Noticing Spring

Budding Red Plum

Our Oregon countryside acreage is a breathtaking place from which to observe changing seasons. If I'm privileged to live a good long life, I'll have maybe 85 or 90 spring seasons to experience which, in my sense of time, is not that many. And with 51 of them now gone, I'm motivated to pay really close attention to each gift of  a northwest spring.

Last summer, during the dog days, you stopped by my garden for a stroll and a glass or two of wine. Thanks for dropping by again to notice the extravaganza of spring here at our special place.

Burgundian Countryside

Out Our Southern Willamette Valley Back Door
 If these photos don't make you want to save thousands on your next vacation by coming to Oregon instead of France, I don't know what will! While here, you may confuse yourself with being in the Burgundian countryside, but it's all Oregon.

Before we get started on our pastoral walk-about, let me me tell you a little about today's refreshment. The air is still a little too nippy to really enjoy a chilled white in the out-of-doors, but a little too warm for a big, heavy red. So, I have an idea...

While you may confuse this wine with a Burgundy from France, it, too, is all Oregon. Sarver Winery 2008 Pinot Noir has stolen my heart. First I must admit my absolute adoration for the Pinot Noir grape. Pinot Noir, for me, evokes the best of all that is feminine. From goddesses to tom boys, you can find it in Pinot Noir. Elegant and refined; sassy and sexy; earthy and unpretentious; those contrasts can all be detected in Pinot Noir, and if you're lucky, sometimes you find it all in one glass. That is the case here. Let's fill up your glass, and we'll talk more about the wine a little later.

This year, spring seems to be teaching me lessons about contrasts. I'm curiously attuned to the distinctions between hydration and saplessness; vigor and dormancy; sun and rain (here in springtime Oregon often one hour will entertain several shifts between them both.)

 Budding Yellow Plum
The first thing I'll point out is some of the blooming fruit trees. Here are the yellow plum buds up close...

... and here is the same plum tree in it's entirety, in full white bloom. It makes me a little excited about making some great things this summer, like sherbetty plum ice cream...

Plum Upside-Down Cake
... or this fantastic plum upside-down cake. Remind me again in the summer, and I'll share the recipe with you.
We had a woodpecker friend who insisted for a while on drilling his holes in our house siding. I was relieved when he discovered the perch of this leaning shovel handle this winter, and went about his woodworking on our old apple tree instead of our home. His handiwork adds a little more character to this already beautiful tree.

In the vegetable garden, the only thing happening is the gnarly remnants of last year's kale (above) and Swiss chard (below.) We've had several nice meals throughout the winter from these hardy growers.

It wouldn't be spring, of course, without emerging pops of encouraging color. The monotony of winter drab is certainly broken with these hopeful flowers.

This tree hasn't yet let go of its crisp brown leaves from last autumn, but still plays host to a ring of sunny daffodils. See what I mean about contrasts?

I love this billow of daffodils, and especially how they seem so contrary to the bare structure of the trees behind.
The sweet scent of the white hyacinths under the guest room window delivers a fine welcome all the way to the front door. Soon, they'll be surrounded by a flounce of bleeding hearts.

Candy-Striped Camelia

Big Old Cedar
Oregon definitely felt the roaring lion of March this year. A brief though intense storm blew through on March 13, bringing down nearly half of our 40-foot cedar. This photo doesn't show the scale of this loss, and we are grateful that it didn't come down on our roof. Some of our friends weren't so lucky with this storm. It was a good reminder of the power of nature.

So when life gives you trunks, you make trivets. And coasters. Can you smell the sappy cedar? What an amazing scent.

Our grass is utterly juicy. Chlorophyll production is in full throttle,

as is also evident via our weed production.

The primeval-looking pear tree is just beginning to bud out, while the hedgerow behind is adorned in layers and layers of lacy petals.

The grand-daddy black walnut is also slow to wake up.

Do you notice how quickly the light changes this time of year? One second it looks like this,

and in the next second it shifts to this,
and as things fall into shadow, the air remembers winter and becomes cold again. Let's warm up inside where we can refill our glasses, have a nosh, and sit by the fire, shall we?

Can you smell the berries and spice on the nose, and taste the juicy bright cherries, dried pink rose petals, and loamy "funk" in our Pinot Noir? Can you believe that the Sarver's sell this for only $20? I think it's one of the best Pinot Noir values in all of Oregon. And, if I may say, not terribly unlike some good French Burgundy's I've had.

 The wine tastes so delicious with a platter of Franco-Oregonian flavors. (Or is it that the flavors taste so good with the wine?) Truffle pate; Oregon's world renowned Rogue River Blue cheese, which is wrapped in pear brandy-soaked grape leaves (ooh la la); freshly toasted hazelnuts from last autumn's farmers market; Dijon mustard; tarragon-y French cornichons; homemade blackberry preserves; a bit of brie and some dried cherries and figs. I'm in heaven. Or is it Oregon? Or France?
Before we sit in front of the fire, maybe you'd like to see My Baby's orchid in full bloom in the shaded west window. The window that is shaded by our half-there cedar tree.

Thanks for stopping by to enjoy this bit of spring with me. As always, I've really enjoyed your company!


  1. These pictures of your home make me want to put on jeans and easy to walk in tennis shoes and just stroll with a glass of wine. How lovely!

    My favorite part of this post however, was the way you talk about age:

    If I'm privileged to live a good long life, I'll have maybe 85 or 90 spring seasons to experience which, in my sense of time, is not that many. And with 51 of them now gone.

    What a wonderful sense of self restraint you used for a beautiful picture of full enjoyment. Thank you for sharing. Would you mind also sharing that Plum Upside Down Cake too? I'd be much obliged.

  2. What a lovely tour of Spring in your area :-) Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Happy Spring!

  3. What an incredible tour, Pam. I took photos and started writing a blog about our yard to post next week. Unfortunately, I'll never be the wordsmith you are! Hopefully, we can find the Sarver here in Indy since Pinot Noir is our very favorite.

  4. Hi Pam - this is a delightful post!
    Love the daffodil photo. And I just planted 5 camellias, but now I need to get another, Candy Stripe, oh I love it.
    I was in my yard with my camera today too.

  5. Such a nice collection of photos. When it comes time for spring, it really is a wonderful period. I have the strange experience of skiing yesterday and enjoying the spring flowers and first warm breezes of the season all on the same day.

  6. Don't worry we are going to be there soon enough! And to think we will have been able to hit France AND Oregon in the same year. Can't wait to hit some of that Oregon Pinot in Sepetember!


  7. fall is my favorite season but then spring comes around.
    thanks for sharing your spring!

  8. Just found this blog thanks to my dad, Doug (you know him?), and WOW. I am trying really hard not to lick the cheese plate and plum cake on the monitor right now... And to think I studied a year abroad in France and will now be paying student loans until the day I die, while all along the southern Willamette Valley was right under my nose.
    I bet you can't get a decent pain au chocolat, though.

  9. What an amazing stroll I just had with you. Thank you for taking me around your yard and showing me so many beautiful things. I adore Oregon, especially the Columbia River Gorge. I could spend a long, long time exploring there.

  10. I just bumped into your blog and I really liked it.
    I would like to follow your blog if you like mine plz follow it :)


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