Revisiting the colors of Christmas

I love that the first day of Advent 2017 began for me with a blazing white shooting star in the early morning sky and ended with the rise of this year’s only supermoon.

December’s superman with a few city lights below

It felt fitting, then, that I might begin this busy season by thinking about the color white. Or rather, revisiting that color. After all, white was the first in a 2012 series I shared with you celebrating the colors of Christmas. Maybe these posts will feel like old friends, or perhaps something new will speak to you this time around. I hope you’ll enjoy them throughout this month and slow down at least a little to ponder the colors of this season.

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Fall’s final hurrah

“You can come back next week and help us rake that up,” he said. He’s a member and ubiquitous volunteer at the church I attend, and he was talking about the Ginkgo tree I was photographing with my cell phone. We both laughed.

One of this autumn’s final blazes of glory

Fall is probably the season when I first fell in love with trees, not because of the raking that always has to happen, but because of the sheer beauty and variety of fall trees. Continue reading

The heron, the frog, and the Thanksgiving feast

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to my American readers (and happy Wednesday to the rest of you)! As you travel over the river and through the woods, or wherever this holiday may take you, I hope good cheer comes along for the ride.

Today’s post is a short one, and it’s all about an ongoing feast in my back yard.

This summer, a juvenile Green Heron discovered an all-it-could-eat buffet of frogs in the pool and became a frequent poolside visitor.

Our juvenile Green Heron in early August

My husband and I had not seen so many (or any) frogs in our pond in previous summers, and their presence added to the daily outdoor chores. Sometimes we could relocate them while they were still alive. Other times, we had to fish them out after they drowned in the skimmer or at the bottom of the pool.

A small, brave frog watches me take its picture.

I haven’t seen any frogs in the pool for the last month or so, and I realized about a week ago it was because—at least in part—we still have frequent visits from the Green Heron. I don’t know if this is the same juvenile heron as our August guest, but I enjoy seeing it stand by the pool.

It’s skittish and quick to fly if it sees me watching it, and so I have to take its photo from inside the house and be careful that it can’t see me from a window. It’s not graceful like other herons. It has a gangly look when it flies, and its squawk sounds like an unpleasant shriek.

Today, the heron sat frozen like this for several minutes. I’ve never seen it still for so long.

The Green Heron stares up at the sky.

Was it asking a blessing for its meal? Was it basking in the joy of having just eaten a frog? Was it hypnotized by something in the sky?

If this is the juvenile heron, its coloring is coming in nicely, and it’s clearly adding girth from eating so many frogs.

This Thanksgiving, may you enjoy your feast as much as the heron enjoys its frogs.

One of the things I’m grateful for is a back yard that attracts interesting birds. What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

The salmon run

It’s raining here today, the dark type of day that feels all too rare here because of our desperate need for rain. Whereas last year’s rainy season got off to a great start, this one has been slow so far. So I’m especially grateful for the rain and gray skies today.

Autumn means rain, and rain means clouds have come back, bringing more interesting sunrises and sunsets.

The sun sets along the river (with birds on a wire)

Fall trickled in here over the last few weeks, but this is the first week many of the trees decided to put on a show. Continue reading

The best of autumn in California

I’ve come to love the salmon run each fall here in California. It’s one of my favorite parts of the season. This October, when my husband and I visited Tahoe, we stopped along Taylor Creek because we had heard salmon were spawning there.

Red kokanee salmon in Taylor Creek

I was stunned to see such tiny fish compared to the huge chinook salmon that swim upriver from the ocean each fall to spawn. These little, red fish are kokanee salmon, landlocked in Lake Tahoe and surrounding tributaries such as Taylor Creek, where they go to spawn each autumn. Continue reading