Tag Archives: the Pacific Northwest

June Color: Hazel Heckman’s “Island Year”

Island Year Cover ImageThe following is an excerpt from Hazel Heckman’s Island Year, with drawings by Laurie Olin. The book contains a year’s worth of meditations on the flora and fauna of Anderson Island as they cycle through the seasons. The following excerpt is taken from her entry for the month of June. Filled with delightful descriptions of the natural riches of the Pacific Northwest, Island Year was originally published by the University of Washington Press in 1972. We brought out a new paperback edition of this Northwest classic earlier this year.

Camouflaged among yellow blossoms dripping from the rain tree, laburnum or golden chain, two goldfinches billed each other. The bright yellow male wore a black beret tilted forward. He looked debonair, a gay Lothario. The soft green female made a fine pretense of modesty and shyness. She moved away, but not too far. Her simulated reticence increased his interest, which was probably the way she’d planned it.

flowers for heckmanThe horse chestnut tree came into bloom overnight. Flowers stood up in spires, wine-red or yellow centered, staminate and pistillate blossoms with long projecting style and stigma, and recurved stamens. Bees are guided subtly by spots of color at the base of petals. The English call the tree hyacinth, or “giant’s nosegay,” “a sight for gods and men.” And so it is, a tree to outdo all flowering trees save in the tropics.

A minus-three tide brought to light a kelp crab, Pugettia, a little green fellow shaped like a shield. Master at camouflage, or fashion-minded, he had decorated his own carapace with plumes and scarves of seaweed that drifted out behind like a bride’s train, or ribbons on a parade float. Continue reading