In the last two posts, I shared images of the cabin and of Summer Lake, Oregon, from my Playa residency in August 2017. In this post, I’ll share photos from my walks up the hill across the road from Playa.

The hill is a foothill on the edge of the Fremont National Forest. You walk through Playa’s wooden gate, cross Highway 31 (a fairly quiet road), go through the metal gate, and then walk up and up the hill along a steep gravel road. The first thing I noticed was being greeted by a variety of butterflies.

A bright orange and black Thistle Crescent (Mylitta Crescentspot) can brighten even the sunniest day.

I am not an expert on any insect, but I would guess that this one is a ratty example of a Thistle Crescent. I like the striped antennae.

I’d guess this little flitter is a Checkered White. It flutters around tiny pink flowers, and others, too.

Here’s a Slivery Blue butterfly with its white-rimmed wings.

If I’m good at guessing, this butterfly might be a West Coast Lady.

I can’t even guess at the name of this butterfly, but I like the colors and lines in this photo, and how the butterfly is hanging tight in a light breeze, antennae on alert.

This is another blue butterfly showing the underside of its wings. Beautiful patterns.

My best guess here is that this butterfly may be a Great Basin Wood Nymph. I love the filigreed pattern and the dark eyes on the wings.

If you can take your eyes off the butterflies, the view of Playa from the hill is spectacular.

From here, Playa looks like an oasis with its green trees and red-roofed cabins. There were forest fires in Idaho and Montana, as well as Oregon, Washington and British Colombia this year, so the sky was sometimes a dull gray, and you could smell wood burning far off.

Here are a couple of Playa’s cabins, and my VW Beetle in the parking lot. This view includes the boundary fence and several shade trees who welcome visitors.

Further up, there is a small group of evergreens shading a picnic table, and an astounding view of the broad flatness of Summer Lake and beyond.

This is a row of Elderberry trees shading the tall grasses, and sometimes deer.


Large clusters of blue berries droop like grapes from the small orchard.

Elton John drank and then sang about these berries. Later in the summer, they’ll all turn to an almost black purple.

Short sunflowers will feed the birds a few weeks after this photo was taken.

I’m pretty sure this is goldenrod, which lives up to its name. The butterflies love it.

Obviously, goldenrod attracts more than just butterflies.

Yellow flowers are the rule on this hill, though there are plenty of white, blue and pink to play backup.

The roadway is jumping with Pallid-winged Grasshoppers. Their coloring makes them all but disappear in the rocks.

Dragonflies enjoy resting on the tips of grasses.

Mammals on the hill include deer. I woke this trio from an afternoon nap. The buck was still napping. As soon as the does roused him, they headed up the hill across the way.

Even though I felt a little guilty, I decided to take their photograph anyway, after they ran a safe distance up the hill.

This is a very large buck. I could say I shot a ten-point buck—with my camera. He was magnificent. So were the does.

There are reptiles, too. This Western Fence Lizard enjoyed getting his photo taken. He posed here and there and over there. I finally had to walk away, I had so many photos of this creature.

This lizard has a beautiful scale pattern. I especially like the blue spots on the back, and the teal belly.

These grasses were everywhere. And like the lizard, kept wanting their picture taken.

A bird. I have no idea what kind this is, but may be some sort of a flycatcher. Other than the hawks racing back and forth, there were only a few birds on the hill. The bird sanctuary up the road has some stunning birds. But that will be in another post.

This close-up of the ridge shows that once the hill had many more evergreens, and that they were taken by fire. Still, it is a lush hillside.

There are some flat areas between the rolling hills. The tree growth is sparse, and the grasses are tall.

Returning from a walk near dusk, I “ran” across this long reptile, a bull snake. Harmless, but alarming, until you can see there are no rattles on the end of its almost four foot long tail.

This very handsome snake was laying straight across the road, and I was lucky not to step on it. Since it was cool enough that it didn’t run off right away, I took a few more photos before heading down the hill.

The path is road-wide and easy to follow, even on a very hot afternoon. Bring water, a camera and a journal. You’ll be inspired and thirsty.

Playa is inspiring for many reasons. The landscape is a big part of that, as well as the residents who live on that landscape—the fauna and the flora. And the calm quietness. As an artist and a poet, I came away filled to the brim.