Wherein My Return Trip Affords More Leisure, Flowers
After two jam-packed days of meetings and photo shoots in Spokane I definitely did not feel as harried heading home as I had on my way over. Yes, I was exhausted, but the pressure was finally off and that meant that I could choose to wander just a bit further off the path if I wanted and tarry just a bit longer if something interesting caught my eye. What a delicious luxury after several days in a row of push and scurry.
Everywhere I had driven around Spokane during those previous few days, I had noticed stunning, white-flowering shrubs growing wild in amongst the pines, at the edges of meadows and along rocky outcrops. They were impossible to miss, capturing both sunlight and breezes as they did while in such full, amazing bloom. But I hadn’t had spare time enough to actually find out what they were or to stop to photograph them. As usual, the demands of my corporate assignments were primary to me, until completed. Then, once the paying work was safely ‘in the can’, and before hitting the road for home in earnest, I allowed my curiosity to kick up a healthy notch and determined both to find out what precisely these flowering shrubs were and to cut a bouquet of them for the photographs you see included here.
The ‘finding out’ part of my equation felt like a pretty sure thing. I would e-mail my Master Gardener friend, Pat Munts, who lives in Spokane, writes a gardening column for the Spokesman Review, the region’s daily newspaper and who is a veritable living library of plant knowledge for the Inland Northwest. Not surprisingly, within my first few words of description, Pat already knew that I was referring to Amelanchier alnifolia, aka, Serviceberry or Saskatoon serviceberry and thanks to her knowledge and generous spirit I had my answers waiting for me in writing practically by the time I got home.
Finding blooms enough for a nice bouquet wasn’t difficult either. The serviceberry shrubs seemed to punctuate the landscape nearly everywhere I looked. But I had decided that if I was going to take the time to stop, cut and then photograph a full vase of these ethereal blossoms, I also wanted to provide my photographs with contextual atmosphere and an interesting sense of place. After grabbing a coffee and a breakfast sandwich in town, I scanned the horizon and then drove west, out of Spokane, turning north onto a narrow country lane aptly named Basalt, which was just up the hill a mile or so from my hotel, when headed toward the airport. A few leisurely miles down this delightful, winding road all of my requisite elements came suddenly into view within one stunning location, a parallel-running gravel lane not twenty yards distant from the paved road, and even more aptly named: Rimrock. There they were, dozens of flower-frocked serviceberry shrubs, a handsome, rocky outcrop and a perfect view back at the Lilac City. I do so love it when a plan comes together.
While I clipped, composed and then shot what I had envisioned, maybe a half-dozen joggers passed by me, puffing and pounding their way to a late-April nirvana, in addition to one, smiling, leather-clad guy on a red Harley and a nervous, worried-looking local who stopped to check out my story, wanting to know what I was up to. Apparently my cameras and the branch-filled vase lent credence enough to my claim that I was in fact a photographer working on a book project, and not a drug dealer, so he soon abandoned his interrogation and surveillance duties, leaving me to the warm sunshine, the sound of the breeze in the pines and my own bouquetish devices. But for the drive still ahead of me I could have lingered there happily for hours.
Finally, with my cameras properly restowed in their protective case and after carefully securing that serviceberry-filled vase in the back of my rig with a couple of old blankets and luggage, so that they’d have a reasonable chance of making home without spilling, I traced a somewhat lazy beeline for I-90 and began that drive west. I had nearly five hours of travel yet ahead of me, and that wasn’t counting the detour . . .
(To be continued tomorrow.)