wildflower season comes earlier to Catherine Creek.  It’s a great time to head east to the Old Highway 8 turnoff.

hittheroad
Old Highway 8 between Bingen and Lyle, Washington.

In early Spring – the landscape on the dry side of the Gorge is greener than it will ever be – especially this year when we had a long wet and snowy winter.  There is a lot of anticipation for the wildflower season.

lakeviewwithtree
Sunrise at Rowland Lake – near Catherine Creek.

The Catherine Creek area has several options for hikers – from easy and all access to more challenging and longer hikes up into the hills.  The view of the Columbia River cannot be beat no matter where you go.  Looking east you see the Rowena Gap and the town of Lyle. 

riverview
Looking east from Catherine Creek.

But we are here for the wildflowers.  A couple of days ago the Camas were everywhere putting the rolling hills in a sea of purple.  Making the bees very happy!

camasbee
Bee works a Camas bloom.

And on this day – I found a rare albino Camas.  This flower really stood out amongst his purple kin. 

albinocamas
Rare albino Camas flower.

I came early but soon the parking lot was full and I was joined by many others.  It’s fun to be able to see others out enjoying the early wildflowers.

hikerscathcrk

It’s trillium time

trilliumraindropsMy recipe for happiness begins here with this flower.  The trillium.  Three white pedals, three broad leaves.  So simple yet so perfect.

Their peak bloom time is brief.  Walking in Forest Park, here in Portland, Oregon – they are busting out all over.  And each one is lovelier than the last.

 

Yesterday I interrupted my routine – stopping in the woods for a walk instead of commuting with thousands on the freeway.  And that made all the difference.  Yes this is a nod to Robert Frost.  And William Stafford – “is there a better moment than now?”

twotrilliums

Walk with Thee

walkwithme

As we enter these last few days of 2016 – I have been thinking a lot about the strange year we are ending and wondering what is to come in 2017.  As I write these words – people around me are wrapping up their to do lists, making resolutions perhaps, taking this week of down time to recalibrate.  Some just look out the window.

Where do we find comfort in these troubled times? The words of great writers? The creative vision of artists? The gospel? 

There are few voices in this world sweeter than that of Patsy Cline.  I am not Christian but this refrain as sung by Patsy keeps playing in my head.

Just a closer walk with Thee

Grant it, Jesus, is my plea

Daily walking close to Thee

Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Let us quietly end this tumultuous year and bring in the new year with hope and goodwill and love for each other.

eoy2016