The text and paintings on The Trowbridge Chronicles are taken from the illustrated journal of Violet Trowbridge, a shrew that once lived in a village deep in the Olympic Rain Forest. Each new post will represent a portion of Mrs. Trowbridge’s journal.

Monday, September 25, 2006


This week Mrs. Trowbridge takes us back to her earliest memories of life in the rain forest. I selected two pages from her journal. The first one focuses on her memories of childhood fears and phobias and how she overcame them. On the second page, she shares her memories of her younger days on the family sowbug farm.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I just returned from an exciting Trowbridge Trek, so this time I'm offering a "feature length" version of Trowbridge instead of the usual short subject. So sit back with a latte and some popcorn and enjoy the show...

Every summer I look forward to my junkets into the rain forest to explore Mrs. Trowbridge's wonderful world. This summer I decided to attempt to identify places that she, her family and friends had possibly visited on their summer safaris to the seashore. I made some delightful discoveries.

This was the first one. I'm writing this (in longhand) while sitting on the log in the foreground of the above picture. I just happened upon this delightful spot in the forest just off the beach. It is almost as though the Creator planted a little patch of grass in the middle of the rain forest for me to enjoy as I sit and write in my journal. The large leaf plants growing from the grass are devil's club. Sword ferns grow in lavish abundance in the upper portion of the picture.

This is the very base of a steep one hundred yard high, fern-covered bank. A root-infested switchback trail brings you down this bank to the's the only difficult part of the hike to Shi Shi Beach.

Like a scene from The Land Before Time, this is the first view that greets you from the top of the high bank as you approach remote and exotic Shi Shi Beach on the north Washington Coast. This beach is so spectacular that it has made some notable lists: the Insiders List (number four) of the Top Ten Most Unique Beaches in the World. It's also one of the Travel Channel's Top Ten Best American Beaches.

The crown jewel of sea stack formations on the West Coast, Point of Arches looms in the distance, just before a cloud-draped sunset.

This was the most startling discovery that I made on this trip. Compare this rough charcoal sketch that Mrs. Trowbridge made on one of her summer beach treks, to my photograph just above it. Do you see the striking similarity? She also painted this same scene in her sunset beach painting (four episodes below, "They Were Opposites"). This is enough evidence to convince me that she was here on this same stretch of beach about 175 years ago. I wanted to erect a monument: "Mrs. Trowbridge was here!"

Now we're down beach at Point of Arches for the 6:30 PM low tide. Veteran nature photographer Ross Hamilton and my sister, Brenda Williamson, were part of the exploration team. Brenda focuses in on a purple and an orange sea star (below). Is it just me, or do they appear to be doing a Sea Star Samba to the pounding sounds of the surf.

Sea stars are abundant and visible at low tide at Point of Arches. This is tide pool paradise. You can spend hours here, roaming from one tide pool to the next looking for the perfect shot.

It's nice to be in the right place at the right time. I just happened upon these mussels...they were gathered for their annual Mussel Beach Convention. I wanted to hang around and listen to a couple speeches, but there were other tide pools to explore.

Did you know that the word "anemone" is one of the ten most beautiful words in the English language? It's also one of the most mispronounced. These anemones, not anenomes, don't look so beautiful when they're not immersed in water. When the tide comes in they will bloom out again.

We nervously ventured from Point of Arches into the next cove, knowing that many have been trapped by the incoming tide and drowned.

Like a mossy montage, the huge rock wall in the second cove was elegantly draped with wet hanging grasses and delicate little deer ferns.

Filled with a spirit of adventure, we decided to risk it all and make a run for the third cove. With our packs on, we jogged through the soft sand, sometimes jumping over boulders or huge piles of seaweed. We were rewarded by the above view of the rugged third cove. I felt like we had suddenly slipped back in time to some primeval paradise in a prehistoric epoch.

To get to the third beach we had to pass through this large crevice (below) in the rock. My sister's size reveals the enormity of the rock. We were grateful after we had returned back to Shi Shi Beach. We felt SAFE once again.

We're still planning a trip to Huckleberry Hollow before summer fades away. I'll keep you posted.