Why I Retired

The best part of being retired, at least in the Pacific Northwest, is that you can take advantage of what little sunshine there might be during the week. While others were working inside during the three hours of sunshine this week, I went birding.

Although I didn’t see anything spectacular, I did manage to get a shot of one of the many Towhees recently returned to our area,


saw a male Wood Duck in full breeding colors,

male Wood Duck

a sight that never fails to delight me,

and I got to admire once again the feather pattern on this Double-Crested Cormorant.

Double-Crested Cormorant

Don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be out birding than sitting at home hanging up on robotic political calls.

Sund’s Poetry Seems Uneven to Me

As I get further into Sund’s Poems from Ish River Country, I sense two rather different poets at work here, one that I like very much and another that I don’t like very much at all. The one I like is the one I discovered in the opening section Bunch Grass, an imagist in WW William’s vein, or, for that matter, one who reminds me a lot of Roethke’s early poetry.

This poet writes

for John Utti

Climbing the trail up from
Portage Head,

wet with morning rain, foot slipping..

How many have reached for
this same branch!

a poem that anyone who’s ever hiked around the Pacific Northwest would immediately identify with, though I’m not sure I see a need for the exclamation point. The poem immediately made me recall two favorite hikes despite the rain and mud.

The other poet, the one I’d rather skip, writes a long poem called:

for Alisoi and John


Inside the fat lady there is a beautiful
dancer. Any moment she will be
swept into the air like a feather.


She will turn and sail
slowly down, drift side to side, slowly
and with time to look around her and see
no one watching.
Yet the joy she feels
began with the help of some
spirit that seems to be outside her

At first, the idea seemed promising, I’m sure there is a “beautiful dancer” inside all of us, even klutzes like me who find it impossible to stay on beat. The hyperbole of “she will be swept into the air like a feather,” though, had me glancing ahead to see how long this poem really was.

And it turned out to be much longer than I’d hoped without any relief in sight, as suggested by this 5th section


There are many, many dancers.
There are dancers
so powerful their bodies burst into flame.
They hold heaven in both hands
while they glide round
the great
rock of the world.

which is way too poetic, in the pejorative sense, for me. Unfortunately, for me at least, this isn’t the only poem that resorts to these kinds of poetic hyperbole.

About the time I was thinking it was time for some speed reading, I found a section of Japanese haiku that Sund has translated. I was particularly fond of this one, by a poet I’ve never heard of:

In the pile of branches
ready for burning
leaves begin to sprout.


Brown Pelicans in Breeding Colors

Wednesday’s trip to the Beach included, as always, a quick drive down to Tokeland, to see the Godwits, and there was a small flock of them sitting on the piers.

Marbled Godwit

The highlight of the visit, though, was the huge number of Brown Pelicans that were there, all in different stages of breeding colors.

The hardest thing was getting a picture of just one Pelican, a picture without various body parts jutting out from the frame. One way was to capture one in flight,

Brown Pelican Flying

which was easier than usual because it was bright enough that I could use a high shutter speed without creating much grain. This might be one of the best shots I’ve ever gotten of a Brown Pelican flying, particularly in breeding colors.

And I managed to get at least one shot of a pelican floating far enough away from a dock that he wasn’t partly obscured.

Brown Pelican

And though I’m not as excited by this shot, I did manage to get a shot of one standing alone on a post.

Pelican on Post

Strangely, after all my efforts to isolate the birds, my favorite shot turns out to be this one of three pelicans in different stages of breeding colors,

Three Pelicans in Various Breeding Colors

though I had to use a little Photoshop magic to eliminate a gull from the picture before I was happy with it.

A Sunny Day at the Coast

With a major winter storm predicted in the Pacific Northwest last week, I wasn’t going to miss any opportunity to get out in the sun. So, I went to the beach last Wednesday, even though birding had been reported slow.

It was slow, but the sunshine and 65° temperature more than compensated for a lack of birds. It’s hard to get that combination at the beach even in the summer where high temperatures often draw in fog, creating cool temperatures and poor lighting.

There were signs that winter is near. Ducks were plentiful, though the distant boom of shotguns being fired didn’t make it easy to get pictures. Simply showing up caused ducks, wisely, to fly so far out that good photos were impossible to get.

Widgeons Flying

Still, I did see one of my favorite birds. There were loons everywhere you looked in Westport, delightfully close to the docks:

Common Loon

There were actually several different types of scoters in Westport, but I only managed to get closeups of this male Surf Scoter,

male Surf Scoter

and this female Surf Scoter.

female Surf Scoter