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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

The skies this time of year amaze me. When going about everyday tasks, I’ll turn around and say, “wow!” Somehow the blue seems bluer and the white seems whiter, and colors we don’t see at other times of the year dance furiously as the sun rises and sets.

Squirrel!

This was just a few hours ago. I got out of my car, saw this, and went back to grab my camera. Just last night I was listening to a lecture which mentioned God guiding the Israelites in the form of a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.

It amazes me how many others don’t ever look up or pause for a moment to enjoy spectacles like this. We just ping-pong from one place to another and rarely lift our eyes. Humanity could benefit from lying on the grass and watching the clouds go by.

It occurred to me that this started to look like an animal…

Is it a reindeer tossing snow with its antlers? We did get a little slushy snow in Seattle this morning. Or…

Is it an elephant? Now it looks like an elephant spraying something with its trunk.

The light coming from behind the tall cloud was blinding. You can see how abysmally dark that tall cloud had become, and somewhere behind it the sun was fighting back, all 27 million degrees in its core fueling the furious blaze.

כא  וַיהוָה הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם יוֹמָם בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן, לַנְחֹתָם הַדֶּרֶךְ, וְלַיְלָה בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ, לְהָאִיר

לָהֶם–לָלֶכֶת, יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה.

כב  לֹא-יָמִישׁ עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן, יוֹמָם, וְעַמּוּד הָאֵשׁ, לָיְלָה–לִפְנֵי, הָעָם.

21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; that they might go by day and by night:

22 the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people.

Exodus 13:21-22

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Oh, for more time to blog. 2020 was, in the words of a 9 year-old quoted in the media, like looking both ways before you cross the road and getting hit by a submarine. There were many blessings; for those I am grateful. I also feel like 2020 added on an extra 10 years.

But it’s 2021 now! God is in control and I believe we will see mighty miracles, miracles we’ve waited a lifetime for. To those who pray, keep praying. Even if it seems like your prayers are having no effect, each one is a shock wave sent into the spiritual realm. Deliverance and healing are coming. Soon.

People are still so angry about 2020 that I feel compelled to post a few photos expressing gratitude. Above is one of the murder of crows who waits for me at certain times of day. They know I carry treats.

If you haven’t seen the NOVA special Bird Brain, it’s worth 53 minutes of your time. Corvids are astoundingly smart. They continually crack me up with their politics and personalities.

Okay, so because I couldn’t go grab the tripod before Jupiter and Saturn went beyond the horizon, this (hilariously) is the best photo I got of the Great Conjunction. Here in the Seattle area we experienced the Solstice Storm on the day Jupiter and Saturn were closest– sun, then wind, then torrential rain and flooding, then snow (!). So we didn’t get to see the main event except online. We had to go out and look the next day.

I was very blessed to actually witness these two monster planets so close together before Saturn was obscured by a band of clouds a few minutes later. In this shot, they are aligned with the towers on Queen Anne.

At the same time, Mars could clearly be seen to the left of the moon.

This time of year, I am thrilled to see sunrises like this. An ordinary morning can suddenly light up in a multitude of colors.

Christmas Eve, I was treated to a bonfire under the only clear skies that week. I ran by the store on my way there, and when the cashier asked what I was doing, she said, “I’m going to a bonfire too!” This year we had to get creative with our tiny gatherings, and I hope this becomes an annual tradition. There is something primeval about sitting around a campfire telling old stories and sharing future plans. For thousands of years our ancestors did the same.

The moon was out that night too, gazing down over a horizon of conifers.

So happy new year all! I hope to find more time and energy to post here. There is much value in service yet we can neglect ourselves and our personal interests when our jobs, paid and unpaid, take up the majority of what we have to offer.

In 2021, I want people to feel empowered to be themselves, to know why they’re here, to break free from whatever is holding them back. The world is changing and it’s time for all of us to fully become what our Creator intends for us to be.

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again.

Psalm 71:20

©2021 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Ambling along this damp morning, I was stunned to see two beautiful spiderwebs quivering between their anchor trees. This one looked like an extravagant theater curtain slowly being unfurled.

This arachnid architect is sure to catch breakfast, lunch, and dinner in its net. The water clinging to its many strands made this look like a glistening chandelier. But linger longer. The more you stare, the further in you go, its geometry pulling you to the center of the web and beyond.

This second web was above the first and to the left. Looking at it, I felt like I was being looked back at. Yet no one else was around save a distant Steller’s Jay and some Dark-Eyed Juncos.

Rotating the next photo, I realized that, yes, not only was I watching the forest, but the forest was watching me as well.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Here in the Northwest, we don’t yet know if our intermittent clouds will allow us to see Mars’ closest approach to our planet for the next 15 years. This occurs before sunrise on October 6th, 2020. Mars has been blazing in the night sky and will continue to do so for weeks, but Tuesday is when the red planet and our home marble meet to shake hands.

It is difficult to find clear patches of night sky without light pollution so I have learned to embrace the trees. If you’re not near trees, you’re probably near a building or city.

There was nothing else shining near the moon and Mars at this time on this night, making this all the more dramatic. Since the weather may or may not cooperate Tuesday, I figured I’d snap some photos in the absence of clouds.

This last photo deserved some FX. Mars was far bigger and brighter than it appears here. Tuesday it will be a mere 38.6 million miles away. Be sure to look up on October 13th, 2020 as well, when Mars is at opposition to the sun.

The planet Mars — crimson and bright, filling our telescopes with vague intimations of almost-familiar landforms– has long formed a celestial tabula rasa on which we have inscribed our planeto-logical theories, utopian fantasies, and fears of alien invasion or ecological ruin.

David Grinspoon

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Driving home from a friend’s house late the weekend before, I had to stop to get photos of a toasted cheddar moon and blazing red telluric Mars just above it. Little did I know that, courtesy of the fires raging in Washington, Oregon, and California, we soon wouldn’t be able to see the sky for a week or more.

The smoke began to funnel northward through the I5 corridor late in the week. At first it looked like fog. Then, on Saturday, September 12th, 2020, we woke up on an alien planet. It looked like Mars outside– yellow, hazy, dark, and foreboding.

This is the Edmonds ferry dock at Brackett’s Landing. The whole world looked like pea soup. You could barely see the ferry that had just left.

The ferry loomed like a ghost ship and was then sucked into a void. Normally you see an opposite shore. Today, there was nothing, just the edge of the world.

I zoomed in as the ferry plowed westward, but at best it seemed like an apparition in a sandstorm.

These photos have not been edited at all. This is how the beach actually looked that Saturday. You can see scuba divers coming in. I found it odd that people were still out diving, but does hazardous air quality affect visibility in the water enough for them to care?

Even the plants’ colors seemed off. Everything was saturated in this weird, otherworldly glow, like we had survived some nuclear horror and were slowly crawling out of our shelters afterwards.

As I snapped the photo of the famous orca, I mused how it appeared to be swimming in pollution. Then it hit me– how similar this is to the disgusting pollution our resident orcas live in. This is what we do to their world. This is a constant for them. Because we so callously pollute the water, each local orca could be considered a floating superfund site.

We used to rejoice when their babies were born. Now we just pray they survive the lack of traditional food sources and the industrial waste. They often don’t, and humanity goes on complaining about lack of entertainment during COVID, or rioting, or obsessing over the latest cosmetics, ignoring their cries.

I have stood here many times, but I’d never seen it look so foreign.

All day, no matter where I went in two counties, I noted an absence of birds. Far fewer birds than normal braved the rancid, tar-filled air. This crow and his seagull buddy foraged along the beach in tandem with few others in sight.

Yep. It was definitely Smoke Time.

Arriving at the north end of Lake Washington, this panorama seemed straight out of a sci fi movie. We were supposed to have temperatures nearing 80 degrees with near full sun, but last time I’d checked the temperature it was 58.

Walking out on the dock felt like walking out to the edge of a flat earth. You usually see land on all sides. Seattle, however, had disappeared. The middle of this scene had simply vanished. There was smoke, and then there was nothing.

Gazing down into the lake’s milfoil mass, I imagined one of those menacing merpeople from Harry Potter reaching up and grabbing me. No thanks.

These logs, although fixed, appeared to be swimming away from the yawing nothingness in the middle of the lake.

A gaggle of geese bobbed around like nothing was happening, the lighting exactly like the filters used to portray Mexico City in the movies. Ever notice that, that Mexico City always shows up in hazy brown or sepia tones on the big screen?

These old pilings looked like a pathway into another place or time.

Zooming in, no birds roosted here today. None flew through the air either. Aside from traffic noise, there was an eerie stillness.

One rebel Canada goose floated leisurely through the soup apart from the others.

As I was chatting with a local, we looked up and said, “what’s that?” It was the first time we’d seen the sun in a couple of days. It was a grapefruit-hued pinhole in the sky, barely piercing the blanketed glop of destruction.

The sun’s reflection in the water was just as bizarre.

At times there was a blush or rose color playing upon the undulating mocha of the lake.

While forecasters had originally said the smoke would start moving out earlier this week, that didn’t happen. The Seattle area was enveloped in a dense yellow fog again this morning… except it wasn’t fog. By afternoon we saw a bit of sunlight, prompting me to go to Juanita Beach in Kirkland to see what I could see.

Sure enough, there was the sun, sparkling down upon the latte-like lake. Yet it seemed to be a sun from John Carter, Pelelandra, or Tatooine.

The ducks were happy enough. But there were still no birds in the air.

It seemed like dusk, not afternoon.

Beyond the boardwalk there was just a fisherman and faux fog. No Seattle. No 520 bridge. Just empty space, because the west is on fire and we continue to pray for rain when there otherwise would have been summer through the end of September.

Smoke veils the air like souls in drifting suspension, declining the war’s insistence everyone move on.

Jayne Anne Phillips

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Moonrise on Independence Day, July 4th, 2020 in Seattle was 9:11 P.M. By that time the penumbral lunar eclipse was happening, causing a slight shadow to fall upon the full moon.

People asked me what I was waiting for when they saw my camera. One woman seemed to think my wait was pointless until– SHAZAM! The moon came out from behind the trees.

Glorious…

A passing boat had this patriotic light display on it.

Then the fireworks started to happen.

It was amazing to see the fireworks light up the water next to the shimmering trail of moonlight.

This picture reminded me of a face, specifically that of Gypsy in MST3K.

The moonlight stretched further and further across the water as if extending a path to onlookers.

As it darkened, Saturn emerged like a pinhole was poked in a dark canvas. I expected to see both Jupiter and Saturn, but only saw Saturn (I think…)

What a blessing to have this light show going on along with the fireworks.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Have you ever been driving along and are suddenly so awed by what you see rolling over you that you stop to take pictures?

I went eastward down a side street to capture the utter darkness of this immense cloud in Snohomish County tonight.

This inky denim-blackness looked like it was going to swallow the earth.

The clouds to the west were fluffier and friendlier, yet still moving like something was after them.

This was a truly ombre sky. It comes on the heels of a torrential rainstorm on Saturday night that snapped thick flower stalks and triggered small landslides.

It was not like this farther north. I must have been in the right place at the right time to see this massive conglomeration of cumulus clouds passing overhead like a vengeful mother ship.

The color has faded out of the sky. It is grey, becoming darker as the world turns herself round a little more. The clouds are long and black and ragged, like the wings of stormbattered dragons.

Keri Hulme

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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For years I have been fascinated with the story of a goldfish that survived the April 29th, 1965 Puget Sound earthquake. This was a strong quake that one of my parents remembers vividly. They were just kids when it happened, and as a kid I remember marveling over their description of the strong jolts, groceries toppling, and the pavement in the parking lot of a Pierce County grocery store rising and falling in waves.

HistoryLink’s Alan Stein wrote a piece on this nearly 20 years ago which is posted below (click to see the explanatory newspaper photo). Given the local connection to Juanita Beach, and the fact that Wednesday is the 55th anniversary of the earthquake and the goldfish’s improbable survival, I’ve wanted to make this into a local festival. I asked around. No bites. And that was before COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

At minimum, I wanted to put this logo, with its upside down fish bowl, on t-shirts and bumper stickers. Kirkland needs to celebrate its history more as its high density development is swallowing up the past. We see cars with odes to Wall Drug, the world’s largest ball of string, and the Mystery Spot, so why not our Juanita Beach goldfish? Why not make this a thing? It’s especially salient with the renovations going on at the park right now. Much of the park is being completely redesigned.

If you live or work anywhere near Kirkland, raise a glass to the Pepple goldfish this Wednesday, April 29th, then turn it upside down quickly and see if you can get a seal. We really should celebrate something this memorable, this miraculous, this bizarre… especially at a time when we all need a really good party.


Goldfish survives bizarre earthquake experience on April 29, 1965.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 3/01/2001
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3037

On April 29, 1965, a goldfish owned by Juanita resident Howard Pepple survives a strange experience. The glass bowl containing the fish flips off a 4-foot 8-inch bookcase, overturns, and lands on the floor upsidedown, forming a seal. When Mr. Pepple returns home, he finds the fish swimming complacently in its overturned domicile.

A Fish Story

Pepple, a caretaker at Juanita Beach Park, lived in an apartment above the park’s concession stand with his wife and fish. No one was home during the quake except the fish, so two hours after the temblor Mr. Pepple returned to assess any damage that may have occurred to their dwelling and possessions.

The object most out of place was the fishbowl. When the Pepples had left in the morning it had been sitting on a shelf, more than four feet above the floor. It was now lying upside down at ground level. Examining it further, Mr Pepple saw water inside. The fish swam within, oblivious to its current predicament.

Flipper

Investigators surmised that during the quake, the shelf swayed, and the bowl was knocked from its perch. It flipped end over end as it fell to the tiled floor. The soft tile, similar to lineoleum, softened the blow, and the mouth of the bowl landed perfectly flush with the floor. A seal formed which kept water (and fish) inside. Rocks which had been on the bottom of the glass domicile were on the floor, still within the fishbowl.

The local newspaper was alerted to this bizarre event and photos were taken. Pepple then inverted the bowl, returned it and its resident back to the shelf, and things returned back to normal in the Pepple household. All was well again in Juanita.


Sources: “Juanita Goldfish Swims After Quake Flips Bowl,” East Side Journal May 6, 1965, p. 1.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com except HistoryLink article, which is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution.

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This is the cottage I call the Feriton Fairy House. Where is Feriton, you may ask? It’s on Google Maps… right smack where the Google campus is in Kirkland, Washington. KirklandHistory.org has a well-researched explanation of why this area is called Feriton. Most Kirklanders are unaware of its historic name.

Located just north of the walking and biking trail through the heart of the city known as the Cross Kirkland Corridor, you can pass by and completely miss this gem built in 1945. The area is dominated by commercial and industrial sites from the CKC southward, and larger, more modern residential buildings on the other sides.

This is what you might see as you travel towards Houghton (PCC, Met Market, Northwest University) on 6th Street South.

Here is what you might glance at while traveling northward.

You might think it’s just a shack on property worth most of a million waiting to be swallowed up by another condo building. But stop for a moment. Look closer.

The closer you get, the more idyllic this setting becomes. The busy road and the bike lanes start fading away. You become aware of the tinkling water of a creek. You begin to marvel at the lush grounds and old trees.

Linger longer. Who lived here? What was its purpose? I’ve met the owner and know that he still cares for the place. There is nothing worth stealing, yet this little island of calm on the edge of downtown is priceless.

The Feriton Fairy House has seen better days. Yet it’s that worn, down home feel that lends itself to the fairy tale realm. You can weave many stories centered around this house. You can imagine a World War II veteran having lived there since he came back from France. You could conjure up a tale of three raccoons that live inside and argue over how to make the best buckwheat pancakes for their woodland neighbors. Perhaps a wise gnome in a blue cap lives there and only comes out in the moonlight.

Even when you’re walking by across the street it doesn’t seem like much.

Just cross the street, though, and you seem to be staring at a little slice of the shire. Imagine this without the fence, without the adjacent busy trail, without the sidewalk and sign. It seems like another time and place.

You’re standing in the middle of a city near the campus of a major corporation yet here is this splash of country. Follow the creek under the roadway and you’ll find a friendly willow and magnificent magnolia soaking up the hydration on the other side.

We often take one glance and keep moving. There is value in stopping, looking, breathing in, tuning the distractions out. We can fail to see great beauty when we pass by too quickly or stand too far off. It’s when we pause and explore, when we get a little closer, that we can find an oasis in the arduous busyness of life.

There’s no two-car garage here. No upper stories or pretentious balconies. The beauty here is in its simplicity. Standing on the edge of this property, while you’re drawn into the pastoral setting, you cross a threshold into a timeless state in which you realize this is what Kirkland once was.

May this cottage continue to stand as a monument to a simpler time when we wanted less and were grateful more.


©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Standing on water, watching the Pink Super Moon rise, a guy jamming on a Flutophone while sky watchers flit around in their bank robber chic attire… yes, it was an epic night.

Watching this moon come over the eastern horizon was a transcendent experience.

As we carefully spaced, socially distanced sky watchers were hyper focused on the eastern sky, another light show was going on behind us in the west.

Driving north, I noticed the planet Venus blazing in the western sky.

Three of these lights are not the moon. Do you know what the others are?

Driving to work the next morning, I was in awe of the still full moon dangling over the water in the pink and purple heavens. I’d stopped to get photos of the moon at dawn the day before– it appeared as a gargantuan orb splashed with molten xanthic. By the time I found a place to park it had disappeared behind a bank of clouds. So I was especially grateful to get these early morning shots.

Only the first and last shots in this post were edited. The colors of this night and the following morning really were this varied and spectacular. In one week, we were blessed with a super moon, Passover, and Easter all at once. Surely that is no coincidence.


…it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.

Psalm 89:37

©2020 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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