Forest on Whidbey Island, Washington

An empire of moss and broadsword ferns. Douglas fir trees bend the sea wind. Reams of gold leaf — bigleaf maple — drop through thickets of hemlock and cedar.

Kinglets hammer the forest’s ceiling with sharp brads of sound. Then they drop, working the ferns. Ten of them, right here: hazed wings and stone-bright eyes. Sulfur headstripes; bright, they slice open the heavy green drapes.

Wads of old leaf caught in maple tree crotches, rotted mats lodged inside sprays of alder twigs. Seedlings take root there, above our heads. The soil’s upper boundary is fogged. In walking, we worm through soil passages, burrows of air.

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22 thoughts on “Forest on Whidbey Island, Washington


    How wonderful! These types of forests are home to me, so I am especially pleased to see your great photos and words. One of the great things about living in Seattle is that we have several forests just like this right in our city parks, an opportunity for people of all walks of life to have daily connections to nature – an increasingly rare thing in our world.
    One of the best times to visit the forest is in the fall, when the kinglets are visiting, the licorice ferns are unfurling, and the mushrooms are popping up. And the gray days make the green moss seem even more brilliant.
    Thanks for posting this!

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Thank you, Denise. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. The forests in the Pacific Northwest are fabulous. (We had a mushroom expert in the group which resulted in a nice plate of cooked delicacies.)

  2. jkonick

    What a great evocation of Northwest forests. When I was about eight my family moved back to Washington from suburban Michigan, and South Whidbey State Park was the first place I ever went camping, shortly after we moved back. I remember laying in the crook of a tree and looking up, and thinking how beautiful it was, and yet how inexplicable that beauty was – it wasn’t art, it just “was.” That moment has always stuck with me. Glad to see your blog visiting my old stomping grounds!

      1. taylorgardens

        Many weeks without rain – a drought on top of our summer-dry climate. I believe it was a record and I suppose we will continue with record rainfall (all at once instead of spread over time) and drought, as climate continues to change. Oh – and we call our dead wood “coarse woody debris” CWD – it’s a treasure that sustains salmon and all dwellers on the wet ‘west side’! More alive than dead after all the macro and microorganisms colonize it…

  3. Rebecca Shirley

    My whole body took in your verbal and visual images…just soaked in the natural energy. Thanks so much – I needed it.

  4. Louis Coyle (@lc1and1)

    One of my favorite places on the planet. This is where I first learned the term “nurse logs” where fallen trees become the source for new life as decay occurs and nutrients are released for growing ferns and saplings. Ramble on Professor Haskell. LC1and1

  5. Annie Thoe

    writing my newsletter and googled, “kinglets on Whidbey Island” and found your blog– lovely! I was curious, have you spotted more ruby or golden kinglets at your woods? They are the harbinger of this time of year for me! Like little flying orchids! Thanks for your words and images.

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Hi Annie, Glad you like the blog! On my visit to Whidbey I saw many more golden-crowns. I live in TN where we have both: goldens all through the winter, rubys mostly in late fall and early spring on their migration from deeper south. Love the image of flying orchids!


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