Birds of SoCal

Here in SoCal it’s pretty warm during the day, bugs are out and about and these noisy little birds snapped them out of the air right in front of me. It was daylong entertainment, at least half a dozen birds catching flies and (I think) termites in mid-flight.

Black Phoebe

Scratching on the ground, a few California Towhees make my garden their home. They love their reflection and tap at the window or anywhere they can see themselves.

This was a peaceful first weekend of 2021.

(Some) Creatures Great and Small

With a nod to All Creatures Great and Small by veterinarian James Herriot, this is what my Sunday looked like.

We started off the day at the beach and I’m beyond sad that I didn’t have my good camera with me so I couldn’t capture the magic of a school of dolphin jumping and splashing in the water. I’m sure this paddleboarder was happy because they seemed to follow him wherever he went. Trust me, there are about six dolphin in this photo.

On the way home, we saw a bit of an odd sight…check out these seagulls that shouldn’t have been this far away from the beach. They usually only fly inland when there’s a storm, so I have no idea why they were flying around in circles and then perched on the telephone lines.

Today was a work project day in the garden, cleaning up around the rosemary and lavender. I sat down for a minute for a wheatgrass break and this little alligator lizard stopped by to say hi. I scratched his back with a stick and he allowed me to take these pics.

All in all, a great Sunday for creatures great and small.

“Look at the sky!”

It was one of those days where everyone was looking up and toward the horizon.

For me, looking back provided a fresh perspective of tonight’s magnificent sunset.

Photo by Enchanted Seashells.

The sky beautifully metamorphosed all day, culminating in this fiery red-orange sunset. The beach was packed at sundown with people taking pics. I found a place to park, looked in my rear view mirror, and decided THAT was the money shot.

The rest of the day spoke to me, too, in colors and textures.

(All photos by Enchanted Seashells)

Is Ignorance Bliss?

I must confess that there are quite a few things that escaped my education, probably stuff that you all know; mostly everyone knows this stuff.

Deep breath…

🔳 I didn’t know that whales are mammals, I really didn’t, despite the fact that I love animals and took enough classes in college that should have made this a solid part of my knowledge base.

🔳 I also didn’t know that earth revolves around the moon.

🔳 I don’t know why we sometimes see the moon during the day. Like yesterday.

I know I’ve LEARNED these things, but apparently the facts didn’t stick in my gray matter.

The moon orbits around the earth, not the other way around, as I thought. The reason why we can see the moon at night because of the reflection of the sun’s rays and energy that bounce back to earth. This is what gives the moon the brilliant white glow. It’s important to also remember that the earth has a rotation and an orbit around the sun. The relationship between the earth and the moon is kind of like a slow dance.

The earth is tilted on an axis, all the while going around the sun and meanwhile, the moon is going around the earth. The light from the moon is bright enough to overpower the usual light that we see at particular times of the day. Most of the light that is visible to the human eye is in the blue color range and the moon’s reflected light, combined with its location gives us the chance to see it during certain daylight hours. Due to the rotation of the moon around the earth, it is actually above our horizon for about twelve hours out of our twenty four hour day.

We can only usually see the moon for about six hours during that time period, and then the bright light energy of the sun overpowers the reflection.

The moon orbits the Earth once every 27.322 days. It also takes approximately 27 days for the moon to rotate once on its axis. As a result, the moon does not seem to be spinning but appears to observers from Earth to be keeping almost perfectly still. Scientists call this synchronous rotation.

Earth spins on its axis once in every 24-hour day. You and me and everything else – including Earth’s oceans and atmosphere – are spinning along with the Earth at the same constant speed.

If the Earth suddenly stopped spinning, the atmosphere would still be in motion with the Earth’s original 1100 mile per hour rotation speed at the equator… This means rocks, topsoil, trees, buildings, literally everything–would be swept away into the atmosphere. (Info curated from Google, NASA, and Wiki)

Now I’ve entered a rabbit hole that’s really too much for me to comprehend. My head is spinning. Like Earth? The moon? The sun?

Too much. Now I wonder…are we really the only living beings? Is Earth the only inhabited planet? Shaking my head, it’s too much for me to absorb.

I’m not sure if ignorance is bliss, but my head’s going to explode if I continue to follow the pathways of deep existential thought.

Our existence on this planet is incredibly fragile. I feel an urgent need to step outside and place my bare feet on the grass and the rocks, to touch skin of the earth; to feel and be grounded.

Still no whales/mammals, but a pic of the beach tree all dressed up for the holidays.

A swell is coming in, waves are getting bigger.

Wind, Whales, and Linda Ronstadt

You probably heard on the news how windy it was here in SoCal. In the local mountains, one gust was clocked at 95 miles an hour!

Even at the coast, wind gusts were almost fifty miles an hour. A shared neighbor fence is just about completely down; it was well on its way before the wind event ‘cos their giant Bird of Paradise was relentlessly pushing it over, so I guess that might be something that will need to be addressed. One day.

Eucalyptus branches are everywhere, wires are down, smoke from a few local fires dot the sky, but the bigger and more dangerous fires are a bit to the north of me in Orange County.

I had to pick up my new glasses (huge and I love them) and make another trip to the dentist to confirm that yes, I do need a root canal, so next week should be a real treat. What a not very fun way to celebrate Hannukah, but I’m grateful the dentist saw it before it got really bad.

I drove home along the beach route and made a quick stop to look for whales. I wasn’t lucky enough to see any this time, but I took some pics. You can see forever, all the way to the ends of the earth.

Look at the sparkles!

No whales in sight, but I’m sure they’re out there in that vast ocean. It made me think of that iconic Linda Ronstadt song, Somewhere Out There. Seems about right for 2020, too.

The first few notes get me teary every single time. I never saw the film, An American Tail, but I might have to now.

And a windchime filled video of our windy morning.

Leaves of Birds

Since the ash tree endured its yearly abscission, I raked fallen leaves for the very last time and have been enjoying this disrobed version until late afternoon when I noticed the branches were once again full; not of leaves, but of dozens of happy, chirpy little birds adorning every space.

So completely adorable.

One by one, they flew away, and the tree was once again barren.

Morning View: Frost Moon

I’m a day late, but couldn’t resist sharing my talented friend’s beautiful photo of the moon early this morning at sunrise.

Photo courtesy of Mick Yarbrough

November’s full moon was traditionally called the Beaver Moon by a number of Native Americans and colonial Americans. Many Native American groups used the monthly moons and nature’s corresponding signs as a calendar to track the seasons.

Why the “Beaver” Moon? This is the time of year when beavers begin to take shelter in their lodges, having laid up sufficient stores of food for the long winter ahead. 

The November full Moon has also been called the Frost Moon and the Freezing Moon. Judging by the chilly weather that becomes more and more common at this time of year, it’s not hard to understand how these names came about! Another name, the Digging (or Scratching) Moon, evokes an image of animals scratching at the fallen leaves, foraging for fallen nuts or remaining shoots of green foliage—with the implication that winter is on its way.

Here in SoCal, it’s been warm and sunny during the day, but getting colder at night.

Happy December!

The Process of Abscission

Leaf Loss / Bare Bones / Blue Sky

This ash tree started out in 1985 in a five-gallon pot as a housewarming gift. As soon as the leaves begin to drop–in just a day or two– the branches will become bare and I’ll have a LOT of raking to do.

Abscission is the reason why leaves fall. Scientists believe that a reduction in sunlight leads to the reduction of chlorophyll in the leaf due to a reduction in photosynthesis and this may trigger the abscission of leaves. The actual process occurs when the weaker cells near the petiole are pushed off by the stronger cells beneath them.

I’m sure there’s an analogy or parallel to my LIFE but I’ve had a tough week and I’m tired of thinking and not able to direct my brain to untangle the profundities because right now all I want to do is quietly savor the stark, elegantly naked branches.

It reminds me of my little vase of twigs and another example of ma. (https://enchantedseashells.com/2020/10/25/ma-the-space-between-things/)

As pretty as it is all dressed in green, the artistry of bare bone branches are stunning in their strength of simplicity,

I see the graceful arms of a dancer against a backdrop of the bluest sky of the year.

  • – Coco Chanel: “Simplicity is the final achievement.Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” …
  • – Frederic Chopin: “Nature is pleased with simplicity”. …
  • – Isaac Newton: “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.These three are your greatest treasure” …
  • – Lao Tzu: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”