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Welcome to Riverswind notes

I hope you will join in my adventures here in Humboldt County and elsewhere as I explore nature & people.



I welcome your comments.



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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve


This is the most beautiful Christmas one could dream or hope for. Our Quadrafire wood stove is keeping our chalet in the woods warm and cozy. I went out earlier and split some wood that our new neighbors and now great friends gave us earlier in the year when they cleared their property for a home. Although we are in the midst of preparation for our move to California, today we will just relax and enjoy the ambiance and joy of the season. I walked out to the river and took these photos to share with all of you and especially my Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. When I was standing in the shallow edge of the river a Kingfisher's rattling voice reverberated in the canyon and I watched it fly upstream and land on a snow covered branch sending a waterfall of snow tumbling to the ground.The rocks in the river above the water line are covered with snow and the water is crystal clear.

The temperature has warmed to 3 degree's above freezing. As a result large snow bombs are dropping here and there from the trees some breaking into smaller pieces as they hit branches on their way to the ground. Even limbs are falling now and then from the weight of the snow.
This is truely a winter wonderland.

We are fortunate to be here at this moment in time to experience such a glorious white Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all of our children and those we sponser through the "Christian Children's Fund.

Now it's time to enjoy the company of my wife and two cats and warm up in front of the fire.

Monday, December 22, 2008

White Christmas


It's been a while since my wife and I have experienced anything like it but this year we are having a White Christmas. We're busy packing to move to Northern California where my wife will continue her outstanding career at Humboldt State University as Director of Planned Giving. We feel like we're getting a wonderful sendoff with the snow. It is a soft fluffy snow and today I went out to record it and look for animal tracks.

The entire Pacific Northwest has been hit by an arctic blast and it looks like it will be with us for at least another week. Hopefully we will not get a rapid thaw which causes rivers to rise rapidly as well. Some people look at this kind of weather as a problem but to us it is beautiful and we plan to enjoy every moment.

Above are the tracks of what appears to be a cottontail rabbit. While I try to enjoy the moment as I step softly in the snow I can't help feeling the sadness of leaving this place we have grown to love so much.
It has been another memorable chapter in our lives and although we will miss our friends here and the many places we have hiked we look forward to new and most likely challenging adventures.

We hope that someone who appreciates the beauty of nature will find this place and live here harmoniously
with the outstanding riparian woodland and the sight and sounds of the river from their deck and the upstairs loft.
Wishing everyone who reads this a very happy holiday season and a merry Christmas.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving

Time to head em up and move em out. rolling, rolling rolling.... This is the time of year when I look forward to being with my mother, children and grandchildren and their children. All of my cousins and many of their children and grandchildren and so on.
My dear uncle Eddie will be there too and he is one month away from reaching the ripe ole age of 97.



Rose and Eddie caught in a camera trap

Eddie is a great human being who served in the Navy during World War II and was a Lt. Commander. He has many stories to tell and he loves to tell them. Not many years earlier it was my mother alone who hosted this gathering and did all of the cooking and it was delicious to say the least.
This year we are having a potluck dinner in which everyone will bring a dish or perhaps just some nuts to nibble on while we sip our wine and greet each other warmly waiting for the turkey which I will be cooking. There are at least 40 coming this year and it will be loud and crazy with a lot of warm hugs and conversation. When the main dish has been eaten the desert goes fast and before you know it people are leaving already, but it seems like we just got started.

Each year I wish that there was just a little more time to talk to everyone in more depth about life and other things. We have been gathering here at my mother's for over 40 years now and somehow deep down I hope it never ends, this magical day when everyone just relaxes and enjoys each others company. This day in particular reminds us of those loved ones that previoulsy gathered here but are gone now and will be with us in spirit always.

Gertrude and Warne Lark, Randy my beloved son, Denby Lark, my step father Jimmy Britt, Our sweet Auntie Marion, and my dear cousin Lynne's daughter, Robin.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fish in Trees


It was only last week that my friend Ben Dennis and I stood on the river shelf gazing down at large Salmon spawning upstream. This was a good sight realizing that this once plentiful species still returns at least in smaller numbers to it's ancient beginnings. Then the storms began. (See previous post).

After the river receeded I walked out our trail with rubber boots and noticed more sand filtered through the native plants. Nootka Rose, Vine Maple, Red Osier Dogwood and other vegetation bent 90 degrees facing downstream. Flotsam of trash tangled in limbs have traveled in high waters from somewhere upstream .

The odor of dead fish everywhere, some in trees left there to dry and decompose. This is where these fish began. First as eggs deposited in a gravel "redd" by their spawning parents, protected by surrounding gravel from being eaten by predators. In a couple months they rise up as small fry to feed on tiny insects that have been nurished by the decaying flesh of the adults before them. It's miraculous in a stream full of organisms that would feast on them if provided the opportunity that they made it to the ocean and returned as adults to spawn and die. I ponder their survival as I gaze at their putred smelling bodies hanging in the trees before me. I use a stick to pick them up and place them in the stream to add nutrients which will help the next generation to repeat this amazing life cycle.
I rejoice at this time each year when I catch the drift of decaying salmon and see their dead remains in the water or stranded in the vegetation.
It reminds me that the cycle continues to thrive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The ups and downs of living on a river

It has rained a lot lately as it usually does this time of the year in the Pacific Northwest. Our raingauge has collected 7.3" in 6 days and more rain is predicted through the week with possible let up by the weekend.
The USGeological Survey Water data at Heisson bridge on the East Fork of the Lewis river in Clark County, Washington recorded: 4,020 CFS and a gage height of 16.59 at 1500 yesterday. The photos below show the difference a day makes after continous rain for 24 hrs.


I stayed up this night watching the river rise, hoping that the rain would let up. The sound of the powerful river was like the roar of the large rapids that I remember while rafting the Colorado. Fortunately, the rain subsided by 20:00 and by 24:00 the river crested at 20 feet gage height, and 10,700 cfs. WHEW! Fortunately I recovered my beaver camera trap just in time.
.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

River Poetry

My wife Kimberley Pittman-Schulz is a Poet and several of her poems have appeared in magazines and periodicals including: Avocet, Cairn, the Oregonian, Rosebud, The Merton Seasonal, and The Sun. I share with you here a poem she wrote for me and is included in her recently reworked manuscript for her book of poems entitled :
MOSSLIGHT.





River’s Wind

For Terry

Late light on the river
shows us where the beaver lifts
his dark face
from darker water,
willow leaves in his lips, willow limbs
stripped and bare as bones
at our feet.

At the end of the day,
we feel the ending.
Two kingfishers rattle
in the firs and fall silent;
a single, yellow alder leaf
spins downstream,
sinking into dusk.

I look into your eyes
and see they are not pebbles.
The river moves in them—
both fixed and flowing, they are alive
in this moment, two blue flowers
caught in the river’s wind.

The beaver drifts
toward us, just forehead and wet eyes
glinting on the surface, so that
in the dimness he could be
nothing more than water
folding in on itself.

A coolness lifts and
the sky bruises purple,
a dozen bats suddenly above us,
licking into the night. All we want
is here, now. I lean into your left arm,
each of us holding on
as long as we can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Another Beaver shot


I checked my camera trap today in pouring down rain and found 4 more beaver photos taken on 10-28-08 between 11:15 and 11:30 PM. These photos show more of the beaver since I removed some vegetation that had obscured part of the big fellow last time. No activitiy for the last 8 days.
It's amazing how excited I get each time I check my camera trap with the anticipation of catching a new and different veiw of a beaver. Old men are really just kids at heart!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Catching a Beaver.

I was fortunate this year to participate in a camera trap workshop with three former San Francisco State University Biology students of the 60"s era.

Photo by R.Tenaza

One of them Dr. Chris Wemmer (above center), a retired Smithsonian scientist, who lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills was our mentor and camera trap expert. Chris writes an outstanding blog on camera trapping: http://cameratrapcodger.blogspot.com/ We spent 3 days learning how to build a camera trap, how to use them and put them in the most productive sites.
There was much to learn and Chris had a captive audience of 3 old Biologists who were looking for new adventures capturing wild animals on a digital infra red camera. Just spending time with these great gentleman with storied careers as scientist and educators was a privilege. Dr. Richard Tenaza, Professor of Zoology at University of Pacific,
and Dr. Reno Taini, Outstanding Teacher awardee in California, were the other members of our codger group.


The photo above shows, from left to right: Tenaza, Taini and Wemmer.
Since then I have tried to get photos of the animals in and around my property here on the East Fork of the Lewis river. Until recently I have managed to get some good photos of opossums, racoons, birds, squirrels, mice and deer. This month I finally got the beaver photos that I was hoping for. I set my camera near a Big Leaf Maple tree that had been worked on by beaver for nearly one year. The tree with a base diameter of 2 feet had been cut but did not fall. Instead it's canopy of large branches got hung up on another larger Maple about 25 feet away. The beaver returns on a irregular schedule to continue chopping off chunks ("bullets") on which the bark has been stripped and eaten. To this date there are 4 "bullets" about 20 inches in length and the 5th shown in the photo below about to join the others.


This tree is more than 20 yards from the river with a well worn path through the vegetation leading to it.
The beaver eats the bark and cambium as well as leaves,twigs and roots of mostly deciduous trees. However, my wife and I have watched a beaver from our bench over looking the river eating the bark of a fallen Douglas Fir.


Because this river is undamned it's velocity and height fluctuate dramatically during the rainy season and sometimes wipes out the beavers bankside lodge.

This photo shows the broad paddle-like flat tail of the beaver which is used as a rudder when swimming. Obviously beavers can cause major damage to sensitive riparian areas but in some cases their activities can be considered beneficial. For more detailed information on Beavers see:


Stay tuned for further adventures and more beaver shots.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Close calls

In the early 70's while Murray Fowler was on sabatical leave I worked with Dr. Roy Hendrickson on Zoo rounds at the Sacramento Zoo. In those days the Zoo was a mish mash of farm-like enclosures for many of the Ungulates and Camels. We needed to restrain a camel to check it's foot for a problem noted by one of the keepers. It was roped around the neck and then tied to a large post in the ground. As we moved in to check the foot the camel reared back and the post came flying out of the ground. The camel more frightened by the post began turning in circles and the post became a flying missle which nearly wiped a couple of us out as it circled the entire enclosure.
Everyone luckily got out of the way but it was a very close call on that day.

While assisting Murray Fowler get a young camel into a cattle scale to weigh it the camel became nervous and got one of it's legs between the outer rail. As I grabbed the camels foot to push it back into the chute it turned and grabbed me by the back of the neck. Murray saved my life by punching the camel squarely on the nose which caused it to release it's hold on my neck. Had it shook it's head with my neck in it's teeth I wouldn't be sitting here writing about it today. I've always appreciated that Murray did what he had to do on that day. For the next week or so I walked around with my head slightly tilted and a very sore neck.

Murray Fowler and I were inside the Giraffe Barn at the Sacramento Zoo trying to get a long stomach tube down the throat of a recumbant Giraffe. During the procedure the Giraffe began thrashing it's long legs as if running on it's side. As it continued to thrash on the straw covered floor it became clear that we were cornered and the legs were getting closer and closer.

I realized that if hit by one of the thrashing legs it would be all over so I instinctively dove over the animals body and tumbled on the floor reaching safety. When I got up Murray was still cornered and I shouted to him to jump. I remember the look on his face was one of a person faced with a do or die decision. He soon dove over the giraffe also realizing it was the only way out. Another close call!


A young male elephant was delivered to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for castration.

Dr. Murray Fowler would be the first person to successfully castrate an elephant. Male elephants go through a musth period not clearly understood physiologically but characterized by restlessness and aggressive behavior. Castration was indicated in this particular 8 year old male named Delinger due to it's recent history of destructive behavior. After the elephant had it's Testicle removed and was recovering in a outdoor enclosure it had to be medicated with large doses of Antibiotics on a daily basis. I was given the responsibility to deliver the antibiotics with a 30 cc syringe.

This responsibilty turned out to be not only difficult but treacherous. Although the elephant was tethered by chains to a metal fence it still had the inclination to slap at me with it's tail and trunk as I injected the very viscous antibiotic slowly into it's body. I learned to bob and weave while injecting with one hand using my other to deflect the attack. It was like defensive boxing which I had learned years earlier from my step father Jimmy Britt who was a former professional out of Tacoma Washington. I also learned quickly not to get between the elephant and the fence or it would squeeze you against it. It would additionally try to step on you if you were not careful.

A good friend and Zoo keeper at the Sacramento Zoo the late Tony Peters was seriously hurt by an Elephant. The elephants legs caught him as it attempted to get up from a recumbant position and knocked him to the ground. Tony recovered from that incident but his body was never the same.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Snakes in my life

I have always been curious about nature and as a boy I often brought snakes and other critters home to show to my parents. My mother always acted interested but I could always tell from her body language that she would rather I didn't bring them into the house. Back in the mid 60's I was a student at S.F.State University and working as a instructor in the Natural History of Vertebrates in the biology department. During this time I visited family and friends in Guerneville, California one spring weekend. My friend Tom King, a Banker in town and I decided to go trout fishing in the hills behind Armstrong woods which is now a State Park. While fishing I saw a young Rattle snake and snared it with my fishing pole and line. I Proudly showed it to Tom who backed off abruptly and wondered what I was going to do with it. I told him that I planned to use it in my class and then return it to the wild. As we walked across the creek to go to the place we left our gear I walked near a Yellow Jacket nest and was surrounded by agitated Yellow jackets. I responded by running rapidly,splashing through the water during which the snake came loose but where it landed was a mystery. We were both anxious for a few seconds wondering if the snake was on our person. It wasn't and we were both relieved.

A couple of years later I was on a expedition to Baja, Mexico while working with Dr.Frank Radovsky at the George Williams Hooper Foundation in San Francisco. We went there to collect mammals and look for a flea that infests them. A very unique flea in which the female becomes hypertrophied behind the ear of it's host looking much like a boil. While hiking near San Quintin I climbed to the top of a volcanic hill and put my hand very close to a beautiful nearly golden colored rattle snake that looked me squarely in the eye. The adrenalin pumping and sweat dripping off my forehead was an indication that I should slowly retreat to a safe distance. I was carrying a butterfly net and carefully netted it to take back to camp and show my colleagues. Frank decided to take it back and give it to the California Academy of Sciences where it was determined to be a rare species.

While working in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis we had a couple
of snakes in our lab in the early 70's. I remember that two fireman came in to do their annual fire inspection. They were very curious about the snakes and had me take one out and show them. A couple weeks later the same fireman showed up at my door and asked me to help them recover a rattle snake that had escaped on campus. I gathered my snake hook and a Muslin sack and we were off in a large Fire truck. I was told that a student was riding his bike with a bell jar and snake inside when he dropped it on campus allowing the snake to slither away under a parked car. Upon arriving it was my task to locate and restrain the snake. However, I couldn't locate the snake under the car so suggested that the fireman try to wash it out with their fire hoses. This method didn't work so we called a tow truck to lift the rear end of the car to get a better look. In the meantime the press had showed up as well as several dozen curious onlookers. I finally spotted the snake after the car was lifted and it was curled around the axle behind one of the wheels. With my faithful snake hook I prodded it to move and it dropped to the ground allowing me an opportunity to lift it and place it into my Muslin sack. My photo was taken as I rescued the snake and the story appeared in a couple of the local Davis Newspapers as well as the Sacramento Bee. The byline in the Davis Enterprise on May 19,1972 "Car has to be lifted to catch clever rattler". and "Sly Snake outwits fearful fireman". The author wrote:
"Schulz tried the professional coaxing approach but the snake wouldn't listen".
. In the Davis Democrat May 20, 1972 the headline was "Noisy victim has fire lads baffled". The last sentence read: "Schulz got the crawly critter with his hook, dumped it in the bag and the day was saved". Finally on May 21 the Sacramento Bee had a small story entitled: "Incident in Davis, Rattler is Recaptured". In the article is written: "the crowd cheered as Schulz took a stick and knocked the snake down. Then using a snake hook, he placed the poisonous belly-crawler in a thick Muslim bag". These were excellent examples of how newspaper journalist attempt to over dramatize reality. The story didn't end there however because when the Fireman drove me back to my office I stopped to answer questions from our curious Administrative Assistant Mary Watkins and while talking I placed the snake filled Muslim bag on a chair nearby. I didn't notice that Dr. Murray Fowler had entered the room until he was about to sit down on the chair that was inhabited by the snake in the bag. As he slowly started to sit on the chair I shouted don't sit down there is a rattle snake in the bag. He writes about this incident in his book entitled "Murray" " Hummingbirds to Elephants".
http://www.amazon.com/Murray-Hummingbirds-Elephants-Autobiography-Fowler/dp/0964661888/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226512475&sr=1-7
He admits that he had grown up with a fear of snakes and from his reaction my guess was that he was not pleased that I left the bag on the chair on that day or any day thereafter.

On another occasion we brought a portable X-Ray machine to the Sacramento Zoo to radiograph a 15 foot Anaconda in it's large enclosure. The enclosure was also occupied by some very large Boa Constrictors as well. I was holding the X-Ray machine over the area to be radiographed and noticed out of my peripheral vision that one of the Constrictors was 2 feet from my head with it's head facing in my direction and tongue protruding intermittently. I tried to ignore the possibility that he could strike me in the face at any moment and the few minutes it took to complete our objective seemed endless on that day.

While rafting the Colorado river in 1982 with my good friend Steve Boyd and five other folks I had another encounter with a rattle snake. We were camped out for 2 nights at a beautiful spot halfway through our 225 mile trip to rest and relax. I was coming back to camp after a brief fishing excursion when I heard Milt Blackman, a Davis Optometrist yelling loudly and holding a large rock over his shoulder. I asked him what was going on and he responded that there was a rattle snake under a bush. He said that he intended to kill it with the rock because he didn't want it in his sleeping bag during the night. I convinced him that I would "handle" the situation which turned out to be true both literally and figuratively. I immediately found a dry stick and prodded the snake to move away. Without hesitation I picked it up by the tail at the base of the rattles as it crawled away, holding it at arms length away from my body. I began walking away from our camp carrying the snake and looked back at Milt who appeared as though he couldn't believe his eyes, his jaw hanging while muttering you're crazy man. I must have walked over 200 yards then placed the snake down and watched it rapidly slither away out of sight. I had done my job saving a subspecies of Croatalis viridis that occurs only in the Grand Canyon.
My friend couldn't get over the fact that I had picked up a poisonous snake and that evening while sitting around the campfire he kept repeating "I can't believe Schulz picked that snake up with his bare hands". In retrospect I wish that someone on the trip had photographed me holding it because I can't believe it either.

In the ensuing years of my career in Zoo Medicine I was charged with teaching Junior Veterinary Students Restraint and handling of birds,reptiles and other exotic animals for clinical examination and drawing blood for analysis. On one occasion while demonstrating how to remove a rattle snake from its enclosure and handle it safely a female student collapsed apparently fainting from watching me handle the snake. It turned out that she had a morbid fear of snakes and it took much courage on her part to even attend the class.

While taking a freshman Veterinary class on a Zoological Medicine Tour of the Sacramento Zoo I came close to "Buying the Farm". I took them behind the scenes in the Reptile house and was explaining how the squeeze cages work for the poisonous snakes on exhibit. I opened the top door of the squeeze to show them how the wire insert below could be pushed down to restrain a snake. As I slid the door back with my left hand my right was near the top of the box. When I got the lid halfway back I saw the Green Mamba's head that had worked it's way above the wire squeeze enclosure and was no more than a foot from my right hand. My response was quick and deliberate thrusting the lid back so hard that if the snake had it's head between the lid and top it would have been decapitated. My adrenalin had peaked at that very moment as I realized that I came very close to being bitten by one of the deadliest snakes in the world. After that incident the enclosures were locked.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finding old friends

This week my friend Rich Tenaza a professor for over 30 years at University of Pacific asked me if I would be interested in a S.F.State University Biology Dept. reunion. Of course I said, well actually I said "Does a bear shit in the woods"? Since then I have been motivated to find people that I remember who touched my life in a special way. One of the first persons I found was a good friend that I unfortunately lost touch with over the years. We worked together on a project for a class in Parasitology in the middle 60's. I found him easily on the internet and then asked myself 'why did it take me so long"? His response was "Wow is this really you"? He is now Dr.Jay Narayan who had a very distinguised career in the field of Laboratory Clinical Sciences and Retired recently as Director of Clinical Laboratory, Pathology, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Radiation Oncology at Seton Medical Center. I always knew that Jay would be a highly successful individual as he was highly motivated as a student. In retrospect I seemed to form friendships with people who became very successfull in their lives. The next person I found was Larry Penny who worked with me on another laboratory project in a Cell Physiology class taught by a young Dr.George Araki in the 60's. Most people who have been successful are easy to find these days and I found Larry on the first try. Larry stated that he had thought of Rich and I often and was excited about seeing us again. He is the "Director of Natural Resources for a township in S.E.N.Y., East Hampton including the eastern tip of Long Island at Montauk. There are many more former classmates to locate but I must admit that I don't remember all of their names.
I do however look forward to seeing them again and perhaps that will jog my memory.
I doubt if many of them will recognize me because there have been some changes over the years.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Zoo Medicine The early days

It was the early 70's and I was embarking on a new adventure working with Dr. Murray Fowler a Veterinarian who had recently took on the huge responsibility to develop the first ever program in Zoological Medicine in a Veterinary School at U.C.Davis,California. We were in a sense "Pioneers" and we were on a straight course into the unknown and would learn many lessons the hard way. One of the first problems in Zoo medicine is detecting when an animal is sick. Most wild animals survive by hiding their ailments until they are so advanced that medical intervention may come to late. In the wild this strategy may aid them from detection by a potential predator. We eventually learned to depend greatly on talented as well as dedicated zoo keepers who worked with their charges on a daily basis. Zoo keepers are often not given the credit that they deserve. Veterinarians who do not develop a working relationship with the people who sometimes become emotionally involved with their charges often have difficulty being successful. Zookeepers that are acutely observant may detect subtle changes in an animals behavior, feeding habits and stool characteristics. Subtle changes may be a sign of a potential health problem. The examination of wild animals in captivity comes with much stress and further hazard to the animals health and well being. Because of the hazard involving physical or chemical restraint we went by the axiom that "the therapeutic hazard should not exceed the disease hazard". Many smaller animals can be netted and physically restrained but the larger more dangerous animals must be anesthetized. The drug used to anesthetize the animal was delivered either by an extended pole with syringe on the end, by blow pipe or dart gun. One of my first responsibilities was to learn the various techniques of delivering the drug and become proficient in their use. I also learned to be prepared for any event by being organized and equipped with all the necessary tools. In the ensuing years I would learn that one cannot always be prepared for everything in Zoo medicine.
Every trip to the zoo was a unique adventure because we usually had no idea what to expect. There were many times that Murray Fowler was called upon to make tough decisions knowing full well that a mistake would be looked upon very negatively by the Zoo keepers, the public and the director of the zoo. We were not always perfect or completely successful but Murray Fowler soon earned the trust and respect of those people who cared most about the animals in their charge.
I recall one incident when we had planned ahead to dart a Chimpanzee who had a bad habit of throwing his feces at people and quite accurately I should add. I prepared myself knowing that I would be the one asked to go in and dart the rascal. Sure enough when we arrived at the zoo with a few veterinary students Murray turned to me and said "Terry will now go in and dart the Chimp". My thoughts went back to the many Marlin Perkins episodes on "Wild Kingdom" in which Perkins would announce things like "now my assistant Jim Fowler will wrestle the Anaconda".
I pulled out a large black plastic garbage bag that I had measured the night before and cut holes for my eyes and one hole for my right arm. When I donned my protective armour the look on the face of Dr. Fowler and his students was priceless.
After darting the chimp who demonstrated his accuracy well judging from the amount of fecal matter on the protective plastic I came out of the enclosure greeted with applause from the students. This I thought was not something I cherished enough to do everyday. Fortunately this episode didn't happen that often but there would be other adventures and they must be told. Keep tuned in for further adventures in Zoo Medicine.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Writer's Block?

I've not written anything for a long time because everytime I sit down to write nothing comes out. I must have writer's block? I have many things to write about and now more than ever I appreciate people who can put their thoughts on paper so eloquently. Terry Tempest Williams and Annie Dillard come to mind and of course one of my all time favorite nature writers John Muir who paints his words like a masterpiece. It has been so crippling that my wife gave me two books to help me,
"Writing Your Life" by Lou Willet Stanek, and "The Legacy Guide" capturing the facts,memories, and Meaning of your life. by Carol Franco and Kent Lineback.
Maybe it's just the ageing process or the fact that the winter weather has dragged out so long without warm sunny days? I flew down to Santa Rosa the week before my mother's 92nd birthday because she was ill. I made certain that she went to see the doctor. Her symptoms lasted nearly a month before she finally after two kinds of antibiotics recovered. I can't blame her for not wanting to go to the doctor because as she say's "They never do much except look in my mouth. take my temperature, and listen to my heart and lungs". Going to the doctor can be dangerous for an old lady with a compromised immune system. Exposure to people who are sicker than you is always a "Crap shoot". By the way I'm convinced that flying from Portland to Santa Rosa on Horizon (Alaskan Airlines) is much more convenient than driving 11 hours. They also offer complimentary wine during the 1 1/2 hour flight. It is usually wine from a local winery. I recently discovered that when one clicks on a category of "Interests" listed in a blog you find many other blogs with the same interest as well as many, many other interests. It's like falling into the abyss of the "Black Hole" of cyberspace or as Forest Gump said "like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get". Try it sometime you may never come out.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Great Day in Washington State

Yesterday I was up early to meet with fellow "Fish First" members at Dave Brown's Fish Rescue Project. I met Dave Brown 4 years earlier when I noticed small Salmon and Steelhead fry trapped in a high water pool after the river receeded on our property. There were hundreds of them and unless they were rescued they would be doomed when the pond dried up in the spring. I had just completed my Watershed Stewards class and had a list of contacts which led me to Dave. He showed up with hip boots and nets with the energy of a hamster on a wheel. He talked a mile a minute about fish,fishing and the politics of fisheries. Not knowing at the time
whether this guy was legitimate I insisted on releasing the fish in the main stream just a few yards from the temporary pond. Hopefully some of them survived to make their way to the sea and back again as full grown adults to spawn. Now I believe that Dave Brown's project gives these tiny fish a better chance of making it in greater numbers.


The fish are kept in man made ponds near a spring fed tributary through the dry summer months and are fed and eventually released back to the river system they were obtained.



I was there to photograph and video tape the procedure of transporting the fish to the place of release where a family with children were to be involved.




The purpose of the filming is part of a campaign to market Fish First in order to gain more members and support. The film will be edited and eventually be released to the general public. On the same day my wife and I had to be at our precincts Caucus site so that we could vote for Barack Obama. Neither of us had been involved in the caucus process previously so it was a new adventure.
Although I have never been an active political type other than wearing buttons for my favorite candidate this year is unusual for many reasons. This year the people in our great country have an opportunity for positive change. We feel that Barack Obama is a person who can lead America toward a better future. So I volunteered to be a delegate at our local precinct caucus yesterday. I did it because I'm tired of the direction that our country has been going and I'm tired of the lies and corruption that goes on in Washington. Barack Obama has the potential of being one of our greatest leaders in history. He already inspires the young and the old and he can pull both sides of the table together to move forward in a positive direction. I doubt that Hillary Clinton would be as sucessful due to the fact that she carries more "baggage" and would tend to polarize members of Congress. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. So now I look forward to the next round as a Delegate to the county convention in April. Perhaps I could make it all the way to Denver and what an adventure that would be. I doubt that many folks read my blogs but if you do I ask you to consider Barack Obama as a person who can give all of us hope and a greater respect worldwide. Yesterday Obama(pardon the expression)blew Clinton away. We can do it "Yes, we can".

Monday, January 28, 2008

Just being there is enough.

Today we woke up to a winter wonderland with the trees covered in pure sparkling white snow and about an inch layer on the ground. By noon the temperatures rose to 36 degrees and the snow was mostly gone. By 3 pm it was completely melted. Since it is a rare occurrence below 500 ft. elevation it is usually not unwelcome.
I donned my waders and took my fly rod out to the river. With a "Purple egg sucking leach" fly tied to my 6 foot long leader I felt optimistic and hopeful that a Steelhead would give me a go at it. The river is low and clear and the sky overcast and gray. These days I wade more carefully than in my younger years knowing that one false step could result in a very cold and rude awakening. It's happened more that once in the last couple of years so I must look like a person trying to avoid a mine as I tread slowly to a point in the river that allows my back cast enough room to avoid snagging my line on a Willow. On this day I wade to a depth reaching the top of my thighs and brace myself against the current. I cast straight across the river to a slot that is about 4 feet deep and let my fly drift naturally with the current.
On each cast I try to cover as much of the river possible by moving slowly a step at a time down stream. Like many days there was not much action but the cold air and the sound of the river beating against my legs keep my senses clear and focused.
I rejoice at the sight of one of my favorite birds which appears suddenly on a rock close by. It's dark, plump gray body with tail raised high, while bobbing to the river's music up and down all around the rock it goes. Diving swiftly headlong into the river's current,disappearing for seconds then reappearing again. The Water Ouzel or "Dipper" is the only passerine in North America that is aquatic. It either swims or walks along the bottom in search of aquatic insects. It is non migratory and is found year around on swift moving streams in Western States from Alaska to parts of Mexico. Today the Ouzel entertained me for a few precious minutes before flying low over the waters surface to a rock downstream. Then my eyes were averted to four Common Merganser's flying higher above me along the rivers winding course.
Another cast brought my focus on a tiny Winter Wren easily recognized by it's small dark body and extremely small tail pointing upwards. It hopped and bobbed amongst the tangled willow branches along the river's edge behind me. It's quavering voice unheard and muffled by the river's roar. Few people would enjoy standing in the middle of a cold river while patiently casting for a Steelhead that would not appear on this day. But for me the experience of just being there at that moment was enough knowing well that one day not too far in the future I may not have the capability to experiece the pleasure of such things.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tornado

Yesterday about noon the sky darkened as if time had moved forward to evening. Then a loud boom and my cats scattered for cover. One of the loudest sounding thunder in my experience even compared to the big ones we had in North Central Pennsylvania.
Suddenly it hailed moth ball sized ice stones that sounded like a train on my Cedar shake roof. When the hail stopped in less than a couple of minutes the rain came down in sheets for another few minutes. I gazed out the window and was suprised not to see trees swaying and limbs coming down. We were fortunate because a Tornado had touched down a few miles south west of our home and spared us on this unusual occassion. The last Tornado to touch down in this part of the country was back in 1972 and six people were killed. The Tornado that touched down yesterday in Vancouver did some severe damage to property but fortunately did not kill anyone.
It's a miracle that no one was killed considering the fact that hurricane force winds hit a highly populated area. Wikipedia states that "a tornado is a violently rotating column of air which is in contact with both a cumulonimbus cloud or,in rare cases, a cumulus cloud base and the surface of the earth." "Tornadoes are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris". Home videos sent to local TV stations clearly showed large objects floating in circles when the tornado was blowing through the area. It tore off roofs and uprooted large trees and knocked large trucks on their sides. Tops of utility poles were snapped off and a brick wall was blown down. This is a rare event in the Pacific Northwest and I hope that it remains that way. I wonder if climate change has anything to do with it?
Ironically I had planned to drive over to the area that was hit to exchange a gift that my wife gave me.. I would have been there about the time the tornado hit but changed my mind for some reason. Sometimes fate can change our lives or perhaps I'm just lucky.