Archive for May, 2008
In the wild.
Yesterday I went to the best beach on the west side of the island, where this is a common and wonderful sight. I stood as close as these photos indicate; foxes have no predators here, and thus no fear of a woman pointing a lens or anything else at them. Last summer a pup ate crackers from my hand by my driveway.
Just like us, within the same species they appear in all color variations: red, silver, black, and golden, and probably other hues I’ve yet to discover. The vibrant spring surroundings cause everything to pop in the brilliant sunlight of high latitude. The sea crashes immediately behind my camera, and the meadow rises up to bluffs blown hard and free of tall trees, filled only with wildflowers and grace.
A slow approach.
A brief post to say hello, and to share a unique view. Seated close enough to give the pilot a neck rub as he brought the little puddle jumper down the Salish Sea from Friday Harbor to Seattle, (no, I did not offer my services), this was the intriguing line-up I saw last Monday as we approached Boeing Field. Impressive Mt. Rainier was a beacon for the runway, and the serendipitous alignment of the natural and the man-made, even in the early morning haze, was quite majestic.
This was the start of my epic journey to New York City, one that always takes exactly 14, count ‘em, 14 hours door to door, given two flights, shuttle, airport layover, taxi, and whatnot. But I really don’t mind; it’s wonderful having the time to think, to breathe, to observe people and geography. There’s even a quiet little wine bar at SEATAC for a civilized rest and repast. And as I’ve posted before, the potent communications combo of laptop, Treo and book (you know, that antique thing with pages you have to turn) provides plenty of entertainment and activity. I’m never, ever bored.
More thoughts and photos this week, as always. It’s a gorgeous shiny day, the outdoors beckons, and I obey, happily.
Quite a water voyage.
Few words are needed to describe the utter joy of hopping in a kayak on a bright sunny day, and paddling for miles from island to island in this never-ending archipelago of tree-strewn gems. Still fewer words can be mustered to express the awe at having such an experience in one’s own backyard. So without all those unnecessary words and just a handful of descriptive ones, I offer a mini photo log of how I ditched all my work and spent Thursday floating on the Salish Sea. Its stunning remoteness is not remotely akin to how I will spend this coming Thursday, awash in a sea of concrete and humans, back on that other small island I visit from time to time, Manhattan. By the time you read this I will be nowhere near my idyllic home, and am hopeful that these pix will hold you until the weekend. They certainly will hold me.
A riot of wildflowers in every meadow. Can’t you see their little picket signs?
There are occasional signs of life in these uninhabited coves. We beached our kayaks on the shore in the foreground, hijacked this cool little power boat and took off real fast. Naw…
Arbutus trees, aka Pacific Madrona, are island treasures. Their incredible bark is arbeautiful.
Squint and you’ll see my house across the water, smack dab in the middle of the photo between the camas petals. What? You only see trees and water? Yeah, that’s why I live here!
Surrounded by moss, grows a cactus! When meteorological worlds collide.
Tons of these beauties, everywhere. They are E Pluribus Enormous!
At high tide, this spit has been spat out and these become separate islands. Looks a lot like Gilligan might be here…
Thus concludes your self-guided tour of the San Juans. Don’t forget to tip your docent, and have a great week!
A tune for a snooooooze.
Have a wonderful weekend! Next blog installment will be about the beautiful time I had yesterday kayaking around the San Juan Islands. Playing hooky on a Thursday never felt so great! Just ask these two, who are just as happy to skip the kayak and rest up on a piano bench for their next adventure of chasing catnip mice and ping pong balls around the floor.
Dance of the big feet.
There’s a lot of recent history waiting to be read in the mud flats of a low, low tide. Geese and gulls and far smaller birdies all leave their prints for a detective to decipher. Who went where? When? Why did they turn around? Where were they going? It’s a dance of chaos and delight, like one of those old step-by-numbers ballroom cha-cha charts gone insane.
What a pair.
I’m going to take a wild guess that most of my kelp-readers are old enough to remember that silly, pointless-yet-trance-inducingly fascinating yellow and red drinking bird toy from the 70’s. Often, two would be placed opposite each other to share a glass of water.
So now you understand why I post these photos, taken today from my desk chair. These two served as pointless-yet-trance-inducingly fascinating distractions from my work, and I thank them.
Slow and sticky wins the race.
And yet, more fur! This week has been like a big debutante ball for island insects. Just as you’ve recovered from the furry bee (and thanks to Glenn are now quite well educated on All Things Apidae), today I greet you with this adorable caterpillar, the latest addition to the ever-lengthening queue for my diabetic coma-reversing Insulin MedEvac services. He is clinging to/sucking up the sticky sugar water remnants on the hummer feeder. It took him four hours to make it across the three inch span of the jar top. And you thought the L.A. freeways were slow.
Also seen today: several inchworms, beetles, slugs, and the first of the dragonflies– bright blue helicopters of joy buzzing around the woods. Plus several variations of spiders, including one harmless-but-enormous wolf spider lookalike with a thyroid condition, squatting defiantly in my hallway and spanning an impressive four inches stem to stern. The larger the visitor, the easier my job as Director of the Benevolent Shapiro Arachnid Relocation Program. But if they get much bigger than this guy I’ll need to invest in larger drinkware to use for transport services and field trips. Oh, and I’ll need to start charging for size and weight, just like the post office. Wish I had a photo to share, but the camera was in my car at the time. So you’ll just have to imagine a spider so huge that I nearly tripped over it, like the ottoman in the title sequence of the Dick Van Dyke show. Really .
In my continuing parade of neighbors with furrier limbs than mine, I hereby present you with this colorful gal, who was sleeping on a cushion by the front door just a moment ago. I find her most attractive.
Objects in photo are slightly larger than they appear: she’s large– over an inch long– but not quite as impressive in real life as she is in this, her press kit glossy for the starring role in “The Bee That Ate New Jersey.”
Aptly known as an orange-rumped bumblebee, now she’s buzzing around the hummingbird feeder, nearly as big as those guys and soon becoming a candidate for my Mobile Emergency Insulin Unit.
I’m busy as a bee today too, and am having one of those head-spinning moments where with so many items buzzing on my to-do list, I’m temporarily flummoxed as to which to attack first.
Maybe I’ll just start with New Jersey.
A whole lotta hummin’ goin’ on.
Smudge and I both appreciate the wooded view from my desk. When we each turn our little heads to the left, we can see the water reflecting under a greyly shrouded sky that’s holding the sun hostage today. Ever the optimists, the sun still shines despite the haze, Smudge still thinks he can snag that hummingbird, and I still believe that I can finish everything this afternoon that methodically glares at me from a blue post-it note just out of view.
In the constant struggle of wills and power, I like to think that a positive outlook trumps all, despite odds to the contrary. Reality is for sissies!