And So It Begins

Last sunset of twenty twenty-two
rotates into first sunrise of twenty-three
connecting yesteryear to a year that’s new
and what we were to what we’ll be.
I pull off the road to take this year’s
first photo and a man stops his car
to check if I need help and gives me
my first kind smile of the year.
I thank him and tell him I’m fine –
just taking in my first sunrise of a new time.
He laughs and says he understands
and watches with me as a swan lands
and we wish each other a good year.

And so it begins.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving

cozy time of year
tea kettle whistling
and kitties curled on the couch
leaves dancing on the winds in the woods
and rain pattering on the windows
warm fire in the woodstove
smell of apples
and a pie baking in the oven
full of gratitude
for rain and dancing leaves
for kitties and warmth and pie
for family and love
and you
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Autumn photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

A New Photo in Mother Earth News

Another of my photos is on the back page of Mother Earth News. (I think this is the sixth time?) My photo is the one with the barn and snow-covered Brussels sprouts – taken in Bow, Washington, last year. But I’m loving all the photos on that back page – check out that pika with a mouthful of greens! This issue of Mother Earth News should be arriving in stores in December.

September Morning

Perfect September morning.
A soft breeze
ruffles the changing leaves
– rubies and gold are just starting
to jewel the trees –
and there’s just
enough chill in the air
to make me tingly aware,
refreshed and waking
from the semi-hibernating
of a long, hot summer.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Photo of Lake Padden reflection by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Autumn Mist on Lake Padden

Swinging from Branches and Balancing on Logs and Playing Like a Little Kid Again

Scott and the sons and I headed up to Artist’s Point in the North Cascades for a family hike, but it was really smoky up there – so, after a little jaunt to the first pond, we headed back down. We made a quick stop at Heather Meadows for a walk along the nature trail there – it was smoky there, too – but I wanted to share the laughing little creek I’d found there on my adventure the week before.

Then, with Andrew directing us, we drove down to a turnoff and an unnamed, unmarked trail that Andrew had discovered through a friend a few years ago. It was so cool in there! Massive trees! We scrambled up on top of a fallen tree that stretched a couple hundred feet and walked the length of it. The sons and Scott went back to where we’d climbed aboard and got down that way, but I hopped off the end of the log and found myself surrounded by Devil’s Club and fallen trees and – although I knew the direction I needed to go, I couldn’t figure out how to get through the brush around me.

Xander hollered to me and waved his hand so I could see where he was and then, balancing along long logs and hopping over bushes, managed to get to me and helped show me the way back to the trail. Ohmygosh! It was so fun! I felt like my young self again, swinging from branches and balancing along logs, and playing.

But eventually I came to a log that seemed too big for me to climb over. Xander reached out to me from the top, and Andrew pushed me from the back, and at last I was back on the trail again.

I love adventuring with my family!
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Morning Companion at the Lake

in the quiet stillness of the morning
a lone duck grooms himself on a rock
near the shore of a lake as smooth
as obsidian
gold reflections of the forest swirl
around him as he plucks his feathers
and then leans over to drink
from the lake
and then throws his whole duck body
into the cool water for a morning bath
it is just him and me – me and the duck –
in companionable quiet, enjoying
the peace of the morning together
-Karen Molenaar Terrell


Below: Lone duck at Lake Padden, Bellingham, Washington. Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“You Might Roll Down the Mountain”

In the end, it was as simple as getting in my car, driving myself up to the mountains, and taking a hike. But it hadn’t seemed that simple before I did it.

A year ago I had a fall that knocked the confidence out of me. I was trying to step onto a two -foot high curb – thinking, in my head, that I was still an agile youngster rather than the sixty-something woman I actually am – and ended up landing on my knees and arms, bleeding and bruised. It was a shock to me. What the heck had just happened there?! After the fall, I began having doubts about my physical abilities.

I’d been planning to go on a hike up Table Mountain the next day. But Table Mountain is a steep little hike up the side of a cliff and, having fallen trying to step over a two-foot high curb the day before, I thought it prudent to cancel the Table Mountain hike and do a hike a little less harrowing with my family.

After the fall, I no longer had the confidence to go on mountain hikes by myself. I found myself in a mental retreat – starting to pull inside a shell. But in trying to keep myself “safe,” I was making myself unhappy. I was BORED! And I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity,  my competence and abilities – and regain my confidence – I needed to push myself and do stuff on my own. I needed to get out and do the stuff that brings me joy and challenges me. I needed to trust myself and trust in Love, too, to protect me.

And so when I found myself with an open day and a good weather forecast, I told my husband that I thought I might go on a hike up Table Mountain. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to join me because he had knee surgery this summer, but I told him I felt I needed to do this by myself, anyway.  He laughed and said, “Be careful. You might roll down the mountain.” I knew he was joking, but I also heard a little concern in his voice. I understood. It’s always worrying when our loved ones go off to have an adventure on their own, and we can’t be there if they need us. But, to his credit, my husband didn’t try to stop me – I think he knew I needed this.

When I woke up that morning, I still hadn’t decided for sure to go on the hike. But by the time I got dressed and got downstairs, I knew I was going. I packed a quick lunch for myself, threw the hiking essentials into my backpack, kissed my husband good bye, and hit the road for my big adventure.

I got up to the trailhead at Artist’s Point pretty early – I’d wanted to avoid the heat of the day. I was probably on the Table Mountain trail by 8:30.  I was the only one on the trail when I started out. It was quiet and peaceful up there. Butterflies danced in the wildflowers and a nice fir-scented breeze swirled around me. It felt good to have my shoes on an alpine trail again. I made my way up the side of Table Mountain, stopping now and then to take photos. About mid-way up the side of the mountain there was a step that was a little too big for my 5’3″ self – a step bigger even than that curb I tripped over a year ago. But I found a rock jutting out above the step and hoisted myself up. Take THAT too-high step!

Before long I was standing on the top of Table Mountain. I texted my husband a message to let him know I’d made it to the top, and I hadn’t rolled down the mountain. I hiked around up there for a little while, taking photos and eating trail mix, before I started back down again. I passed a young family coming up on my way down. I told them they would have the entire top of the mountain all to themselves – that it was really quiet up there – and we all wished each other a good day.

When I got back to my car, I realized I didn’t feel “done,” yet. I decided to drive down to the Heather Meadows parking lot and find a little trail to hike on there. I ended up on the short nature trail – passing views of Table Mountain and the valley down below, and a creek laughing past purple wildflowers. I stopped by the creek for a while, and just let the joy of it fill my soul. I pooled water from the creek into my hands and splashed my face and neck and then plucked some wild blueberries off the low-growing mountain blueberry bushes and popped them in my mouth. I was in heaven, my friends.

In the end, it was as simple as getting in the car, driving myself up to the mountains, and taking a hike, to find what I’d lost a year ago.

“…they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
-Isaiah 40:31