Fallen Giant

A fallen redwood runs along the shore of Prairie Creek

When I walk in a redwood forest I’m struck not just by the giants themselves but how much they impact the world around them. The canopy of living redwoods can block the light needed by smaller plants below them, dictating what can grow on the forest floor. A fallen giant like this redwood along Prairie Creek creates space for those plants to grow but can block the movement of ground creatures if it falls across their trails, or even block the flow of water, but also provides a base for other redwoods to grow. Everything here learns to live in the shadow of the giants, upright or fallen.

A Small Tragedy Unfolds

Our black-and-white cat Boo sits in his favorite box

Sunday was a sad day in a small way when The Boo Box gave way, finally yielding to the force but not the wish of its master. One end is still in good shape and I’ve seen Boo sitting in the remains, I’m not sure if he’s working through the stages of grief or if he likes the new relaxed shape. Perhaps he just invented The Boo Box Recliner.

This picture is from June when the beleaguered box was still holding together.

The Walker

Our elderly black lab walks towards me in the dog park

In her elderly years Ellie isn’t able to deal with the heat as well as she used to, so she wants to go on shorter walks in hot weather. After a heat wave had us retreating to the air-conditioned bedroom all week, the weekend dawned with the relief of cooler weather. After we visit the dog park I let Ellie guide me the rest of the way so she’s in control of where and how far we go. She loves our time together so I can generally trust her judgement on when she’s getting too tired and needs to go home – unless she thinks food is waiting at home, then forget it, walks are no longer of interest.

That cool Saturday morning we started off in the dog park then ventured out into the neighborhood like normal, but instead of eventually turning for home she just wanted to keep going and going. We meandered up and down streets but at each intersection she said she wanted to go further. I finally made her head home after an hour and fifteen minutes as she was slowing down and visibly tired, even though she kept asking for one more block, and by the time we reached home it was a new record for her elderly years of 1 hour 20 minutes.

That evening it was warmer but still not hot and she gave me a 45 minute walk. The next morning was also lovely but after going half a block she suggested going back home. I figured she might be a little sore after yesterday’s marathon but asked her to go another two blocks to the park. She agreed and must have limbered up as not only did she not ask to go back but put in another 1 hour 20 minute walk, again with me having to point her back towards home when she was getting too tired.

That evening she again balked after going half a block but started again when I suggested we at least make it to the park, but a few yards later she again asked to go home, so I relented and we headed back home for some head scratches and belly rubs. She had more than earned the time off.

That Monday morning I woke as I often do these days, to Ellie “accidentally” waking me by repeatedly bumping into the mattress with her head. In her younger years she preferred to accidentally wake me by jumping up on the bed and dancing around but that’s a bit much these days, long walks or no. She looks at me with the greatest joy when I climb out of bed so I can’t help but give her a hug, even if I know that part of her excitement is that she is about to get a white dental bone, her favorite treat, while I have breakfast.

This picture is from an unusually hot June when we were at the dog park, I was hoping she’d run towards me but in the heat a saunter was as much as she could muster. I was holding out a treat so I knew she wasn’t faking and I put the camera away and we continued on our walk.

Mobile Homes

Holes made long ago by piddocks digging into sandstone

Kalaloch’s Beach 4 in Olympic National Park may not be cleverly named but it has wonderful patterns created long ago by piddocks digging into the sandstone. The ground underneath them was moving slowly, slowly even for shellfish, and now sits just above sea level, out of the reach of even the highest tides. Everything is relative, you’ll find much more ancient signs of ocean life high up in the mountains, as the older rock is pushed upwards by the shifting land below.

Piddocks are still around today, still digging into sandstone, you can read more about them at the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s piddock information page.

Poet Tree (Rain Forest Edition)

Poet Tree (Rain Forest Edition)

I was first introduced to Langston Hughes by a poem posted on a neighborhood tree less than a year prior so I was delighted when I visited the Hoh Rain Forest to see they had placed signs with poetry along the Hall of Mosses Trail, with one of those poems being Langston Hughes’ “Snail”, placed before this tree that arched from one side of the trail to the other. As you can see from the puddle in the trail I finally got my rain in the Hoh Rain Forest after years of trying, and you can see from the picture below that the sun came out at times too.

Little snail,
Dreaming you go,
Weather and rose
Is all you know.

Weather and rose
Is all you see,
Drinking
The dewdrop’s
Mystery
“Snail” by Langston Hughes

Poet Tree (Sunny Rain Forest Edition)

The Power of Portability

A green anole peeks out of from its hiding place on the porch

One of the things I love about the Canon 100-400mm lens is its portability. I was visiting family in Georgia for a few days and brought it along just in case there was a chance to use it, and I got that chance when I saw this green anole on some equipment on the porch. It often stayed fairly hidden but I was able to watch as it caught and ate an insect and drank rainwater that had collected in the base. Seeing the anole brought back a lot of memories, it was my inability to photograph the anoles and other wildlife while a summer intern in Florida in the mid-90’s that motivated me to upgrade from a point-and-shoot to my first SLR. I wouldn’t see them much after that, though, as I moved to Oregon when I graduated and we don’t have them here. I also appreciated the close-focusing and image stabilization of the lens, it’s really quite adaptable and let me get some pictures of an old favorite.

Tree Waves

Tree Waves

There is so much to love about hiking in the redwoods but one thing I’m constantly amazed by is the variety of patterns and colors in their bark, each tree with its own story to tell. This redwood on an offshoot of the Simpson-Reed Trail had wonderful waves rippling through a section of its trunk with a nice touch of green from a dusting of lichens on its surface.

Serenity, Serenity, Poke-Poke-Poke

Serenity

One of the unique things about Boo compared to our other cats is that, while he does have his favorite places to sleep, sometimes he seems to lay down wherever he was when he decided it was time for a nap, often in his chicken-wing pose. Here he chose some sunbeams on the hardwood, though there’s nothing unique about that, Sam and Templeton in particular also enjoy(ed) sunbeams. He’ll rest like that too, only moving his eyes around to keep an eye on events, and most unusually even if you come over to pet him, he lays there without moving, hoping you’ll share some affection and move on. And it’s not just with people, as you can see from Trixie who used a poke-poke-poke to try to rouse her brother to play.

Poke Poke Poke

The Forgotten Bridge

A view of the bridge over Sol Duc Falls

It rained the entire way on the short hike down to Sol Duc Falls, not surprising since I deliberately planned this trip around rainy weather. I was looking forward to seeing the falls, having visited them a few times before, but my heart sank on the approach.

The bridge. I always forget about the bridge.

I love the bridge itself, sturdy and wooden and water-soaked like the enveloping forest. The problem is the deep and narrow chasm that lies below as I’m rather scared of heights. Add the deafening roar of the falls and it overwhelms my senses. I screwed up my courage and walked across without looking down and started taking pictures of the falls from the other side, a little out of sorts and finding it hard to concentrate.

A large family was there already (or arrived shortly thereafter, the visit is a bit of a blur in my memory). You can see a few of them on the bridge at the top of the picture, unwitting models that provide a sense of scale. They were lovely folks and helped me relax a little bit. When I decided to head back to the car, I gathered my courage once more and made a beeline across the bridge. The family had all gathered on the bridge for a picture and as I passed asked if I’d mind taking a picture of their group. I froze in place and couldn’t say anything. I think they thought they might have offended me with their innocuous request so I quickly stammered that I’d be happy to take their picture but I had to get off the bridge.

Once on the other side they handed me their camera, a Nikon unfortunately as I shoot Canon and the controls are similar yet different and I had been struggling to shoot even with a camera familiar to me. Hopefully the picture came out well enough, looking at the result on the camera at least you could tell they were having a good time. I hope they were happy with it because they made my visit more enjoyable and now I can smile when I look at this picture and think about the bridge, at least until the next time I have to cross it.

Chocolate on the Rocks

A gathering of chocolate limpets on a rock in the tide pools of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park

A gathering of chocolate limpets (I think but don’t quote me on it) on a rock in the tide pools of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park. I intended to reach the tide pools at low tide that morning but I wasn’t feeling well and arrived a bit late, missing the lowest tide but still able to see some of the creatures higher up in the pools. I haven’t spent much time photographing tide pools but I’m interested in doing more of it, so part of this visit (and a later visit to the redwoods) was getting some experience in the tide pools, learning to see what creatures are there so that on future visits I’ll have a better idea of what to photograph.

Even though there weren’t many pictures on it, my tide pool page on my old site was one of my most popular. I do miss sometimes the structured pages of that site so perhaps I’ll bring them back for some animals. They’re probably too much work for me to replicate the entire structure of the old site, and I’m not sure how to even do it with this setup, but I’ll look into it when time allows. If I do it pictures of the pets and of tide pools would probably be first.