Monday, August 01, 2011

Face to Face With Mother Nature

The early evaluations of the debt/spending bill negotiations which took place over the weekend have arrived. Everyone, to no one's surprise, hates it. I guess that's inevitable when you have two sides forced to hammer something out or face even more universal scorn.

A granddaughter had a little accident last week. It wasn't anything too awful, but I sent along the following poem, which explains what transpired:
Poor Claire
(July, 2011)

I hope I can live
With this giant disgrace.
I fell, and then landed
On rocks - with my face!

At church they might laugh
And the neighbors might gawk
To see how I landed
On rocks - in the park.

It wasn't too pretty
But nothing was broken.
The rest of me's fine
And my brain's not cracked open.

Just be sure to hold on
When you climb up a tree.
'Cause you don't want to suffer
And bleed like poor me!

I understand Claire, a kindergartner to be, is healing on schedule. Yay.

For the six years we've been living in California, I've tried to figure out how we could see - a whale. As great a place as Iowa is, there's nothing that answers to that description. Large carp and catfish are about as big as they come. Then we heard an odd thing, a mother whale and calf had somehow traveled up the Klamath River to a spot directly under the Highway 101 bridge. You can find it on a map, WAY north of the Bay Area. The calf turned back toward the ocean, but the mother remains, slowly going back and forth on both sides of the bridge.
As you might imagine, this has become a big draw in the area, about an hour north of where we live. We decided it was worth trying to get a look, figuring that watching a live whale beats seeing a dead one, and that the smell would be better, too.
On Friday, we headed North arriving with the sun still up. The whale, while just of middling size for this species (a 45-foot California Grey whale, we're told), is certainly the biggest thing in the river. It didn't do anything dramatic, but blew out the blow hole, as whales do, and gave us a good look from the bridge, maybe 60 feet above the river. Success!
But wait, as they say on TV, there's more! Upon leaving, we looked down and saw some otters playing in the river, then on the return trip saw several of a well-known local herd of Roosevelt elk. They are sort of red in color, and look like regular elk on steroids. The road took us within a few feet of them, so we were careful. To me they looked big enough to have our puny local deer for lunch - if they were meat eaters. Luckily, they didn't seem to mind us passing by. They, of course, go anywhere they want.
No one knows just what brought the whales this way. I wondered if they hadn't been hired by the nearby tribal-run casino to increase traffic to the area. If so, it's working. But, city dwellers that we are, it's great to get up close with Nature once in awhile, face to face.


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