Opening the Passes

Another sure sign that winter has given up its grasp on our area is the spring opening of two of my favorite passes across the Cascades. The great crews for WSDOT (Washington Department of Transportation) start working on clearing Washington Pass in the North Cascades and Cayuse/Chinook Passes in Mount Rainier National Park. I always try to make both openings as a personal note that winter is over. But I never mistake it for no more snow in the mountains as that happens year round. But both passes are scenic beauty with the snow and mountains.

With the opening of Cayuse and Washington passes this week, I took my annual trek over Cayuse. Heading up there was a mix of clouds and blue sky. Mist at the pass welcomed me this day.

Misty drive to Cayuse Pass

Due to schedules I was not able this year to the opening of Washington Pass and the annual arrival of Tootsie’s cinnamon rolls and joining the line of vehicles following her through the gate. Thankfully WSDOT posted some pictures of Tootsie and Granny Winthrop celebrating the opening:

Tootsie and Granny Winthrop (WSDOT Photo)

Now I am waiting for the opening of Chinook Pass which will finally say winter is over.

Yellow Spring

We can always tell when Spring has “officially” arrived at our home. The Washington State bird calls out the arrival. The Willow Goldfinch or American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) is a bright yellow bird that was legislatively declared the winner of official state bird in 1951 after 30 years of debates.

Male Goldfinch

Female Goldfinch

The Goldfinch was selected over another spring bird the Western Tanager.

Male Western Tanager

As these birds arrive in our yard we know that the season has changed from winter’s last grasp to the warming arms of spring. The bright flecks of yellow in the yard is why we view it a “yellow spring.”

Male Goldfinch faces the setting sun