Thursday, March 22, 2012

The March Landscape

We took a short trip across the Santiam mountain pass to central Oregon earlier this week so that we could play in the snow, enjoy some sunshine, and also the high desert around Bend and the community of Sunriver. Again....another change of scenery! I especially love the early Spring colors that show up in the grasses and shrubs, and the shapes of the snow patches that dot the meadows.

We had a quick trip over the Cascade mountains which divide Oregon's lush Willamette Valley from the high desert of Eastern Oregon. Charred trees from a previous forest fire gave a ghostly look to one section of the pass....

Once settled in, activities over the next two days included: skiing under whiteout, blizzard conditions ( husband Fred), walking with my camera and sketchpad on the many trails around Sunriver (me), and cross-country skiing (our friends) Dining and wine-tasting were also on the agenda!

You can almost feel the icy wind whipping across this flooded meadow! Temperatures on this day were in the 20's and snow was on the way.

I love the texture of the wind and rainwhipped grass that will soon again be weighted down with snow.

After digging our car out the next day....!

Where's the road?
Going back over the pass on our way home took a bit longer than our earlier trip. We heard later that the pass had closed due to a landslide!

Back home again....we arrived just in time to welcome a few snowflakes that seemed to follow us over the pass!  By morning of the next day ( March 22nd)we were looking at a very pretty 'Winter scene'....but not what I wanted to see!  Daffodils had started to open and my garden was beckoning for me to come rejuvinate it for Springtime visitors. Now it all lay under a blanket of very wet, heavy snow! Lucca loved it though!!

Every twig and branch and even every wire in the vineyard was covered!

I guess we'll have to wait a few more days for 'Spring' to arrive in this fickle month of March!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A change of scenery

We just got back from a week's stay in Tucson....soaking up the sun along with enjoying the company of college friends. It was a wonderful change of scenery from Portland, especially since we left with snow on the ground and some nasty cold weather.

One of our adventures down there was a three hour hike in Sabino Canyon along the Esperero trail. With temperatures in the low 80's, it was the perfect time of year to go....although even then, I was feeling the heat! (and the extremely dry air) I managed to do a sketch while sitting on a very hard rock in a very small patch of shade. I added the watercolors later.

I love the beautiful natural arrangements of rocks, grasses, and old twisted trees that often line the dry washes where the trail seemed to cross again and again.

Do you think the Mt. Lions know where the boundry to the 'wilderness area' is?

The typical plants found in residential landscapes are also very different than what you would find up in Oregon, and I was glad to see that turf grasses were
not used except on the golf courses! This grouping was in the garden of our hosts.

Along with this lovely sculptural agave....

Walls are also a prime feature in many gardens and serve the practical purpose of keeping the snakes out! Often the side of an adjoining home is left windowless, creating a higher wall, a bit of shade,  and more privacy for the garden next door.

Beautiful Mesquite trees are often featured.

Fountains can often take the form of the native plantings, as with this ceramic cacti discovered in the art packed town of Tubac, near the Mexican border.

With strong sun, light surfaces, and adobe or stucco walls, shadows play a big part in the compostion of the landscape. This was taken from inside the mission church of San Xavier, looking out to a simple courtyard through a side door.

On our last evening in Tucson we were greeted with a full moon.....