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Nisbet to lead wildflower walk on South Hill Bluff Tuesday

NATURE — Jack Nisbet, Spokane author, historian and naturalist, will lead a wildflower walk on the South Hill Bluff Trails on Tuesday evening. Some background:

Among Nisbet's books are "David Douglas: a Naturalist at Work" and "The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest."  Roughly eighty species of plants, trees and animals are named after Douglas, who first identified them in the early 1800s.

David Douglas died an untimely death in 1834, but trust me, it's a treat to do a nature hike with a Douglas expert like Nisbet.

  • Meet 6 p.m. at 37th and High Drive
  • Wear hiking shoes.
  • Bring water.
  • Free and open to the public, but donations to the Friends of the Bluffs welcome.

Buttercups defy winter to pave way for spring

NATURE — Less than two weeks after single-digit temperatures chilled the region, the cheery buttercups — bold, ground-hugging harbingers of spring — were blooming in profusion around the Dishman Hills Natural area, according to Jeff Lambert of the Dishman Hills Conservancy.

Look down, hikers, and count your lucky stars

WILDFLOWERS — Shooting stars are among the most delicate and fascinating wildflowers, sprouting about 5 inches tall at different elevations, in damp to not-so-damp wild areas, from early spring well into summer. 

They're also very difficult to photograph, although you wouldn't know it by this image snapped Thursday by Montana Outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Balsamroot starting to bloom on South Hill Bluff

NATURE — Reader Jim Kershner emailed a photo snapped Thursday of arrowleaf balsamroots blooming in brilliant yellow on the South Hill bluff trails — a bit earlier than usual, but, hey, we should have expected this given the smiles on golfers' faces all through March.

Kershner must have been running from a moose, evading a coyote or walking his rough-and-tumble dog, Jack — the photo was blurry — but those definitely were wildflowers.  

Take a hike on the miles of trails below High Drive and see for yourself.

Next to bloom:  Serviceberry.

Still and present in the moment

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap) 

The one thing I didn’t have was time. I had more to do than there would be productive hours in the day to allow. I had a thousand words to put onto paper, a house that needed tending to, emails to answer, errands to run and, on this particular week, an infant to care for. The baby is my grandchild. My first. And she has been spending several hours with me each day.

    It’s been a while since I was the sole entertainment of a four-month-old baby. I did it for years but my four babies are all grown now. I’d forgotten what tyrants the little creatures are, how they demand your full attention with no concern for your to-do lists and deadlines. But then I’d forgotten how beguiling the little creatures are, how they make you babble and kiss and coo, delighting you with a smile, bewitching you with the feel of velvety skin and hair, hypnotizing you with the way their fingers curl and wave, like ribbons in water, before wrapping around your hand as you hold them close and offer a bottle of mother’s milk.

    This day, this busy day, I woke up overwhelmed. I opened my eyes thinking about deadlines and emails and story ideas. But, of course, baby had other ideas. She would be held. She would be fed. She would be entertained. She would be comforted, cradled and soothed.

    By mid-day, the sun came out and called us outdoors. Why not? I wasn’t getting anything else done anyay.
We sat quietly on my patio, I still fidgeted a little, worrying over words and sentences, but perched on my knee, my hands wrapped around her the solid warmth of her, she sat as alert and watchful as a doe. Nothing escaped her. She lifted her head to track the progress of a plane across the sky, then turned to follow a swallow’s sweeping dive over the Lilacs. When the wind ruffled the roses climbing along the fence she kicked her legs and batted her hands. When the dogs chased one another across the lawn she laughed a short and unexpected chuckle. She startled and blinked when a Dragonfly landed on the Wisteria vine beside us.

    Watching her take in the world, instinctively still and present in the moment, I rubbed my cheek against her ear and, finally, finally, recognized the gift I’d been given.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Judge: Buy wife flowers, then dinner

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A spat over forgetting to wish his wife a happy birthday landed a South Florida man in jail on domestic violence charges.

When Judge Jay Hurley heard the circumstances that brought 47-year-old Joseph Bray to bond court Tuesday, he issued a unique ruling.

Hurley ordered Bray to buy a birthday card and flowers for his wife before taking her to dinner at Red Lobster and bowling afterward. Hurley ruled the couple should begin seeing a marriage counselor immediately.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports Hurley felt this was a "better resolution" since the incident was minor and Bray had no prior arrests. Bray's wife told the judge she's not afraid of her husband.

A police report indicates Bray pushed his wife during an argument but never hit her.

Book pegs Rainier tops in the world for wildflowers

NATURE — Mount Rainier National Park ranks as “possibly the most flowery place in the world,” according to a recently published book that picks the 50 best wildflower spots in the world.

The book, “Wildflower Wonders: The 50 Best Wildflower Sites in the World,” was written by Bob Gibbons and published in November and contains 200 color photos and short write-ups on each spot.

Gibbons, a photographer and tour guide, traveled five continents and more than 20 countries, including Ireland, Turkey, South Africa, Iran and Australia to get photos for his book.

The specific site featured in the book’s photo of Mount Rainier National Park shows lupine, paintbrush and other flowers on Mazama Ridge near Paradise.

The book features sites that offer relatively easy access, a long display and a varied palette of flowers. The cover photo shows a Greek hillside covered in a rainbow of wildflowers.

In the U.S., Gibbons visits Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California. In addition to Rainier, Olympic National Park is listed among the world's top 50 wildflower havens.

If you can visit only one site in North America, make it Mount Rainier, Gibbons advises his readers, calling the park a magical place. The author also suggests nearby Chinook Pass on state Route 410.

No compassionate sense

My young friend, Laura, writes about the funeral for her mom who died in 2007: "Something I wish I had known was that at a Catholic funeral mass there can't be a flower arrangement on top of the casket. There is a cross and a sheet (pall). So I paid $200 for a bunch of roses that sat in the back of the church."

This sad day was made more difficult when the mourners had to serve the ritual, instead of the ritual serving the family.

Charges filed in gravesite flower thefts

Felony charges have been filed against a Spokane man accused of stealing Memorial Day flowers from gravesites and selling them outside his home.

Robert P. Sullivan, 45, is due in court this month after prosecutors filed second-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property charges against him last week.

Sullivan is suspected of stealing at least 150 plants from the Holy Cross Cemetery, 7200 N.Wall, between June 4 and June 6. The flowers had been sold for $25 to families of the deceased in honor of Memorial Day.

A cemetery employee spotted a woman who lives with Sullivan, Deborah Decicio, selling the flowers outside their home at 2630 N. Stevens on June 7. Decicio has not been charged. Stevens reportedly admitted the theft to Officer Traci Douglas on June 8, according to an affidavit. A witness told police his daughter had seen someone loading potted plants into a green van at the cemetery; Sullivan owns a green van.

Past coverage:

June 9: Suspect identified in gravesite flower heists

June 8: Dozens of planters stolen from graves

One Yellow Bell

 photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap   

     Undressing, I slipped my hand into the pocket of my skirt and pulled out one single small flower. A forsythia bloom. A tiny yellow bell.

      I’d forgotten it was there.

      I have a habit of dropping things into my pocket, like an overgrown child, and often find odds and ends like buttons and stones and flowers there at the end of the day. Sometimes I hear something rattling in the washer or dryer, or discover the crumpled remains in a suitcase and remember too late.

       Today, one of those gray and chilly early March days that belie the coming spring, I was hurrying headlong from one meeting to another and I almost walked by the flowering shrub without noticing it. But the bright yellow blooms stood out against the gray of the building and the dry winter soil and caught my eye. I stopped.


Feeling a little bit too much love from the lobbyists…

Washington’s annual legislative session isn’t just a boon to restaurants and caterers. It’s also a source of great business for florists. Groups and lobbyists like to shower lawmakers with strategically timed big bouquets to grace their House and Senate desks.

But sometimes, apparently, it’s all a bit much. When the House returned from a dinner break a few minutes ago, Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Morris opened things by announcing that the bouquets would be rounded up and removed tonight.

“There’s been an allergy outbreak,” he said. “We’re going to have security come and collect the flowers and store them in your offices.”