At long last. After what’s felt like the wettest, coldest, longest winter in memory, it appears that spring has finally sprung. Halo takes off her winter coat and leaves it lying around the house–and woods…

Fiddleheads unfurl…

Salmon berries pop…

And a generous buddy’s lone Columbia River springer feeds 11 people if we make sure not to waste a morsel. Spring is late, but it’s here. Not a moment too soon.


Hard to believe, but Saturday was the last evening razor-clam opener of the season, and we didn’t want to miss it. Skyla was literally bouncing off the walls, stoked to dig, and then realized she had already committed to a dinner with friends that night. I was bummed she couldn’t go with us, but was also proud that she stuck to her word. Then Weston woke up not feeling well. And I was left to go it alone, perhaps an early preview of kids growing up and having lives of their own? With a twinge of sadness, I decided to roll anyway, and lucky for me, had plenty of friends to join the fun. That’s Honey, David and Sam Smart, and Doc hitting the beach early.

The dig started off slow, with a big swell pushing the wash up the beach and making it tough. We scratched out a few nice ones ahead of the tide, then, as it the water receded, it was on.

Nothing like good friends on a day at the beach. That’s Dan and Mia Sweeney and me for a quick, sandy-handed selfie. Dry weather, full daylight, no lanterns…what’s not to like?

Once the razors started to show, we filled our limits with big, fat, tasty clams in minutes. That’s Sweeney double checking the Smart boys’ count.

Finished the night at the Sweeneys for a team clam-cleaning session and more good times hanging out with friends. That’s Sweeney and Smarty (with Hefty-sack wrapped wrist he broke to avoid having to clean clams) waiting for the watched pot to boil. I missed the kids, but ended up having a fantastic time anyway. Love this crew.

Water + Words Video

If you haven’t clicked on the link to the Water + Words video, here it is.

Water + Words

A few years ago I became obsessed with tracking down one of my favorite painters, Frances Ashforth. Not that I could afford to buy any of her work, but just to tell her how much I appreciated it. I finally found someone who knew someone and ended up with her e-mail address. Long story short, over time we’ve become friends, and I continue to be inspired by her paintings and prints, which, for the most part, capture the beauty and feelings I have about water.

Last year, I was honored with an invitation to participate in a project Frances was working on called Water + Words. We talked about it for some time, and I eventually sent her a few words about water inspired by her paintings. Now, amazingly, this jam session has become a small part of a folio which makes its debut on March 30th.

If you have a minute, watch a beautiful short film about the project and the process of creating Water + Words HERE. The folio images themselves are on view, along with Frances’ gorgeous paintings and prints, on her website HERE.  The page I worked on with her is below. Now we just have to figure out how to get her out to the Pacific Northwest for a show. If you aren’t familiar with her work, I hope you like it as much as I do.

The Old Montero


She’d been burning oil for a while, and more recently, started leaking some, too. Last spring, towing our little skiff toward the Columbia, she didn’t have enough power to get out of second gear. On flat ground. When I hit Olympia to pick up Sweeney, we had to take his truck to drag the boat the rest of the way to the big river. That’s when I knew it was time.

I wrestled with selling her. She wasn’t worth much, but I could certainly use the cash. On the other hand, I didn’t have much confidence that she’d be reliable for much longer, and the thought of the burning and leaking oil continuing to hit our air and water weighed on me, as did the declining gas mileage. I put her up on Craig’s List, but found myself talking every prospective buyer out of buying. In short, I was a very lousy salesman.

The answer, of course, was to get her off the roads altogether. So a few days ago, after a surprising amount of emotional turmoil, it was time to say goodbye to a good and trusty friend. Apologies for anthropomorphizing here, but we had so many great adventures together, it’s tough not to. We drove to the Skeena, drift boat in tow, half a dozen times. Four trips to Bella Coola. Once up through the Canadian Rockies. Epic times on the Olympic Peninsula, the Deschutes, the Grand Ronde. Long drives through the desert. Fun in the snow. Crawling sideways out of door-deep mud on the Humptulips. Hundreds of daily commutes to the Skykomish. Twice she brought babies home from being born.

In the end, she had 249,000 miles on the dial and was only in the shop once for anything other than scheduled maintenance. Twenty-five years of trustworthy hauling, twenty-three of which were with me.

So yeah, it’s tough not to attribute some humanity to something that’s been such a big part of my life for so long. My hope is that she’s now providing parts for someone else’s old Montero that’s still running strong. And that our new car, a Toyota, lasts just as long.