More Plant Adventures along the Columbia River

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Just about this time last week I was having a bit of a personal meltdown so I dashed out to the Columbia River Gorge to grab a burger and a piece of marionberry pie for dinner. The plan worked.

To say that the spontaneous retreat refreshed me is an understatement.

It recharged me and then some!

The whole escape made me feel significantly better and it gave me some much needed emotional energy.

There is still simply too much reorganization going on in my life. It is all finally coming to a close though and it is such a relief.

That evening I watched the sunset knowing I would be returning to the refuge of the Columbia River basin in just a few more days.

Here I am now, at the end of that trip. I’m writing this entry just before I return home to Portland.

The gas fireplace is lit after a long rainstorm and I can see nothing but green as I look out toward the river.

I’m sitting once again in my Dad’s fishing “cabin” near the Washington Coast just north of Astoria, OR.

The blog has been here before, but I do love to post new posts from here.

(Oh, and please forgive the plastic flowers. Mom has not yet been here to plant the annual marigolds.)

Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina. 

No matter how Italian the place appears, and despite the house’s awkwardness in the landscape, nature still intrudes upon the slumber here. Luckily, my parents think ferns growing randomly here and there don’t need eradication. I appreciate that attitude and I suppose I share it too.

A river runs behind the house.

Dad struggles with this painful-looking giant exclamation point in the landscape. Having given the tree to him, I’m not a big fan of this sad Italian cypress. Oh how I wish it could just be put it out of its misery! So many other native plants could joyfully take its place. Don’t you agree?

Piggyback Plant, (Tolmiea mensiesii).

Yesterday—for the first time in years—I wandered around the property in search of plant life.

Deep in my heart of hearts I aimed at trying to find the uncommon (or hard-to-find) terrestrial orchid Goodyera oblongifolia. No dice.

Deer Fern, (Blechnum spicant).

Though I did not find one, I found a lot of other plants.

Even so, I’ve decided that in the future I’ll continue to seek them out in the area. Something tells me that it’ll be fun to tell people I’m orchid hunting.

For the most part I just saw a lot of the usual while being cawed at by crows who didn’t recognize me. Nature can be so unpleasant sometimes.

Big Leaf Maple canopy, (Acer macrophyllum).

I enjoyed the pre-historic feel yesterday.

Sure there are neighbors around here, but I definitely didn’t see any of them.

Salmonberry, (Rubus spectabilis).
Too bad the skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) wasn’t in bloom. There is honestly nothing quite like the smell of it in springtime.

I eventually meandered into the swampy area and it was here were my paper bag full of plants exploded at my feet while I was wading in the stream.

At least the local herd of elk didn’t come through and run me over.

(They travel through our property on a regular basis and when we used to camp here before the house was built they would come through while we were sleeping. It was terrifying to hear the thud of their hooves upon the ground and the branches crashing as they thundered down the hill above, through the canyon, and onward toward the river. Splashing salmon spawning nearby was a whole other experience as well. There is nothing quite like having wildlife just outside your door.)

After many years of playing in the woods of the PNW as a girl you’d think I would have known better. Paper bags do NOT like to be dragged along through tall wet grass during long walks.

After calmly extricating my little boots from the mud I emerged into the meadow on the other side of the house.

Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum) and White Inside-out Flowers (Vancouveria hexandra).

I left my messy bag and chose to go up above the stream to the upper portion of the property. By now I’d been futzing with nature for a few hours but I couldn’t get enough. I was in a very happy place.

Cow Parsnip, (Heracleum maximum).
Oxalis oregana growing through the thick carpet of moss.

I made it back down to the house in time for dinner. I was covered in debris from my expedition, but overall, I felt ready to face the world.

Oh groan.

Time to finish packing.

I wonder what happened in my garden while I was gone.

To be continued…

12 thoughts on “More Plant Adventures along the Columbia River

  1. Your pictures reminded me of our own trips to the Colunbia River Gorge and WA state rain forest (skunk cabbage was bloooming there in the end of April). What beautiful place your parents have! Just seeing that green forest with native plants makes me feel happy! Thank you!

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  2. I am so glad you enjoyed seeing this post Tatyana. These places make me feel so happy too and I love exploring to see what I will find next. The Columbia River gives us so much beauty from here all the way north. What a blessing it is to us.

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  3. Let me just add that it was fun for me to take your book along with me. So happy to be able to read again after years of chronic pain that simply made that activity too difficult. So fun to read books written by people you know!

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  4. I enjoyed your expedition in nature very much. I love wandering around on muddy paths and wet fields outof the beaten track too, actually I have my wellington boots on every early morning and off we go, me and Snarf the border collie. This kind of life means a lot to me. Beautiful variety of ferns you have growing there!

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  5. This place has been a healing place for my family for nearly 20 years. Time there might be limited now as my father ages, so I'm determined to get in as much healing as possible from now on!

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  6. Next time I'm determined to wear taller boots—possibly waders—and I'm going to bring home more plants. I don't have a dog, but my father's friend walks the property daily with her standard poodle.

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  7. Scott, you would love the meadow-making opportunities. I try not to think about that when I'm there because it would drive me insane. My dad never wanted to place “fussed with” and he seems to think the place looks “natural” but you and I both know what that could REALLY look like, although, I would like to make a giant labyrinth. That's just me though…

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  8. I guess if you are going to have an Italianate house, you should have an Italian cypress, or not.

    Thanks for showing some of the natural landscape. I could so get lost there, but in a good way.

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