Sunday, January 10, 2016


In wetter years past, I've found mushrooms growing out of the floor mats in my van.  I live on a north-facing slope, and  I park my van in a place that never sees the sun in winter.  I haven't had a mushroom crop these past few dry years, but now I have this growing on one of the back seats!  I wonder what the rest of winter has in store.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Pond: Memories of Hypothermia

More - when my core temperature returns to normal.  The memories make me shiver.

Dirty Snow

No, not this snow.  The clean snow in the plastic lawn chair reminded me of an angora sweater, and for a moment I was visited by a childhood memory of eating snow and licking icicles wherever I found them.  But I resisted the urge, for this discarded chair sits right below the edge of my shed roof which continually drips various substances I do not care to ingest.  However, a few minutes of memory is often a great way to start my day.  I'll get to the "dirty snow" shortly.
On December 31, I was impressed by how many media, including our local weekly newspaper, take the occasion to list "the best of" or "the worst of" for the year 2015.  Then I looked at my blog and realized I had fallen far short of my goal of averaging one post per day for the year.  That led to a resolution which was immediately threatened by my poor internet service.  I had taken several photos and notes on ideas that would carry me through the first week of January, and hopefully an improved habit.  The above photo is the first of these.  But I wasn't able to get online for more than a few brief moments on the 1st and the 2nd.  Frustrated, I agreed to do a family errand by driving to Chico on Saturday, the 2nd.  I brought my camera.  For the first several miles, the scene that made the greatest impression was the roadsides covered with dirty snow.  Freshly fallen snow, to me, is one of the most beautiful phenomena of winter, but the dirty snow plowed off the roads is one of the ugliest.  10 miles out of Quincy, I came to a junction known as the Greenville Y to discover that Highway 70 through the Feather River Canyon was closed due to a rock slide.  But the errand had to be done, so I headed toward Chester and planned to go to Chico by way of Highway 32, which the man in the bright orange vest said was open.  As I drove by Lake Almanor, the snow on the roadsides was cleaner, but was laced with snowmobile tracks.  So, I knew the air was not as clean as it looked. 
This alternative route included some spectacular scenery, as always, and some very impressive icicles, both stalactites and stalagmites, on the roadside rocks.  But I was mostly thinking about having wasted around an hour and two extra gallons of gas.  I did not stop to take pictures.
To top it all off, when I got hungry for lunch at Barnes and Noble, I saw that they didn't really have anything good for lunch.  Mostly sugary stuff.  So, frustrated again, I feel for fast food in the form of a Carl's Jr. chicken sandwich with fries.  For the rest of the day I felt like there was a brick in my stomach.  There, I got all that off my chest. I hope you enjoy the photo of a white sweater in a chair.
I am recovered from yesterday, I think, and I just came back from a nice hike with my wife and the dogs.  Now I'm determined to share a few more photos and ideas today and resume my one-a-day habit.  Next: memories of falling through the ice.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Big Foot vs. Bigfoot

An impression made Christmas morning by a Big Foot in the snow on our back deck.  No Bigfoot, however.  It was my son.  Now, if he were wearing an Ape Suit, he could have perpetuated the Bigfoot nonsense, and that might have been fun.  However, we don't want to encourage believers in nonsense.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

All Thumbs!!!

Based on observations during my brief walk downtown to check the mail, I think it's time we update this idiom.  As unnerving as it is for me to walk by dozens of young folks who don't make eye contact with passersby, I have to admit that I can see a lot of skill involved.  I think these new skills come at a huge cost, but, nevertheless, the skills are there.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Not Your Ordinary Christmas Photos

 I often feel that I'm caught in a web at this time of year, so, as I looked out the window on my back door, contemplating photos of freshly-fallen snow, these remnants of last summer's spider feasts caught my eye.  The mummified moths have been in these webs since August, and they are constant reminders to me of my favorite photo subjects.
 I never did go outside with my camera while the surface of the snow was still pristine.  Now it's all tire tracks, snowplowed dirt, and evidence of kids' games with sleds and snow forts.  I did find this one undisturbed area near my firewood shed.  It's a pile of old cedar fence posts and rails that I never got around to cutting up for wood stove fuel.  They spent nearly 20 years as a fence, so I suppose one more season beneath the snow won't harm them.  It'll be my first wood cutting activity after the snow melts. 
 A large Douglas-fir where I park my car still has some snow hanging on.  We've had around 4" so far, and there's now a lull.  I wonder if we'll get the promised 7".  I read that Tahoe got over a foot, and that the lake has risen a little over an inch.  That translates to billions of gallons of water, but barely makes a dent in our drought.  Actually, it's hard to picture a dent in a drought.
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

In my rear-view mirror

 I'm a little slow getting into the month of December photography-wise.  No new photos for a week.  However, as I look in my archives and delete bad photos, surplus photos, and photos that no longer interest me, I get a nostalgic feeling for the flying dragons of early fall at Dellinger's Pond. 
 Four different species in these photos, and I'm pretty sure all were posted on this blog this past fall.  For much of the fall, the pond was dry, but just a sprinkle of rain brought out lots of insects and birds.
 This was a particularly good day for Dragonflies.  I had been watching the stick in the photo below for at least 15 minutes when two different species of Dragonfly landed simultaneously.
This event triggered my memory of one of my favorite passages in Thoreau's Walden in Chapter Nine, "The Ponds," centered around the idea of Two Fish on One Hook.  And that happens to be the title of a book on Thoreau written by my late cousin Ray Tripp, Jr. So, that's a sample of what's in the rear view mirror of my mind.  Tomorrow morning I'm going to try to look forward again and find some new subjects.