It’s New Years’ Eve, and there is a beautiful full moon rising over Portland’s West Hills – off to the east for me. I go outside into the dark to fetch something from my office, and hear the sounds of thousands of ducks and geese clamoring together on the ponds that surround my home. I don’t know why they are sometimes so noisy at night; it must be high times for the winged population. I like to sit in my hot tub and listen to them; the duck lake at the west of my farm overfills fills its basin most of the winter and becomes home to many kinds of ducks, geese, and swans. Maybe they like the full moon, too….
Today was a bright and sunny day. The grass was crisp with dense frost at first light. Fine weather is rare here in western Oregon, the land of the winter monsoon. The temporary lake at the south end of my farm has been up over the road for the past week or so, and the county has posted “High Water,” The locals just move the barricades and drive through, especially those with jacked up trucks. I think they wait all year for the opportunity, As one of the three residents south of the usual locaion of the road closure, I get to move the barricades with impunity, or just drive around them in my dinky Prius.
For the ducks, it’s a just a new playground. Today, I could see hundreds of water fowl down there, but couldn’t identify, There seemed to be a lot of serious splashing…what could it be? For a moment I imagine that fish – maybe giant, interesting fish – were trapped in there as the water fell, I collected Chi and we went to have a look. About half way there a big flock took flight at once, and wheeled away to the north. Within a moment, the water was calm as a mirror, So much for the fish theory….
It was quite beautiful, in sort of a muddy way and I took a picture of it. I’ll save a copy in my file where I now keep images I might like to paint. I think about how i might paint the fingers of sunlight stretching across the pond. Color enhancement – false color imagery to the GIS informed – seems to be an acceptable part of pastel painting. I’ll consider the possibilities for this scene.
I had my rubber boots on, and it was sticky going. I imagined the consequences of a slip and fall, and walked carefully. Chi ranged along on her stubby Cairn legs, undercarriage dragging in the water and mud.
Along the way, Chi found something truly appalling and anointed herself with it, Most likely a poor varmint that drowned and was carried along by the flood; and now in an advanced state of decay. Stinkum!
My dawglet anticipates that there will be a nice game of chase around the back yard after a bath in the studio. I am expected to pursue her as she dashes about barking gleefully for at least ten minutes or so. I can’t remember the origins of this ritual, which has never been witnessed by anyone but the geriatric cat-boys.. It was just too dang cold for that late this afternoon. I spent the obligatory ten minutes rubbing her down with towels,,,,
The other day, I was going through image files and came upon this one… another lake. I took this photo years ago when I was in Playa de las Ventanas, Mexico – down in the Baja on the western shore of the Sea of Cortez. I spent a week there with my brother Don and his windsurfer pal, who was less than half my brothers’ age, All the folks down there assumed that Don and I were man and wife, and that his buddy (whose name escapes me) was our son. I speak good Spanish, and tried to dispel this fiction, but it was just too easy for other travelers – especially gente – to believe that he was our son, No son of mine would ever mix avocado half and half with mayo and call it guacamole,but that’s another story. When I try to remember his name, all I can think of is how pissed I was when he insisted on listening to Jimi Hendrix all the way back to the States.
Don and his bride-to-be Kelly are down there right now, at the same beach, and I get regular communiques. They even read this blog, HI THERE, Y’ALL! I am envious. I don’t know how this image came to be floating around in my computer, I cannot, in fact, even remember what year I went down there.
I do remember that it had been the first rainy year for a while, and the vegetation was lush and many incredible plants were in bloom. Seventy-five percent of all the plants in Baja are endemics, and I wanted to see every last one of them up close. We were driving north on our way home when the botanizing was best, but Don was keen to be home. So I didn’t get to poke around in the vegetation as much as I might have liked.
The ocotillos were especially fabulous, covered with their wacky little ephemeral leaves in celebration of the temporary abundance of water. They look like Dr. Seuss designed them. There was another woman with a big bag of camera equipment at one stop, a fellow botanist. She was racing around, photographing everything, and all she kept repeating “It looks like the Willamette Valley on LSD, It looks like the Willamette Valley on LSD.”
Now, that was a trip…..