This larch in waiting photo shows one of their tiny cones up close. The western larch needles turn gold in the fall before dropping. The pompom needle clusters in this photo were just beginning to turn. This unique tree is one of my local favorites.
Walking towards the burial mounds of Knowth, in County Meath, Ireland, it’s easy to imagine they must have many stories to tell. The largest mound was likely created circa 3200 BC. This is part of the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne. I featured another passage tomb nearby in The façade of Newgrange.
Each image tells a story on its own, butI created a Tale of Knowth to go along with the photos.
Tale of Knowth
“Go to the mounded land on the day fall begins.” Maimeó said to me weeks before her passing.
Once I found the 18 mounds, I didn’t know where to turn. I followed the curving trail around the largest mound. A cool gust from the north made the emerald grass covering the mound dance in the wind.
“Find the sunburst kerbstone. It will show you the way.” I remembered Maimeó’s words.
The sunburst kerbstone? I thought. Spirals, crescent, and other patterns covered the boulders encircling the mound. I wondered how I would find the right one.
I trudged around the perimeter of the mound, pulling my cloak close. Light snowfall drifted by me and settled in the characters carved into stone.
Why is it snowing on autumn’s eve? I thought to myself. I tried to keep warm by rubbing my arms and stamping my feet. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something.
“This must be it,” I said. I traced sunburst rays carved into an enormous boulder with my fingertip. The accumulating snowfall made the shapes stand out.
“How does this sunburst point me in the right direction?” I scratched my head.
Then I remembered something Daideó often said. “Look behind to find the way forward.”
I didn’t know what he meant then, but now I understood. On the back edge of the stone, I found a crude arrow pointing east. I quickened my pace and soon found a low doorway entering the mound.
Once inside, I found doorway after doorway. Where should I go next? I thought. Night was falling and the hallway of doors ahead of me darkened. I shuddered in the deepening gloom.
Suddenly, something strange happened. The light narrowed into a single beam shining through one door. I dashed towards the light.
A pale-colored column of stone reaching towards the ceiling reflected the beam of light. I remembered Daideó’s words again and reached behind the stone.
I felt a delicate chain and pulled it into the bright light. It held a golden triskele charm with three spirals connected to the center. If I wore it, I knew it would help me move forward in the spiritual world, the present world, and the celestial world.
After that day, I always wore my triskele and though I often stumble backwards, I find my way ahead.
More about Knowth
This fictional story contains elements of fact including:
This creature of the shadows is a Sumatran tiger. There are only 300-500 of this species remaining in the wild. This tiger lives at the Fota Wildlife Park in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland. A breeding pair at the park has produced two cubs to date.
Sometimes you experience memorable moments by following fall close to home. I’ve made a special effort to capture glimpses of the season in photographs this year near my home in Bend. Fall is my favorite season!
Autumn weather brings cloudy skies and spectacular sunrises that take your breath away.
Trees don their finest fashions and marvel at their reflections.
Some trees try to see how many shades of autumn they can pack onto one branch.
And when the leaves fall, they dazzle you like an ephemeral work of art.
If you listen closely, you’ll hear the leafless trees revealing stories layer by layer until they are clothed once again.
I went on a road trip near Mount Hood in October and took this photo of the mountain. I’ll be showing how I processed it three ways with Corel PaintShop Pro 2021.
Prior to trying various effects, I decreased the brightness, increased the contrast, fill light and clarity, and used the local tone mapping setting. I made these adjustments because the gray and white mountain blended into the cloudy gray sky. Cloud cover can block your views of Mount Hood in October so we were lucky to see it on this overcast day.
The first two show the Mount Hood original image and the same picture with an enhanced edge effect. For this image I went to Effects>Edge Effects>Enhance More. I like this image because it showcases the trees in the forest.
The next two show the Mount Hood original image and the same picture with a film and filters effect. For this image I went to Effects>Film and Filters. I selected Vibrant Foliage from the first pulldown menu, Cooling Filter from the second one, and increased the filter density. This effect’s blue filter highlights the sky more.
The last two show the Mount Hood original image and the same picture with a glowing edges effect. For this image I went to Effects>Artistic Effects>Glowing Edges. The various shapes stand out in strong contrast highlighted by a touch of color. It’s one of my favorite effects!
I saw these marigolds up close in a park at the end of July. These vignettes show orange, yellow, and white flowers that were growing in a border planting. Marigolds are an easy to grow annual that blooms for weeks during the summer months.
This observatory of the past is on McKenzie Pass near Sisters, Oregon. Dee Wright Observatory was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps to showcase the human and geological history of this location. The round tower sits atop a small hill.
Here’s what it looks like when you approach it from the west. It’s one of the odder roadside attractions in Oregon but one that should not be missed.
The Observatory is constructed of local lava rock. The triangular-shaped rail supports look like rock cairns.
But what can you observe from here? You get excellent views of some of our local volcanoes, including North and Middle Sister, pictured below.
You’ll see panoramic views of lava beds bordered by volcanic mountains. On the left you can see the top of Mt Washington. Mt Jefferson is in the middle of the picture, shrouded by clouds. On the right you get a partial view of Black Butte.
Here’s a closer view. See Mt Jefferson hiding under the clouds?
An observatory of the past – Geology
This sign highlights part of the geological history. The lava flows that covered this landscape are young, in geological terms. If you have time, walk the 0.50 mile interpretive trail at the site.
From the inside of the structure, you can peek out of square and rectangular windows to see the peaks. Labels are below each window.
On top of the building you’ll find a peak finder.
Here’s a closer view.
Old Wagon Road
This area served as a route for wagons to get across the Cascade Mountains in the late 1800s. It must have been an incredibly rough ride.
These bonsai trees in the Portland Japanese Garden were living works of art. We visited the garden in mid-October, when the colors of autumn were beginning to put on their show.
The first tree is a Japanese maple and it’s 35 years old. This variety’s foliage changes from green to shades of golden-yellow and red. This maple’s reddish bark intensifies in color over the winter months.
The second tree is a vine maple and it’s 75 years old. This type of maple is common in Pacific Northwest forests. Those growing in shade tend to have yellow fall color, while those in direct sunlight are more likely to turn orange and scarlet.
The third tree is a trident maple and it’s 30 years old. This maple is native to China, Korea, and Japan. It gets its name from its three-lobed leaves.
The fourth photo shows a miniature forest of Japanese maples and it’s 35 years old. These trees already dropped their leaves for the season.
The sixth photo shows a Japanese beech that’s 30 years old. This species only grows in parts of Japan – it is an endemic species. Its copper-colored leaves stood out from the rest of the bonsai trees.
The seventh photo shows a winterberry and it is 45 years old. Winterberry are endemic to a province in China. Their distinctive red berries let you know they’re related to holly.
The eighth picture shows a dwarf Asian pear and it’s 25 years old. This pear is native to China and Vietnam. This was one of my favorites because I admired its twisting branches.
When I saw this woman in a cape pass through an arch, it looked like she entered a portal in Portland. I imagined her entering a distant mystical land. Infrared processing enhanced the mystical theme I attempted to capture.
Here are a few photos of wildlife sightings at Yellowstone from our trip in early June. Visitors have opportunities to see many furred and feathered creatures within Yellowstone National Park.
Sometimes you see wildlife, such as this snowshoe hare, that you may not have seen in the park before. This hare’s population peaks about every ten years and this must be a peak year.
Sometimes you’ll see wildlife interacting within close proximity of each other. This radio-collared gray wolf got a little too close for comfort to the bison calves in this herd. The bulls and cows quickly chased it away.
Sometimes you’ll get wildlife sightings at Yellowstone that are hundreds and hundreds of yards away. This grizzly bear with two cubs made its way across a distant mountain meadow. I took this photo with my Samsung phone attached to a spotting scope.
Other times you’ll get closer views. This sandhill crane family patiently posed for photographers.
You might see familiar friends in new settings. We saw killdeer in shallow hot spring features throughout the park. They must enjoy the warm temperature!
Since the park includes 3,500 square miles, you’ll need to look close to find the wildlife. This lone cinnamon teal floated in a sedge-filled pond – a pinch of spice in a sea of green.
This Mt Pilchuck & Eagle table was made to raffle off for a fundraiser. I painted the tabletop with acrylic paint and lightly carved around the edges of some of the components. My husband, Gary, designed and custom built the table.
Here’s a closer view of the top.
This Mt Pilchuck & Eagle piece is a one-of- a-kind creation since we learned making something like this takes a lot of work. We previously made another table for ourselves with a different design that I may share in the future.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? If so, include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
A couple I once knew had a memorable experience involving mushrooms, up close and personal. They went out mushroom picking with friends in the rainforests near Olympia, Washington. That night, they prepared a fancy meal that included the mushrooms they harvested.
After dinner, they sat around the table exclaiming how wonderful the freshly-harvested mushrooms tasted. Suddenly, they noticed the family cat had jumped onto the counter and eaten a little of the mushroom sauce. She immediately began to vomit.
The dinner guests looked at each other with horror. When they picked the mushrooms, they weren’t sure of the exact species. Even when you look at mushrooms up close they can be difficult to identify. If you eat the wrong type, it might kill you.
Out of an abundance of caution, they decided to go to the hospital. Everyone had their stomach pumped in case the mushrooms were poisonous.
When they returned home, they were surprised to find the cat with a litter of newborn kittens. The cat wasn’t sick from poisoning—the vomiting was due to her labor.
At the time it happened they decided to err on the side of caution, but later, they thought their reaction was pretty funny. 😀
I have been patiently waiting for fall at the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. Every day, I visited their Fall Color Status Update website. In mid-October, the site indicated good leaf color in their plantings. Off we went!
A brilliant rainbow of colors bordered the Flat Garden. The green Circle and Gourd Islands in the sea of white gravel represent enlightenment and happiness.
This nearby path is bordered by more subtle colors.
The Garden limits the number of visitors, but they crowded around this maple tree with its bright red leaves.
The structure of the branches on laceleaf maples is just as impressive as the color of the leaves.
There are water features throughout the garden. This simple fountain is elegant in its design.
The reflections cast by fall leaves in the ponds are stunning.
The gardens are so calm and peaceful. This photo shows a view of Heavenly Falls – a fitting name.
The Garden includes layers of varying structure and color.
Some of the yellow-colored leaves you might see are on gingko trees – a personal favorite of mine. Their fan-shaped leaves fluttered in the breeze.
Visiting the Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden is located in Washington Park, west of downtown. The 12-acre garden includes eight separate garden styles. Purchase tickets ahead online or at the entrance gate. Be aware that parking is limited. There is a short uphill path to the garden. Shuttles are available upon request. The Cultural Village includes a gift shop, café, arts learning center, and concierge.
When His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, visited Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be ‘the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.’
Portland Japanese Garden Visitor Guide
The brochure notes they hope visitors experience “a sense of peace, tranquility, and a deep, personal connection to nature.” I certainly did!
Though you can visit throughout the year, fall at the Japanese Garden is especially beautiful. In Japan, the times of seasonal change are revered for their impermanence. I was glad to witness the transition with my own eyes.
These streets lined with gold are along the highway east of Mount Hood in Oregon. I was there a week ago and the colors were spectacular!
The golden leaves along this road are mostly on aspen and larch trees. Larch is a deciduous conifer. Yes, most conifers keep their leaves through the winter–not the larch. See my post Western larch – A beauty in gold for more about these trees.
We also saw pops of red from the vine maples growing along this route.
The last picture shows bigleaf maples growing near the Columbia River. It was wonderful to see streets lined with gold in several locations on this trip in northern Oregon.
I took this nose to nose with a biplane picture at the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum. This large museum is located in Hood River, Oregon. All of the aircraft on display are in flyable condition, unlike at other museums.
After the rain in the Painted Hills of eastern Oregon, the colors stand out in bold contrast. I live an hour and a half away from these strange geological features and patiently wait for the storms of fall to arrive.
Here’s a map of the area that shows the hiking trails. Leaf Hill, Painted Cove, and Red Scar/Red Hill are all 0.25 miles long. Painted Hills Overlook is 0.50 miles and Carroll Rim is 1.6 miles long.
Here are a couple additional points about visiting the Painted Hills.
This landscape radiates heat so I would not recommend the longer hike on hot summer days.
Bring plenty of water with you on all hikes.
Use the restroom in the picnic area. There are no restrooms at the Overlook or at trailheads.
Cell phone coverage can be spotty.
Please stay on the trails and leash your dogs. Your tracks will remain for months in this fragile environment.
One more thing to consider…
If you visit after the rain, you may run into gumbo mud. When it rains here, it’s like the ground turns into a mixture of Superglue and soil. The mud collects on your tires and shoes. See how it stuck to my boots? I scraped some off before getting in the car. At home, I sprayed my boots full blast with a hose and stillhad to use a stiff brush to get it all off. However, getting pictures of the hills after stormy weather was well worth it!
This Born Again Babaylan mural, created by Bekah Badilla, is located on the eastside of Bend, Oregon. Bekah is a Filipina/White American who was born in Alaska and now lives in Bend.
The first photo shows a close up of Babaylan.
The second photo shows the entire 18′ x 44′ mural in the light of dawn.
The artist put a lot of thought into this work. Here is an excerpt from her site describing the Born Again Babaylan mural:
“In the piece, I combine symbols of past, present and future—making the linear construct of time obsolete. Melting out of the glacial ice is the spirit of a Babaylan, a matriarchal leader, spirit guide and warrior prevalent in pre-colonial Philippines. The Babaylan embodies both technology and nature, offering knowledge and guidance not through elitism and brute force but through spirituality, mysticism and ancestral strength.”
The third photo shows a close up of a young warrior.
The fourth photo shows a close up of circuit boards. This mural, sponsored by computer repair company, Mactek, is located in their parking area. Born Again Babaylan represents mysteries of the past and technology of the future.
Please visit Bekah’s website for more about this mural. She highlights the history of local Indigenous peoples. Bekah emphasizes the importance of social justice and equality in much of her work.
Steep knife-edged mountains arose from the plains centuries ago. Over time, torrential rains wore them down into rounded hills. Though plants tried to take root on their soil, none survived.
The Wise One summoned the artists of her tribe. She asked them to paint the hills in sacred colors. Pale green colors, from crushed sagebrush leaves and golden rabbitbrush blossoms, and black and red, from sumac trees, filled their brushes. The artisans painted the hills with broad brushstrokes and veiled the skies with delicate dabs of white.
Here are a couple pictures of autumn cascara leaves up close. I spotted these beautiful multi-colored leaves on shrubs near Santiam Junction in Oregon. They were growing within an inhospitable looking lava bed.
This tall shrub is attractive year round. The oblong leaves, with their distinctive parallel veins, are glossy green for most of the year. Autumn cascara leaves have spectacular colors. Cascara produce greenish-yellow flowers in the spring, and dark purple fruit in the summer.
One of their common names is Cascara sagrada, Spanish for “sacred bark.” The bark is well known for its laxative effects. See the Names section of Cascara, Frangula purshiana for funny Chinook names based on these qualities. 😉
Here in the High Desert, things tend to last well past their prime. Though this old truck shows signs of wear and tear, chances are it still runs.
This truck is located on rural property along Deschutes Market Road. This is one of 51 “market” roads in and around Deschutes County. These farm-to-market roads were built following passage of the Oregon Market Road Act of 1919. Prior to their construction, farmers navigated many miles of bumpy, rutted dirt roads to deliver their goods.
A label on the truck’s door reads S & M, Land & Livestock. I’m not sure if this was a local company. There were many ranching operations in Central Oregon, large and small, in the 1870-1920 pre-Industrial period.
This old barn is located on Innes Market Road near where it intersects with Gerking Market Road. Roads were often named after nearby landowners. Though this building may look past its prime, it’s mostly intact.
An interesting thing about this barn is that berms of earth provide part of the structure. We have temperature extremes in this area, including the possibility of nighttime freezing throughout the year. The insulation provided by the soil helps keep livestock and stored produce at optimal temperatures.
You can see a peek of the Sisters volcanic peaks on the left side of this photo. Excellent views from this old barn!
I have always been impressed by the elegance of terns. Terns in flight have pointed wingtips and some species have deeply forked tails. Today I’m sharing a stylized pencil sketch I did of a Forster’s tern. These wetland birds can be spotted in much of North America at certain times of the year.
Here are a few Caspian terns I saw at The Narrows in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, south of Burns, Oregon. They don’t have the black-tipped bill and forked tail of Forster’s terns, but still have the elegance of ferns.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? If so, include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
If you’re looking for something artistic to do this month, consider participating in Inktober. Create a pen-and-ink drawing every day for a month based on prompts. Fun and challenging!
This brand new Landscape of Dreams mural shows special sights you might see near Bend, Oregon. The mural is located in southeast Bend at the Bend Upstyle store.
The dream-like mural includes a landscape of volcanic peaks surrounded by towering trees and colorful wildflowers. A bighorn sheep ram gazes into the distance. Meanwhile, a longhorn bull, with a quail perched on one horn, looks directly at you. What’s the quail whispering to the bull as they drift through the landscape?
This rendering of Landscape of Dreams was created and painted by Kelly Odden of Kelly Thiel Studio. She was grateful for the assistance of her friend, Kristen Buwalda, for several hours.
Kelly, whose studio is in Bend, creates sculptures and paintings that include impressionistic portraits of animals and people. When I contacted her about the mural, she said the following:
“One of the best parts of working there was the folks who would stop by to chat, watch and ask questions! I had everybody from house painters to moms with sweet, disabled children come over to chat. It was wonderful to connect with others like that!”
We are lucky to have so many special artists sharing their work in and around Bend!
Here are three photos of a milkweed seedpod up close. As you may know, milkweed flowers are a favorite of monarch butterflies. North American populations of this butterfly have been rapidly declining.
I got a packet of seeds for free from Deschutes Land Trust, one of our local conservation nonprofits. To find milkweed seeds near you, use the Milkweed Seed Finder courtesy of the Xerces Society.
We planted milkweed starts in our garden this year, but they fried during a week of unusually hot weather. 🙁
My friend, Suzy, planted hers last year and had greater success. This seedpod she gave me measures 4 inches in length. A couple of days ago it split along a seam. Each seed is attached to a little wispy fluff known as coma.
Does this milkweed seedpod remind anyone else out there of the pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
I’m always on the lookout for beavers when walking the river trails in the Old Mill District of Bend. I listen for the sound of a tail slapping the water and search for the silhouette of a rounded head breaking the water’s surface. Why look for beavers next to a shopping area? Because these industrious creatures found an ideal spot to build a lodge there. I’ve always wanted to know more about beavers, so I visited the Museum’s Dam It! Beavers and Us exhibition.
This multimedia interactive exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to learn all about the North American beaver, Castor canadensis. Tall, cutout panels representing forest trees divide the room. Dappled light shines onto the imaginary forest floor. A re-creation of a beaver dam is tucked into a corner for kids to explore.
In another corner, a large box suspended from a parachute drifts towards the ground—more on that later. An Oregon flag, featuring a beaver, flutters against a wall near the entrance. Video featuring the important connection of beavers with Native Americans plays in another section. A colorful animation featuring the life cycle of beavers plays on a large screen on the back wall.
History of beavers
In the center of the room, displays of articulated skeletons, fossils, and beaver-chewed trees draw your attention. One skeleton shows a North American beaver, while the other shows a giant beaver, Castoroides. As its name implies, the giant beaver was much larger than present day beavers. The extinct giant beaver weighed 198 to 276 pounds, while modern beavers weigh 24 to 71 pounds. Dramatic changes in the landscape after the Ice Age may have led to this large mammal’s demise during the Pleistocene era.
In the more recent past, beavers have played an important part in Native American culture. The Blackfeet Nation considers beaver to be one of the three original animals. They played a key role in the distribution of water and land. Beavers also taught people how to be moral. Though many tribes traded skins with settlers, Blackfeet chose not to because of beaver’s cultural importance. They celebrated beavers in a ceremony called the “Beaver Bundle”, an event passed down through generations.
In the late 1800s, things changed for North American beavers when European demand for their skins skyrocketed. They used beaver skins in creating hats and other products. The mercurous nitrate used in curing felt for hats led to the term “mad as a hatter” because of the chemical’s toxic side effects.
Because of high demand, beavers were overtrapped and prime habitat was destroyed. Beaver populations plummeted. One of the contributing factors was the Hudson Bay Company’s (HBC) decision to destroy beaver populations “as fast as possible” to discourage westward migration from American competitors. In the period from 1823 to 1841, HBC intended to make the Snake River territory a “fur desert.”
Changing perceptions of beavers
By the end of the 19th century, perceptions of beavers changed and conservation efforts began. In the 1920s, they moved beavers to areas where they lived in the past. Scientists recognized the value of the beaver in wetland habitat management.
We know beavers as one of nature’s engineers. The ponds and channels they create support diverse flora and fauna. As the effects of climate change increase, these sites serve as important refuges from wildfire, and they also help reduce flooding.
The exhibit highlights the stream channels beavers help create around rivers in two large-scale images. One features an enhanced image taken near Sunriver. The many abandoned braided channels around the Little Deschutes River stand out in this picture.
The other picture, of the Willamette River, uses LiDAR imagery to show the stream channels that existed over the last 12,000 years.
This exhibition features several examples of current work involving beavers. In 2016, in Birch Creek, Idaho, five beavers released near the creek enhanced the habitat. Rare Bonneville cutthroat trout populations increased after the introduction. The Tulalip Tribes, in Washington State, relocated beaver to streams on treaty lands as part of their watershed management program. Other tribes plan to follow their lead. In Oregon, biologists created Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) on East Fork Beech Creek and Bridge Creek. These artificial dams established habitat for beavers and fish populations have rebounded.
Back to the box suspended from a parachute mentioned earlier in this article. Why is this box featured in the exhibit? In the 1940s, wildlife agencies dropped beavers from planes in crates designed to open on impact. This method helped re-establish beaver populations in remote areas.
There is one more item of interest to mention in this exhibit. Did you notice the bottles of alcohol in the display case on the left side of the photo above? Those bottles contain Eau de Musc whiskey. Tamworth Distilling flavors this whiskey with castoreum, an oily substance from castor sacs located under a beaver’s tail. The distillery notes its “bright and fruit qualities (raspberry) and rich leathery notes along with creamy vanilla aroma.” Would you care to make a toast to beavers with a glass of this? I’ll leave that decision up to you, but we should celebrate this engaging exhibit for teaching us more about our remarkable state animal.
This exhibit is on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon through October 3, 2021.
I thought this windmill at Fort Rock would make a good candidate for showing three ways to process a photograph. I used the photographic effects in Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. This picture was taken at the Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in Central Oregon.
Prior to trying other effects, I decreased the brightness by 4 and increased the contrast by 10.
The first two show the original and a platinum processed image. This processing was popular from 1873 to 1920 but was discontinued due to the high costs of platinum. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Time Machine>Platinum. I tried black and white processing but liked the slightly warmer tones of this effect.
The second two show the original and a cross process image. This process resulted from mismatching the film and development chemicals on purpose. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Time Machine>Cross Process. This effect oversaturates the colors and they really pop.
The last two show the windmill at Fort Rock original image and the same picture with a glowing edges effect. For this image I went to Effects>Artistic Effects>Glowing Edges. This is a more artsy effect. I bet it would look good under black light! 😉