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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stargazing in the Garden--August Means Fragrant "Stargazer" Lilies

The return of August each year reawakens my love for this eighth month, a love sweetly burdened with poignancy. Summer, like the youth that imbued it with memories, cannot last. In my mind, if not in reality, it has always felt warm, lazy, slightly sad, fully ripe with maturity before the fall, a time of endings and goodbyes and evenings bathed in moonglow. On still afternoons the air barely moves, heavy and fragrant with the garden's last roses and the perfume of lilies. The Stargazer lilies bloom in August, like always, and once again I have stars in my eyes.

Last night I did a search on the internet and made three delightful discoveries related to these fragrant beauties. One was a specialty nursery in Olympia, Washington, called The Lily Pad Bulb Farm. The other was the website of the North American Lily Society. The opening page is not very colorful but if you click on the tabs you will find many photos and a great deal of helpful information. And here is the link to the Pacific Bulb Society, with many more lovely images of these and other lilies. Stargazer lilies belong to the Oriental Hybrid horticultural classification, which contains many others of comparable beauty and fragrance.

In case you can't wait, here are two more lovelies from my own Tacoma garden. Enjoy them. May the lilies, and the month of August, remind you that all we really have is the moment we're in right now, so savor each and every one to add to your sweet August memories.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Golf Course Even Non-golfers Will Love

The first time I saw Chambers Bay golf course in University Place, I saw it from a distance, out on the water, and I didn't know what I was looking at. I gazed at the open, rolling land from the deck of the tall ship ADVENTURESS and told myself I should find out about that strange place. Later, I learned about Chambers Creek Properties, on the site of a former sand and gravel pit, and why it is now the gem of the University Place community, with its walking trails and dog park, access to the beach, and more. This golf course was home to the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship tournament and will welcome the U.S. Open in 2015, but you don't have to golf to love it.

Way back in my high school days, a friend once spent a good part of a day trying to teach me the game of golf. All I can say is, I'm lucky that smart phones and YouTube had not yet been invented, or I'd still be one of the most popular funny videos. But even though I don't golf, I love to go to Chambers Bay, for the amazing view and equally amazing food at the Chambers Bay Grill.

I love to sit at a table on the patio of this unique restaurant, surrounded by vistas that include the links, the Olympic mountains, and the islands and evergreen covered land masses set like pieces of a puzzle in waters of Puget Sound south of the Narrows Bridge, all bathed in sunshine and serenity. I can hardly believe I lived in Tacoma for over five years before first visiting this place. Now it's one of my favorite destinations in Western Washington. And I haven't even mentioned the food or the excellent service. Check the Chambers Bay Grill website to see the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, Happy Hour, and wine list.

The menu seems to change frequently, and always presents a delicious dilemma when it comes to making a decision about what to order from among so many tempting choices. It seems you can always find certain popular items, like the calamari appetizer, flash fried to perfection, with onion, artichokes, and the grill's signature "orange chips" which are thin slices of fresh oranges, deep fried and made weirdly wonderful.

The sun felt a little intense in the late afternoon last Thursday, even under the patio umbrella, but a nice cold beer on tap can cool you down quickly and goes very well with their barbequed pork sliders or the grill's famous hamburger. All the beef is natural, grass fed, and organic, something I really appreciate. In fact, the Chambers Bay Grill makes a point of utilizing the region's finest locally produced ingredients.

Now I want to try breakfast there, and I want to try taking some photos with the sun at my back. I want to return in the fall, and even the winter. On cooler, breezier days, the glass panels surrounding the tables, along with the heat reflecting off the building, make it nice to be outside, or so I've heard. And of course there are plenty of tables inside too, with windows all around.

If you live in the Puget Sound area and haven't been to Chambers Bay, plan a little day trip, and be sure come hungry. You will soon discover that the appeal of being a golfer includes a lot more than hitting a little white ball around the grass.

Copyright 2011 Candace J. Brown