Critters outdoors


The weather has been very dismal lately, but it broke a couple of times, enough to get out for some short walks. Thanksgiving day was one such day, and it was the type of weather I enjoy for walks: cool but not cold, snow on the ground, but not the walks. And not many people out, which suits me, as I haven’t been in the mood for lots of chattering about.

I followed the path into the forested area, enjoying the sun breaking through the clouds. As I walked I could hear crashes all around me as snow came falling out of the taller trees, heated by the new sun. When a fairly solid chunk hit in front of me, I quickly put my camera into its waterproof carrier bag, understanding now why I had the treed area to myself. Other than that, I wasn’t worried about getting hit by the snow–it was too light to do more than send cold trickles of water down my back.

I still managed to grab a few shots, including this one I rather like. More, I also tried out the new Photo Stitch software that comes with the Canon printer to create a semi-panoramic picture, which you can access here. It’s not a true panoramic, because I didn’t have the camera on a tripod to maintain the same height for all pictures, so the software had to do a lot of extrapolation; this results in some blur, but not enough to obscure the scene and show why it’s one of my favorite contemplative retreats. It’s more popular in the summer, but I like the winter view; quiet and gentle and somewhat timeless.

Later that day, I walked through the Botanical Gardens, checking out the Conservatory and the Climatron. Of course, the Climatron, with its warm, moist atmosphere, probably will be out for wanderings the rest of the winter — not unless I get my eyes operated on so I don’t need glasses. The Conservatory was pleasant, but most of the winter flowers are still in bud and won’t be out until about the time of the orchid show.

At the main center the Gardens had created a Christmas room filled with model trains. There were antique trains, and modern ones; a San Franciso trolly car, and even a steamboat. I grabbed a closeup of one of the scenes, and then a larger photo showing the detail in the room. The larger photo is a big file, so you might want to pass on it unless you like model trains.

Yesterday morning I went on a walk at Powder Valley to exercise my ankle, which had been getting stiff from the hikes on uneven ground. I saw one of the bucks, which are a rare sight, and this young man was a beauty — a thin rack, but with several smallish points.

I had passed a father with two little girls earlier and decided to walk back and mention about the buck, to tell the young ladies if they approach quietly, they might be able to see him. After a few feet, I hear this blood curdling scream, and there was one of the girls running through the forest chasing the deer. Another was hanging on one of the trees, pulling at the vines, tromping all over the growth at the side of the “please stay on the walk” conservation area.

I continued approaching the man, smiling and he smiled back. I then proceeded to tell him that this part of Powder has a thick covering of poison ivy in most spots, and even though you can’t see the leaves, the branches of the plant are still coated with the substance that can cause serious allergic reaction. The two young ladies stopped and looked at me, as the man thanked me for telling him this and then turned to his daughters and said, “Did you hear that? You want to be careful.”

(I am visualizing a scene ten years from now when both girls leave for the evening, both stoned out of their minds, ready for as much unprotected sex with strange men as they can get, and the man points to an ad on TV warning against drugs. Did you hear that? You want to be careful.)

Today, though, was not a good day for a walk, being wet in the extreme. When I returned home from errands, I noticed, though, an odd fluff falling down from the tree above. Looking up I saw a sharp legged hawk directly above me, pulling feathers off a finch that it was eating. It would pull a feather and then spit it out into the wind; another feather, another spit, creating a trail of feathers dancing in the breeze.

I ran inside and grabbed my D70 but the battery was dead and I had forgotten to charge both it and the spare. I then grabbed my trusty old 995 and managed to grab one photo before the bird grasped what was left of its prey and flew off. It’s over-exposed, but you can at least see the bird.

He’s a beauty, isn’t he? But how will it work for cat Friday?

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