Another Adventure

Al and I bought a house on Beacon Hill in Seattle in November of 1973. Soon thereafter, we bought the lot behind our house. The properties on both sides of our new lot were completely overrun with blackberry vines; but our lot, thanks to the people who had lived there since sometime in the 1930’s, was well maintained. It was terraced and had several fruit trees. We added vegetable gardens and did our best to keep the property free of blackberry vines and weeds.

After we divorced in the 80’s, I sold the lot; there was no way for me to keep it up and I needed the income. At that point, the blackberry and ivy vines began to invade the property. The person I sold it to, sold it to someone else and that person sold it to the city when they were buying property to create the Seattle Greenbelt.

In 2014 and 2015, I attempted to remove some of the blackberry and ivy vines, particularly around big cedar tree and a big alder tree. Sometimes I enlisted a friend to help, but we barely made a dent in the invasive vines.

In March of 2015, I saw some yellow down by the alder tree and was intrigued; I wanted to see what it was. I picked up my shears and made my way through the dried blackberry vines. It was not easy to get to the yellow, which turned out to be daffodils, but I eventually made it.

The daffodils were beautiful and when I looked inside one of them, I was surprised to see a spider.

If you would like to read more about that 2015 adventure go to: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize)

In fall of 2016, GreenFriends members joined with Green Seattle Partnership in restoring this section of the Greenbelt. Our site not only included the lot I had once owned but three other lots as well.

A few days ago, I was looking out my kitchen window and saw yellow in the distance. I knew immediately what it was. I took a photo from the kitchen. Look at the photo below and see if you can see any hint of yellow.

Then I took a closeup photo, still from the kitchen window. Can you see the yellow in the distance now? Don’t worry if you can’t; you will be able to see it soon!

The next day, I decided to get as close as I could to the flowers. This time my journey would not be hampered by blackberry vines but it might be halted by my physical mobility issues (poor balance and dizziness). I decided the safest way for me to get to them was to walk down the Hanford Stairs, because those stairs have a handrail. I would also bring my cane.

Once I arrived at the entrance to the lower path, I left the stairs and entered the Greenbelt. There was so much new growth on the site. This unfolding fern was one of the first things that caught my eye.

Next, I noticed that several of the wild ginger plants we had planted in 2017 were now dwarfed by fringecup volunteers (volunteers in this case are plants that sprout on their own, i.e. we hadn’t planted them). In the photo below the wild ginger is peeking out from under the fringecup. Both are native plants.

As I came close to the main part of the site, I saw a flowering tree in the distance. What in the world was that?

Before I turned the corner into the clearing, I passed a planting area and saw that horsetails were coming up en force! I knew from experience, that before long we won’t be able to see anything other than horsetails in the lower areas of the site!

When I entered the clearing, the flowering tree mystery was solved; the blooms were on the top part of the big tree that had fallen during the first week in March.

(Click on any of the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

From this area, I was able to get a view of the fallen tree from a different perspective than I had before. There was still no way to capture all of the tree in one photograph.

Soon, I continued my journey to the daffodils. They were on a slope, so I didn’t feel safe to get close to them but I did take some closeup photos from the path.

Then I looked at the nearby planting areas.

I decided to return to my house using the stairs behind my house since I am much more stable going up stairs than down them. On the way back, I saw how much the pearly everlasting shoots have grown. And there are so many of them. If you would like to read my previous update about those plants go to: Pearly Everlasting Shrubs pp. 24-27.

The next day, I decided to see if I could get a little closer to the daffodils. I noticed that if I walked towards them from the south side, the ground was almost flat. I knew I still couldn’t take ground level photos like I did in 2015 but I was very happy to get a closer shot…

… and to have completed another adventure!

Surviving Adversity

I had attempted to clear parts of the Greenbelt lot behind my house numerous times over the years, long before our current GreenFriends Greenbelt restoration project began. One day in March 2015, when Ramana and I were doing some clearing, we saw a glimpse of yellow among all of the invasive blackberry and ivy vines.

It seemed likely that the flowers were daffodils and I was determined to free them from their prison. I picked up my shears and headed towards them. Because of the uneven, sloped ground, and the invasive plants, I needed to create a path of twists and turns.

Once I arrived at my destination, I was gifted with some beautiful sights.

We  started the GreenFriends Greenbelt Restoration project in September of 2016. When I saw the daffodils coming up in March 2017, I put some bright blue ribbon around them to decrease the likelihood of them being trampled. (The pile to the right of the daffodils is cut bamboo stacked on a drying rack.)

It may be my imagination, but when I saw the daffodils this year (March 2018) it seemed to me that they were more beautiful than ever before and had a sense of lightness and freedom.

By the time the daffodils emerge in March 2019, their surroundings will be clear of debris. I believe I will always view these flowers with a sense of respect and honor. Like ferns, they have survived being covered with blackberry and ivy vines for thirty or more years and are a striking example of living through adversity and thriving.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

The empty lot behind my house is generally completely overgrown with blackberry vines.  Over the years, they have damaged and even killed trees, so occasionally I clear away as many of the vines as I can.  Two days ago, I hired a friend to help with the clearing.  He did an amazing amount of work during the four or five hours he was there.

The lot is on a steep hill.  At one point, he and I noticed that there were some yellow daffodils towards the bottom of the lot.  They were beautiful and it was intriguing to see them rising out of the mass of dried blackberry vines.  They looked bigger to us than they do in the picture below.

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During the next hours, I couldn’t get them out of my mind.  If they were this big from a distance, what would they look like if I was closer?  As evening approached, I decided to plant some potato starts in one area where my friend had cleared the blackberry vines.  As I did that, I kept glancing at the flowers.  I wanted to see them up close.

I gingerly made my way towards them, my arms and legs getting pricked by the vines as I walked.  Soon I came to a steep drop off.  There were years of vines piled up there and I couldn’t see the land below them.  There was no doubt in my mind that if I stepped into that mass, I would fall and be immersed in a very painful situation.

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How else could I get there?  I looked north and noticed an area where there were no blackberries.  Maybe I could get to the flowers that way!  It was at that time, the saying, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” first came to mind.

I made it down the steep hill and as you can tell from the pictures above, I could even see the flowers, but I still couldn’t get to them.  Once again, the blackberry vines were too thick.

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I looked south and thought I saw an area that had fewer vines, so I made my way back to the center of the lot and surveyed the situation.  There was no way for me to get to that clearer patch other than to step into the mire that had looked so unsafe to me.  I knew I was too tired to be doing that so decided it was time to stop for the day.

The next morning, my mind was still on the daffodils.  I walked down the hill to check the terrain again.  After a night of rest,  the center area didn’t seem so daunting.  I could even see the ground under the vines.  I decided to go back to the house, exchange my sneakers for heavy boots and pick up a tool to cut (or beat down!) the blackberry vines.

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That plan worked great.  I soon made my way to the small clearing on the south part of the lot.  I noticed a big mushroom and an area of bamboo along the way.

I continued on, cutting the vines as needed.  Before I knew it, I could see the flowers before me.

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With renewed vigor I worked towards my goal.  Before long I was very close!

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And then I was there!

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The daffodils were so beautiful

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But…. what’s that?  Something is moving in the inside of the middle daffodil!  Look closely below, can you see what I saw?

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I was fascinated.  Watch the progression as the scene unfolded!

I thought it was a winged insect at first but when it stretched out completely, it appeared to be a spider.  The top two legs were held close together most of the time, which had given the appearance of wings.  Do any of you who are reading this know what kind of spider it is?

What a grand adventure I had had.  I loved seeing the flowers up close, and then to have the unknown creature come out of one of them was such a bonus.  I wrote a poem about my experience with the spider in Nature’s Miracle.  (I also wrote about another “adventure” on this property last June in A Journey into the Jungle.)

Note:  I looked up information about the phrase “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.”  According to Wikipedia, it was the name of a folk song that became part of the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Watching that video led me to this one.  The song is “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.”  The slide show is so good…. and a trip down memory lane for me.

Who would have guessed that this post would have ended in this way?  I sure wouldn’t have.  To me, that is what living in the moment is all about!