February 20, 2008

Bird Count

Well, NIBEM has gone by the by. Life intervened. Actually, people intervened. Friends who were coming to our house for a Valentine's Day dinner. We all agreed that in order to make a workweek dinner easy for all of us, we'd order Chinese takeout. This did make things easier for Paul and I , but we had a wee bit of "straightening" to do before the 14th. We aren't slobs but we do have a certain level of chaos and dust that we find tolerable. However, we didn't necessarily want to see if our friends shared our tolerance. Thus a few nights of post-work cleaning ensued. And then my early morning blogging time was sacrificed to important laundry-folding, counter-cleaning, and paper-stacking.

We ended up with a clean house and festively (but still tastefully) decorated Valentine's Day table, but I was sorry to end my blogging streak. I didn't make it for the full month, but as Paul pointed out I did blog every day for a fortnight! National I'll Blog Everyday Fortnight (NIBEF) doesn't have quite the same ring to it as National I'll Blog Everyday Month (NIBEM). I'm disappointed, but the good news is that I proved to myself that I can sit down and write every single day. I'm happy about my twelve-day writing-average of 595 words per day. Now, I just have to carve out writing time each day and get back to life with Emelia.

Road Trip! Friday morning, after our gala Valentine's celebration, I hopped into the car and headed off to Oakland to spend the long President's Day weekend with Nora. I loaded the car with good cds, stopped in Solvang for breakfast with a friend, and then headed north for the next 4 1/2 hours. I actually enjoy the drive up Highway 101. The solitude is always a nice change of pace and on this trip I felt I was actually watching spring arrive in California. The hills were dotted with fat cows happily munching on new green grass with young calves nuzzling against their mothers. Orchards of fruit trees erupted with the first blossoming of pale pink petals and after King City, the fields planted on either side of the road were rich with new growth. I did my usual bird count, too. Spotted five hawks and one slightly confused egret sitting on top of a telephone pole. The trip was mostly uneventful–except perhaps for a few of my fellow travelers who may have been treated to the amusing sight of a crazy lady in a Murano rocking out to Aretha Franklin–until I encountered Friday afternoon traffic delays near Fremont. This slight aggravation was worth it because I knew I had a weekend with Nora ahead of me.

On Saturday Nora and I got up early and went to the Lafayette (my old stomping grounds) Reservoir and made the 2.7 mile loop. Cool temperatures but bright sun and great bird-watching. I was amazed to see white pelicans on the water. According to the local paper this is the first time that Pelecanus Erythrorhynchos has ever wintered there. They are huge, spectacular birds. My sad little picture doesn't do them justice.

During our walk we spotted juncos, stellar jays, titmice and even a pair of mating hawks. We also discovered a cluster of more white pelicans, and had a great blue heron swoop down over our heads. We somehow missed out on the resident Eagle but our bird count was still impressive. In addition to great birding, the paved path along the perimeter of the reservoir has enough elevation changes to make for good exercise and the scenery is terrific. If I still lived in the area I'd make this a regular walk.

We finished off our Lafayette adventure with a visit to a favorite restaurant, Chow, and a trip to one of the best children's bookstore in the Bay Area, The Storyteller. Nora found a copy of a recently re-issued picture book we both loved when she was little, Marshmallow by Clare Turlay Newberry. and I found a copy of Hattie Big Sky a book I'd been meaning to read for awhile. I also bought a few middle grade novels by Alexandra LaFaye and Hilary McKay.

Nora, adventure, good food and great books. All in all, a perfect morning.

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