Senses

Extra grey today. Woke up to fog. Our Grandkids stayed with us last night so everything seemed bright.

Later we walked in the bush looking for birds. They could be heard everywhere, Seeing them was harder. Lisa can tell how far away they are by their song, I don’t know how she does it, but she is right almost always. My ear just hears them, I can’t tell distance.

Lisa said I taught her how to see animals in the bush, you look for shapes and lines that don’t fit. I learned to do it hunting with my father. My eyes are starting to go, fortunately I can still see lines that bend amongst the trees.

I dreamt I was at the old house the other day. My father said, go in and turn the outside light on. The switch was in a hallway my mother made into a darkroom. As soon as I walked in I smelled the photographic chemicals. They had been left out in the trays. Dektol, stop, fix and hypo. They smelled like they needed to be changed. You can get some interesting results from old chemicals, my mother used to say.

When I told Lisa about my dream she was surprised I could smell in my dreams. She said I must be thinking of my Mom. I think about her often, especially as I get to the age my parents were when I knew them them best.

Now Lisa and I walk and drive some of the trails looking for birds, just like my parents did. The truth is birdwatching can really sneak up on you.

A few birds

Lisa took this picture of a Water Ouzel (American Dipper). She did a good job sneaking up. The blur in front is Lisa shooting through reeds and tall grass. This little bird is one of our favourites to watch.

It seems Lisa and I have moved into old age gracefully, one of our favourite pastimes watching water birds. The dip and dive. Some are solitary while other species stay close together. Eagles are always watching ready to pick off a straggler.

A raft of common Coots. The body of a duck, bill of a chicken and legs of a turkey. If you look them up in a bird book they could be in any category.

The grocery stores have had limited supplies in the valley. Turkeys are limited but available. Lisa’s Mom and Dad wanted one, but when they found out there is not as many available this year choose not to get one, so it could be left for a family.

They have been poor, so they know what it is like. They also know the value of depending on others. Their gesture in the world we live in is rare, where people snap up things that are in short commodity and sell them for a profit, be damned, regardless of need, going to whoever can pay the most.

Goldeneye, moving between the old pilings of the swinging bridge in Athalmer.

Moses dropped some tablets, containing the commandments while coming down that mountain. I’d bet, ‘Leave some for others’, would have been on there.

Up the mountain we saw Townsends and Siskins all too quick and crafty to get their picture taken.

Trumpeter Swans

Plenty of honking today as flocks of Swans made their way south. The cold is coming, the weather report says -19°c tomorrow.

Pulled a few more turnips. Walked the tracks to get closer to the Swans. They are difficult to sneak up on, especially with the Willow dog.

A few took off into the wind and made the turn directly overhead. Deep voices and large wingspan, mocking us bound to the ground.

It feels good to walk those tracks, hear the birds, squinting loosing the ruck.

bird watch

Winter finch.

Took off for the creek this morning. At first, we thought the valley bottom would be best. Reconsidered when the mud bogged us down.

The ground is frozen still with melt running over, making a mess of it, challenging buds to appear. Instead we headed higher, until we found a solid layer of ice and snow underfoot. Willow was saved a bath.

The birds have been at it. Most I can’t see. We hear them, chirping and singing, a crow spread it’s wings on the ground, shaking like taking a bath. It is hard to know what it means.

Time to start looking for the first robin singing or owl hooting.

blue skies

Clouds and river running by the tracks.

A skiff of snow last night. This morning blue skies. In the morning Willow and I headed for the Columbia River below Lake Windermere. It’s a clear trickle at this time of year. A Kingfisher gave us the gears for our intrusion.

Geese catching on winter is on the way.

Wedge after wedge of Canadian Geese flew overhead north to south. Willow paid them no mind, concerning herself instead, with mice in the long reeds and wading the river. I on the other hand, watched intently, taking a few photos while my hands got cold.

Skein.

We have gone from +8 to -8° in the past 24 hrs. The cool weather is a gift especially when it is accompanied by blue skies.

They were one after another, flying in small flocks unlike the large groups that fly in late fall. Perhaps fewer birds have waited to make the trip south and they catch up to each other in the air or resting on open water, regrouping for warmer thicker air.

Little Birds

I don’t see any weakness when I look at birds. They drop seeds for others and stash them for later. Sometimes the woodpeckers and starlings show up, sure there can be a ruckus. It’s just seeds however, at this time of year. They will fight to death in spring over nests housing young ones, but not over seeds in fall.

Been listening and reading a lot of stuff, done by smart people, that is supposed to explain things, why we have ended up the way we are. I’m not sure if I understand it or buy into it. I’ve always had fear about people with all the answers. I’ve even listened to folks with supposedly the same problems as me, and I can’t relate. I just find it dull. Don’t get me wrong I’m dull too.

I found my grandparents graves today. I looked all over. I remember when they were laid to rest. I thought it was more in the middle of the Cemetery. Goes to show memory can play some tricks, then again it was the early 70’s and from what I was told I was distraught. This is the first time I’ve looked since.

Those birds though on a brilliant day, without sentimentality, testing the trellis branches, not a worry of winter, knowing cold is on the way, they’ve got it figured out.

looking out

A long weekend and the valley bottom is alive with ruck, revellers stirring it up.

Luckily I was wrestling with a nasty sewer pipe and stubborn toilet flange, protecting me from the glut of overindulgence the town has become. The trip to the hardware to pick up closet bolts was a doozy.

Still, I stuck my head out long enough to see the young Cedar Waxwings picking the berries off an Ornamental Cherry. The blue sky crowding the Sunflowers. And the weed doing its best in the lowered sun.

I’ve left out the picture of the sewer pipe and the crowds, I’ve had enough of them for a day.

Purple Kush

Spring birds

A Rufus waiting me out, in the shade, the sun not lighting it’s iridescent wings.

Willow is distracted by birds, even bothered by them, she is the only dog I’ve had that is so. It could be from the time when she was a puppy and we would give her a bone on the front lawn. The Crows would hoover, distract her and steal her bone. It was funny to watch. I know she didn’t share my sense of humour.

Willow barks at Crows and Ravens like they are a burglar breaking through the front door. I appreciate it out in the bush. Crows and Ravens follow bears around and it gives me a heads up.

But at home it can be embarrassing when she scares off a Hummingbird or Song Sparrow, with her loud bark, their only crime having the audacity to hoover or sit on the garden fence. The Robins especially get a kick out of her, leading her this way and that.

Willow is not the dog you want on bird watching expeditions. I stand between them with hopes they will someday get along. The fact is they already are and I’m the lone man out.

early March

An early arrived bluebird gives a look.

A perfect Spring day. Overcast, rain and snow in the morning. In the afternoon the sun came out with temperatures rising. Willow and I headed for the river to see what we could see. She snuffed up the smells thawing in the wetlands. I envied her yet was content with the sun on my face. Very fine day.

Willow tastes the wind and water.

a Coating

A couple of Bald Eagles consider the weather in the Valley bottom.

Woke up this morning before light. It looked like it was raining. +4°c the thermometer said. Next I looked it was snowing giant flakes. It was wet regardless.

Before testing outside I made a batch of Huckleberry Preserves. The berries were from this summer when Lisa and I wondered the mountain side. I tasted a few of the frozen berries and was instantly transported back in time picking the ripe berries, feeding a few to Willow to ward off thirst and watching Lisa’s red hair, flipping this way and that, bent down, dodging horseflies, picking only the plumpest and ripest.

Lisa gives a wave.

Up the pass the snow was deeper and not nearly as wet. Much more enjoyable. The clouds parted to show the long lost mountains, but only briefly, before filling in again obscuring the stars.

Still, the birds sang hidden like a soundtrack dedicated to earth in all it’s glory.

Very fine day.

Willow listens for mice under the snow.