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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

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. More soon.

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Did you see it? The crescent moon was flanked by Jupiter and Mars this morning before dawn with Saturn off to the left. The moon was so large and buttery and the planets so bright that it was surreal. It seemed like an epic scene out of a science fiction movie set in another galaxy, like I was speeding towards someone else’s sky.

Only after I arrived at my destination was I able to try to take photos. By then some of the colors had faded and I could not see Saturn. But seeing Jove and angry red Mars was more than enough.

A lot is going on in the predawn sky. As you climb out of your dream life and disentangle yourself from the sheets, be sure to look outside and up to catch the latest the heavens have to offer. Space.com has the day by day rundown for this month.

With wonderful wisdom the Lord God on high
Has contriv’d the two lights which exist in the sky;
The sun’s hot as fire, and its ray bright as gold,
But the moon’s ever pale, and by nature is cold.

The sun, which resembles a huge world of fire,
Would burn up full quickly creation entire
Save the moon with its temp’rament cool did assuage
Of its brighter companion the fury and rage.

George Borrow, Wild Wales

©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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Earlier this week I drove down to photograph the latest developments in the West Sammamish River Bridge project. I shared pictures of the three bridges there in The Final Countdown, two of which will soon be lost to time.

Almost all of the trees on the west side of the bridges have been removed to make room for a crane. It is painfully obvious what a necessary screen they were as the road now has a plain view of messy industrial sites beyond.

On the south side of the bridges is the local boat launch on the west and Rhododendron Park to the east. As I glanced to the east, I was elated to see a big tree on the edge of the park full of cormorants.

There were cormorants everywhere. You can usually find a couple paddling down the slough here, but 1… 2… 3… They were almost impossible to count as these trees (plural) seemed to be a beachfront disco/single mingle spot for the local population. Other two-legged species gathered around the trees to photograph the gathering.

I counted 57 cormorants perched in these trees at one point, but some kept rushing off as others arrived. I chuckled inside because 57 cormorants sounds like a vintage car… a ’57 Cormorant. Try it on an unsuspecting teen and see if they respond, “yeah, yeah, that was a great car.”

These appear to be double-crested cormorants. The ones with lighter feathers may be juveniles. Not being a cormorant expert, The Cornell Lab’s page on cormorants sheds a little light on this.

Once again being sans tripod, I struggled to find stability during these zoomed in shots. This one turned out a bit out of focus, so I played with it to highlight the striking emerald color of these birds’ eyes.

My Nordic ancestors thought of cormorants much as we think of angels now. Cormorants were believed to bring warnings from the Folk of the Forest and therefore functioned as protectors.

Do you believe in angels? I do. Thursday night some friends prayed for my safety. Friday morning I had a narrow escape from a sudden danger. I’m certain that some invisible friends helped guide me through.

These birds weigh about three to five pounds each, so these branches must be sturdy enough to host such a party. I noticed that none of them landed on the trees and touched each other. They liked being close, but didn’t seem to interact much. Perhaps they too are practicing social distancing.

Here come more! Those of us near the base of the trees were amazed.

If you are familiar with Packard automobiles, they had a distinctive hood ornament often referred to as the “swan.” But it’s said to actually be a cormorant.

These birds of a feather didn’t make a lot of noise. This video of their call demonstrates why stumbling upon a group of these at night can be unnerving. Years ago I was ambling along a different spot on the slough in the dark and froze when I heard what sounded like 35 hoarse cats hacking up hairballs. I had no idea what was “hargh”ing at me just offshore that night.

According to Wikipedia, Phalacrocoracidae is a family of about 40 species of aquatic, fish-eating birds. We call them cormorants, but some in Britain call them shags. Curious about the etymology of this word, I learned that this French-sounding term, cormorant, is Middle English, comes from the French cormoran, which before that came from medieval Latin’s corvus marinus, or sea raven.

Keep your eye on the bird second from the right. He or she cracked me up. I think they were really enjoying the sun.

And back and to the right…

A little forward, to the left now… It was like bird yoga. You’ve probably noticed the dangerous snarl of fishing line on the top branch. People do fish at this spot. Personally I wish we’d just leave the fish to the birds in such places, especially with the bridge project starting as it’s disrupting their habitat.

That’s about a four-foot wingspan on the left.

This appears to be the wing drying behavior that double-crested cormorants do when they land. Not all cormorants do this, curiously. The sun was very warm in this spot on an otherwise chilly day. This wing drying is also associated with the Christian symbol of the cross, which may explain why the cormorant occurs on certain European crests.

Here you can see their magnificent black webbed feet. Since they are primarily designed for life in the water and swim with their feet, their legs sit towards the back of the body so they’re not the most graceful walkers. In the water, they are fish killing machines, a fact that has caused humans to mistreat them in some cultures. A cord was tied around their neck so they couldn’t swallow fish, then men would use them to hunt fish and take their catch from them.

Interestingly, this type of cormorant will nest in trees or on the ground depending on the habitat.

As graceful as these birds are in the sky and water, there is still something vaguely pterodactyl about them to me. Perhaps it’s because they are among the so-called earlier birds. They seem to be a survivor from a distant past.

When Dylan Thomas proclaimed his love for his wife in a letter, he said, “I will come back alive & as deep in love with you as a cormorant dives, as an anemone grows, as Neptune breathes, as the sea is deep.” As this bridge project continues, I hope the locals like these big black diving birds survive unscathed.


©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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The Algonquian are credited with calling this moon, or tibik-kėzis, the Worm Moon. Tonight we were dazzled by the Worm Moon Super Moon, aka the Worm Super Moon.

Even the shots when neighbor doggie with cataracts was getting tangled up in the tripod, which are not very focused, are captivating.

Collective Evolution just posted a piece titled The Moon May Not Be What We Think It Is. We humans still have many questions about the moon and this touches on a few of them. Is the moon hollow? How was it formed? Is it nearer than we think it is? Could astronauts really have survived the Van Allen Belt to get there?

Ultimately, all roads lead to intelligent design. What is on or in or isn’t in the moon remains to be seen.


©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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Safe indeed by land to journey,
But the way is rough and trying,
Long the road and full of turnings;
Lovely is the ship on ocean,
Beautiful to ride the billows,
Journey easy o’er the waters,
Sailing in a trusty vessel;
Should the West-wind cross our pathway,
Will the South-wind drive us northward…

The Kalevala, Rune XXXIX

If you are a regular here then you may recall last October’s post, The Second Most Photographed Object in the World. In that post I showed parts of what’s left of the ferry Kalakala, which in its heyday was the second most photographed object in the world behind the Eiffel Tower. It sat unwanted for years until it was carved up, its choice pieces now weathering on the shoulder of the Cross Kirkland Corridor and next to Salty’s at Alki Beach.

Exiting the West Seattle Bridge at Harbor Avenue, I remembered the giddiness of decades past when friends and I would cruise this strip, feeling so adult in our newly acquired vehicles. I had a sharp reality check as I passed derelict RV after derelict RV along the roadside.

Arriving at Salty’s, where scuba divers were simultaneously suiting up and stripping next to their vehicles, I realized how long it had been since I’d actually stopped here.

As on the Cross Kirkland Corridor north of 7th Avenue, you have the distinct impression that you’ve stumbled upon the remains of a first generation mother ship. This part of the Kalakala occupies the northwest corner of the Salty’s parking lot.

This part of the wheelhouse faces east towards downtown Seattle and Harbor Island. At first glance it looks like you might be able to put a quarter in it and go for a quick cruise. But it, too, is rusting away, perched on terra firma instead of plowing through the Sound.

I’m not sure what is in the foreground. If my source is correct, the owners of Salty’s had to move some of their “urban reef,” pieces of the old Spokane Street Bridge, to accommodate the Kalakala when it moved there in 2015.

Inside of the wheelhouse, you feel as if you’re gazing out of an oversized Corinthian battle helmet made for Henry J. Waternoose III (Monsters, Inc.).

The views from here are entrancing. This is certainly a spot where shadowy superheroes come to brood over the Emerald City at night, capes flapping in the brackish breeze.

The voluminous clouds on this Sunday afternoon reminded me just how small this big city is in the grand scheme of things.

And yet the city just keeps going up, up, up…

Hmm. This does look like a defeated tripod from War of the Worlds, still ready to fire upon humanity…

Das Kurbelwelle. A relative just made a beautiful table using a crankshaft as the base. This crankshaft would be more appropriate for a table for Paul Bunyan. It’s massive.

It may look like Medusa saw her own reflection and shattered, but I think this is probably more of the old bridge.

This does quite good on its own as a modern art statement.

Those clouds…

Das Ruder. This rudder steered a dead weight of about 750 tons.

This shot reminds me of a tugboat. Or like the Kalakala is looking east, telepathically reaching out to its other half that is languishing on the side of a trail 15 miles away.

Thankfully you can turn the camera so it still seems like the Space Needle dominates the Seattle skyline.

Another view from the helmet…

Oddly, I didn’t find any signs telling people what these relics are. At this point a couple was standing in here with me and I explained the Kalakala’s story. I thought the owner was going to do more with these, but five years on, here they remain.

Three cormorants, three towers… every time I see the towers on Queen Anne I’m reminded that my dad would climb them to do maintenance.

The patina in here, where it hasn’t been vandalized, is gorgeous.

Unk, standing at a porthole, wept quietly. He was weeping for love, for family, for friendship, for truth, for civilization. The things he wept for were all abstractions, since his memory could furnish few faces or artifacts with which his imagination might fashion a passion play.

Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Thank you to the Seattle history titan who reminded me of the whereabouts of the Kalakala’s other half. For a treasure trove of Kalakala facts and photos by the real experts, click here.


©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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Both the humans trembled– Merlin because he did not know what was coming, Ransom because he knew. And now it came. It was fiery, sharp, bright and ruthless, ready to kill, ready to die, outspeeding light: it was Charity, not as mortals imagine it, not even as it has been humanised for them since the Incarnation of the Word, but the translunary virtue, fallen upon them direct from the Third Heaven, unmitigated. They were blinded, scorched, deafened. They thought it would burn their bones. They could not bear that it should continue. They could not bear that it should cease. So Perelandra, triumphant among planets, whom men call Venus, came and was with them in the room.

C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

Jumping from one commitment to another tonight, I struggled through Seattle traffic to try and reach a clear place to watch the heavens at 5:50 P.M. The sun was setting and the planet Venus would be burning brightly next to a crescent moon.

In both of the above shots, you can see a tiny dot to the upper right of the moon. That is Venus, our sister planet, the morning and evening star. Second from the sun, the closest planet to Earth, she spins the opposite direction and has a surface temperature around 863 degrees.

There are many amazing things to know about Venus.

As I hurried along to get to a more open place, I could hardly believe that I was witnessing this. An aircraft was heading right for Venus and the moon! I ran south and took this photo as it passed over Venus.

This aircraft skimmed the top of Venus and sailed like an arrow towards the moon. There was nothing else in the sky when this happened; this was phenomenal.

Wow!

Threading the moon…

That moment left me in awe. Of all of the places a flying machine could have been in this vast expanse of sky… I was blessed to witness that!

Luna on the left, Pelelandra on the right. What a night.

The color of the sky changed rapidly like an undulating octopus blending into a Kandinsky painting.

One must wonder if someone was standing on the moon waving at Venus.

What cosmological protoplasm is this? In several shots, Venus appeared as a burning sphere of citrine.

Good to see you, neighbors.

Que bella noche…

Venus and Mars are our next of kin: they are the two most Earth-like planets that we know about. They’re the only two other very Earth-like planets in our solar system, meaning they orbit close to the sun; they have rocky surfaces and thin atmospheres.

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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After leaving the scarecrow-riddled Remlinger Farms property in Carnation, you may turn south and see a sign that announces an alpaca farm. If you follow the signs and happen to turn down the correct driveway, you find Cascade Rose Alpacas.

Alpacas are naturals in front of the camera. They seem instinctively curious, and while not huge fans of being petted, they do trot right up to the camera and pose.

The tiny store onsite sells food for $3 a bag so if you lean over the fence these llama cousins are hoping you have treats. A man on a golf cart thought I had treats and barked at me to put my hand through the fence to feed them. It was my camera that the alpacas wanted. Evidently the alpacas will poke their heads through the fence to reach snacks and get stuck.

I failed to get pictures of the big, brave dogs who live in the pastures with the alpacas. Some were mixed breed, some were white, and three enjoyed some dog cookies that I keep in my car for canine friends and relatives.

Look at that grin!

Each alpaca has a unique personality and look.

They have such fabulous hair! I began to walk towards the tiny gift shop intending to see what treasures it held, but the man on the golf cart told me not to go inside because there was a tour group in there.

Someone said the mini-paca was just a few weeks old.

Alpacas are wonderful creatures. This was a fun diversion on an autumn day. Their teeth, I’m told, are designed so they don’t pull up grass by the roots. Their glorious chompers, extreme fluffiness, and big hair are endearing traits that complement their inquisitive, welcoming nature.

Always make time for alpacas.

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©2019 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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