The scent of spring

by Beth Shepherd
( January 20th, 2015 )

What was that heady scent, I wondered, as I stepped out onto our back deck? And then I remembered: the Sarcococca confusa (also known as Sweetbox) I replanted at the base of our stairs. A gardener friend had encouraged me to plant it in a spot we’d walk by on a regular basis. She promised that just when I’d had enough of winter, I’d find my Sarcococca in bloom, and its intoxicating fragrance would whisper, “Spring is in the air.”

Sarcococca, the fist sign of spring

Most of the year, the Sarcococoa is not a noteworthy plant, except that it thrives in locations where other plants wither, namely shade. It is frequently overlooked which is many a garden’s loss, because how many plants are shade-loving, winter blooming and fragrant? I’m so glad I moved it. For the next few months, whenever I’m feeling those Seattle rainy day blues, all I have to do is open my back door and inhale! Spring is on its way.

Sarcococca confusa

Sweetly breathing , vernal air,
That with kind warmth doth repair
Winter’s ruins; from whose breast
All the gums and spice of the East
Borrow their perfumes; whose eye
Gilds the morn, and clears the sky.
  Thomas Carew,  1595 – 1645

 Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Three iconic Seattle sites by twilight

by Beth Shepherd
( January 14th, 2015 )

Seattle at night

When I think of Seattle—my city by the Sound—surrounded by mountains and water, three images always spring to mind: Mt. Rainer, The Space Needle, and ferries. This trifecta is always iconic and, by twilight, spectacular.

Mt Rainer at duskMt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier, with a summit elevation of 14, 410 feet is the highest mountain in both the state of Washington and the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest. An active volcano, Mt. Rainier is also the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States.


Space Needle at nightThe Space Needle

Built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle defines the north end of Seattle’s skyline. At 605 feet, it was once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River.

Ferry at nightFerry lights

The Washington State ferry system is the fourth largest ferry system in the world. 22 auto-passenger ferries crisscross Puget Sound taking travelers to islands near and far.

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Oh the places we’ll go: A decade ago I boarded a ferry

by Beth Shepherd
( January 9th, 2015 )

A decade ago, I boarded a ferry. On a cold day in January, I headed to Bainbridge Island…with a man I’d never met before.

Seattle ferry

We went on a first date that nearly wasn’t. “Why waste a perfectly good Sunday afternoon on a date that won’t go anywhere?” is what Big Papa thought some ten years ago. But in fact, we did go somewhere.

On that snowy Sunday, we took a ferry to Bainbridge. We drove to the Bainbridge Island Winery for a wine tasting. Afterwards we headed to Fay Bainbridge State Park, and froze our booties sitting on a picnic bench at the park. Then, back in Seattle, we went to Coastal Kitchen for dinner. As first dates go, ours was a trip.


We’ve been going places ever since. Some of our destinations have been actual locations: Beijing, Tibet, Armenia, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Baja, Hawaii, and Colorado. And, just as frequently, we’ve traveled to places—metaphorically—that aren’t a place at all. Adoptive parenthood for one which, as most of my readers know, was the literal and figurative mother of all journeys. We’ve traversed family illnesses and passages, transformations of our home and garden, our lives.

In the grand scheme of things, ten years isn’t that long. But when I look back on our many adventures (and misadventures), it’s hard to believe a mere decade could hold them all. These days, while we might not be traveling to distant exotic locales—at least as much as this travel blogger would like to—more often than not we still seem to find ourselves on the road less traveled.

ferry ticket

Happy ten year anniversary, Big Papa!

Oh the places we’ve been—and the places we’ll go.

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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