Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Birding in my Backyard

I inherited my Dad's Peterson Western Birds Field Guide and my grandma's hand-sewn parrot cloth pocket-sling to carry it in. His "RLH" initials are inked on the top edge of the book. I use my husband's heavy cumbersome binoculars to spy anything that flies and lands in my view.
When Escalante becomes hot we head up into the mountains. Posey Lake is a favorite lake full of fish and lively birds. The lake's surface had the typical swimmers: wigeons, coots, grebes, mallards, a red bodied duck with a blue bill. My field guide said he was a ruddy duck with it's plain brown mate. As my mate fished I took a trek around Posey Lake with the binoculars tugging down my neck. Finches flitted by and robins bobbed under pine trees. A yellow bellied, red headed bird flew onto a Ponderosa branch. A western tanager!
I watched my dog Rocquette do her own birding. She swam franticly toward the ducks with long strands of grasses stringing along her body, like a streaking comet. The mallards were unfazed by the dog's pursuits, their web feet glided smoothly away from the persistent dog.
My girlfriend, Melanie, saw a pygmy-owl flying down her lane one night last May. She's a practiced birder after our annual Audubon Christmas Bird count. What a treat for her.
A freak spring snowstorm pushed a few exotic smaller waders to our local Wide Hollow reservoir. We witnessed an avocet, royal terns, and a couple of black bellied plovers hung out along the shore. Gulls darted around the uncommon flock of birds.
Our neighborhood female northern harrier swoops low near our house, usually daily, searching for the exposed cottontail rabbits. Hopefully, she won't mistake my little Jack Russell Terrier as easy prey. We have a pair of golden eagles breeding up the road where I have found their aerie in the rock band in the face of the Kaiparowitis plateau.
Birds come and go as they migrate through our area. I sometimes wonder if my Dad encourages the birds to cross my path from his position in heaven or if it's me just waking up to the world of birds. Whatever. I'm glad I'm alive and alert to any birds that I may see or hear in my world.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I'm confronting my fear of hunger. This is my 3rd day of my 10 day juice fast. I'm hungry. I have to leave the room when my husband eats. The smells of the cooking food drives my stomach juices crazy. I leave and take a walk. The critters I see are wanting for food too. The ruthless turkey vulture flying over head wants to eat the fly encrusted dead rabbit on the side of the road. My dog wants the foul smelling meat too (didn't I just feed her?). Is that lizard scurrying by ever have its appetite satisfied? I've never come across a wild obese creature. I tell my self to ignore the ravenousness emptiness and get nourishment from other elements. The sun warms my body. Ever changing cloud formations distract my cravings for food. Sage scents engulfs my senses. I hope this odor will fill my belly.
Being a Hedonist I love to eat well. My fear of moving to a small rural town was the inaccessibility to good varied food. Our local grocery store has the basics and will try and get organics whenever available. We have a few restaurants, one that even serves alcohol with meals. I've learned to make my own gourmet meals. The fresh farm eggs are a treat and now our garden is full of organic veggies. I belong to a food co-op. I appreciate the abundance of food here in Escalante.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Eating Aesthetics

Wilderness is all around us, even outside of Escalante.
I finally noticed an old bumper sticker in town that reads: "Wilderness. Land of the Useless," on a local's old truck. That sticker and attitude has been around a long time. At least it makes me think of why wilderness is important to me.
I could be at the ocean watching the subtle tides ebbing and flowing or wondering if a flash flood could sweep through the canyon I'm hiking in. The sandy washes and beaches don't care if I'm trudging through sand to reach my destination. I'm a thief to the blue herons or turkey vultures by taking their coveted sea food or carrion. Rockslides and earthquakes happen whether I'm present or not.
I'm the useless entity. I don't produce coal. Or wood for my house. The wilderness does not want to consume me.
Solitude and silence soothes my soul. To hear nothing is a treat or a threat to some. What would happen if you can only hear your thoughts? Maybe the voice of a bird will bring you to the moment and not to your destination or memories. Imagine waking up in the morning to the sun versus the alarm clock. See no man-made structures or signs for a day and get a glimpse of your spirit conversing with wilderness. It may be useful.