Wild Life

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Sea otter, Ano Nuevo State Park, Pescadero, California

For all of you wildlife lovers, here is a 5-minute video of sea otters in British Columbia:

 

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Key West

I am here at the southernmost southern point in the United States. Cannot go to Key West and not see the Hemingway House and go on a boatride or two. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy. Hey! Did you know that Key West was once owed by a Cuban man (it was private ownership) who sold the island to an American? Yep! It’s true.

Modern day pirate ship in the Gulf Coast
a real museum piece on a Key West sidewalk. (Zero emissions!)
who the heck knows what that geodesic ball is! It’s on a spit of land owned by the Navy.
Cats, cats, everywhere!
Cats, cats, everywhere!
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One of Hem’s old typewriters
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Cat House! Zoom in to see the cat resting inside
Cuban bananas at the Hemingway place (These trees are about 9-ft tall!)

On a Jetty by the Bay: The Wave Organ Sculpture

on a jetty by the bay

 

I arrived at high tide, positioned myself next to one of the listening tubes and waited for it to deliver the sounds of the waves from below. Nothing. I tried another tube, again, nothing. This acoustic sculpture just didn’t work for me! Still, I found inspiration here (bodies of water work wonders for my creative process!) and did a couple of quick sketches in pen. Two of them are included here.
For more on The Wave Organ, see, Acoustic Sculpture by the San Francisco Bay.

Water Story (Fairy Tale, Part II)

4 -life in a bromeliad poolLife on Bromeliadia Island

In the beginning, there was just the rain – rain all day and rain all night. Water ran along and beyond every hill and every canyon. On and on it ran until sea and sky merged together and became one. This is when Slender Bromeliad gave birth to River Mumma. Unlike her brothers and sisters, the ginger bromeliads, River Mumma, from her very inception, refused to stand still or to remain in one place.

When all of the ginger bromeliads’ water tanks were filled to capacity and brimming over, they would call out to one and all, telling us to come live with them in the cave. That is how I got there. Oh it was a magical place, filled with forests and rare understories. It was a perfect home for iguanas and mountain river fish and bromeliads.

Day and night, night and day, the ginger bromeliads and Slender Bromeliad collected rainwater. In the void, the chasm, the abyss of the caves, they all worked hard to keep Water Table level. While River Mumma roamed up and down the mountain and back, her mother and siblings stayed put, replenishing subterranean springs upon which Water Table balanced.

Life in Castle Cave

Rain collectors, as bromeliads are also known, arch their gutters into curves until they overlap to form tight, protective bowls. This is no easy feat and in fact, is really hard work. In a good year, they amass so much water that the creatures of the forest cannot help but find new ways to enjoy the bounty. Some of them even make their homes in the bromeliads’ slender stalks.

The first time Red Crab visited Slender Bromeliad’s castle, Slender Bromeliad was busy sunbathing. What seemed to be shutters to the castle turned out not to be shutters at all, but windows. And far from being closed, the windows were flung wide open. Red Crab climbed across the roof and down the wall near Slender Bromeliad. “Anybody home?” she called out. Slender Bromeliad ignored her. She inched closer sideways. “She can’t hear you,” came a voice from the gutters. Red Crab moved closer. “Are you a tourist or are you looking for a home?” “What?” responded Red Crab. “Are you looking to live here too?” asked Blue Damselfly, trying not to sound too hopeful.

The luxurious blue creature with iridescent wings was happy to see Red Crab. She knew she could count on her to provide nutrients for her larvae. She had, in fact, been waiting and hoping for company to arrive. When Blue Damselfly first made her way to the cave, Slender Bromeliad’s tank had been under the control of miscreants. Damselfly quickly put an end to that and all the miscreants disappeared. Now Blue Damselfly needed a new source of food for her larvae. Her host, Slender Bromeliad, was oblivious to all of this. She was too worried about her wandering progeny, River Mumma, who she heard, had taken the reflection of their cave and placed it firmly in Gold Mine for all to see. No good could possibly come of that.

The Troubles

River Mumma had become a main source of worry for Slender Bromeliad who no longer, if ever, had control over her last born. First there had been the business of all the fish children she spawned with iguana. Now there was the matter of her goings and comings and her late returns home. That had been okay during the rainy season. Now, however, a second season had arrived on the island and like River Muma, it too, seemed to be up to no good. The fish children that lived in the mountain streams were starting to talk. They said the sun was getting jealous of iguana and was getting hotter and hotter under the collar. They feared he might stop River Mumma from returning home one day. What they really were afraid of was that she would dry up, wither away, and then they too, would disappear. Worse yet, if she took the castle with her, the underground springs would dry up too.

5- magical, enchanted Pan IguanaThey blamed it all on iguana for having tempted River Mumma to flow on out of the cave. They said iguana had tricked her into spawning fish in the lower rivers and even further below, in the salt laden sea. Lately, they claimed, he had taken to running pipes along her banks just to keep her close. It was he, they said, that kept her tethered to the golden table that shimmered and glowed and threatened to capsize any day now. He put her at risk and now she was in everybody’s crosshairs. River Mumma, of course, didn’t see any of this their way. She was merely charting her own course and beating her own path. And as for Pan, where would he find pipes in a land without pipes? None of this made sense, unless of course, the place ahd been bewitched by the fairies. Had it?

 

If you wish to read Part I of this tale, please click on this link.

Water People, A Fairy Tale

Pan tells his story
Pan  Iguana Tells His Story

 

PART I: 

Pan Tells His Story

Ford the river. Cross the Cockpits. Stop when you reach the fountainhead. This is where Fishman and Fishwoman hid the golden table and secured it for all eternity. If ever you should see a golden glow on the water, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the sunlight glistening off the surface. It is Gold Mine, where Fishman and Fishwoman washed their gold and hid the golden table. Peer into the water and you are bound to see the empty squares, ruins from a world long gone.

The Ruins of Gold Mine

Gold Mine is the section of the river that shimmers and glistens in the midday sun. It is River Mumma’s temporary resting place. Being part fish she roams from fountainhead to tributary, to sea and back, populating the river with her fish children.

River Mumma and her Fish Children
The River Mumma

At noontime you will find River Mumma reclining and playing with her many children. If ever you should see her sitting atop a large table in the middle of the river, beware. Do not look at her and do not let her see you either. Should your eyes meet hers, terrible things will happen. Most important of all, don’t ever try to capture her. If she is caught, the river will dry up. So please, forget I ever told you about the golden table, River Mumma and her beautiful, exquisite comb of gold. Follow me instead to the cave in the hill where Slender Bromeliad, River Mumma’s mother, lives.

NEXT: Part II, Bromledia Island

Foggy, Windy, Point Reyes National Seashore

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Point Reyes Lighthouse, view from one of the 300+ steps leading down, down down
Point Reyes National Seashore

Here is a wild, windy, foggy side of California. The lighthouse at Point Reyes is closed when it gets too windy. This part of California is said to be the windiest, foggiest area in all of the Pacific. It is also a great place to whale watch. When I visited several days ago, I saw grey whales (in the waters below the lighthouse), elephant seals (at Drake’s Beach and Chimney Rock), birds (everywhere!), native wildflowers (along the Chimney Rock Trail) and tule elk (down by Drake’s Beach and out by Tomales Bay). What a trip!

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Finally, an upright photo of the lighthouse. Still foggy though.
 Jamaican Connection

An old name from my Jamaican history books surfaced here; it is that of the old English buccaneer (pirate), Francis Drake. Drakes’ Beach, where I saw elephant seals, and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, the main thoroughfare leading into Point Reyes, are named for him. I wonder, do they know here in California, that he was an old pirate and slave trader and not simply, “the English explorer who landed off the Point Reyes coast and claimed California for the Queen?”

EARLY COAST GUARD HISTORY

Check out the Chimney Rock section of Point Reyes Seashore to learn about America’s early Coast Guard program. You can also see elephant seals here. If it is a nice enough day and the fog lifts, you can see the Farallon Islands from the tip of the Chimney Rock Trail. (You will also see a lot of birds and wildflowers here.)

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Historic Life Boat Station at Chimney Rock

 

 

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Boat dock at Chimney Rock, looking towards Drakes’ Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I saw several tule elk down near Drake’s Beach and an entire herd crossing over the hills by Tomales Bay near sunset. (This sunset crossing may end up being translated into a painting!) You can learn about tule elk by watching this short video. Something I learned is that the tule elks’ mating behavior is very much like that of the elephant seals’. Who knew?

 

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