Sunday, November 27, 2011

What She Knew And When She Knew It

When I was growing up in the 1950s in New Jersey, I learned the names of cars. I could identify a Ford, a Chevy, a Pontiac, a Chrysler just by looking at the tail lights. I remember in the fall there was a car commercial that everyone waited for, the one that showed what the rear end of the new season's cars were going to look like. I think it aired during The Ed Sullivan Show or maybe it was Bonanza on a Sunday night. The anticipation was an event itself.
When I was growing up in the early 1960s, I went to the mall. That's where we hung out and rarely but sometimes shopped. I knew the names of stores. We had Montgomery Wards, Bambergers, Walgreens, Lerners, and Spencer's Gifts, etc. I bought record albums and knew the names of all the new groups. We had The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Herman Hermits, Freddy and the Pacemakers, Moody Blues. I knew all the band members' names and the words to all their songs. I completely immersed myself in the cultural moment.
So, why am I thinking about this stuff? Because over the past few years, I have begun learning the names of new things that were knowable back when I was young. Back when the need to know culture was more important than the need to know the natural world. And today I think it's really such a pity that I wasted so much young and active brain space on "Mrs. Brown, you've got a lovely daughter" instead of learning the names of birds, clouds, mushrooms, insects, flowers, trees, frogs, and lizards. I have so much catching up to do. You get the picture.

Imagine for a moment if I had learned a song about the difference between cirrus radiatus and cirrocumulus undulatus clouds when I was seven. What names of things would I be learning today?

Friday, November 25, 2011

every lump in the forest

we walked one of our usual walks. we haven't done this one for several days. my my. look what has popped up everywhere, hidden by pine needles and oak leaves. little lumps hiding beautiful fungus flowers. in spring and summer we usually stop to check on bugs or flowers or birds. in fall it's the colorful foliage that we admire. but today we had to investigate every lump we saw. many lumps had already been found by deer and nosed open, the boletes or amanitas already eaten. i guess the ones we picture here aren't to the deers' liking.

unidentified mushroom

another mystery

mystery cubed

aha! rosy russula or russula rosacea

here i am exposing some hidden shrooms.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Random Images

1. Oakland Harbor photographed 11/10.
2. Five-point buck in front of the house.
3. The walk we take most often.
4. A young buck after rutting season, taken 11/20.
5. Acorn Woodpecker, taken 11/16.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Season of Diminishing Light

We know we've neglected the blog these past few weeks, but if it makes you feel any better, we haven't been posting much on Facebook either. It's just the quiet season. The light fades earlier and earlier at the end of the day, and the arc of the sun barely clears the tall pines on our southern boundary. This has been a long and beautiful autumn, the kind of season that takes its time unfolding between the hot summer and cold winter. Our deciduous trees are still sporting leaves in reds, oranges, and yellows. The hillsides are dotted with burst of flaming trees, without any discomfort of actual fire. The word beautiful cannot be overused these days.
We've seen some great sights lately, some we were even able to photograph, like this 5-point buck eating right out of our birdseed feeder, as a Facebook commenter said, "like a pez-dispenser." But we didn't get the photo of the large bobcat that walked down our driveway on November 12th. It looked quite a bit like this one. The sight of it was so thrilling, I went back to our bobcat archives and put together a little photo display of "bobcats we have known." Once we've seen one bobcat, we know we'll see them again. Animals are funny and predictable that way about territory. They're here. That's all we needed to know. Not sure when it will come around again, but we suspect as soon as we put up our chicken house next spring, he'll make an appearance. We can't wait, and we plan to make that chicken house absolutely bobcat- skunk- coyote- fox- and hawk-proof as possible.
We've noticed that on a fairly regular basis, Roger and I both think about calling his mom to check in with her or tell her something. We didn't realize how much she was a part of our daily lives until she was no longer in it. We were supposed to have a birthday dinner for her at our house on the 25th last month, and we had planned to spend Thanksgiving with her this year as we did last in her assisted living facility dining room. The calendar is marked with things that will never be.
And then there is Delilah. Fifteen days on the planet and melting hearts while she sleeps.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Few Words Wednesday

On Wednesday, we're driving over to the coast to see the beautiful little Delilah. On Tuesday, I baked bread to take her parents. When the bread came out of the oven, we went for a walk and saw the fall colors through the trees.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

young and old

the news

spreading the news

now i'm officially old, at least to myself. passing my 60th birthday didn't do it, nor did my 69th. becoming a grandfather did. how interesting i thought to myself. men become grandparents way younger than i am. so now i am old by abstraction. yet i don't feel old. and i dress the same as i did in high school, though my hair is shorter than it was back then. okay, i do have a few semi-permanent aches. maybe elder is the better term.

robin took that picture of me as i was giving the news to my sister. i see both elation and relief in my face. our daughter had a short labor and an easy birth. baby delilah is beautiful, with curly black hair.