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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Being Home

Enough of the Pacific Ocean, walking on the beach and thoughts of rogue waves sweeping me to my watery death. I want to spend a few days blogging about being HOME, on the mountain... being at one with the deer and my dogs... hiking and doing my solitary thing that I do best. I will return to the vacation on the ocean in a few days. I just need to ground myself in the beauty of the winter foothills for a while.

The prayers and rain dances worked. We have had rain, off and on, this week and there's more to come. It's not going to change the direction of the drought here in California but it's a relief for the parched ground and feelings of dread that plague the mind.
Last Saturday we had our neighbor "D" over for dinner. He watched our house the week that we were gone. He fed the cat and the chickens, picked up our mail and... He blocked traffic on our country road so that we could get in and out with the monster RV. It's probably not completely legal, but he does it for us anyway, so we don't have to worry about meeting a hay truck or teenagers on, basically, a one lane road. The folks who do stop and wait are mostly regular users of this river road and use to delays. Coming home, he blocked the road at our entrance and no one came by. That's how much traffic we have to deal with... on a Monday afternoon. He likes to do this. What a guy! He's one of the good people in our life and he deserved a home cooked meal. It's small payment for his efforts.
So, when he arrived he brought me more deer antlers.
Yes, more. He gave me some a few weeks back for a project I was doing and so, he brought me another one. Plus... he brought me a very cool deer head with antlers.
I know this is probably not too exciting for some of you, but I love this stuff.
Nature is a work of art and the skeletons are amazingly beautiful if you really look at them... closely.
After I bleached and cleaned the deer head, I let it dry on the porch and then brought it inside .
This was found here, near the river somewhere. We will never know why it died. A mountain lion attack, a disease, remains of a hunt during deer season. I don't know... but I think it's beautiful.
The skull is brittle near the shattered nose but the rest is very hard. Some of the back teeth are still attached.

Look where the skull fits together. Doesn't it make you wonder how this all happens? Why there is one shape for a deer, one for humans and one for each animal on earth. Amazing!
Look at the antlers and the growth pattern.
Intricate, complex and amazing. I think this skull will go on my wall somewhere. I know I've said that I would never have a taxidermed head of any animal on my walls, but this is not stuffed, killed by man (as far as I know) or a trophy for someone's collection... and I think it's a work of art in its present form.

The single antler was cleaned and stained.
It sits on top of a gourd bowl that I edged with oak bark. This antler will be the handle.
I used some Howard's walnut Restor~A~Finish on the antler. It gave the bleached and dried out bone a darker, more finished look. I could, now, use some clear wax on it to shine it up a little. We'll see. I will tie the antler on with leather straps.

I've been hiking up into the hills behind us. One day this week we were in between rainstorms and a cold front came through. It got really cold. That's when I like to walk and hike. The wind was blowing, the air was cold and the spirits of the forest were calling me.
I bundled up... I mean bundled... layers... hooded sweatshirt, heavy socks, my gloves and a lined raincoat.
I walked up the road to the well.
Walked by Maggie's grave.
And continued on up to the ridge.

I touched everything. It's important to touch things... to find a connection and reassure myself of my place in this life. This makes me feel alive. Touch is real. It's comforting.


It was so cold. My fingers were numb and red. The photos don't show the cold. My fingers don't look red, but they were. I would keep putting my hands back into my pockets to warm them.
Then I would hold the camera with my right hand and take pictures for a while. It's a ritual that keeps me grounded and gives me purpose.
Annie was waiting for me when I got back to the house. She's had an attitude ever since we got back from vacation. She keeps giving me that look... you know, that cats can give you when you do something they don't like? Yes, that one.
She didn't go for a walk with me... not even up to the well.
She's being a bit aloof.
She'll get over it.

This morning we had rain again. Not a lot, but it's wonderful and it smells so good.
Everything is soaking up this gentle rain.
 Tiny sprouts of bulbs that I planted last year are coming up. Spring is emerging from the damp earth.
Even one of the garden ladies seems happier about the rain. She generally seems a little sad... but I felt that she was looking at the rain darkened walk and garden... and feeling happier in her own quiet way. Anthropomorphizing the planter again Farmlady? Yes, I guess I am.
Her ivy hairdo is looking better this week. Maybe she's just happy about her hair.
You know how woman can be.

The first daffodil had opened.
 It's so good to be home.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Warming to the Evironment... and the Great Blue.

It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a gentle sea.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
No one was on the pier yet. It was quiet... except for the birds, and water lapping on the shore.
We slept well the first night. The sun rose on Tomales Bay and turned everything blue and gold.
See the front of this boat? That's not yellow paint... that's the reflection of the sun.

'Bird with Twisted Foot' was waiting on the seawall and didn't move away when I came out to take some pictures.

He was interacting with some of the other seagulls and didn't really give me any eye contact. just some side glances.
"Hello bird.", I said nonchalantly, and  then we had a short conversation. Well, it was kind of one sided and I will have to fill in his side of it for you. He spoke in little squeals and mewing sounds. I listened carefully and, like a language that you are just learning, not all of it was clear... but I caught the gist of what he was trying to say.
"My name is not Bird with Twisted Foot.", he started out, "but it's OK for you to use it if you want to."
"What is your name?", I asked.
"My name is Jon. I was named after my great, great, great, great grandfather."
"Seagulls do that, like people do?" I was surprised that this bird would have such a lineage.
"Well, yes. There are a lot of us. It would be confusing if we didn't have names." He looked straight at me. and said, "What's yours?"
"Oh... my name is... uh... Farmlady." I gave him my avatar name.
"No it's not! That's what someone does. That's not a name."
"Well, I don't like to give my real name to just anybody." What would you call me?", I said.
"Henrietta"
"What? Like a chicken? Do I look like a Henrietta?" I was unset that he didn't pick something pretty, like Casandra or Amelia... or Sophia." Why Henrietta?"
"I don't know. I just heard someone shouting that name here last week. It's as good as any."
"Well, Jon, I don't care for it, but if that's what you want to call me, I'm OK with it... I guess."
"You aren't related to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, are you?" I was kind of joking, but he listened and replied.
"I don't know. Is he a famous seagull?  I remember my mother telling me about one of us who flew, not to just get food, but to see how high he could fly. I wanted to try and sometimes I would fly way up, as high as I could, just to see what would happen.  Mom would get angry and talk about recessive genes. I don't do this anymore. I'm too old now and...", he hesitated, "A few years back I had an accident."
"Oh, no.", I said, "What happen?"
He looked out toward the dock that extended into the bay and sighed,
"Well, Henrietta, I got tangled in some fishing line. It was awful. I flew into a fisherman's line and ... well, I don't remember very much after that, I was in kind of a panic. The line got wrapped around my legs and it was tight and I couldn't get it off. A day later this human found me on the beach and cut the string off. I will never forget the kindness and how he kept telling me that it would be OK. I probably wouldn't be able to walk if he hadn't cut the line off of me... or be dead. My leg is crooked and it doesn't work very well but I still have it. That's something to be thankful for. I don't go out near the dock anymore. I try to stay here where it's safer."
"But", he looked up, "I still like to fly. It feels so good to fly up into the air and look down on everything. It's kind of magic. I love to fly. I go out where there is no fishing and nothing to get tangle up in and I can still fly quite high."
I listened to Jon and thought about what it must be like to be a bird. What it must be like to fly, to have wings and be able to leave this earth and hover over it. To have control over your own flight into the air... and to be trapped and tangled in fishing line. What an experience it would be.
"I'm sorry that happen to you, Jon.".
"Thanks. Being near humans is kind of a mixed bag. They seem kind and helpful. They give us food... but, then things like that happen and we wonder what their intentions really are. I guess everything we do comes with consequences. It's just life."
Then, without another word... Jon flew away.

I took more pictures, sitting on the outdoor table and watched the sun come up into the hazy, cloudless day. Later in the day the clouds would build and making interesting patterns in the sky, but right now the sun made its presence known.There was no warmth yet, but Oh... the color of everything... golden... and shiny.
I spotted a Great Blue Heron and a Cormorant on the old pier posts out in the bay. They were enjoying  the early morning sun.
The Heron was really beautiful. I was wishing that I had a longer lens on my camera.  There is a lot of "noise" in these photos because of the distance and cropping, not having a tripod... and other things that would be  too boring if I tried to explain. Suffice it to say, I was lucky they came out this good.
I was delighted to see this bird, this amazingly beautiful bird, sharing space with a common Cormorant.  They both seemed to be in their element. Each so different but living together in one place, sharing the fishing, accepting the environment that was theirs.
My tripod was in the RV but I was afraid that the birds would fly away. Didn't happen. This Heron was still on this pier post, later in the day, when I took a picture of The Prospector and the dogs on the fishing pier.
That is the Great Blue, on the post above the Prospector's head. It was there most of the day. I still didn't use the tripod. I have no excuse.
I finally cropped this bird as close as I could.
They suffer from over processing and look more like paintings than photos but the essence is there.
 This is a stunning bird.This is one of those moments that transcends lazy and inept camera skills. I was happy to see this amazingly beautiful bird, sharing space with the rather common Cormorant. They both seemed to be in their element. Each so different but living together in one place, sharing the fishing, accepting the environment that was theirs.

Oh, look... there was another trailer moving in.  A small teardrop trailer was pulling into a space. As we watched from the pier, the spaces slowly started filling in. We wouldn't be alone tonight.

By the next morning, this was how we looked. People, activity, kids yelling and dogs barking...
 A day later, the campgrounds filled and I began to feel more comfortable in this community of temporary living. I was warming to Lawson's Landing.
This place didn't seem so bleak. I was settling in.
That's not Jon, above. There are lots of Western Gulls. Some look very similar. This was one of many, who  hang around the pier and wait for a piece of dropped bait. They were everywhere.
Carl was not happy about these birds being so close to him. He barked at all of them. It was hard on a small corgi.
 He had to rest a lot in the RV.
Look at this. Poor, tired Carl.
He didn't have control of the situation. It was taking its toll.
And then... there were the CRABS.