Archive for July, 2011

Interpretative center

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

[IMAGE] roadside

…click to listen:

…about the music

Sly? No, just sleepy.

Driving by this modest roadside interpretative sign about Senator Henry M. Jackson and his conservationist efforts, a person might have been so stunned by the expansive view out to Vancouver Island and the Olympics, that she could easily have missed a small detail.

But not my friend in the passenger seat today, who spotted something that didn’t appear to have been installed with the signpost.
“Stop! Look!”
There was urgency in her voice.
She’s a great friend, so heck, I obeyed. I stopped the car. In fact, I stopped, and then I backed up a few yards and pulled off the road.
We opened our doors and walked toward the sign.

[IMAGE] fox nap

Adorable. And not the least bit disturbed from its nap, as we cooed and took photos.

[IMAGE] fox

One quick, bleary-eyed check of the surroundings…

[IMAGE] fox nap

And back to sleep, holding down a shadow exactly the right size.

Over my head

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

[IMAGE] soaring vulture

…click to listen:

…about the music

Dinner time?

I truly wanted to believe that the three of them didn’t know something I don’t about my health.
By which I mean, my impending demise.
Was it pending sooner than I planned?

The trio of turkey vultures continued to circle. Again, and again.
Directly over me.
For an intimidatingly long time.
I didn’t just hear the diaphanous sound of their broad wingspans flapping.
I actually felt the slight movement in the air that the flapping generated on this very windless day.

They flew low.

[IMAGE] soaring vulture

Looking like an FAA holding pattern on a crammed afternoon at JFK, these enormous scavengers spent longer than I personally thought they needed to, sizing up whether I’d be keeling over soon enough to make the main course for lunch, or if they’d have to bide their time with vole and field mouse hors d’oeuvres (sooooo boring) until I could be served warm for a late supper.

Gazing straight up to the beautiful, full spread of feathers and talons, I realized that I was viewing the same, very last image, as has many a hapless rodent.

[IMAGE] soaring vulture

It’s still light out as I type this. All bets are off.

Orcatectural digest

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

[IMAGE] Orcas at sunset

[IMAGE] spy-hopping

…click to listen:

…about the music

What’s beneath, and above.

Company while I work? Okay.
Company that’s color-coordinated to match my piano? Priceless.

This time of year, orca (“killer”) whales rule up here, and I have the dumb luck of living on the shoulder of their highway as they commute from one feeding area to the next. While my former neighbors throughout Los Angeles prepare for a weekend ominously dubbed Carmageddon and steel themselves for the mother of all gridlocks due to a main freeway closure this weekend, I exhale and observe a different kind of high volume traffic.

I listen to it, as much as watch it.
You see, the most beautiful thing about these creatures is that you often hear them before you see them. A mysterious, other-wordly “whooooshhhh” suddenly comes from around the rocks. I raise my head. I see nothing. Another “whuusszzzh” flies across the sound-conducting water from half a mile away. I look up. I can make out the top of a black 6-foot tall dorsal fin in the distance, just before it ducks back into the sea.

[IMAGE] orca

Another “woooossscccchhhh.” This time, I’m greeted with three whales lumbering toward me on the other side of the bull kelp that hugs the rocky shoreline here. That’s often just about 40 yards away. But yesterday was very special: the pod came right up to the rocks, gliding through the kelp beds, with one of the fellas showing, as you may notice among these photos, some rather amorous behavior. And he didn’t even take me out to dinner first.

On this particular day, the animals were maybe 7 yards from my toes. I was speechless. I could almost reach out and pet them. Objects in photos are much, much larger than they appear, folks. My limited camera skills don’t represent the incredible moment, but they at least offer an idea.

[IMAGE] orcas
Yesterday’s view from my desk chair.

[IMAGE] in the cove

[IMAGE] spy-hopping
Getting a better look at the neighborhood…

[IMAGE] two orcas

[IMAGE] happy to see me
What’s under the chassis.

The sound of their breathing is utterly magical. During the day, it’s also often accompanied by the incessant hum of idling boat engines, as whale watch tours and day sailors follow the pods like an amusing-looking slow-motion escort service. Friday Harbor’s charming annual Fourth of July parade– something out of a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical– always represents for the orcas, since they never seem to get up early enough in the morning to make it:

[IMAGE] July 4 parade
Yes, doggies with dorsal fins. What more can I say.

Just like me, the whales are after salmon. In particular, Chinook salmon, like this:

[IMAGE] July 4 parade

Which swim around these parts, along with other sea creatures. Someone should tell the orcas that if they’re looking for lunch, they need to come into town.

[IMAGE] July 4 parade

It’s fun to watch them dive for a meal…

[IMAGE] orcas

And “spy hop” as they surface…

[IMAGE] orcas

But the best, best, best thing of all, is when early evening arrives. The boats have all gone back to the harbor. And it’s just me, the whales, and the whoooooshes.


[IMAGE] orca and seagull

[IMAGE] orca at sunset

Let sleeping rocks lie

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

[IMAGE] sleeping

…click to listen:

…about the music


As I passed this rock the other day, one I’ve passed many times, the corner of my eye caught something a little different.
I turned, and noticed what at first glance looked like a darker rock atop this larger one.
It didn’t move. Um, like a rock. Well behaved. Stable. Steady as a… rock.
I looked a little closer.

[IMAGE] sleeping

Oh. Not a rock. I didn’t want to get any closer, since I agree with Chaucer: “It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.”
Nor, a slepyng fox!