the month of March

I’m lacking written content for March. I covered a lot of ground and “didn’t have time” to put it all into words, so here are a slew of pictures taken during the journey from California to Michigan.

 

Arroyo Grande, CA: Every step I took, Christmas the Turkey was right behind me. Words cannot describe how much flattery he showed me in such little time.

 

Arroyo Grande, CA

 

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200 tree swallows at the Salton Sea

 

Milk and cookies on the tailgate. Steak dinner on the tailgate at Joshua Tree.

 

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Visited Joe Cannon and his bob-tailed cats in southern Arizona; Hiked on a trail called No Name in Carbondale, CO; Climbed to the top of Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins, CO.

 

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Shout out to Nebraska for giving me 20,000 sandhill cranes to gawk at in the middle of a 10-hour drive through a state I have been in many a’times with little enthusiasm.

 

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Feb 28 – Thrasher Surveys in Carrizo Plain, day 7

The mountains were bathed in pink at sunset again tonight, it never gets old. During my surveys today I was walking through the wash among the saltbush when I heard a very faint rustle in front of me. I knew, KNEW, it was a thrasher. I took another step, cautiously, and she dove out the back side of the bush with a single call to me. It was an intimate moment – her cry was a stern but helpless plea to leave her unborn children alone. Left me with a slight pang of guilt as I looked to the spot where she fled from and discovered a nest with turquoise eggs.

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I rest with sun-beat shoulders this evening. And something like a mind-beat spirit. Where is my mind? Need to practice quieting it. I decided today that I want to go to Michigan with Andrew. I want to see spring warblers and have Easter with mom. I want to be a little kid coming in for dinner with grass-stained feet after an early spring day of sunshine and opportunity. Driving across the country won’t get ya that, ya know? It’s in the past. But what have I got to lose by going, because I don’t feel that I’m finding my way here right now.

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Feb 24 – Thrasher Surveys in Carrizo Plain, day 3

Blinding sunrise this morn, clean blue sky all day. I found my first Le Conte’s Thrasher perched atop a saltbush. A few burrowing owls flushed as I approached their territory today; it’s quite the opposite experience of flushing a quail. Quail are always in pure panic mode, wide-eyed and horrified, frantically fluttering with dramatic clucks; they cause a commotion that leaves your heart beating as fast as theirs. The burrowing owls, in contrast, take flight in silence with deep and graceful flaps, landing calmly and quietly in a secret spot, never once glancing back. This central valley sun feels good on my skin and leaves me feeling exhausted in the best way.

Le Conte's Thrasher, Carrizo Plain NM
Le Conte’s Thrasher in the Carrizo Plain National Monument of central California. Pretty mediocre picture of a pretty spectacular bird. They have a very limited range, spanning just a small area of the desolate southwest desert. I jumped at the chance to do these surveys so I could get to see one!

Feb 8 – playing house

February 8th, that doesn’t mean much to me. The sun is up there again behind the clouds and I’m not late for anything, so that’s good. My toes are warm due to their proximity to the wood burner; there is music meeting my ears – stovetop sizzling and humming from he who administers the sizzles; and my truck is out in the yard with gas in the tank. There is nothing else I could think to ask for. The daffodils will bloom any day now.

[Placerville, CA]

Note: It’s only lucky that some posts have pictures to go with them. And it’s only lucky when the posts actually explain where I am and what I’m doing. Usually that information is secondary anyway. Remember that these are taken directly from my noteboook and are not necessarily written for an audience. I could edit them to incorporate more “practical” information but that would put authenticity at risk.

Jan 25

The sun has just set on Apple Hills. The distant mountains were doused in pink just briefly before the final descent was made. A sparrow is at the feeder for one last nibble. The trees and shrubs are still now, and silent. Rain has stopped. But there is snow! Should melt tomorrow, surely by the next day.

 

[Placerville, CA]

Jan 18 – back in California

California has me wide-eyed and dazed like I’ve never seen a pine tree before. Everything is so green and lush, there are creeks where there weren’t before. And there are SO many birds: mockingbird in the madrone yelling for attention, western bluebirds swaying on the tips of bare oaks, California towhees littering the shrubs, a fox sparrow in the dense brush with wrentits and a hermit thrush.

I went up to North San Juan so Anthony could work on my truck. The farm he’s working on is just a few miles up Tyler Foot. Beautiful place, busy with birds, a maze of fenceline, and a collection of abodes. The farm he lives on is further up the road. Londa and Richard have been there since the 70s, “built everything you see except for the trees!” I went with her and the dogs for a walk among the cedars and ponderosas. The trees felt giant after Michigan’s red pine forests with trunks so slim I could wrap a single hand around ‘em. It was silent there. A few robin clucks and some kinglet chatter. And silence, aside from paws in the snow.

Jan 3 – new year in the north country

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The world outside is black and white. Across the Muskegon the treetops are hazy. Bare branches are so beautiful this winter. I forgot how much water is here in Michigan. So many wide, lazy rivers – very different from those in the west, which run rapidly, filled with energy and anxiety from the drastic geology of the landscape there. For the first time in a while, on the drive up here, highway signs brought about sentimental feelings. I glanced up to see a sign for “Mackinac Bridge” and it made me feel such joy for my life situation – I have ties to such a beautiful and unique place, I am back here visiting, there is good music on the radio, and warmth in my heart from the good folks I have exchanged with this past month. I have so much ahead of me and so many amazing places I have already been.

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