Monday, November 23, 2015

I Saw But I Did Not Hear

It's been foggy and rainy here on the north coast of California. Not much good for walks or photography. Still, when just a hint of sunlight comes through, we take advantage of it and head out the door. On Saturday I said to Roger, "Let's just do the local neighborhood walk, but let's not go the long way around. It's too close to Thanksgiving and I really don't want to run the chance of seeing those farmers slaughtering a turkey the way we did last year." He agreed. I wrote about that encounter here. Lesson learned.
The rooster looked like this one
So, we walked around the streets of the old neighborhood where we lived in the rental. We stopped in to see a neighbor we hadn't seen in a while and had a nice chat with her. It was good to be out and seeing familiar faces. We came upon another old neighbor who we thought had moved. He had his van in the driveway and was holding a beautiful rooster in his arms. He came around from the back of the van to talk with us. He was petting that rooster and holding it like it was a favorite pet. This neighbor speaks very, very quietly. My hearing definitely is not what it used to be, so I could hardly understand a word he was saying. I nodded and smiled like every cartoon character does when portraying hearing loss. Roger's hearing is quite good, but even he has a hard time hearing this guy talk. So we all smiled and nodded and made small talk. I pet the rooster, told the neighbor what a beautiful bird it is, with its dark black feathers that shone iridescent green in the hint of sunlight. I also told  him that I was worried about the rooster's feet, they looked a bit gnarly; and I noticed that it had lost some feathers around its neck. Chickens do have a hard life; it's absolutely true about the results of the pecking order. The neighbor replied, but I have no idea what he said. So then, we all wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving, and Roger and I continued our walk.

I must have said something about that rooster while we were walking, because Roger said, "Oh yeah, he was just about to kill it. He's planning on having for it for dinner. He said the bird's name is 'Supper.'" What? Did he actually say that? Yes. That's what the conversation was all about. I felt so bad for that bird. There I was talking to it and petting it, worrying about its feet and pecked neck. Well, I guess not hearing well does have its upside.

I think the lesson here is to not walk anywhere in the neighborhood this close to Thanksgiving. It's not that you don't know what you'll see, it's that you do.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Window of Many Lunacies

If you follow our blog at all, you may remember that I sent several photos to Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics and asked for the scientific explanation for the multiple moons we saw from our dual-pane windows last summer. On Thursday he put up a post on his site explaining how we saw what we saw reflected in our window.
 Take a look. It's really interesting!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hummer Bummer and Flower Power

When we were still living in Grass Valley we stopped feeding the birds. We had been feeding them for a decade, but the bears and raccoons finally made it impossible to keep at it. They smashed and crashed every feeder we hung. So, with some sadness we watched the birds come looking for food and fly away, come back and look again, and then fly away. It took a while but they stopped coming. The year we were in the rental here in Arcata, we didn't feed any birds and had no plans to start up again. Then we bought the house.

Well, the house came with a hummingbird feeder. A very nice one. I knew I should have just taken it down and not start up again with such madness. But the hummers came by with their flashy iridescent greens and reds and literally chatted me up with their insistent tweets, "Fill this feeder. Fill this feeder." Okay, okay I gave in.

For two months all went well. When we were out of town for two weeks at my mom's a friend came and refilled the feeder for us. She loved it so much, she went out and bought a feeder for her yard. Life was sweet with the buzz of wings and the flash and dash of color. I loved knowing that our friend was feeding birds in her yard too. Kindness has its rewards.

Then, the weather changed. The rains came. The temperatures dropped to the 40s, and the winds blew. I noticed that one hummingbird decided the feeder was his and only his. I never liked those arrogant birds who won't let another bird eat. They just sit there right where the feeder hangs and nastily chase off any other bird that approaches. What little jerks they are. I went out there to talk some sense into this one, reason with it about the wisdom of sharing. It literally flew up in the air and tried to chase me back into the house. I had a good laugh. But this behavior makes me want to take the feeder in the house and tell that little bird to "buzz off."

A lot of the online discussions about selfish hummingbird behavior suggest getting another feeder and hanging it far enough away so the tyrant can't reign over both. That is not what I am going to do. We did that in Grass Valley and a second tyrant took over the new feeder kingdom. I have no solution other than glaring out the window and shaking my fist at a bird that has absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, and quite frankly couldn't care less. Jerk. Oh wait! I just realized that I do have a solution, and it's a very nice one. We're going to plant a garden full of flowers that hummingbirds will love, and not one tyrant will be able to lay claim to. Imagine a yard full of perennials, like bee balms, columbines, daylilies, and lupines; biennials like foxgloves and hollyhocks; and annuals like cleomes, impatiens, and petunias. It will be a hummingbird paradise! Thank you, little crazy one, for reminding me of the sane way to go. Ah flower power!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Walk At The Dunes

Every now and then we break our routines and go for a walk we haven't been on before. On Wednesday we thought it would be fun to walk along the shore across the bay from the marsh. I photograph that bit of shoreline whenever I point the camera west. We also drive the road around this part of the bay whenever we head into the "big city" of Eureka. When we do that drive, we always say, we should remember to come here and walk. So we did.
If you click on the pic you'll see the red-roofed building that was in the post last week about high and low tides
It was a beautiful, sunny and warm day. Perfect for walking along the railroad tracks here. So, we headed out to see the sights, but realized that what we really wanted was to see the ocean. The road separates Humboldt Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The above photo is looking east at the mountains, behind us looking west are the dunes and the ocean. So we drove a very short distance to the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center parked the car and started walking.
 The trail is nice and easy with some lovely views along the way.
Just before we got to the shoreline, I noticed a very faint bow of light in the sky. So, I had to stop and photograph that too.
I thought it was a pretty cool looking bow, and I left our shadows in the photo so you could see where we were with the sun behind us. Ah yes, and there is a hint of the ocean in the photo as well.
This ocean is literally ten minutes from our house. How can we forget to come here? Today we decided to make this little trip a part of our regular walks. We especially want to come during minus tides to see how far we can walk out and during King Tides (which are coming in the next two weeks) to see how high the highest tides are. This is definitely Tsunami Zone area.
It was one of those perfectly beautiful fall days on the California north coast. We are really glad that we headed out to see this and be able to share it here with you.

PS: We remembered why we don't often head out to the ocean here. It's either incredibly foggy or windy or both. We just need to remember to come on those rare occasions when it's beautifully sunny and calm, like it was on Wednesday.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Now We Dream of Green Flash

We headed out to the marsh at sunset the other evening, hoping to see reflections of golden light in the skypools on the water. We calculated that the tide would be around three feet and coming in, so we thought that the bay would be rolling with water. Well, we were wrong and surprised; the tide had not come in this far yet. The sun was still a bit above the horizon and blindingly bright. There really was no way we were going to see what we had come out to see, but we waited for the sun to go down below the horizon. We hadn’t been out at the marsh for a sunset view in many years. The best part of the sun going down early is getting out to watch it before dinner. It turns out that a lot of other people had the same idea. The parking lot was full. It was a surprise and really pretty wonderful to see how many people had come out to watch that golden sun disappear.
While we watched the sun sink out of view, we both said at the same time that we thought we'd seen a green flash. We probably didn’t, but that didn’t stop us from waiting and hoping one would happen. So, I zoomed in to where the sun had been to get a closer look. Was there anything green? Nope. The sky close up, though, looked pretty crazy vivid.
An even closer, zoomed in look is surreal. Now we plan to come back to watch for a green flash, and also hoping to spot sunset colors in the rippling skypools. Soon we'll be able to head out to the marsh at 4:30 and catch that setting sun. It's the best part of short winter days!