Lavender festival

Veeka and the lavender fairy

Veeka and the lavender fairy

One of my favorite tourist events ever is the annual lavender festival in Sequim, Washington. Which is on the Olympic peninsula, that chunk of mountainous land between Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. I went in 2008 when Veeka was little and decided to go again this year, of course timing our visit with the fact that some good friends, Laura and Ray Paul, had just moved to Port Ludlow, which is about a 45 minute drive away. And so their lovely beachfront home (with a view of Mt. Baker across the water) is where we are staying. And this first photo is of Veeka with an amenable lavender fairy who happened to greet us when we first arrived. The festival celebrates the cultivation of Sequim’s most famous crop: Thousands of bright purple lavender bushes. It is the largest lavender festival in North America. We dropped by six lavender farms where all manner of lavender products are sold. You’ve never seen so much in purple – quilts, clothing, dishes – everything. Laura bought some fresh lavender with which we made braided lavender wands later that evening. (Which aren’t that easy to do!) I got my favorite lavender coffee from Purple Haze, one of the farms that every year has this crazy electronic violinist, Geoffrey Castle, close out the afternoons of the festival with his performances. I heard him five years ago and was so happy to see he was performing that Friday afternoon (and Saturday and Sunday at 4:30) as well. Just like we did five years ago, we sat in the late afternoon sun and listened to him play. The weather was a crisp mid-70s and sunny.

Veeka in the lavender fields

Veeka in the lavender fields

All this is part of the two weeks we are  spending in the Pacific Northwest. I have not been able to get back here since last October. It is so refreshing to get out of 100-degree weather that is back home in Tennessee. We were with my parents for two days before heading west across Puget Sound. It is lovely to be around so much beauty. Today we went further afield. Laura and Ray and I drove to Port Angeles, which is west of Sequim, to head up to Hurricane Ridge, a gorgeous assembly of mountain peaks in the Olympic range. I don’t believe I had been there since high school. The ridge was about 5,500 feet high and again the weather was gorgeous with what looked like dozens of peaks with glistening snow near enough to touch. Actually the wilderness is quasi-impassable unless you travel along a river the winds partly through it. Unlike the Cascades, no highway goes through the Olympics, so the only way to get in is to hike through there.

Laura and Veeka on a precipice overlooking the Olympic mountains

Laura and Veeka on a precipice overlooking the Olympic mountains

We are midway through our summer, as Veeka’s summer camps have run their course. She’s learned better ways to swim and float, lots of arts and crafts and gained one new friend with whom she went blackberry picking just before we left. We began our journey, by the way, by spending our first night in Nashville at the home of the McGowans, who had just arrived home from Latvia with their new adoptive daughters. I’ve had some R&R and am enjoying actually reading some books, like one on Greenland, one on mountain top removal in Kentucky and Stephen Mansfield’s “Killing Jesus,” a gripping account of Jesus’ last week. As I write this, Veeka is painting a piece of driftwood she found on the beach; Laura is dishing out lavender ice cream with chocolate sauce and blueberries, I am gazing across Puget Sound as the sun sets  and we’re all listening to Celtic music. Doesn’t get much better than this!

Living it up on Hurricane Ridge

Living it up on Hurricane Ridge