Baby Food

A white-breasted nuthatch holds a multicolored Asian ladybeetle in its beak as it clings to a mossy tree in Bower Slough at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington in June 2011

Another picture from 2011 and from another place near-and-dear to my heart, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This white-breasted nuthatch had snared a multicolored Asian ladybeetle (not native to the Pacific Northwest, I don’t think I ever saw a native ladybug in our many years there). While nuthatches do eat insects this meal I suspect was destined for the hungry maw of the babies in the nearby nest. I wish the picture had more depth of field but I was shooting as wide open as I could since I had forgotten my tripod at home and the light was dim under the canopy so I needed as much speed as I could muster.

City Parks

A wider view of our dog Ellie sitting amongst leaves next to the dog park in Irving Park in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon in November 2011

On my first visit to Cavalliere Park as I started towards the dog park, which was more of a dog pond since it had been raining all day, I stopped in my tracks when it occurred to me that had Ellie been younger this in some ways would have been our Irving Park. We wouldn’t have visited every day since it’s too far from the house to walk but it has a dog park, a playground, basketball courts, picnic areas, and a walking path, just like our beloved park in Portland. One had lots of old oaks and maples and one lots of saguaros, but all that would have mattered was that they both had the pup. Except this park never would. She’s been gone almost a year so it wasn’t the sort of moment of unexpected grief that knocks you to your knees, just stops you for a moment until you catch your breath. I changed course to the hiking trail and had a lovely visit and returned the next day, smiling when I saw a handful of people and pups enjoying the sunny weather. This is Ellie at Irving Park in the fall of 2011, the dog park is right behind her, I made her stop for a moment for a picture before we headed back into the neighborhood, our walk just beginning.

Frosted Moss

A smiling face in the moss covering a rock gets a frosted look on a cold winter morning along the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2020

Taken a week before the other image of this face in the moss, this time during a cold snap that gave the moss a frosted look in the minutes before the sun began to warm the desert floor. I’ve been meaning to look for it again when passing on more recent hikes, to see if the moss has grown enough to cover the eyes and mouth, but I keep forgetting when I’m in the area (today included).

The Hidden Smile

Moss covering a small rock appears to smile on the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2020

In the damp of the Pacific Northwest it wasn’t hard to find moss, stand still long enough and the moss found you. I was surprised though to find it growing in the desert far from any water, covering a rock hidden in the shadow of a boulder. I was even more surprised when it matched my smile with its own, so joyful and exuberant, beautiful if unconventional, as I told it of the glory of the rising sun that it could never see.

Dressed in Blue and Green

A tree swallow perches on a mossy dead snag in the rain at Long Lake on the auto tour of the River S Unit of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield, Washington in May 2012

This picture resonates strongly with me of my former home in the Pacific Northwest, a paradise dressed in blue and green. A tree swallow pausing from its aerial hunt on a rainy spring morning, tiny drops of rain beading on its tiny wings. The blue of the bird, the greens of the moss and lichen, the blue of Long Lake below, the green of the lush grasses at its marshy border, the meadow beyond. When I first visited Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge years ago the lake was full of snags near the road but one by one they began to fall. This snag was the last one near the road but eventually it too fell.

Vertical Climber

A Pacific treefrog sits vertically in a moss-covered tree, all soaked with rain on this October morning, beside the trail to the observation blind at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

A Pacific treefrog sits vertically in a moss-covered tree, all soaked with rain on an October morning, beside the trail to the observation blind at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. I was crestfallen when I realized I had forgotten my tripod and wouldn’t be able to photograph the frog (and another nearby on the same tree), but then I remembered I had my adapter to put Canon lenses on my Sony camera and thus was able to use both my Canon macro lens and the image stabilization of the Sony. It saved the day and thankfully so, it turned out to be the last time I saw them before leaving the Northwest.

The Green Land

A western gull (I think) perches on a large boulder in front of a moss-covered cliff on the beach at Heceta Head on the Oregon coast

A western gull (I think) perches on a large boulder in front of a moss-covered cliff on the beach at Heceta Head on the Oregon coast. A stream was flowing between us, emptying into the Pacific just to my right. The rich greens of western Oregon were something to behold, I miss seeing moss growing on the rocks, on the trees, in the grass. I don’t miss seeing it growing on the roof, on the steps, on the car …