The rose garden

My husband and I spent the weekend in Portland, Ore., for a mix of work and fun. The city is known as the City of Roses. It was fitting, then, that we took time to wander through Portland’s International Rose Test Garden. If I’ve ever been to a more beautiful rose garden, I can’t remember when. The garden is home to more than 8,000 roses of 610 varieties. Words cannot do justice to the fragrance, the colors, the different sizes and shapes.

I’m still getting over a lingering, clinging cold, and today, I thought I’d share a bouquet with you all. I hope you enjoy these beauties from Portland’s wonderful rose garden.

“Of all flowres methinks a rose is best.” William Shakespeare

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Flowers and Emily Dickinson on a sick day

The last few days have been rough for me. I’ve been battling a bad cold and falling behind on everything I need to get done. In fun news, I’ve gotten to hear the owlet sing (or make sounds anyway) over several nights, and it’s strong enough to reach the tree tops now.

I’ve been outside very little but wandered in the garden for a bit earlier today. The scent of gardenias wafts into the house most mornings. The hydrangeas are lovelier and more abundant than in recent summers. And plenty of other garden beauties beg for admiration.

A fragrant gardenia

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The fledgling, the feline, and the fiend

A few hours after last week’s post went live, I got my first glimpse of the fledgling owl peeking out of the owl box. I went to bed wondering when it might leave its home for the first time. I didn’t have long to wonder.

I woke up the next morning, said a quick prayer for the fledgling to be safe, and got out of bed to start my day. As soon as I saw the silhouette against the screen, I knew our owlet had left home.

It was still mostly dark outside, but I could see the shape flutter up and down the screen and finally hop along the ground at the base of our house. Shortly afterward, it hopped over into some bushes by our back fence. That’s when the drama began.

A California scrub-jay, aka “the fiend”

A California scrub-jay hovered around the fence, calling in shrill complaint, announcing the presence of the baby owl. Then I saw it: the neighbor’s cat, still as ice on the most frozen winter day, stalking the owlet from atop the fence. It was more than I could stand. I went outside and chased the cat back into its own yard. The jay flew away. Continue reading

Beating the summer heat

The unofficial start of summer kicks off with Memorial Day weekend, but where I live, we’ve already seen triple temperatures. Bleh. This no longer counts as springtime to me. Some of my friends love the hot weather. I do not. Though I was raised in a place of heat and humidity, summer is not my favorite season. It’s not even my second-favorite season. Life in California—with its cloudless days, searing heat, lack of shade, and rattlesnakes—has bumped summer down to my least favorite season.

As a runner, I find myself getting up earlier and earlier to dodge the baking sun and rising temps each morning. Yesterday, desperate to avoid a repeat of Monday’s too-hot, too-late-in-the-morning run, I found a handy tool that tells you when the sun will rise and set where you live. (Just for fun, I’ve set it to show times for Daphne, Alabama. You can type in your own city/town and see how it changes for today. Drag the daily line along to see how it will lengthen until June 21 and then begin to shorten. Type in a place south of the equator, and you’ll see the opposite effect.)

I’m not the only one trying to find ways to beat the heat. Western screech-owls have returned to nest in the box on our house, and a couple of evenings ago, I looked outside to see this:

A thirsty owl

An owl sat perched in the waterfall of our backyard koi pond. I didn’t want to scare it away, especially because the fish didn’t seem concerned about its presence. I grabbed the camera and took some shots from inside the house.

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Seen along the way

I’m traveling west today, sitting too long among strangers after spending several lovely days with family and friends.

A couple of weekends ago, I got to see one of my dearest friends and two of her children, now grown into amazing young women. We met in Napa and spent a fun day together.

Worried I’d get slowed down in traffic, I wanted to arrive at our first destination early. I hit traffic (of course) but still arrived with time to wander the gardens at our first stop. I thought you might enjoy wandering along with me for a few moments.

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