Mountain Moment

The green glows like electricity.  It’s everywhere in the forest. It’s on the ground, stuck on twigs like christmas decoration. I get lost by moving it. The electriciy goes dim, the sky turns blue, my wrist begins to throb.


A beast lives deep in the valley, out of sight, lonely, blue, true to its nature.  Heaven and earth cannot move it into the light until it decides for itself. Footsteps crunch bark, boasting its strength as the day heat dims. While the town goes to close, the beast’s wide eyes glow bright red, so fierce they could start a fire.

The wind pulls tufts of moss from the tall pine, with the broken branch that healed itself, then started growing down until it fused with a granite slab and made a seat large enogh for a family of four.

Over the mountains the clouds drift east until I stop to ponder their movement. Then they stand still, quiet like fog.

 

 

 

Chilly Birds With My Lovely

We hadn’t been to Sacramento’s Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, for birding, the past couple of years.  It’s a dream come true in the right conditions, and yesterday was one of those days.  At 4 pm the temperature was around 44 degrees, damp, with just enough of a breeze to send the wind through my jeans. Glad we brought the Rav4, since the road was rutted with plenty of potholes and slippery with mud.

There were Snow Geese, Black Neck Stilt, Northern Shoveler, Pintale, Cinnamon Teal, Common Egret, Great Blue Heron, a murmuration of Starling, Coot, Canada Geese, Red Shouldered Hawk (though we had misidentified it before running into some locals with expensive glass who let us peep through their spotting scopes.) There was a Plover I could not identify and at least one Swallow that disappeared before we got a decent look.

We saw a flock of Snow Geese take off maybe 1/2 mile away and right beneath them a storm of rusty shaded ducks took off and filled the sky. Our spotting scope friends said they saw an Eagle swoop in and that’s what spooked the mass.  There’s something about that many birds in one place that fills me with joy.

On our way out we stopped for this sweet little reflection pond.  Back toward the Snow Geese, the sky was strewn with ribbons of migrating birds, going in so many directions.  At one point there was a murmuration of geese, that broke into dozens of Vee formations, some of which flew right over us.

If you’re ever in the area, give yourself time to wander around, and bring mud boots. And remind me to bring more than one set of binoculars, and my Lumix camera with the 600mm lens.

Rushing Water Held Tightly in Place

This is flash-fiction-sort-of-memoir prose that I wrote after a fishing trip with my brother a few years ago.  We try to hit the Owens Valley every year or so for fishing, coffee, and sometimes snow. Aren’t all fish stories fiction?

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We paused at the rim. The chill air was alive with spring sage. The water below, a dark ribbon. A lone string of fog, floated by, as we scouted our descent into the Owens Gorge, some 500 feet below. It was carved by years of river flow. Just water, gravity and time. Allen pointed to a bend in the river, maybe 400 yards from us on the far side of the gorge, his voice, waxed paper on a gritty floor said “Let’s try there?” I’d follow my brother just about anywhere, especially when there’s fish at the end. We picked up the pace, not a race, just a quickening heart-beat, our feet knew what to do. It was slow work. We watched our steps, lest we tumbled or jumbled our gear on a crag. And we’d heard there might be snakes as the gorge warmed up.

We turned the first bend and heard the kingfisher before we saw its streak of blue and white flight. The bird’s cackle brought a sparkle of light, as the first trout rose and splashed, just ahead, where the river turned. We looked back up. Why did it always look steeper going down than from the bottom?

The water made its own music as it flowed free. Loud and boisterous, then a meandering melody that always seemed to slow me down. We walked carefully on rocky river stones. My brother was a bird sitting on a branch, just watching. His clothing all tan and green, straight out of a fly fishing magazine. This stretch of water ran clear, over smooth rocky bottom, golden green, mossy streaked, and then there was a flash of tail, and another. The sound slapped our ears. The fish were out. They were feeding on the surface.

Allen was the first to assemble his rod. I wasn’t quite ready to fish, still too much in my head, so I got my camera out and made a couple of test shots to check aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. I’d ease into fishing this way. He started with a look around. What would catch him? A branch behind, the reeds in front? He started in close, with a short roll cast, barely upstream. The fly tangled on a reed and with a flick of the tip of his two weight rod, the fly flipped over backward and landed softly in a tiny eddy just downstream from the reed. Schwack! A solid 14 inch German-Brown trout flung itself against the parachute Adams, but left the fly unscathed and still floating. Allen looked my way and laughed.

He took two steps, and casted again, just ahead of the reeds. I managed to get a shot of the fly landing softly right behind a rock. It looked perfect to me, but he picked it up for two short false casts, to dry the fly. Then fluid poet on a rocky river, he slipped the fly into the seam at the head of the pool. The current curved the fly like a crescent moon as a tail flashed, a mouth grabbed and the rod tip pointed instinctively to God.

The trout reared its head and exploded from water, turned gently and seemed to hang in the air, then came down with a splash. It sent spikes of spray. It landed hard a wet crash. The line ripped off the reel spraying Allen’s glasses and face. A quick swipe from his sleeve and he sees the fish heading down stream. The fish, heavy now with the weight of the current, headed straight for a log. Allen ended it. He pressed his palm against the reel. Pulled the fish to a stop, a moment before the log. Will the line snap? With one power move the fish could set free, but the line held, the fish tired. He reeled it in quickly for a moment of fame and an upstream release so this fish could meet another day.

Daily Prompt: Fishing

I forgot the first day of Christmas.

untitled-5Twas the first day of Christmas (yesterday) my true love gave to me, a very busy schedule and the promise of rain.  This year we have a wreath, made with love, from our dear friend Molly. It’s an interesting wreath that I’ll share with you, a bit at a time.  Today it’s a chair and a sand dollar.

I’m sitting, watching the rain, thinking of star fish from the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve a few miles down the coast.  It’s a moody place.  The fog has its way with many a day, but blue skies brings smiles to more than the tourists.  Sea Lions smile and bark at the sun, though they seem pretty pleased when the fog settles too.  Whales breach outside the reef, while at low tide the reserve shows off sea urchins, anemones, star fish, and more.

Happy Holidays far and wide.

 

Snorkeling Tunnels

My wife and I are fond of Tunnels.  The last time we were here our 28 year old son, Matthew, was two.  We remember him padding along the water’s edge with fins on his hands, a snorkel and mask on his face.  He was blonde, tan, and ever so cute.  He’s still cute.  He’s still tan but the blonde is gone.  If he was here, he’d be surfing Tunnels.

Yesterday we parked at Haena park and walked to Tunnels.  We had two sessions and found sea turtles as the sun sank low in the sky.  The water was an aqua marine color we hadn’t seen all week.  Maybe due to the onslaught of trade winds that’s had the ocean choppy and rugged since the day we landed.

With just a few days left, we have more to pack in, including a hike out the Napali Coast, and another paddle boarding session at Hanalei.  Check out the two minute video if your gills are dry.

 

Donna and Tom Snorkel at Tunnels from Tom Adams on Vimeo.

Kauai Roosters

There are roosters in Kauai.  If you’ve been here since Hurricane Iniki hit in 1992, then you may know that it blasted the island with 170 mile per hour winds and did some $1.8 Billion in damage.  I heard a stat yesterday from a Taro Farming Tour that the wind meter, mounted on the mountains above Hanalei Valley, broke off when the wind registered 200 mph.

Most locals agree that wild chickens proliferated after Iniki destroyed chicken coops, releasing domesticated hens, as well as roosters being bred for cockfighting.

The Roosters are bright and colorful.  Startling in their beauty with iridescent feathers.  They strut around town with the contenance of a king.  They seem to sleep from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m.  Other than those hours they are active with their loud cock-a-doodle-do.  Some of them sound like rooster imitations; like me imitating a rooster.

While the NeNe is the state bird, the Rooser is clearly the most widely recognized.  During a visit to Lydgate Beach Park we saw a new family of chickens.  The chicks were fresh from the egg, tiny, and following mom in a nice neat line.

The birds have total range of the island.  Restaurants, shops, parking lots.  Check out the short video of Roosters on the prowl.

Point Reyes Store Fronts

This is my entry for Cee’s Black and White photography challenge.  We spent July 4th driving out to Point Reyes Station where we made dinner reservations at the Station House, got a pastry or two from Bovine Bakery, then headed out to Drakes Estero where we saw fox, coyote, deer, cattle, and loads and loads of birds.  Interestingly enough, the estero was fairly void of its usual assortment of ducks and shore birds.  Just a few cormorants and the odd turkey vulture keeping an eye on things.

The town of Point Reyes Station is only a block or so long, but it hosts some mighty fine shops.  Here are my favorites for this week’s event.

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Among other books in the book shop window was Susan Casey’s The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, and William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days, A Surfing Life.

I enjoyed both books, especially Finnegan’s.  He narrated it on Audible.com.  Great story telling on a subject near and dear to me..

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Point Reyes certainly has surf, but it’s generally way past my ability.  And the mouth of Tomales Bay, at the north end of the jut of land that is Point Reyes National Seashore, is rumored to be a breeding ground for the great white shark.

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No trip to Point Reyes Station is complete without a stop for coffee and pastry at Bovine Bakery.  Pretty much every weekend morning you’ll find a line out the door, and they have a assortment of gluten-free products for my sweetie.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Store Front Signs