Reading Margaret Simon’s post yesterday where she borrowed an idea about Three Things I’m Thankful for Thursday from another slicer, inspired my idea of an alliterative approach to today’s post. I knew it should be Four something or other. Margaret suggested “funny finds.” But funny wasn’t working…so I have changed the focus to four funky finds.
The life of a teacher is one of schedules and very little flexibility about when you start and stop working. That’s one of the things I love about my mixed work schedule that includes a buy-out of 40% of my teaching schedule to do local and national writing project work. Since I work from home of Fridays, I can arrange my schedule around calls…and even take a walk on the beach in the middle of the day just because the tide is low!
My favorite beach is just a few miles from home and you can find me there several days a week walking and exploring the shore with my camera. Today I noticed that the pipes that bring run off to the ocean are looking pretty raggedy and that the usual free flowing river mouth is pooled up, blocked by lots of small rocks. I’m wondering if nature will clear the blockage or if the city will need to intervene and bring in some large equipment to keep the healthy flow moving in and out with the tides.
Further down the beach I noticed how white the stairs look against the brilliant blue of the sky. I always think of these stairs as a stairway to nowhere. But actually they lead to the Self-Realization Fellowship gardens. They are not accessible from the beach and there are signs warning people to stay off. But they are also maintained, regularly repaired and painted–a necessity with daily exposure to the elements near the ocean. So I guess they do go somewhere–I wonder if anyone from above uses them to access the beach.
Near these stairs is a favorite local surfing spots called Swamis (named for the Self-Realization Fellowship). No matter the weather or the surf conditions, surfers can be found in these waters. Today the waves were small…and it seemed to be a longboard day. This surfer makes surfing look effortless…just hanging out on the board.
Heading back to my car, I took a picture I take often. There is an iconic palm tree in the walkway down to the beach. It’s big and bold…and is beautiful against the blues of the waves and the sky. I frequently frame the image with the lifeguard tower in view. And yes, the day was warmer today. I think it even got to 70, which means that people were in swim suits, sunbathing, playing on the shore and in the waves. It’s not warm enough for me yet–but some go with the theory that sun=warm, so off go the jackets and lots of skin is visible.
So there they are…my four funky finds for Friday! What four funky finds did you come across today?
On a too many Zoom meetings day my walk begins at dusk. I notice the clouds gathering tinged with the deep pinks of the setting sun. Winds are picking up and temperatures are heading down. Some much needed rain is in the forecast.
If one good thing came from the pandemic it is the daily walk that has now become a regular habit–one we seldom miss. It is also a time for looking, noticing, watching…paying attention to whatever presents itself. The neighborhood walk is not my favorite. Manicured lawns, tract homes, and family cars feel mundane and routine. The occasional snail, lizard, or dandelion add interest and some variety.
Some days I notice birds. The most common are of the corvid species–crows and ravens who converse raucously from the treetops. Today I spied a small bird of prey perched on the lamppost…watching the world while I watched it. I always wonder what those wonderful wild bird think from their suburban perch. Do they notice the carefully groomed yards, the small dogs in cute sweaters on reel-in leashes, the tweens on electric bikes buzzing down the sidewalks?
A hawk? A falcon? Something else? I don’t think my iphone photo offers enough clues for identification. But it did add interest to my walk.
There were a lot of them. Gathered in a group, moving with purpose. Where did they come from and where are they going?
Seagulls are usual. They congregate, squawking and arguing over who gets the bag of cheetos stolen from the blanket. Shorebirds with their long thin beaks poke the wet sand in search of snacks. Whimbrels and godwits are shy, scattering as I creep near. I’m always on the lookout for egrets, tall and elegant with bright yellow feet. Sometimes they feed in pairs or triads, but mostly seem to lead a solitary life.
When the little girl approached the group, I expected them to take flight. Rise into the sky in unison. But they didn’t. As I got closer, I saw they were traveling together, one after the other like school kids heading from the classroom to somewhere. They were unperturbed when I came close with my camera from behind. And not concerned when I ran ahead and took my photos from the front of the line, in fact, the lead duck nearly walked right into me!
I’m still wondering about that sord of mallards (if they had taken flight they would have been called a flock). In all my walks on the beach over the years, this is my first sighting of mallards on a pilgrimage. Where did they come from? Where were they going?
What is under your feet and over your head today? A much needed walk took me to the beach, where after a rainy yesterday the sun shone brightly this afternoon.
I tied on my ratty sneakers, the ones with hole in the toe, knowing that I’m always at risk for a salt water foot bath, or the sneak attack of some sand covered blob of tar on the beach.
In my usual fashion, I start out walking quickly trying not to let all the sights and sounds and smells distract me as I attempt to earn my exercise minutes, and then slow down letting the environment speak to me as I pull my camera to my eye.
This jelly was nearly invisible, an almost clear glob of gelatinous organic matter. I sometimes see bits and pieces of jellies, but seldom a fully formed (and quite large) creature like this one. I’m not sure what kind of jelly this is–maybe a moon jelly? I’m happy to not have stepped on it, even though it is no longer alive.
A beautiful spring day also meant a healthy breeze blowing. I’ve been noticing more and more people playing on the beach, throwing balls, building castles, and flying kites. This one was really soaring, getting lots of loft and lift into the bright blue sky.
What did you find underfoot and overhead in your place today?
I’ve walked a lot of laps around the neighborhood. Worn a pathway through the gate, along the sidewalk, turning east and then back to the west. Passing house after house after house. I’ve watched the seasons change: buds become flowers and then fall away as spring becomes summer. The days shorten and leaves drop as summer becomes autumn. I change my walking time as dark pervades and autumn becomes winter. And a year later I’m watching those trees and bushes and groundcovers begin to bud and bloom once again.
I’ve logged mile after mile. But instead of seeing the same scenes days after day, I see new sights each time I head out. Don’t get me wrong–this pathway has become tedious, boring even. I’d much rather be somewhere else, exploring new vistas, hanging out with different people, seeing places I haven’t see before. But for now, this remains my scene.
This week I noticed that a neighbor has a structure that peeks out above their hedge. Maybe the structure had always been there–but this week I noticed that it is adorned with license plates. Utah, Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, Montana… Is this a license plate collection? A record of places lived? Cars owned? A lot bid on and won from an online auction? And what is the structure? A pergola? A shed? A chicken coop?
I don’t have the answers, but the wondering makes these somewhat boring walks a bit more interesting.
Every day on the beach is a good day. And today was no different. Sunny and mild, light breeze, mid-60s–a perfect March day in Southern California. Where I live, it’s important to pay attention to the tides if you want to walk any distance. High tides=no beach for walking. So when my time and tide times don’t match, we often head south to walk near Torrey Pines State Reserve.
There were lots of people out on the beach today, not unusual for a sunny weekend day. And warnings were abundant–although they seemed to have little impact on beach goers.
I noticed the shark sighting sign early on.
Shark warnings have become pretty commonplace. When I pointed it out to my husband, he told me about the drone images this week of a great white hanging out off the coast. (Check the link for the news story) Yikes! But there were still surfers out–I watched this group climbing up the cliff after their surfing session.
Had they not noticed the shark warnings? What about the danger signs about the unstable cliffs? Just last week there was a pretty major cliff failure not too far down the beach.
Even the train seemed to know about the warnings. I watched it creep slowly along the cliffline, gingerly traversing precariously close to the edge, perhaps trying to avoid any more cliff damage.
But still, there were people walking just feet from the bottom of the cliff and others sunbathing too close for my comfort. Do they not know that the cliffs fall regularly and give no advance notice? Are the warnings for others? Not for them?
It seemed today that at every turn there was a new warning. Most warnings seem to be for public safety. Watch out, stay away, be careful. Some are designed to keep people from doing silly, dangerous things like climbing through a drainage tunnel. And still others to make clear where dogs are allowed and where they are not allowed. This may be another public safety issue–we do have some beaches that allow dogs. This beach has a stretch that allows dogs and then when you get to the state reserve, dogs are no longer allowed.
But I have to say, in spite of all the warnings, it was still a perfect day for a beach walk. And no one was harmed during the photography of all the warning signs!
Will it ever stop raining? We have gone from impending drought here in Southern California to several inches over our rainfall average for the year. Today alone we may have gotten more rain than we often get in months!
The downside of the nonstop rain is that feeling of being cooped up in the house. We’ve had no real breaks in the rain today…so I finally decided I would walk, rain or not. I got into my raincoat, grabbed my (mostly neglected) umbrella and headed out. The skies opened up about halfway through my walk. I pulled up my hood and popped the umbrella and forged forward. The walk was just what I need…
In this upside down world where nothing feels normal, a walk on the beach feels like a treat. Hearing that others in our state are getting directions to “shelter in place” makes me feel like my open air walks may be a thing of the past very soon. I worry about going stir-crazy with no outlet for exploring the natural world!
I did get my beach walk in today…an extra long one since rain is expected later tonight. But my real treat came later…in the most unexpected way.
If you’ve followed my blog or Instagram (@kd0602) you might know that I’m pretty obsessed with egrets and herons. I’ve written about them here and here and here. Now that both my husband and I are working from home, every invitation to go outside the house is a welcome one. So when he asked if I wanted to walk down the street to check the mail, I jumped at the chance. We headed out–the skies were gray and the wind was kicking up in advance of the storm forecasted for tonight–walking down the hill on the sidewalk in the neighborhood. And we saw it…that distinctive shape, pure white, landing on the deck of a neighbor’s house. A great egret. Perched on the deck wall, we had a perfect view from afar.
I never see egrets in my neighborhood, but like on the beach, I crept closer feeling lucky my phone was in my pocket and not in the house. When photographing birds I know to take many shots, increasing my odds of a good photo. As it took flight, I continued to press the shutter…
and then follow it as it landed across the street near the park and our mailboxes. Unlike the snowy egrets I see on my beach walks, the great egret does not have bright yellow feet. But it does have a yellow beak where the snowy’s beak is black.
It seems a bit strange to have an egret visitor in the neighborhood today, but what an unexpected gift it was! I love getting close enough to see the texture of the feathers, especially as they were ruffled by the wind. On days and weeks like these, I’m learning to appreciate the little things…like a neighborhood visit by an egret.