Fernmire: The Birth of Fernmire

Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) new growth and Wood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana)

I’ve decided to call this homestead “Fernmire.” The quintessential Western Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) grows in abundance here and the old horse pasture is best described as a mire of mud and weeds. While standing in the middle of the field I can see what was, what is and what will be. There are many possibilities of “what will be.” Trying to grasp a thread of future time is like trying to hold a hagfish, slippery and unpredictable. This land was once a thicket of dogwood, salmonberries, Indian plums, alders and cottonwood trees. I dial in on what it was just before the thicket phase, when it was a wet meadow. That’s what I want to recreate. Before the alders and cottonwood trees could gain a perch there was fescues, sedges, camas and columbines to name a few. We moved here in 2013. It was barely within our range of affordability. There were several months of strict spending limits and modest meals.

Western Columbine (Aquilegia Formosa)

The Seller’s had two offers. They could choose the all-cash offer from a development company that would knock down the house and put in a couple of MacMansions, or they could choose the quiet couple with one child, and a dog who dreamed of restoring the habitat and maintaining the home as it is. Our offer also had a contingency clause because we couldn’t buy it until we had sold our existing home at the time. Some Sellers won’t consider offers with contingencies because it means they have to be patient and wait.

The Seller’s chose us. It just so happens they live five houses down the street! We’ve became great friends since we met. They’d bought this place as a rental property and considered building a dream house on it, but then decided they were happy where they were. As Grandparents, they decided they cared more about spending time with their children and grandchildren than navigating the construction of a new house.

Their house and all the others on the street are part of a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) because all of their houses were built by the same develop back in 2006. Our house was built in 1967 and is not part of the HOA. We pay into the HOA voluntarily though as a gesture of good faith and to help supplement the cost of maintaining common areas like the front entrance of our neighborhood with plants and shrubs. There is one other property on the street as old as ours and with a bigger plot of land. Our next door neighbor whose three-and-a-half-acre field abuts ours. There is only a narrow tree line separating his field from ours. It makes the developers salivate.

Around the corner – Nine acres razed to build nine new McMansions
The Earth movers rumble from first light to late afternoon

Sometimes we get letters from developers wanting to buy us out, but not nearly as many as our neighbor Ray does. If they thought they could get his property, they would put a lot more pressure on us to sell at the same time. Flat land close to a main street and close to downtown is a hot commodity. Ray is 86 and about as healthy as one can be at that age. I remember his wife. I remember when she passed. I check on him after storms, when I haven’t seen him outside for more than a week or if his garbage can isn’t on the curb the night before garbage day. Some of the other neighbors consider him a curmudgeon, but I don’t see him that way.

We both love nature. We love sharing the land with our wild neighbors and we’re not interested in buying the latest knew thing. We greet the deer, bear, coyotes and bobcats. The hawks in the trees, the hummingbirds and the pileated woodpeckers. Development encroaches all around us and we can’t hold it off forever. We do what we can, but it’s not enough. How long have I lived here? To see nine generations of coyotes born. Nine seasons under the watchful eyes of the Red-tailed Hawk.

Western Starflowers (Trientalis borealis Raf.) re-emerges after years of dormancy and two years after the invasive Himalayan blackberry was cleared.


McMansion (American Slang) – Large houses made of low-quality materials because the price is based on square footage and lot size. Meets basic building codes. Built to a generic standard frequently replicated as if they came off of a conveyor belt. Only paint color makes one look different from the other.

I love this video for the imagery. Sung by Pete Seeger, but the original lyrics were written by Malvina Reynolds (no relation.)

Spot the Moth

It didn’t flutter so much as it fell with graceful precision. At first, I thought it was a large piece of ashfall, but there is no fire. Maybe some lichen drifted down from an alder tree? No. Upon closer inspection it’s a perfectly camouflaged little friend. Thank you for your visit.

Western White Ribboned Carpet Moth

Western White-Ribboned Carpet (Mesoleuca gratulata)


Earth Day 2022: The Earth Needs You, Yes, You!

Happy Earth Day, Nature-Led Friends!

One afternoon during the early days of the pandemic my spouse and I stumbled upon the same opinion article. The title of it doesn’t really matter anymore. What matters is how it made us feel. We were angry, frustrated, and sad. This seemingly well-to-do white guy in his 60’s (a Baby Boomer) was just going to give up on the fight against climate change. His opinion was that the issue of climate change was so great and so overwhelming he was just going to buy a nice house in a rural climate haven and take care of himself until he died. Basically, he was going to give up caring about anything or anyone else, but himself. Give up? Give up!?!?!

You can’t give up! First, We all contributed to where things are now both actively and passively. Isn’t it nice for him that he has the luxury to throw up his hands and hide somewhere? “Oh well, this sucks, I’m just not going to deal with it.” Come here, Mister, so I can give you an angry Greta Thunberg stare! Secondly, a lack of empathy for others is also lack of empathy for yourself. The sword cuts both. People who are invested in other people’s well-being live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

You don’t retire from a job, take your box of personal items home, and then lay down and die. At least, most people don’t. You start a new chapter in your life. Try new hobbies, learn new things, reconnect with friends and family and (hopefully) be grateful that you could afford to retire. At least, That’s what my older friends usually say. Many of the most self-sufficient people among us still have to rely on other people for something in their lives. (Examples include medical care, special maintenance or materials, or other things outside of their skillset.)

In my opinion, we owe it to all generations to look out for each other. Humans are social creatures, even if you consider yourself anti-social, you probably still need someone for something.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Twelve years ago on Earth day I gave birth to a baby boy. Never has my desire to do right by both the planet and the next generation been more perfectly aligned. In my teens and 20’s I couldn’t have imagined being someone’s mother. I neither liked nor disliked kids and even though I worked minimum wage jobs and struggled to pay rent, I always cast my vote for the greater good. For infrastructure projects, libraries, schools, senior services, etc. It wasn’t important to me that I be able to reap the benefits personally. I’m only as strong and healthy as the community around me.

Suicidal ideation, apathy and loneliness spread like diseases. Right now, they’re public emergencies in many countries, exacerbated by the pandemic. I too get overwhelmed sometimes. I’ve been through dark times. I have to remain vigilant that little puddles of depression don’t become a flood. I need to be here for myself and others.

I have a theory that women might tend to live longer because we allow ourselves five-minute pity parties in the bathroom, then pull ourselves together and get back in the fight. I fight for you. I fight for my family, my communities, and the planet that we all call home. My sister works 16-18 hour shifts in a pediatric unit with patients who’ve failed at committing suicide. Let that sink in.

Our children are overwhelmed, scared, angry, sad, and confused. Kids know the world is messed. Some of them are standing up to do something about it, while others are lost in their own grief. They need us, we need them, and we need each other.

I’m here for you.

You might be physically alone, but you’re not emotionally alone.

We are connected.

I would grieve the loss of you.

 I don’t have all the answers. I can’t fix all the problems in the world, but I’m here. I do the best I can and I’m asking you to do your best too. Don’t exist, live!

I don’t like being labeled, but you can call me friend.

Am I a Climate Activist? I suppose, but I prefer the label “Advocate” more because I’m not inclined to go marching about, yelling or busting stuff up. “Activism” sounds very tiring. I need a cup of caffeine at the mere mention of the word. At least “Hacktivism” implies a chair and computer…

I could argue semantics until the cows come home.  Then wax poetically for hours about, whose cows they really are?

I do agree with the Climate Ad Projects purpose and mission. We do need A Billion Climate Activists (or whatever you want to call yourself) to make a difference.

Climate Ad Project – We need a billion climate activists

What I’m Currently Reading:

How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos By David Pogue

It’s a really good start for how to make your life and home more climate resilient. You still need to do your own homework though. Ironically, one of the places he mentioned for being a climate haven is Spokane, WA, my hometown. Clearly, he’s never been there before. It has wildfires, occasional mini-dust bowl storms, icestorms and every other type of storm short of classified tornadoes and hurricanes.

Recently Watched:

Kiss The Ground – a documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson

It promotes Agroforestry for sequestering carbon in the soil. There was a restoration project in China that was particularly impressive, some 14,000 hectares restored!

Big Stepping stone goals for the year:

– Cancel my Chase Credit Card and let them know why I’m canceling. They’re one of the biggest financiers of fossil fuels. Open a new credit card that promotes and invests in aligned goals. (This was the most helpful article I found: https://theimpactinvestor.com/green-creditcards)

-Create a local sustainability business

-Research and possibly invest in solar panels this year

-Find other ways to make our home more climate resilient

-Buy an electrical vehicle this year? (Contingent on the price and financing of solar panel project and vehicle availability.)

Smaller Stepping Stone goals for the year:

– Maintain my current level of fitness

– Try at least five new cooking recipes

-Experiment with natural dye making (like from beets, dandelions, etc.)

Have you made any Community or Sustainability related goals this year?

If so, what are they?

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your time.