Saturday, May 22, 2010


Year after year, bitterroots and nodding onions greet me like old friends; their faces shine amid the volcanic rocks and patches of green grass.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bike to Work

My colleague from the IEL invited me to participate in "Bike to Work Week." I have to admit that I hesitated, but finally agreed. Normally, I drive to work in about 20 minutes; however, I rode my bike to work in about 55 minutes. We only biked two days this week, but I have to say that I feel just a little proud of myself.


Ever since my wedding day more than fifteen years ago, my home has been something of a halfway house for homeless relatives and stray animals. Most recently, my father-in-law has given us the latest addition to our home. His dog Bandit will stay with us for the next three months while he serves an LDS mission in Wyoming.

I was nervous to take him on a first run, but things worked out well. Of course, Bandit is not used to my routine, but he did better than expected.


My day allowed me a few moments between one meeting and the next to appreciate the colors of the neighborhood near my workplace; bright orange poppies, yellow tree flowers, and a deep blue sky. It was nothing profound, just a small reprieve from the monotony of my normal routine.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


We celebrated Dakota's 15th birthday this afternoon with a small family dinner. It's hard to believe that 15 years have already passed since Dakota came into the world. Happy birthday, son!

Lilac Parade

Once again, my uncle called me to help represent the Spokane Tribe during the Lilac Parade. A handful of tribal members dressed in regalia and marched along the parade route. To be honest, I was moved by the reaction of the people. Many stood and cheered as we passed, while others seemed almost emotional and even teary-eyed.

I'm not sure how to think about that.

My family waited along the parade route. As I approached, my children ran into the street and cheered. What a fun experience!

A few of us gathered before the parade.

My uncle Pat rode in the back of a truck while he sang traditional Spokane songs on the drum.


My kids spent Saturday afternoon at Riverfront Park, just before the Lilac Parade. They rode the rides and spent some fun time with friends. These are their pictures.

The Garden

The other day I quoted a popular song that describes my feelings of sadness as I observe the loss of natural areas. Sometimes I do feel discouraged, but then I visit the meadows and trees and feel a sense of renewal. Just the other day, I found all kinds of flowering plants, some edible or medicinal, growing within view of my uncle's house.

The earth truly is a garden.

St. George's

On Saturday, I attended another meeting in the Davenport House at St. George's School. I had the opportunity to visit with friends and take another hike above the Little Spokane River. I was surprised to find quite a large network of trails above the school.

The door of an old building on St. George's campus.

A few of us were discussing native plants when we happened upon a fairly large patch of death camas. This deadly little plant typically grows in marshes and meadows, but in this instance, we found it thriving on a dry, rocky peak.


Last Friday, I attended a meeting in Gifford, Washington. People familiar with Gifford will appreciate the unusual nature of holding meetings of any kind in such an obscure location. The town overlooks the Columbia River/Lake Roosevelt and includes little more than a single post office. A nearby ferry transports passengers to Inchelium on the Colville Indian Reservation.

After the meeting, I had the opportunity to climb the hillside overlooking the Columbia. What an amazing sight! The river brought back memories of crossing the ferry with my dad to visit our relatives amongst the Colville.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.
~Counting Crows

The other day, I drove through Riverside, Washington and noticed a string of beautiful blue flowers growing in ditches and lining a chain-link fence near a trailer park. On closer examination, I realized the flowers belonged to the brown camas plant. Of course, the camas root holds a central role in the customs and traditions of the local tribes, and yet no one seemed to recognize its value before bulldozing the entire field.

Then just today, I found myself hiking in the wooded area behind Whitworth University and discovered a small patch of sage behind the water tower. It felt like a happy discovery, though I couldn't help but think how rarely anyone seems to notice the small wonders of nature. The landscape surrounding Whitworth supports a remarkable variety of sacred and medicinal plants, but as the university expands, native vegetation surrenders to concrete and monotonous, water-needy fields of grass.

This model is totally unnecessary. We can learn to protect sensitive areas and to cultivate more native plants in our homes and public spaces. The human race has built up a multitude of faith traditions based upon a longing for paradise, and yet we fail to recognize the Garden of Eden all around us.

Arrowleaf balsamroot.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jon Young

Twin Eagles Wilderness School hosted Jon Young for a weekend retreat to explore the connection between cultural mentoring, ancestral traditions, and community building. Throughout the weekend, participants shared meaningful experiences and personal healing. We had gathered for a series of lectures, but somewhere beneath the surface, our spiritual connections of both the earth and other people began to grow.

Some magical connections formed around the campfire.

Campfire sparks escape to the night sky.

Spontaneous music punctuated every session.

Friday, May 07, 2010


Surreal, (sə-rē'əl), adj. Having an oddly dreamlike quality.

At the end of the day, I walk outdoors and pause beneath a tree. Work-related anxiety still clutters my mind, but the sudden beauty of living creates an odd stillness within me. Tree branches tangle upward, like black ink strewn against a cool-blue canvas. Something about that moment feels like a dream, both wonderful and surreal.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


Ever since my surgery last Monday, I have not felt like the same person. For the first couple days, I just slept and hardly even opened my eyes to look around at the world. The nausea affected me more than the doctor predicted, and by the third day, a secondary virus settled into my throat. Overall, I've been in a pretty sorry state.

Sometimes recovery inches along at its own miserable pace.

But today I woke up feeling somewhat happy and clear. I survived the previous twenty four hours without any pain meds and my appetite reached a near-normal level. By early afternoon I told the kids, "We've been cooped up in this house for almost a week. Let's go for a hike." They all agreed, so we ventured off to our customary hiking grounds by the Little Spokane River.

We must have really needed some time outdoors, because no sooner did we reach the usual trail when my children began to make faces like Christmas morning, with wide eyes and all the accompanying oohs and aahs. Whitney voiced our common feeling at least a dozen times, "It's so beautiful!"

And indeed it was.

All the new leaves and blades of grass pressed through the gloom of last year's foliage, painting the world in brilliant shades of green. Meanwhile, the sky seemed to divide itself into halves. A massive purple thunder cloud hovered just to the north, while the sun dominated the southern sky. The contrast of light and dark increased the presence of vitality and beauty.

The opening photograph captures a fleeting moment of perception from our hike. It reflects the color and light of the upper world, while still revealing a shadow of the lower world. A single branch reaches upward from the water, reflecting my feelings of recovery. Like the branch, I'm rising above the murkiness of my recent experience and returning to a place of joy and strength.

We got some wonderful photographs of my children. In this picture, Dakota stands near a pond. A small stream feeds the temporary pool before it continues toward the Little Spokane River.

A dark thundercloud looms behind Whitney.

McKenna surrounded by water and green grass.

The girls by the Little Spokane River.

The sun reflected through water and trees.

By the pond's edge.


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