It’s the New Year So It Must Be Spring

'Dawn' Viburnum blossoms

We sometimes joke that spring begins on New Year’s Day here in our corner of the Pacific Northwest. Given how mild December 2023 was, there’s a bit of truth to it even though the calendar says winter has just begun. Winter gardens are quiet, but if you look around you’ll find things in bloom.

These blossoms of ‘Dawn’ viburnum, Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, are lightly fragrant. They’re on a substantial shrub we planted along the path between our house and my photo studio about eight years ago from a rooted hardwood cutting. On calm days during the winter I enjoy their fragrance on my way to and from my office.

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Plan B

Snow-covered Mountain Hemlock boughs
Snow-covered Mountain Hemlock boughs

Sunday promised to be a nice day in the mountains following a long period of heavy rain in the lowlands and lots of snow at higher elevations. Brian and I hadn’t been out on snowshoes yet this winter so we figured it was a great day to hike up to Artist Point and enjoy the grand views of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. However, we ended up executing Plan B when we got to the Mt. Baker Ski Area and found there was no place to park. Cars were jammed along the road all the way around Picture Lake and the ski area lots were full. Continue reading

Waterfront Snow

Whatcom Museum (Old City Hall), winter
Whatcom Museum (Old City Hall), winter

A week ago we Bellinghamsters were freezing our patooties off in 15° weather and braving several inches of snow to get around. It seemed like a great time to head out and get a few winter images, so I bundled up, put my truck in 4-wheel drive, and headed to town. I spent the first part of the morning at Whatcom Falls Park and then traveled down the creek to the waterfront.

Whatcom Museum, Bellingham’s old city hall, is an oft-photographed landmark. I like this waterfront view from Maritime Heritage Park. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Snow-crusted Mountain Hemlocks overlooking Swift Creek valley
View from Artist Ridge to the Swift Creek valley and Baker Lake

I’ve long felt that what I choose to do on New Year’s Day will set the tone for the year to come.

This year Brian and I checked the weather forecast the decided it would be a great day for a snowshoe hike up to Artist Point. I’ve been going up there every winter since 1990-1991 and I never get tired of it. As Brian reminded me yesterday while we were hiking, it’s different every time. Continue reading

Frost Flowers

Frost blooms. Like a flower. Sort of.

1300045 Frost flowers (hair ice). Lake Padden Park, Bellingham, WA. © Mark Turner

I’d never heard the term “frost flowers” until one of my editors and customers requested photographs of the phenomenon late last year. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the freeze-thaw cycle, or at the beginning of winter in places that don’t cycle through warm and cold periods. Continue reading

Lost Lake Details

Last Sunday we Bellinghamsters enjoyed one of several fantastic sunny and relatively warm February days. It was time for another calf-burning loop hike in the Chuckanuts. It had only been a month since I’d been to Lost Lake but I decided to make a return visit. I started hiking from the North Chuckanut trailhead around 9 am, giving myself plenty of time to explore at the lake. This time I hiked the loop clockwise, visiting Lost Lake first and returning via the Chinscraper and Chuckanut Ridge trails. See the Chuckanut trails map, and carry it with you if you go. Continue reading