0645/8th June 2023

It may have seemed that my decision to return from the West Coast in 2018 was sudden and impetuous.

At first, when I moved there in 2000, I loved it. The mountains and the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, a more laid-back life style all made me very happy.


Moving three times in eight years, each time fleeing urban sprawl, I finally purchased a strange little property that was a green oasis for the birds and wildlife I loved.


Every available space was being turned into condos. I had bought one myself in 2002 and enjoyed it until the park-like surrounds overnight turned into other blocks of condos, all the same boring boxy structures.

With their dictatorial condo-boards.

The idea of living in a community where your needs are attended to seemed a good idea, but I never did get on with rules and regulations. Or fees that had a habit of escalating out of proportion.


It wasn’t long after my dad died in 2005 that I began to have debilitating problems with my spine which led to devastating surgery in 2007, followed by early retirement.

Clearly I was not going to be able to get as involved in animal causes as I had hoped, so I re-evaluated. I could still care for foster cats, but this required a bigger, un-regulated space.

“I know! I’ll move!”

What you should not undertake after a spinal fusion.


Fostering was why I acquired a three-level house on a very steep slope. A headache of a property.

But it was mine. No condo board.

Local law limited the number of pets I could keep. I think it allowed 3.



A sane person might have taken more time over all the changes I made during those months but I have never been able to function that way.

When I focus on a target, I have to reach it will all possible speed.

Whatever problems arise are overcome in whatever way is necessary.


Operating this way, I admit, has undoubtedly been costly in various ways, but I have never regretted any of the major decisions I took.

This is the hill down which Willow came one morning to mend my heart after Panther’s death.


It got to the point though, where merely going to the supermarket was an expedition.

When I was first in Seattle, I lived off this road, making a left turn easily.

Traffic was part of my decision to leave.


The weather was changing, bringing hot, dry summers and snowy winters.

Snow out there, where people were unused to it and where the terrain included many steep hills, could be a problem.

In the summer of 2016-2017 for the first time we experienced wildfire smoke.


For a long time I had been uneasy about the proximity of Mt Rainier. In my mind I pictured: earthquake, tsunami, over-populous area with insufficient escape routes…

Following the spine surgery, I had wandered off into a two-day morphine-induced nightmare in which volcanoes were a big feature. Maybe that was the basis for my unease.


Wildfire smoke is not something I ever really expected to see where I now live, but I can’t say I am all that surprised either.

Nor do I feel I can complain, given how very much worse it is for so many others.


Is it too much to hope that climate deniers might witness this and re-consider?

After a very bad start this morning, light rain fell. It seemed to clear the air more effectively than the loud thunderstorm of two days ago.


Having gasped and wheezed at the sight of the above, I was quite excited by fresh air!

It prompted me to don my boots and contemplate a flower bed, sadly in need of sorting out.

For once I actually put gloves on and waved a garden fork around.

“Are you a weed or a flower?”


It’s all I can do to keep the milkweed under control. I think it grows a foot every day and for each plant we had last year, we now have a dozen.

Like everything else, it’s different this year, flower buds appearing when the plants were only a foot high.


Grant left the deer grass as a shield for the bed.

But the storm flattened it. So abandoning pointless weeding, I hacked it down.

By then the man was home from the store and told me I should go back inside.

Which, I happily allowed, was sound advice.


In the meantime, as I’ve been writing, our view has improved immeasurably.

It is indeed a welcome sight.


As I have said often enough, I do not ever take things for granted and I think we are not yet done with smoke.

From what I read, it is likely to be an annual feature for the foreseeable future.


It is not a comforting thought, but I believe we can learn something from many sorts of adversity.

Certainly not all. I have no right to make that sweeping statement.


But to be deprived of a particular pleasure surely makes it that much sweeter.

4 thoughts on “Sweeter

  1. This is a very good quality – that perseverance to achieve what you set your mind to! Costly? Maybe, but from our experience, always worth it. I’m so glad the rain brought relief … in your last photos everything looks nice and clear again!

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