Monday, September 28, 2009
I've been getting outside every chance I can and thoroughly enjoying all the gifts of beauty that our glorious Fall here on the east coast has to offer. The weather has been beautiful, and the bird migration has been good. Today Petey and I hiked it up to the AT Greenwood Lake overlook. Beautiful view, breeze blowing perfumed with the scents of Fall. I wished that I had thought to pack a small lunch and some water, so I could have sat and enjoyed the view for a little longer. Back down at the old beaver pond the area was full of Warblers, Phoebes, and Ruby Crowned Kinglets. Later on at the pond I had my first W.T. Sparrows. Phoebes are my Harbinger of Spring, and also of Fall.
Ten days ago I had a big day at the Hawk Watch with 1381 birds, very nice considering I thought two days before that was our big day at Mt. Peter. I was also present for the afternoon of the other big day, and added quite a lot of birds to the count. I've had some great looks at adult Bald Eagles, Osprey, and a Peregrine Falcon. The Broad-wing flight although not great this year, afforded those of us who put the time in, some nice close looks at hundreds of them, doing what they do best kettling in large flocks, one of the phenomenons of nature I never tire looking at. I'm a bit sad that their flight is over. http://hmana.org/index.php
I think bears are my totem animal, I see so many every year, and still get just as excited as the very first time so many years ago. Edit to add on October 5. A total of 10 bear sightings in 13 days, just had two at the same time, both big adults. One was crossing Pumpkin Hill into our yard and the other was in our next door neighbors yard at the same time. Petey treed one in Cascade Lake, saw one little guy 3x up on Cascade Lake Road, and had 4 other different ones on our road in the last week. The most bears I've ever seen any year so far.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Although I buy Petey many things all the time, I finally purchased something that I know he loves, the gift of a silent walk. I found found a company that embroiders names and phone numbers on collars. No more name tags jingling, he can fully hear the world around him.
This picture is a cherished childhood memory for me. It is of my Dad and his best friend in the entire world, heading out to do what they loved doing best, fishing. Look at the JOY on my Uncle Scholars face. The location of the photo was while we were on our annual vacation to Mr. Whites cabins in Aquebogue LI. We went each Summer for two weeks, for thirteen years. Some of my fondest lifetime memories were from those vacations. Two weeks of complete bliss living in a tiny cabin on the bay. Dad and Uncle Scholar would head out fishing everyday, some times forgetting about all of us, as they would continually see birds over schools of fish, and head to the next hot spot. We never minded, as we would have fresh fish to eat that night. Some nights after dark they could be seen out jacking crabs with a spotlight. The laughter from the two of them would echo all the way through our tiny cabin walls. We knew that the next day a feast would be at hand, nothing tastes as delicious as a fresh Blue Crab. Some days Uncle Scholar would dig clams at the and bar. At Mr. Whites there was nothing but time to immerse yourself in nature. Back when there was no TV, radio, computer, or cell phone. Nothing to distract you from real life. It was time to became who I really was, if I forget as I often do, those are the memories I reach for to refresh my soul. Summer wasn't the only season Dad and Uncle Scholar would find themselves spending time together. Luckily my mom also became best friends with Uncle Scholars wife, my Aunt Judy. The two couples made it a point to see each other many times each year. Mom and Aunt Judy would head out shopping at every given chance, and dad and Uncle Scholar would be either hunting or fishing. Our visits with their family coincided with the outdoor sporting seasons. In the Spring we would find ourselves up on the Esopus Creek for Trout Season, later it would be for Bass. Fall would bring us back upstate for pheasant and then later deer. My childhood revolved around these trips, I looked forward to each one and will never forget how much they enriched my life and love of nature. I loved watching my dad hang out with his best friend. They had such a comfortable friendship, that few people get to experience in their lifetime. My dad was never happier then when he was outside in nature spending time with his best friend. It warms my heart to think about them together. My dad has been gone for years, so now when I see my Uncle Scholar, I cherish every moment I get to be with him, he is a part of my dad that I still have here on earth. I am grateful for that.
I had a privileged childhood, I just didn't know it until now. I grew up on Long Island in New York. When I was six my Dad made an extravagant purchase for that time, a brand new 20 foot fiberglass boat. It was his pride and joy. He loved to fish and spend time out on the water and swimming in the ocean. Our family spent every Summer weekend out on the Great South Bay, going to beautiful Gilgo beach. This past weekend, I returned to the Great South Bay upon my good friends boat. I had not been out there in thirty years, the last time with my dad, as I fished along side of him, it was then he told me that is where he wanted his ashes spread. He also told my hubby the same thing a couple of years later while he also was fishing with him. Yesterday we were able to make his wish a reality, although most of him is in a cemetery on Long Island, a tiny bit of my Dad has returned to the place he loved best. It was a very emotional time for me, as I felt like I was setting dad free. I saw Long Island with new eyes, having forgotten just how beautiful the bay and ocean are. I realized how lucky I had been to be surrounded by something so wonderful, and how much the days spent playing in the sea shaped my love and awe of nature. Every year I must visit the salt water, it seems to make all things right for me. The sights, sounds and smells filled my soul like nothing else. The main reason we went out to the beach this weekend was for a benefit for a HS friend who has terminal cancer. There were eight bands playing, lots of old friends, good food, drink and the magical beach. It was like stepping back thirty plus years, cutting school and going to the beach. Because of the circumstances and reality of why we were really there, I stayed in the moment, being ever grateful for my good health. I absorbed every second of my day and night, hoping to take it home with me, and I have. I slept like a baby on the boat, first night in many months,the boat rocking me to sleep, the salt air clearing my head. My heart is so full, that I feel completely at peace.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
For today's hike I decided to give my new Five Fingers Vibram Shoes a try. I really like them, it took a little bit to get used to feeling rocks under your feet, but after a few minutes they felt great. I found the grip and balance to be outstanding. My legs are already achy. I guess we don't realize how our leg muscles are no longer completely worked out by wearing stiff soled hiking shoes, instead of being barefooted as nature intended. As I went along I watched Petey enjoying our hike. He got me thinking about how fit he is now, how his muscle mass is now exposed after his recent weight loss. He is really enjoying his new lighter frame, now able to run and jump with complete ease. He doesn't need any fancy gym equipment to maintain his fitness, he simply needs a hike in the woods. Spending his time walking, running, jumping and swimming is all it takes. We humans tend to complicate things, and really my fitness routine can be just as simple and pleasant as Petey's work out. Spend part of my hike using my body for more then just walking, do a little sprinting, lift something heavy, tree push ups, balance on a log, rock jumping and stretching. Petey never misses an opportunity for a good stretch. How enjoyable to spend ones time in the woods and not have to rely on a boring gym to stay fit and healthy.
Monday, September 7, 2009
It is truly labor day for the creatures of our area, all are out eating or storing the bounty set before them, getting ready for the long Winter that lies ahead. It is a glorious time of year for those of us who are paying attention to nature, so many things to see and savor. Each moment of every day offers something for each our senses. Get in the moment and partake of the beauty of this season.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Today I started my annual volunteer position at the Mt. Peter Hawk watch. I am scheduled to man the watch every Friday from 9-5 for the next ten weeks. Mt. Peter is the oldest all volunteer watch in the country, 52 years old this Fall. I've been heading up and watching the hawk, eagle migration for the last twenty years. Have met a lot of wonderful like minded people, that I really enjoy spending time with. I've been an official counter for about six years now. We count for http://www.hmana.org/sitesel.php hopefully helping to monitor the populations of our native hawks and eagles, and getting a clearer picture of how they are doing. It is a time of year that I look forward to, although today was pretty thankless....one bird for five hours of sitting on top of a mountain. Most people have no idea that birds are flying over head in large flocks heading to their Winter destinations. They are in shock when you tell them, we see THOUSANDS of Broad Wing Hawks in a single day. What? Hawks in flocks? Yes...Broad Wings fly in large flocks. They leave their Northern Summer homes in Mid September because they are predominately reptile amphibian eaters, and their prey begins to hibernate as soon as there is frost. Hawks and Eagles head to South America where they can find better sources of food to survive the Winter. They fly over Mt. ranges to use the updrafts to their advantage. They follow one up and glide down, repeating this over and over until they reach their destination. It is with great excitement that I look forward to the next few weeks, we never know if our watch will get the BIG days or if you will be able to be a part of it.....I begin my watch of the weather, ready to switch my work days if the wind and temperatures seem favorable.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Last night was such a beautiful evening, Petey and I took a walk. I never tire of looking at the small miracles of nature. Petey and I had Cascade Lake to ourselves, no other humans to disturb the beauty and peace of that tiny moment in time. Flowers in bloom, Insects singing, gentle breeze blowing, air scented with impending Fall, wish I could hold onto it forever. 2009 was a gorgeous Summer, so full of beauty. Life is what you make it, it isn't dependent on the weather or how you feel, it is but a moment in time, and yours to live and enjoy fully if you so choose. Look for the everyday miracles in nature, they are everywhere free and yours for the taking. Savor the moment.