April 29, 2011
Today started out just like any other day in Puget Sound. WAIT. SCRATCH THAT! It’s not raining and the sky is blue!
I know my blog says I retire in 49 days 5 hours and 15 minutes (as of this moment), but I taught my last classes the middle of March. I get to try out retirement until my official retirement date – July 1. Before you mathematicians call me to task, I’m calculating till the last day of school. Let’s get back to the blue sunny sky. I just wanted to explain why I’m at home on a school day.
I’m not going to include a photo to accompany this posting. If I do my job right and you give me a REAL moment of your time, you’ll be able to visualize this picture:
I’m puppy sitting for my daughter and her family while they visit the Mouse down in LA. I went up to take her out of her crate so she could do her business and play around in the yard. I had already finished my treadmill walk and total gym workout, so it was time for a bit of hot tub soaking. Since it had FINALLY stopped raining, I thought the extra time for the pup in the sunshine, while I enjoyed the hot tub, was just what the doctor ordered.
It was a cool crisp 35 degree spring morning. I sat back and relaxed, shut my eyes and opened my mind to the sounds of the bay. The first barrage of sound came from some gulls who were doing what gulls do – make a lot of noise. They were arguing over a clam one of them found at the waterline. What would the seashore be without them?
Shutting my eyes again I heard the raucous cry of the beautiful Caspian Tern. I opened the peepers to locate the sound and observed several terns hunting the bay for unwary fish. The birds would occasionally hover over an area and dive to the water’s surface – sometimes successfully and sometimes not. It’s good to have them back from their winter waters.
This was getting to be a lot of fun, so the eyes shut once again. In just a few moments I heard the unmistakable chattering of a Bald Eagle. I wondered what crow or gull was harassing it this time. Upon opening my eyes I was amazed at what drama was unfolding right before me. Two eagles were frolicking back and forth in flight, so close to my location I felt like I could reach out and touch them. They appeared to be large juveniles and I don’t know if there was a problem or just playful skirmishing. One of the birds flew on down the bay, but the other circled back and landed in a fir in the neighbor’s yard. Having noticed a potential tasty breakfast close by, the bird jumped out of the tree and headed for the puppy. The dog had her tail between her legs and obviously recognized she was in danger. I waved my arms and shouted at the eagle and it did a 360 and flew off in search of whatever eagles search for.
OK. That was exciting! Now back to my listening game. I settled back in the hot tub and shut my eyes. The next audible observance was the familiar sound of the Canada Goose. The sound started off feint and increasingly became louder. I opened my eyes and observed something I had not seen before. Two geese were flying down the shoreline from one large tree to another, hovering and almost landing in the tops of the trees. I realized the trees were favorite eagle perches, so I presumed they were doing a recon mission to make sure the coast was clear for the rest of their flock. This is nesting time for the geese, and eagles are their main threat. The two Canadas settled down in the water in front of the house. I watched as the two birds went through some rather bazaar courting rituals. Two geese from across the bay were attracted by their honking, and flew over to join the foray. Ah, spring. It brings out the devilishness in all of us. In a bit they settled down so I could resume my audio experiment.
The next action came from the White-crowned Sparrows that have been hot tubbing with me for days now. They sat on their favorite fence post or shrub and shouted out their cute little diatribe. At least I think they were not happy about the dog interfering with their constant search for food and nest making materials in the grass and amongst the shrubs. But, maybe their song was one of greeting. They usually come out when I’m in the hot tub.
Combined with the song of the White-crowned Sparrow I could hear the Violet-green Swallows chittering as they flew to and fro. They are so swift and graceful in flight.
Well, my 30 minutes in the hot tub are coming to a close. It’s time to put another one of my 5 senses to the forefront to search out any birds that did not make their presence notable in the audio world. I observe a Common Loon in glorious breeding plumage fishing just in front of the house. Not far from it, I see a couple of Horned Grebes that are also adorned in their breeding best. Since winter has refused to be on his way, birds like loons and grebes have lingered on longer than usual. I can’t complain. I usually see just the beginning of their breeding colors, but this year I get to see them in their full glory. I suppose they will be heading out soon, not to be seen again until next winter. I will miss the eerie call of the loon as the haunting sound travels across the waters of the bay.
Two Mourning Doves fly to my neighbor’s fence to make google eyes at each other. An American Goldfinch flits by – no doubt heading for the backyard feeders. The goldfinches just returned yesterday from their winter abode.
Hot Tub time is over until tomorrow when I can do this all over again – rain or shine. I think about the people who spend their day watching soaps like One Life To Live and As The World Turns. The drama of nature is just waaaaay better. You only have “one life to live” on this earth. Make each day count, because it goes by so quickly. Stop. Look. Listen.
Retirement is going to be GOOOOOD! And, this is my life “As My World TERNs”.
Have a nice day.