Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE WILD SUMMER ENDS--bring on the Fall and Winter


I was greeted by Shirley all breathless and excited after I drove in our driveway! What happened I asked...expecting a report on a bird in our feeders or something usual. " A doe just jumped into our pasture, walked over to the Willow tree, and then jumped out on the other side". It was 12 noon on a warm summer day in early September. In 52 years of living here we have never had that happen. A few minutes later I looked out the kitchen window and the doe was looking at me thru the deck railing as if wondering if anyone was home. we have some wildlife living around us but now my neighbor Marty is yelling at me...he did not get much sleep last night...."did the coyotes wake you guys up last night?" It appears a small pack of coyotes had howled early this morning outside his open bedroom window. An outside inspection showed some digging and peeing  under his window. "What's going on" Marty yelled " we lost half our night's sleep to these guys. Well, welcome to "Wildlife in the Suburbs" I said....They're moving in with us!

It has been that kind of Summer. First the nesting and fledgling of the Killdeers. Then the Red Shoulder hawks moved in, then yesterday 4 Canada Geese spent the morning under my Weeping Willow tree. Hay!! maybe that mud hole under the Weeping Willow is causing all this fuss? This has been the first year I ever let the water run slowly under the Willow and it does seem like all this visiting wildlife ends up under that tree. We usually irrigate all the pasture and have a steer back there but for lots of reasons...we do not raise livestock here any more. We do have two very large, very black Crows that spend the day pulling red worms out of my front lawn. I wish they would not keep knocking over my sprinklers on the lawn however. That and re-setting the way the Rain Birds turn is driving me crazy. I tried to talk to them about this this morning but one of them screamed at me and the other one crapped in the driveway as they flew away. I just want to get along with ALL my neighbors. Maybe I should get Shirley a pet lizard? She is having way too much fun with the wildlife.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wilderness Cabins We Have Known

It was one of our normal Canadian wilderness canoe trips. The Dease River in northern B.C. Canada. Our trips had to be at least 200 miles long, few or no roads, and a take-out that permitted me to hitch-hike back to pick up the truck. We were about 75 miles down the river, soft rain falling most of the time, and a heavy narrow chute of white-water, with a log right in the middle, pointed up-stream, just under the water. There is no walking out in this kind of dense country and I was not sure we would miss the spear of this log pointed right up-stream. We took out on the right side, up-stream of the chute and I scouted for a portage trail. There was none to be found. I used an axe to blaze a trail in the dense, wet timber, surprised that there was not a trail. It was hard sweaty work, with 5 carries of our gear to the top of a ten foot cliff where we lowered our canoe and gear down to the river. The bugs were bad. Our bug jackets and head-nets helped but black flies got under my shirt and my back was covered with red welts. The rain continued but much colder now. It was time to camp but cliffs on both sides were not inviting. Shirley and I were both feeling some numbness and were getting colder. Around a big bend and high on the left bank I saw it. A trappers cabin. But how the heck do you get up the cliff? I finally found steps carved in the cliff side and we climbed up to our home for the night. Plenty of split fire wood, a vegetable garden with all kinds of greens. The out house behind the garden and Grizzly tracks everywhere. A hot fire, stripped ourselves to the bone to dry in the warm heat of the cabin, and Shirley's hot beef & vegetable stew. I stood guard with our shotgun while Shirley used the out-house. We slept like babies that night. Warm and dry. A warm morning sun made the world seem right. We will not forget our wilderness cabin on the Dease.   

Friday, September 6, 2013

BY Jim & Shirley White

Bread soaked in whipped eggs, toasted and folded into a boat like shape and filled with fresh fruit compote with house made whipped cream. Wow! I love it. It is 0800, Shirley’s birthday and we are on a photo adventure. First we fuel up at the Tower Restaurant which used to be famous for a drugstore that sold records. I can’t help but to look nervously over to my right where 70 years ago were about 6 card tables where a kid by the name of Russ Solomon sold vinyl records in his Dad’s drug store. That is where I bought all my Dinna Shore records. We could buy records from a department store down town, but this was in our neighborhood and sold by one of us. Wow….spooky to remember. Russ’s big gamble really paid off.
We try to get to Russ’s   err… the Tower Restaurant by 0800 have breakfast and drive down Land Park drive to the Zoo and get there by 0900, when the zoo opens. We are after the big cats and they become active about that time. This trip (Sept.5) every cat in the zoo came out, stretched and yawned right in front of us. No packs of school kids to deal with and since it was a Thursday, it was “bone day”. Yep, plan your trip to go on a Thursday and even the very young Snow Leopard will chew and play with his bone right in front of you. Fall and winter are great times to go to the zoo too, since some days you will have it all to yourselves.
Equipment notes: take the fastest zoom you have…hopefully at least up to a 200mm. We shot steady for about two hours and I shot most of my exposures at f2.8. They have planted bamboo everywhere and most of the cages are very dark. I used the pop-up flash many times. It is almost like shooting in a jungle. Pray for your animal to walk around and stop in a sun-beam for you. Even the Orange Panda did it for us. You think it was luck? You bet!!
We left the zoo by 11:00 and went down to Fat City, in old town, for lunch. I recommend Frank Fats on O Street as being the best. I do miss Posey’s and when at Frank Fat’s having Frank stop by our table for a chat. But then I miss Russ Solomon and my Dinna Shore records too.