Showing posts from 2011

Thanksgiving Snapshots and Wonderment

Driving north we're passing under gray skies tinged with lavendar, surrounded by distant mountains.  Across a stubble field a hunter returns with a snow goose, its long wings loose.  The family will eat well from the bounty of the land.  Red tailed hawks, red shouldered hawks dot the posts, signs, and trees waiting for their prey, upright in their intensity.  The circle of life.
Walking through a neighborhood the bushes are alive with songbirds.  Western bluebirds, faded in their winter plumage, flit along the fenceline.  "Butter butts" or Audubon warblers and goldfinches harvest the last of the grass seeds below.  And speeding through, to silence them all, a Coopers hawk.
Sated and full of the abundance of good family time and feasting, we're heading back south.  The sunset spreads across the sky unfurling a banner of oranges, pinks, purples and reflecting in the mirror of the flooded rice fields.  Line after line of waterfowl in their "v" …

Down Time Riff

What a day for wallowing: great weather, a good book, and only the dog for company!  I resisted (almost) all impulses and reminders of the many tasks I could accomplish today and focused only on relaxing and enjoying a quiet day in my backyard.  The raspberries are abundant in my little patch and have somehow doubled their size from the early summer harvest.  We're finally having the summer I've been longing for with warm sun.  The bittersweet of it is that evenings are cool, reminding me fall's just around the corner.  I've been feeling lately that life slips along more quickly than I'd like.  Songs end when I'd like them to go on longer.  My sweet little boys are suddenly young men.  Though I try not to linger in melancholy, I find it sneaking up on me more often, a song or memory sliding out of the past.  A little reminder that life is finite.  That got me thinking about this amazing earth.  What are the longest-lived things, longest-existing elements?  Goog…

Moving Forward, Older Now

Celebrated another year of orbiting the sun, as a naturalist friend of mine likes to write on birthday cards, by going on a long weekend campout in the Sierras.  Though our favorite campgrounds were already closed after Labor Day, we still found a place to pitch our tent.  It was a little too close to the highway and a train regularly awoke us at night, but the chickadees and nuthatches abounded during the day.  The scenery was beautiful and we had a wonderful time.  The teens even seemed to relish our evening campfires and table game of Yahtzee.  Tanner rolled an improbable two Yahtzees in a row!  We tried for sunning and swimming at Lake Tahoe the afternoon that turned into a huge thunderstorm complete with hail and lightening.  It followed us back to camp where we holed up with books until it passed.  The forces of nature are not to be toyed with!  Back home now, with just the lingering dust on our clothes and the drying of our gear to complete.  I can look back on a celebration th…

The Hawks of August

The weekends have been starting slow this month. The birdsong outside promising a bright morning, only to open my eyes to yet another dreary start. The birds don't seem to mind. In fact, the Coopers hawk family seems to be thriving. We've had several "incidents" on my back fence involving a sparrow and dove who entered the hawk food chain. One of them while I was watering the flowers nearby. That was quite stunning as I turned to try and identify what large bird flew into the plum tree, only to watch a small bird jet out the other side. The hawk proceeded to chase it down then alight on the fence not 10 feet from me with the still form in its talons. One of our local hawk watchers keeps a nest count in our city and let me know we've had at least five Coopers hawk nests successfully fledge young this year. So, though I love the towhees, hummers, and sparrows, there's nothing quite as thrilling as Coopers hawks in the neighborhood!

Summer's Here!

The wildlife is quieter along the shore these days. The shorebirds have migrated away for the summer to nest and raise their young in the far north with its longer days. Terns have taken up some of the slack. They nest nearby on islands and points around the Bay spending daylight hours hunting for fish with spectacular aerial displays. We have three species including the tiny California least tern. The least tern is an endangered species that migrates from its northern-most nesting area at Alameda Point all the way to the southern end of South America. When they hunt in the Bay they rise and dive like delicate sky dancers.

On the people side, we've gotten through the last frantic field trips, graduation and rites of passage and it's time to settle into the longer days of summer. At home our backyard is BBQ ready and the hammock invites some quiet afternoons. At Crab Cove, we celebrated the summer Solstice with a fun exploration of our place in the solar system. Pacing o…