I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Friday, April 19, 2013

Seeking Peace

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul.

 It is daily admission of one's weakness.

 It is better in prayer to have a heart without words
 than words without a heart.”
~Mahatma Gandhi~

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Over Zealous Miners from Michigan

Just before you drive down into Rancho Murieta, on highway 16, in the California Foothills, you can see the landscape change. The hills look different.
It is because this whole area has a history. It's where GOLD was discovered on the Cosumnes River in 1849.
Two men from Michigan found some gold along the river and within a very short time there was a town and  people swarming over this area. They wanted to get the gold as fast and as efficiently as possible. So the process of hydraulic mining was used.

Now there is no one here. Mainly a highway going up into the foothills, a clay company, some cows and, in the spring, hills covered with many kinds of wildflowers and yellow lupine.
 The Michigan Bar Mining District covered a large area. Placer gold deposits were mined extensively between 1849 and 1900 primarily by hydraulic and ground sluicing techniques. Dredging was another successful technique and extended the district's mining life into the 1950's. The total gold production in this district has been estimated at over 1,500,000 ounces.
But the miners made a terrible mess of the area because they didn't have good mining practices back then. Because they wanted to get more of the gold out of the ground they turned to larger mining practices, using water to break down the material. They called it hydraulicking. It was a form of mining using high-pressure jets of water to dislodge rock material and move sediment. The water-sediment slurry was then run through sluice boxes to remove the gold. The hydraulic mining left scars on the land that, to this day, are still visible.

But Mother Nature has worked some magic and healed most of her wounds. When Spring comes and the wildflowers bloom, this area is just about as beautiful as it gets around here.
 Above is Michigan Bar Rd looking north toward the Cosumnes River.Those are poppies and blue lupine lining the road. There are a couple of ranches down at the river and some old buildings, but mostly it's just rolling hills and a long gravel road.
If you turn around and look south, you can see the strange shape of hills that were created by huge hydraulic water guns..
If you look closer... you can see how the water pressure cut into the hills as if someone took a bite out of them.
The folks that mined this way thought that hydraulic mining was an efficient way to get the gold out of the ground but the erosion and damage to the land was horrific.
Today the land looks beautiful, with some slightly funny looking  hills and a few red dirt remnants left to tell the tail.
There are some beautiful old valley oaks here and there.
And the wildflowers (including the yellow lupine) have, again, laid their clam to the land.
Nature is always healing man's mistakes.
We need to be more careful. We don't want to damage this beautiful world beyond its ability to repair itself or we will find ourselves without a world at all and my grandchildren need a place to live.







Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pigeon Alliance at Joe's Crab Shack

There are always pigeons. They're not the same as seagulls and rats at the water's edge, but they are always around and they interest me. Living a life of scavenging and close calls, here, they seem to find purpose under the feet of man.
As we ate our dinner over the waters of the Sacramento river, we began to notice something scurrying under the tables.
Vague forms... here and then gone. I could see that these little land rovers were not mice or rats but birds... pigeons to be specific, and moving at the speed of light under and through the tables on this open deck.
I grabbed my camera and tried to document the coming and goings of this bird of opportunity.

Moving at a fast pace, grabbing a tidbit and  scampering away quickly.
This reminded me of another group (gang) that use to come into a store that I worked in just before I got married. It was in Berkeley, California in 1964. I was working for Roos Atkins across from the University of California. We sold wonderful, rather expensive clothing  and there were some folks who thought that they should have these clothes and not pay for them. They would come in "gangs" and split up. One would occupy a sales person while the other would take things to the dressing rooms. Eventually, we received photos of these gangs and were able to alert the managers if we saw one of the "gang members" come into the store.
It's a little harder with pigeons.
They tend to move more quickly and seems to disappear into thin air.
This one is vanishing  into nothingness. Do you see this? His head and front foot are almost gone and his shadow is blending into the concrete. He's disappearing. I knew something fishy was going on. I would try to take a picture and all of a sudden... the bird wouldn't be there. 
When I got home I read up on these birds. Here is all the information you will ever want to know about Pigeons.
After all, they have carried messages, stopped wars and filmed secret meetings with foreign countries.
Yes, I had to laugh too. 
I guess we shouldn't laugh at all because there are between 17 and 28 million pigeon type birds in this world and, as Gandhi said, "... 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians, if those Indians refuse to cooperate." (Substitute mankind for "Englishmen" and Pigeons for "Indians".)
So, I think we need to have a little more respect for these pretty and intelligent birds.

They walk kind of funny
  but then... I can't fly, so who am I to criticize.

We had a great lunch and the pigeons did the rest. That floor was really clean compared to most restaurants.
Did you know that Some Sikhs also feed pigeons because they believe that when they are reincarnated they will never go hungry if they have fed pigeons in their previous life.  Other religious groups in India believe that when a person dies his or her soul assumes the form of a bird (normally a pigeon) and therefore by feeding birds they are caring for the souls of their departed ancestors. Interesting theory. 
If this is true, more respect for these birds is in order.

Hope you're having a peaceful and relaxing Sunday.