Showing posts with label nature photos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nature photos. Show all posts

Friday, January 25, 2013

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Linking with SouleMama .

Friday, December 21, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Joining with SouleMama.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rose Garden

Just a quick hello and some photos to share. I had fun participating in Knitting and Crochet Blog week and enjoyed meeting so many new bloggers. I tried to visit everyone who left a comment during the week, but between writing posts and making the rounds, I got a little behind. A big thank you to everyone that stopped by.

These photos were taken over the weekend at the Municipal Rose Garden. The roses are in bloom and the garden is otherworldly.  There were multiple wedding parties there for photography sessions and lots of families wandering around, taking in the vivid colors and heady scents. I had the most wonderful time. Thank you, justjenn, for reminding me it was time to go.

Have a good week.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Knitting by the Sea

One learns first of all in beach living the art of shedding; how little one can get along with, not how much. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I forgot how soothing it is to be near the ocean, needles in hand, listening to the rhythmic crashing of the waves. When I knit on the beach, I like to knit simple patterns so my hands can move from memory and my mind can take a much-needed rest.

Last weekend I spent a day by the ocean and a night at a rustic retreat center in the forest.

It was like coming home after being away for a long, long time.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Athena the Eurasian Eagle Owl

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is Athena, a Eurasian Eagle Owl. I met her over the holidays when Hil, Lily and I visited the San Francisco Zoo. She is from Austria and was smuggled in to this country back in 2005 by a man who dyed 12 Eurasian Owl eggs to look like Easter eggs in order to get them past customs. It didn't work and the man went to Federal prison. Only three of the owlets survived, and Athena is one of them. She is huge and absolutely beautiful.

I can't explain why I am so drawn to owls, but I do know that it started over a decade ago when I used to see Great Horned Owls in the treetops on hikes near my home, which I wrote about here.

My obsession hasn't diminished over the years, and the recent popularity of owls is definitely helping to feed it. I love buying my niece Lily owl-themed toys and clothes, like this cute little shirt I just ordered for her from Cafe Press.

I really am still knitting and will write about that soon.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sophia the Saw-whet Owl

Isn't she beautiful? This is Sophia, a Saw-whet Owl that lives at Effie Yeaw Nature Center near Sacramento, CA. My sister and I met her yesterday while on our annual, all-day birdwatching trip.

Sophia is very compact at only eight inches tall. Saw-whet Owls are not seen very often due to their small size and because they only come out at night. She was hit by a truck five years ago and somehow clung to the grill for sixty miles. Veterinarians nursed Sophia back to health, but she lives permanently at the nature center because she can no longer survive in the wild.

It was absolutely gorgeous in central California yesterday. We took a walk from the nature center down a short path to the American River and had a relaxing afternoon break by the water.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

19 More Days of Autumn

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly around the earth seeking the successive autumns. -George Eliot

We've been having gusty windstorms here the last several days, blowing the last of the yellow leaves off the trees and creating a floor of gold in the streets and yards. Winter solstice is December 22nd, so there are just 19 more days left of autumn, but every year it seems to me that winter begins on December 1st, no matter what the official start day is.

I took these photos of a persimmon tree in San Juan Bautista last week while I was there browsing antique stores. The bright leaves and deep-orange fruit were a glorious sight.

There were more than a few blossoms in the gardens we passed by. I love the delicate papery look and lavender color of this flower, although I don't know its name.

Still working away on the grandma-inspired lap blanket for my mother. Like the blankets I have knit previously, I've gotten attached to it and don't want to let it go ... but I will. Next year I hope to knit one for myself.

Happy last days of autumn to you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Respite and adventure

The best remedy for those who are afraid,
lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
somewhere where they can be quiet,
alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
and that God wishes to see people happy,
amidst the simple beauty of nature.
I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
-Anne Frank

Not long ago, feeling disconnected from nature and depleted from being endlessly wired in to technology, I decided to spend a few nights at a Buddhist retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains.

The retreat center offers two types of lodging-- small, private rooms and yurts (similar to a tent cabin) away from the main buildings in a towering redwood grove. While trying to decide which type of lodging I wanted to stay in, I felt a tiny shiver of fear at staying alone in a yurt in a secluded forest, so I went with that. Something inside of me was craving both respite and adventure.

During the day, I hiked through the forest. On the trails I came across little altars and statues placed on rocks and tucked under trees. My favorite hike was the Eight Verses Pilgrimage Trail. Each of the verses are printed on a sign and spaced evenly throughout the trail with a nearby bench for sitting and reflecting.

There were offerings on top of some of the signs, like sea shells, medallions, stones, and bouquets of flowers.

The retreat was exactly what I needed. Time alone in a spiritually-nourishing, natural setting, where I could gaze up at the trees and listen to birds and reconnect with what is important to me.

This statue of St. Francis stood at a crossroads on a forest trail, placed there by the retreat center and used as a landmark on the hike to the yurt campsite.

Every time I came across him, he was a reassuring presence, letting me know I was on the right path.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A winged awakening

When you start bird watching, there is a type of awakening that occurs, an awareness that wasn't present beforehand.

First, you begin to see more birds than you ever noticed before. A robin bouncing across the lawn. A phoebe perched on a fence post. You ask yourself if there were always this many birds in the neighborhood.

Second, you hear the birdsong. The chirp of a hummingbird outside the kitchen window. The melody of a warbler in a magnolia tree. A purple finch singing her nest song.

Small miracles begin to occur. You step out on the porch one night in time to see a barn owl glide silently over the roof top. In March, when the cedar waxwings should be long gone, you spot a flock in your neighbor’s tree, and the miracle isn't that they are still hanging around, it’s that earlier in the day you wished you could see them one more time before the arrival of spring. And there they were.

You open to the possibility of miracles in other areas of your life, catching more and more glimpses of beauty throughout the day.

Life becomes less ordinary, less habitual. Possibilities exist everywhere. Little winged jewels emerge.

You wonder, what else have I not been seeing?

And you begin to look with new eyes.

And you begin to see.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The view from the back steps

A few weeks ago it seemed as though spring was here.

Trees were blooming, birds were singing and the sun was shining.

And then winter returned. This was the view from the back steps after days and days of torrential rain and cold. It's always a treat to see snow on the mountain tops because it doesn't happen very often.

And look at what might be coming:

With apologies to my friends in the mid-west, east coast, Canada and other countries who are sick to death of cold and snow, I have to say ...


(We almost never get sea level snow here.)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


My sister and I went on our annual bird watching trip today and guess what we saw?

A Great Horned Owl!

The picture above was taken at 3pm this afternoon at the San Luis Wildlife Refuge. The owl was perched calmly on a post, perfectly happy to let me take several snapshots of him through the car window.

It was the best birding day ever.

I've been looking for Great Horned Owls at the refuge for the last few years because I read that others have seen them there, but I never had any luck. Today it was the last thing on my mind, especially in the middle of the afternoon, and there he was.

( source )

Apparently low expectations and a careless attitude are key to seeing great birds. We had just gotten started when a Greater Roadrunner darted across the road. Oh my goodness! Another bird we'd been hoping to see the last few years.

We stopped in at Mercey Hot Springs to visit the wintering Long-eared Owls, which we see every year. Today there were three or four of them roosting in a tree. Like the Great Horned Owl, they weren't at all camera shy.

Plenty of egrets out and about today, too.

And since this is a knitting blog, I have to include a photo of the lovely wool sheep we saw grazing in the grasslands.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Grey days

Grey was the theme this weekend. It isn't as gloomy as it sounds ... I happen to love grey. I tend to wear grey clothes, which I know is very drab, but what can I say, I like being comfortable. And I love grey days because of the cozy factor.

I spent a couple hours Saturday afternoon winding 650 yards of dark grey Alpaca yarn. My intent was to start knitting a new lace shawl, but after all that winding I needed a nap ... and then the day got away from me.

I'm glad now I didn't start on the shawl. This evening I attended a talk by Lorna Miser about her new book on hand-dyed and variegated yarn, and I'm itching to work with some of the more colorful skeins I bought myself for Christmas. (More about Lorna's talk in a few days.)

I woke up this morning to a thick blanket of fog. This was the view out my bedroom window ... it was quite beautiful. It reminded me of the heavy tule fog we experienced in Central California when I was a kid. My mom would wake me up with, "It's froggy out there."

It was very froggy today.

This is a big week. We have loooooong meetings scheduled almost every day at work, as well as team building events and communication workshops, culminating in a formal party Friday night with dinner and dancing. I'm a very quiet, solitary kind of person, so I'm not looking forward to the week, even though I know it will all be fine. Today I wanted to do something that makes me happy to help carry me through the week, so I headed out to (my) wildlife refuge. It was grey there, too, which of course is exactly the way I like it. The refuge looks great all eerie and mysterious.

The highlight of the day was seeing tule elk for the first time. (Both the fog and the elk are named after the tule grass that grows in the central valley.) They don't fit in with the grey theme, but they're so beautiful I had to share the photos with you. The color of the elk against the grass is so gorgeous and primitive; it reminds me of these dioramas from the California Academy of Sciences.

The tule elk are found only in California and were almost driven to extinction at one point. The refuge has played a major role in bringing them back by protecting a small herd in a very large enclosure and periodically allowing one or two to join a herd that roams freely throughout the state.

There's still time to enter my yarn giveaway ... it's open until Wednesday evening. Have a good week!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sandhill Cranes

I haven't been doing much knitting during my time off, but I did spend the last couple days birdwatching. I spent the night in Lodi, something I have wanted to do for several years, to see the Sandhill Cranes that winter there. I'd never seen one before-- they stand three to five feet tall and have a wingspan of up to six feet.

These photos are early morning shots of the birds at the ecological preserve where they roost at night. I actually arrived the previous evening just in time to stand in the rain and watch hundreds of cranes fly in. The flocks are so massive that at first I thought I was seeing an approaching helicopter.

(To see truly amazing pictures of Sandhill Cranes, check out Adventures in Birdland.)

They are quite vocal and make the oddest sound, almost like a purr. It's hard to see in these pics, but they have a patch of bald red skin on top of their head. I mainly took photos from the comfort of my car because it was COLD there, something I don't often experience. I don't knit a lot of warm wool items because they just aren't needed where I live, but in Lodi I was wishing for a thick warm scarf and hat. Brrrrrr.

Fortunately I don't have to return to work until Tuesday, so I have several more days to get out and do more birdwatching. It's a nice way to end the year.

Wishing you a very happy new year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taking Refuge

I love being home, especially in the winter. I like to hang out in my pajamas, curled up in bed with the cats and a book, doing a little knitting here and there. There was a time in my life when I had a passion for travel, but these days I mainly want the peace and quiet of home.

But after being cooped up in my apartment for five days in row, exhausted and trying to shake off a cold, I wanted to run away from home. I couldn't stop thinking about my job and other subjects not suitable for one's vacation, and almost (but not quite) wished that I hadn't taken this week off because I really wasn't enjoying it.

Then everything changed.

I took a two hour drive to my favorite wildlife refuge. I swear that place is magical. Every time I go there, which is usually once a year, I ask myself why I don't visit more often. Spending time surrounded by wetlands and wildlife is so healing; it profoundly lifts my spirits.

A big storm is coming in today, but tomorrow I plan to get back on the road to visit another refuge. I wouldn't quite say my passion for travel has been restored-- I'm not ready to jump on a plane or anything-- but I have rediscovered a joy that somehow slipped through my fingers. Again.

If you live in the states and would like to visit a refuge, check out the National Wildlife Refuge System for more information.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I'm having a lazy Saturday today. It's sunny but a bit cool, and my plan is to do some knitting, stop by the craft store, and take a bag of books to Recycle Bookshop. Tomorrow my family and I are going to San Francisco to have lunch at my sister's favorite dim sum restaurant and go shopping at the Ferry Building Marketplace.

The trees are still fairly green around here, so when you come across colors like these while out walking you really notice it. I've been giving thought to the metaphors associated with autumn like transformation, letting go, and accepting change, and for the first time in many years felt moved to write a poem.


The stand of winsome autumn trees
Surrender to the inevitable.
With a gentle bow,
Red and gold offerings
Placed at your feet.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

After the rain

On Sunday it rained all day, bringing an unexpected benefit. When I stepped outside Monday morning I was greeted with this lovely scene-- the sun hitting the damp creek bank, causing swirly mist to rise. It was a nice way to start the week.

The wet weather made for a perfect afternoon of knitting. I finished this Modern Cabled Baby Bib (Ravelry pattern) knit in a cable and seed stitch combination. The yarn is Jil Eaton Cotton Tail that I found at my local yarn shop. It is a deeper shade of green than I was able to capture in the photo. I liked the yarn so much I want to knit a few more bibs in different colors.

On a different subject, it was interesting reading about your experiences with bats. So many of you have had bats in your backyard and in your home that it really surprised me. As the weather is growing colder here the bats are getting more and more active in the evening. I can enjoy their presence since they aren't roosting in my attic or patio umbrella!

I hope you are enjoying your week. It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner.