Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mallard Clown Car

My attempt at a gif of the amazing clown bus of ducklings that we watched emerge from under a mother mallard last week. Unfortunately, the effect is less "How adorable!" and more "I think I'm getting seasick." Blame the motion of the canoe I was in and the fact that I was too immersed in watching in amazement to take a steady stream of photos. It was, I assure you, truly fabulous and ever so hysterical to watch.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Maple Pass Photos, Mostly

It's late and I'm tired so I'm tossing some photos here for now; with luck I'll write up what should be a fascinating trip report before I forget all the details. Until then, a handful of atmospheric snaps--in no particular order as I see that blogger decided I wanted all of them immediately.

Lunch break with some stellar scenery
Birds were not particularly brilliant on the Maple Pass hike. We think this is an American pipit.
No marmots were seen but there were a handful of charming chipmunks about.
I suspect the wildflowers will really hit their stride in a few weeks, but they weren't so shabby a few days ago.

Not from the Maple Pass hike at all; this was the day before when I opted to wade into the Skagit River. It was lovely.

Back to the Maple Pass trail--one of many unidentified mountains
Lake Ann from the trail above
Please oh please note the mud and ice (well, snow) on my Bogs!
Scott admires the view on the Maple Pass trail.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Of books, birds, bees, and jam

Rufous hummingbird that has been hanging out lately
Telling stories, telling tales. Always the implication that you were trading in lies. But for her it would always be the task of getting to the quick, the heart, the nub, the pith: the trade of truth-telling. It had been Donald's task too, in his way. Poor Donald, taken away from her forty, fifty years ago.
    Enough of this interview claptrap and chicanery. They would always want even the explanation explained! And any writer worth her salt would lead them on, tease them, lead them up the garden path. Wasn't it bloody obvious? It was about being true to the very stuff of life, it was about trying to capture, though you never could, the very feel of being alive. It was about finding a language. And it was about being true to the fact, the one thing only followed from the other, that many things in life--oh so many more than we think--can never be explained at all.
--from the final page of Mothering Sunday, by Graham Swift

I wish I could identify this bee but, well, I can't.*
Graham Swift's latest book is a very slim volume with pretty heavy leading but it's an excellent little book. It reads a lot like a good A.S. Byatt, maybe like something out of Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye but more like one of the Matisse Stories. It's a book about being a writer which, maybe, is what authors write eventually. (Mona In the Desert started, in some ways, as a book about writing.) Mr Swift's novella is a fine thing, and it was a pleasure to read it over this extra-long holiday weekend.

Not that most of the weekend wasn't given over to other things. Making jam, for one thing. We made thirty-odd jars of apricot and twenty-five jars of raspberry jam on Sunday, after stocking up on apricots and on raspberries at the Farmers Market. If I could get the photos off my phone I'd be posting photos of transferring a bit more than sixteen pounds of somewhat nasty apricot "seconds" from a large box to one of the panniers on Scott's bike. Trust me when I say it was quite the impressive bit of bicycle hauling.

Oddly pale (and yellow-headed) presumably Anna's hummingbird
The business of jam ended at pushing midnight on Sunday night which led to a somewhat leisurely recovery on much of the holiday 4th. Oh, we rode our bikes for a bit, visiting Jeb, the West Seattle pony, and, thank god, finding a not-too-hilly route home. Today was the first day I didn't ride my bike since the first of May. The streak has ended.

Instead we walked to Camp Long where we saw neither owl nor pileated woodpecker, but we did find a number of charming little fledglings, including what I've had identified as a golden-crowned kinglet.
Golden-crowned kinglet fledgling @ Camp Long

There were also a surprising number of bunnies about; perhaps the owls have relocated for the summer.
One of several Camp Long bunnies seen this afternoon
*You'd think the very large and seemingly exhaustive Bees In Your Backyard would enable me to identify the bees I see, but mostly it just makes me painfully aware of just how many bees there are in North America and just how impossible it is for me to distinguish them from each other.