Monday, January 28, 2019

A Butterfly in Winter

On one of our walks the other day we saw so many things out enjoying the sunshine with us. It had warmed up enough for a little snake to be stretched out across the gravel trail at the marsh. It slithered away before we had a chance to take a photo. Then a ruby-crowned kinglet flitted about from tree to tree with wonderful exuberance. So many people were out walking as well. Everyone we crossed paths with smiled and said hello in that warm and cheerful way. Ah the very air was an invitation to the delights of the moment. Then we saw it... a butterfly. A butterfly in winter? No way. How is that even possible? But there it was floating in the air before us, and then landing on the trail. When I took a good long look at it and photographed it a few times, I thought I recognized what it was... a Mourning Cloak. I had seen one once before more than  a decade ago in Port Townsend, WA.

So, when we got home I googled around and verified it was indeed a Mourning Cloak. What is a butterfly doing out in winter? How is this possible? So I found some wonderful information about this species.
"The Mourning Cloak overwinters as an adult, which requires quite a bit of specialized biology. Hibernating adults can survive through the winter by use of “antifreeze” chemicals (glycerols) in their blood. They locate sheltered tree crevices where they will spend the winter.
On sunny days, even while there’s snow on the ground, some adults will emerge to feed on tree sap, especially oaks, and then return to their sheltered winter hiding place."
These butterflies even over-winter in as cold a place as Manitoba. Such strong and hearty little beauties they are.

There is something about seeing a butterfly in winter that is so full of the promise of spring. The little hidden lives and seeds out there, waiting for the right moment to emerge.  We were so happy to see it, we said hello and thanked it for showing up. Then we walked on.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Sunshine and Iridescence

As promised by the weather predictors the sun came out on Monday. It made us so happy. We took our weary bones out for a three-mile walk to celebrate. The sun shined all day on Tuesday as well. We celebrated with a five mile walk. Then, a few clouds came by and painted the sky in iridescent colors for us. We rejoiced. We're really not that hard to please.

Roger sez: we are easily amused.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Vultures in Winter

Vultures on a dark winter morning
It's been raining and raining for more than a week. Sometimes the clouds have been so dark it has felt like twilight at noon. We haven't gotten in as much walking as we like, and that's been a bummer. I told Roger that I think winter is bad for our health. We both laughed, but I think it's true. And I'm beginning to think that wet weather really takes a toll on our aging arthritic bones. I thought I should write about it. "I went to bed one night in winter and woke up an old woman in the morning." I'm not kidding. I blame it on the weather. On Sunday there were two vultures on the pole on the street behind our house. I know they are waiting for us. It's a good thing the weather is changing all next week with the promise of sunshine, otherwise, those vultures may be in for quite a meal.

I really understand why seniors head south for the winter.

Roger and I laughed and laughed about this post.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Love Story

I've been working on a short love story. The New York Times has a feature called Tiny Love Stories. They can't exceed 100 words. I've been reading submissions there for a while and really appreciate them. Here is the Time's description:
"What kind of love story can you share in two tweets, an Instagram caption or a Facebook post? The Modern Love team wants to read yours. Tell us a love story from your own life — happy or sad, capturing a moment or a lifetime — in 100 words or fewer. Include a picture taken by you that complements your narrative, whether a selfie, screenshot or snapshot. We seek to publish the most funny and heart-wrenching entries we receive. We call them Tiny Love Stories. They are about as long as this paragraph. They must be true. Share yours today."
 I finally worked up the courage to submit this story about my mom.

"Last time ever I saw your face, you were smiling like we had just given you the best gifts in the world. After a year of strokes, pacemaker, Alzheimer’s and wandering, you were sitting on the edge of your bed in the secure memory care facility. We had just brought in your favorite table and lamp, so you could cuddle up with newspapers and novels to read into the night. We were leaving for our 700 mile drive home and had one more surprise for you: a chocolate cookie.  What could be sweeter than this moment, mom? Really, nothing."

I had this photo to attach with it.

So, I uploaded it all and hit the SUBMIT button and nothing happened. For some reason, the entry form did not like my phone number. So, I restarted my computer, uploaded it all again and hit SUBMIT. Still nothing. I wrote a note to one of the many email addresses asking for a way to fix this. But I realized not being able to complete it gives me an opportunity to run it by you before I try again. I trust your insight and thoughts. So, tell me, what do you think?

PS-- If you go to the link there is a link there to other Tiny Love Stories that have been published. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Ten Days Later

Taken with the iPhone
This is the first photo I've taken this year. I took it on Thursday, the first sunny day in a week, the second day we didn't have to drive to the hospital. Roger's daughter was in for ten days. We visited with her everyday and brought her organic homemade food. The first four days was a clear liquid diet, so we made chicken and veggie broth, strained and perfect. Then we brought stir-fry veggies and rice; pasta and chicken; coconut basmati rice with tofu, a veggie frittata. We cooked and cooked. We made sure she had the best stuff to eat while she was recovering from what... we don't know yet. She is home and feeling better. We are relieved.

We drove up the coast to run a few errands. Stopped at the scenic overlook to breathe in the ocean air and bask in the sunlight. The river was as brightly lit as we've ever seen it. Crepuscular rays all the way down to the water. We listened as the waves came and went. We were renewed.

The new year had really begun.

Friday, January 04, 2019

On The Last Day of 2018...

... I woke long before the sunrise and ventured out in the 30 degree temps to see if I could see Jupiter rising above the mountains in the clear eastern sky. I was hoping to see it with Mercury, Venus, and the moon which were clearly visible. I waited a bit, but no. I only saw the two planets and the moon. I turned to walk back into the house and looked west behind the moon. There was a fireball meteor streaking right to left across the sky. It was spectacular. It had a red fiery top and a green streak of a tail. I saw it briefly and was utterly blown away. I ran into the house shouting to Roger about what I had just seen. I wrote a friend on Facebook who had mentioned seeing a meteor in her skies just the other day. It was such a profound moment, I suddenly wanted to know if anyone else saw it. Did I imagine it? Was it a crazy cold morning hallucination? So I googled around and found a website, the American Meteor Society that has a link devoted to pending fireball sightings. I checked their morning list and found I was definitely not alone. Several other people in northern California and southern Oregon had reported the same sighting at the same time of the morning. Yes! I did really see it. I found an image online that looked quite like what I saw. It's a photo of a fireball that had been seen in Los Angeles a while ago. I've seen many "shooting stars" and meteors streak across the sky in a bright starlit line. But I had never seen anything quite like this before.
Image borrowed from the internet. A fireball in southern California.
I added my sighting to the website pending list. They evaluate the sightings and their response email said, "If several people saw the same phenomenon and if this phenomenon is a fireball, your report will be grouped by our team with other reports into an event."

I checked the list and as of Thursday morning, it was confirmed! It is now called Event number 5932-2018. I saw a fireball, and truly it was a brief but spectacular moment.

I will always be grateful that I run outside at all times of the day and night to take a look at what might be happening in the sky. Every now and then there is a sight that I'll remember for the rest of my life. A fireball shooting across the sky! What a grand universe we live in.

That was the last day of 2018. I'll tell you soon how 2019 began. Here's a hint, the phone rang at 6:30 in the morning. We both hoped it was a wrong number. It wasn't. It was a dearly loved family member calling to say she was in a hospital Emergency Room. And so the new year began.