Strolling out the old year, running into the new

Mother Nature smiles on western Washington as 2012 comes to a close and 2013 begins. 

New Year's Eve day, the sun peeks through the clouds, promising even better weather ahead. It's cold and crisp. And - after lots of rain - wonderfully dry. The girls and I stroll through the neighborhood. As the sun makes its way down toward the horizon, a gap between earth and clouds opens, allowing a gorgeously elongated sunset. The boardwalk of Juanita Beach Park seems to corral the sun's glow on the lake surface close to shore.

 I'm wishing I'd brought my camera, but my iPhone will have to do.

The girls pose, Maia's eyes betraying her age.
Later, Finn's nervous when the boom and crack of fireworks start just before midnight, but this year the chaos is brief. The girls are old pros, hardly noticing.

New Year's Day starts very cold and crisp - mid 20s and not a cloud in the sky. The sun rises, adding a brightness and freshness I haven't seen in awhile. After scraping some frost off my car windows, Finn and I head to Cougar Mountain to greet the new year with some trail miles.

This deep into winter, the sun - when it does shine here - stays low in the southern sky. Depending on the bend of the trail, I'm often blinded by the sun's rays and have to hold a hand in front of my eyes to keep from tripping.

Running into the sun on Cougar Mountain.

It's just me and Finn. I can stop for photos without slowing a companion. So I do. 

I urge Finn down a short trail spur to Doughty Falls for more photos. He happily complies.

Doughty Falls in the background.

It's still so cold, Finn's breath creates a fog.

I could stay in this spot taking photos for an hour it's so pretty, but I'm getting chilled. I need to keep moving to stay warm. Off we go - which makes Finn very happy. He always prefers running over posing.

At each trail junction, Finn stops and points toward the option that increases our distance from the car. I agree with him. This morning is just too perfect - dry, cold, sunny and blissfully quiet - to not take advantage of our desire and ability to keep moving, keep going, keep inhaling and experiencing.

Eventually we near the parking lot, having made a big loop of most of the mountain's trail system. I notice a living tree with a hollow space at its base, just off the trail. The sort of tree that makes me think Hobbits. Pulling my camera from my pack, I ask Finn to investigate the small cave, not sure if he will but thinking it could make a great photo. Finn's game. He goes in, leaving me looking at his butt. Cute as his tail nubbin is, it's not the photo I have in mind. Finn seems to understand. Going all the way through, he turns around on the other side and comes back through, pouncing on a piece of bark and stopping perfectly in the hollow.

Finn the Hobbit.
I stand and turn around, noticing we're in the midst of a tangle of thin three limbs, covered and weighted with moss, bending over each other in a matrix that forms what I call forest cathedrals. They're beautiful natural shelters that harbor small flitting birds and filter sunshine much like the stained glass window of an old English church. 

A natural cathedral of limbs along the trail.
Finn - still full of energy yet trying to be patient as I take photos - starts looking for sticks. Pulling on one, he discovers its one of the cathedral limbs bent all the way to the ground. The whole structure moves as he pulls, startling him. He quickly lets go and watches as the cathedral bounces until it settles. I can see the cogs turning in his head. He pulls again! This is better than playing tug-of-war with a rope toy! He's got the whole forest pulling back!

Finn challenges the forest to a game of tug-of-war.

Last bit to the parking lot, cars visible through the tree limbs.
Finn lets the forest win. We finish our morning on the trails by dropping down to a stream where Finn gets his toes wet and drinks one last bit of wild water before returning to the car.

Later, Maia gets a quick walk at home, and Meadow accompanies me to a nearby park to walk with friend Miki and her dogs Loki and Macey. Can't let this sunshine go to waste.

What a great way to start a new year!

And what a great year I'm anticipating. I'm taking a sabbatical from my emotionally draining work as a court-appointed guardian ad litem for children in custody disputes to focus on finishing the book I've been working on for years, Growing Up Boeing. I'm already having a blast with it.

Maia, Meadow, Finn and I start this new year with joy, good health, and arms/paws wide open to all that comes our way.  Bring it on, 2013!
Rebecca WallickComment