Just Another Nice Day

It’s definitely Spring here in the PNW. After three days of steady rain, it was sunny and windy today. So once again, Leslie and I headed out to Belfair where this Great Blue Heron landed right off the trail:

It’s easy to forget how big they really are when you see them hunting, but there’s no ignoring their size when you see them head-on with their wings spread out.

I was so busy looking for birds that I was a little taken aback when I suddenly stared this native red squirrel right in the eyes:

I was also a little surprised to find Trillium blooming in the woods next to the trail since I usually associate them with the mountains, not wetlands:

I was even more surprised to learn that Monday is supposed to be the sunniest day so far. Hopefully I’ll get some good pictures at Fort Lagler.

The Best I Could Do Wednesday

We got one partially sunny day this week, so even though I’d already spent two hours exercising I called Joe and we spent the afternoon walking Nisqually.

As always when I walk with someone else, they manage to spot something I would have missed entirely if they hadn’t been there. Wednesday Bob spotted this mink swimming across the creek:

We really didn’t see anything else I haven’t seen before. The most exciting moment might have been when a Great Blue Heron landed in the creek beside the trail, so close I couldn’t back up far enough to get anything more than this head shot of him:

Strangely enough, it’s the second time in less than two weeks I’ve been so close to one of these that I think I could have reached out and touched it. Now, if the Belted Kingfishers and Green Herons would just be so accommodating, I could have a great birding year.

What I’m discovering after two years of birding is that I’m probably going to have to be satisfied with getting better pictures of birds I’ve seen before rather than expecting to see a new bird every time I go out.

I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with this close-up of a Northern Pintail, still my candidate for one of the prettiest ducks around, even if he lacks the bright colors of some other ducks.


Despite my recent lack of posting, I haven’t given up reading Robinson Jeffers, it’s just that I still don’t have much to say about Jeffers’ longer poems but it takes considerable time to wade through a 98 page poem like “Give Your Heart to the Hawks.” While I find myself liking his later long poems more than his earlier long poems, “like” is definitely a relative word. I find it painful to read them but persist out of a certain stubbornness and unwillingness to give up because they are hard to read.

Luckily, my distaste for those poems has been more than offset by several short poems I like quite a lot, even though they probably make me more worried about the future than I already was.

“The Purse-Seine” is one such poem that paints a dark picture of our modern world:

The Purse Seine

Our sardine fishermen work at night in the dark of the moon; daylight or moonlight
They could not tell where to spread the net, unable to see the phosphorescence of the shoals of fish.
They work northward from Monterey, coasting Santa Cruz; off New Year’s Point or off Pigeon Point
The look-out man will see some lakes of milk-color light on the sea’s night-purple; he points and the helmsman
Turns the dark prow, the motorboat circles the gleaming shoal and drifts out her seine-net. They close the circle
And purse the bottom of the net, then with great labor haul it in.

I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible, then, when the crowded fish
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall to the other of their closing destiny the phosphorescent
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
A comet’s tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside the narrowing
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls of night
Stand erect to the stars.

Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light: how could I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together into interdependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable of free survival, insulated

From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yet they shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters
Will not come in our time nor in our children’s, but we and our children
Must watch the net draw narrower, government take all powers
-or revolution, and the new government
Take more than all, add to kept bodies kept souls- or anarchy, the mass-disasters.

These things are Progress;
Do you marvel our verse is troubled or frowning, while it keeps its reason? Or it lets go, lets the mood flow
In the manner of the recent young men into mere hysteria, splintered gleams, crackled laughter. But they are quite wrong.
There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew that cultures decay, and life’s end is death

In my more pessimistic moments, it is hard not to see the world exactly this way. The lines:

I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
into interdependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape.

seem particularly true, at least here on the West Coast, the only world I really know. Anyone who’s thought about possible ways to solve the problem of air pollution, much less global warming, cannot help but feel that the very things that at first appearance seem to make our lives comfortable end up causing the problems that threaten to overwhelm us.

A rural home may seem like the ideal place to live when you first buy it, but when everyone else makes the same choice the city and all its problems moves to your neighborhood and the commute to work suddenly becomes a nightmare.

The irony of the final lines is hard to miss. No one who’s read history can deny that “cultures decay” or that “life’s end is death” knows that logically these things are true, but everyone wants to believe that their culture is still on the rise, not on the decline. I know I’m more concerned about how well I’m going to feel tomorrow or next year than I am about the inevitable ending of my life.

Weighty Matters

I mentioned in January that I’d joined the YMCA and started exercising more, and the results are finally starting to show.

I’ve lost nearly 20 pounds since November when I decided it was time to lose weight, and most of that loss has come since January. I never really thought I would lose weight between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I just tried not to gain my usual ten pounds while still enjoying a season that for me has increasingly meant good food and cookies, not presents. I was happy not gaining any significant weight.

Once I started exercising four times more a week, though, I was losing nearly two pounds a week. Of course, I was also “dieting,” if that means not eating every time you’re hungry and trying to make better choices when I did eat. I’ve managed to cut my cola thirst in half, and often find myself thinking even that 8 oz bottle is really too sweet to taste good.

I’ve cut out most of the hot dogs and bacon, and found myself returning almost exclusively to eating Cheerios with fruit for breakfast. We’ve gone to one vegetarian meal per week, and one fish meal per week, but I haven’t given up my one steak a week rule.

Unfortunately, most of the body fat I’ve lost, and I know I’ve lost some because my scale measures the percentage of body fat, has not been the fat on my stomach. It’s amazing how hard it is for me to lose fat there. Even if a I had abs of steel, which I don’t, no one could see them due to the layer of fat on my stomach.

Still, I feel considerably better. My resting pulse is down considerably. My blood pressure seems somewhat better, though it’s hard to tell since I hit panic mode every time I hook myself up to one of those machines at the gym.

I know I’m in better shape, though, every time I take Skye for his daily walk. Most of the time now I can actually make it all the way up the steep hill at his pace without having to stop and gasp for breath half way up the hill. I even find myself walking further faster than I used to.

I feel less tired throughout the day, though I still haven’t managed to get motivated enough to make good use of that extra time.

My biggest complaint is that I resent the fact that I’m now burning less calories on my daily walk because I’ve lost weight. That just doesn’t seem fair considering all the effort I’ve make to get back in shape.

To make matters worse, I’ve hit another of those plateaus the last two weeks. Though I dropped to 179.5 several days, I’m just as apt to bounce back to 180.5, especially if I splurge on an extra Pepsi and burrito, or two, after a five mile walk. Losing the next ten pounds looks like it’s going to be a lot harder than losing the first twenty.