Park Happenings: Riding the seasonal cycle

<I>JON SCHMIDT photo</I><BR>These thistles and their hanging seeds remind us of where we are in the big cycle of things.

As I was walking the path up to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center this morning I couldn't help but to recall the article I wrote in late February when I was so refreshed by the arrival of spring. At that time, I noted the presence of the salmonberry blossoms starting to show. In the last six months I have seen those tiny blossoms turn into pink flowers and then into yellow berries. This morning I noticed the yellowing of the salmonberry leaves and how they are starting to drop. The sword ferns are covered with the dust of their own spores and covered in a dry web of old manroot vines. The grasses are heavy with their heads full of seeds. The thistles' purple blooms have almost all dried and on breezy days the wind carries their seeds out across the cape. The cycle continues and these bookmarks in time we call seasons are an appropriate time to consider the paths we've crossed and those around the bend.

This spring, we enjoyed the help from the Whale Watching Spoken Here Volunteers who kept their eyes peeled looking for any signs of the migrating whales. I remember one afternoon seeing a grey whale right at the base of the cliff below the interpretive center; of course, this spotting was within an hour after the volunteers had left for the day. I remember the surprise of hearing about the stranded barge stuck in the tiny cove at the base of the North Head Lighthouse. My "Graveyard of the Pacific" campfire program was made all the more relevant through this event; fortunately at no great loss.

The "Arts in the Park" programs really enriched my summer and I think that we'd like to do more cultural performances in the future. The theater at Fort Columbia proved to be a valuable venue for the Fisher Poetry performance, the contra-dance with Hands 4, and the Dragon Arts Chinese puppet show. Other special guest programs this season included Moe Bowstern's shadow puppet play of the salmon life cycle and Phil and Vivian Williams who performed Lewis and Clark-era fiddle music at the Waikiki Beach Amphitheater. This last weekend, Bob Pyle, author of "Wintergreen" and many other naturalist books, gave an inspiring campfire program titled, "Butterflies and Bigfoot." The entire campfire program season was sprinkled with special guests this year. We were blessed with bird rehabilitators and oceanographers, charter boat captains and fish researchers.

One of the more memorable events this summer definitely was the dedication of the "Ocean in View" nickel. This event was so successful and memorable, I'm still proud of our community for being able to host it. Another source of pride for me is the new exhibits we produced with the help of the Chinook tribe. The ability to share the history and hopes of the Chinooks is a major accomplishment for the summer of 2005.

It's now September and the kids are back in school, our attendance at the LCIC has dropped significantly, and the rangers are catching their breath. This month has to be one of the more pleasant times to wander around Cape Disappointment and enjoy the sounds and smells of the dried leaves at your feet. Get out into your parks and enjoy these quiet and sunny days. This is the brownest part of the year here but the rain isn't far away and I can almost hear Lewis and Clark's moccasins spreading the stones on the beach of Baker Bay. The year is far from over, but we're well on our way!

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