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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hummingbirds Perch High to Spy on Human Homeowners

This little fellow likes a view.
       If it seems to you that hummingbirds never quit moving, don't be fooled. Every morning two males compete for the best vantage point from which to spy on us while we sit at the table in our Tacoma home, having breakfast.

       From the very tip-top of the paper bark maple tree, two stories high, they perch in complete relaxation for as long as a couple of minutes, and they seem intent on watching us. I took these photos through the glass, which is why the quality is rather poor, but there was no other way. I had to wait for a chance to catch profile shots because most of the time they stare straight in the window.

       I would love to know what's going on in those tiny bird brains. Is our window the hummingbird equivalent of a big flat screen TV for and are we a soap opera of human life? What do you suppose they find so interesting? Sometimes I think they just enjoy the view from way up there, or maybe like to play "king of the mountain."  After one has had his turn, the other comes along and chases him off. Then that one is chased off himself. Occasionally they will each take one of the top two branch tips and tolerate the shared position long enough to give us double the scrutiny. Is it my famous buttermilk scones they are after, or do I just look funny when I first get out of bed? For whatever reason, we humans and the hummingbirds enjoy a mutual fascination that has gone on all through the past year.

    That's right. I mean the entire year. Hummingbirds do winter over in the Pacific Northwest. I still get comments on a blog post from January 2009, called Hummingbirds at Home Through a Northwest Winter. I hope you'll take a look at it again, or for the first time, to learn more about their lifestyles. Speaking of lifestyles, I hope yours is the kind that brings you plenty of peaceful moments to observe nature and our fellow creatures, with whom we share a world full of wonders.

close view of paper bark maple limbs

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tall Ship Adventuress News: "Get Kids on the Boat" with the 29 Dollars, 29 Days Campaign

Executive Director Catherine Collins with young sailors.
As every parent knows, childhood sails by faster than a schooner in a stiff breeze. The quality of those most important years depends on adults who are often overwhelmed with work or their own concerns, and many kids miss out on the kinds of healthy, exciting experiences that shape lives. Instead, they sit around indoors playing computer games or watching TV. Wouldn't it feel great to give them memories they'll never forget?

On Saturday, September 25, 2010, Sound Experience, the not-for-profit organization that owns the historic tall ship Adventuress, will launch a new fund-raising campaign. It's called "29 Dollars, 29 Days: Get Kids on the Boat" Twenty-nine dollars is what it takes to give one young person a three hour sail. Twenty-nine days is the duration of this fundraiser. Every day and every dollar counts.

Join the many friends and crew members of Adventuress to kick off this event at the Theo Chocolate Factory in Seattle, between 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. this Saturday night. The cost of attending the "Party for Adventuress: a benefit with live music" is, as you might have guessed, $29, and along with the live music you get food, beverages, and a lot of fun. You'll find all the details for registration when you click on the party link.

If you've been reading Good Life Northwest for awhile, you already know how much I've loved Sound Experience and Adventuress, ever since my first sail during Tall Ships Tacoma. This restored 1913 schooner sails the waters of Puget Sound offering environmental education with an emphasis on youth. I've personally seen how even one afternoon out on the water can change a child forever. This is hands on. They learn to raise the sails and feel the power of nature as the wind swells the canvas. Excitement builds as the deck tilts and water hisses by the bow when it cuts through waves. Sunlight glints off the layers of varnish on century-old wood. Wouldn't you love to give a child this opportunity? Even if you can't attend the party, please consider giving an online donation. Who knows?  The childhood memory you make might be the best one ever. Thanks, and "Fair Winds."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Still Remembering Luke Rogers

Two years ago this week, I sat here in Tacoma staring at my laptop in a state of shock, unable to comprehend a tragedy. This brief post is for those of you who have been thinking of Luke Rogers and his family all day, as I still am. We have not forgotten.

I'm sorry that I was not able to write earlier today, but I did receive and publish a new comment. Thank you to whoever sent that.  I know you are still out there, his many friends and loved ones, and even though I will never meet most of you, we remain united in our memories of Luke.

I will simply  share what I wrote on that sad night two years ago, in memory of Luke.

Peace and love to all,


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Buzz, humm, chitter, and chirp -- the world of small living things

I wonder if my neighbors, or people driving by, noticed my bizarre behavior yesterday. There I was in the front yard of my home in Tacoma, crouched down and motionless in the middle of a flower bed. You see, it takes patience and perseverance to photograph bees.

This is the type of crazy thing I do after I've spent too much time on the computer. I'd been working hard on a freelance writing assignment most of the day, and about 4 p.m. I knew I HAD to get outside into the fresh air and sunshine. I wanted to to listen to the birds, breathe in the scents of nature, and reconnect with the real world. That afternoon, to my delight, nature reminded me that the real world is full of millions of tiny creatures, all living around us, each one on a serious mission. It did me good to spy on them for awhile and realize that what they were doing was at least as important as what I'd been doing.

 I noticed their personalities. Honey bees will take their time on every little blossom. Bumblebees do a hit-and-run. Hummingbirds get in your face and ask what you're doing there. Moths seem aloof; they make a brief and silent appearance, then dismiss us with a wave of their wings. Flies are flies. They couldn't care less about a gorgeous flower and are probably just as happy exploring something rotten and vile. Thrushes and robins won't let you get near. Spiders want to be left alone. Squirrels run around with peanuts in their mouths (thanks to a neighbor who feeds them) and act totally manic, digging holes in the yard. Do they really remember where they hide everything?

Most of my little photo subjects chose to ignore the human with a camera in hand. I'm grateful that they tolerated my presence in their world. At first I tried to follow their movements paparazzi style, hoping to get the perfect shot. Then I learned to be still and let them come to me. There's a lesson here. Slow down. Stop the mad chase. Enjoy the moment you're existing in.

The little creatures around us don't think about yesterday or worry about tomorrow. For them, life is all about the "now" and maybe ours should be too. Take a break today and see what you find outside your own door. Happy September.

All photos and text copyrighted 2010 Candace J. Brown