field notes:


I interfered with nature and now I regret it.

I've always loved these gangly insects that roam my walls. Until this morning, I've called them mosquito hawks, but now I learn that they are called crane flies, and that they don't eat mosquitos. If I'd known that, and something about crane fly anatomy, I probably wouldn't have interfered like I did.

There's a large spider web outside my kitchen windows. One fine morning a couple of days ago, I saw this crane fly struggling fiercely--caught in the web. In a weak moment, without giving it due consideration, I thought, would it be so wrong if I just saved this one guy? And before I could stop myself, really, I was outside, back to the sun, extricating a crane fly from a spider web. Now those of you who have been in this position, or perhaps are just less headlong than I, can already see what's coming. But I didn't. Too late, I realized that the stickiness of a spider web is no match for the spidery legs of a crane fly. By the time I'd gotten all of the webbing off of him, he'd lost several legs.

I brought him to my bathroom, a generous habitat for crane flies. He immediately began to traverse the redwood walls, with his few legs and his wings seemingly working fine. Victorious, I thought. He'll eat the mosquitos in my house in return for his life. I interfered, yes, but was it that

The next day, however, brought a sorry sight. On the window sill of my shower, I found him, caught in...yet...another...spider...web. This time the leg pulling was too much for him. He retired, right there on the window sill. As gentle as I could be, that was not gentle enough.

Poor damned crane fly who died anyway, poor spider, who should have had that big treat for dinner, but didn't, and me, who tried to save a life, but took one instead. The spider web is full again, but I'm not looking too closely for awhile. If something is struggling over there, it's better I don't know about it.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 2:55 PM link | comments []


We found lots of huckleberries, but no bear or signs of bear on the walk yesterday from Shell Beach to Pierce Point Road. The weather was rare: hot, clear and amazing. Between entering the wooded trail to emerging three hours later at the top we entered the bears' world. We looked through his eyes at berries, thickets, and terrain. The forest was enchanted with birdsong and birds. We saw wilson's Warblers, Pacific-Sloped Flycatchers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Bushtits, some Wrentits including a fledge, and most amazingly, a family of five Great Horned Owls.

We entered a sort of glade towards the last mile and a half of the trail and saw first one, then the second and third fledgling owls fly in front of us and populate pine branches to our left. On the right and behind us was one adult, and the other was in front of us. We all just looked at each other. The adults with one eye half-closed but wary, the juveniles with big yellow eyes and akward neck movements. They seemed to be full-sized, but their face colors weren't defined and contrasted, their eyes were yellow like full moons, and their were slightly ruffled and new looking.

After awhile we moved on, feeling that we were intruding on a family scene and making everybody nervous. We couldn't get very far without indulging in huckleberries, especially at certain parts of the trail where they were ripe and prevelant. We tried eating like bears might, using only the mouth to pull the little berries from their branches. That method probably works better when you don't mind eating some unripe berries, and a few leaves. Best left to more bear-like bears than me.

Further along than the owls we came upon a paper wasp nest just off the trail, with tree branches that travel right through it. It's strange to say that nature reminds me of art, but I thought immediately of Andy Goldsworthy and his cairns.

The walk was followed by an equally enchanting swim at Shell Beach. We swam out in that wonderfully cold water, lay for awhile on the swimming platform, then swam even further out to the last buoy. By noon I was back here working on websites again. Inspired, renewed and loving life. Walks just don't get any better.

If you look at yesterday's comments, you'll see that the bear has again been sighted above Perth in Inverness, right outside town, really. That will be tomorrow's walk!

wasp cairn


*This post belongs to yesterday, but Blogger was transmorphing my blog to the new format and I couldn't post. Please note that "tomorrow" is really today, etc.!
posted by Lisa Thompson on 9:04 AM link | comments []


The bear is still afoot, or should I say, apaw? At Friday night's Environmental Action Committee annual potluck dinner a friend of mine heard a rumor near the coffee urn and it was confirmed on KWMR on the Park Wavelengths show. The bear was seen one week ago yesterday in Bear Valley at one of the park residences, near the compost bin. I also heard a report that somebody had seen bear scat at Heart's Desire State Park the day of the fire, that would have been Friday.
Later this morning, my friend and I are going on a bear hunt...a hunt for tracks and scat, that is.

Yesterday I watched a bat ray swim around in my particular cove for half an hour and decided that instead I'd swim at Shell Beach. I was worried that at low tide I could startle the ray and get accidentally stung. I'm not sure if it would work that way, but I didn't want to take a chance. One day last week I was swimming back into shore and saw a ray ahead of me. I thought, " cool, I'm in the water with a ray", and then I thought, "oh crap, there's a ray between me and shore and I have to put my feet down sometime." I breast-stroked as close to the surface as possible and didn't stop swimming until my nose practically touched sand. No big deal.

But I'd forgotten how much I love swimming at Shell. I love the long path winding and descending through the forest and emerging onto a perfectly beautiful beach, the sandy slope into the water is angled just right for a swim at any tide or time, and a swim out to the platform and back is an ideal length for a swim. I love to stand on the platform and ride the swells and scan the distant shoreline, closer than before.

Not so late Saturday night on return from the city, we saw a very tall red fox crossing from one pasture into another via Nicasio Vally Road. It didn't run or even lope, it walked across the street, as big and measured as a large dog.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 6:23 AM link | comments []

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