Thursday, November 27, 2014


I am so thankful for all the readers who have visited over the years and shared their ideas, thoughts and hopes with me as we tour the Room Without Walls.  Whether today you eat a peanut butter sandwich looking out the kitchen window or an over rich meal in a stuffy restaurant with others, or a traditional meal with family please be thankful for this good and precious day that you are given. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Yesterday's Visitors

Against the brown grasses and the rusty leaves these animals are unseen unless they move a leg, flick an ear or flash a white tail.  They stopped by in my backyard for brunch on oak nuts and tender tendrils.  They look so thin, I am worried if they will make it through the winter.  All of these photos were taken through the bedroom window which needs cleaning

I also wonder if one of the youngest is that little fawn we found back in July and posted about on my other blog?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Are You Lost?

It is very quiet, loudly quiet.
We are the only two souls on this planet.

The two young eagles left when we arrived,
Actually left long before we turned the bend into this pocket lined with reeds.

They did not have their showy dramatic coloring yet and were just learning to dive and dart and find food with the fish spending more time out in the Bay.

They looked like young warriors in camouflage so far away overhead.

We sat in the grasses in thought and wonder for some time.
We felt we were visiting some sacred place.
We had also frightened out a few mallards just moments ago
And we regretted that our presence was so wearing.

Listening to our breathing
Then I heard a short brassy toot.
So quiet and so short I could not tell from where it came.
Did I see something moving in the cluster of grass ahead?

We dipped the paddle and moved forward quietly and carefully.

Ah, something was peaking at us!

Something that released a tiny honk followed by a tiny quack with a question at the end.
Something that could not find a runway to escape.
Something we had accidentally pinned to the bank.
We watched it for a small time and then realized it was all alone.

Very odd - a sole goose.
We discussed reasons in quiet tones.
Lost his flock?  Blown in by a storm?
Then we felt sadly it might be wounded from an unsuccessful hunter.
We had watched a hawk devour a winter goose dinner for the same reason
two years ago just down by our dock.

We paddled backwards every so gently
As we did not want him to become more afraid
And left him alone to deal with whatever challenge life had dealt him.
Hope he makes it through the winter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Take a Pill

Some days you may find yourself on a roller coaster that is not a thrilling ride but a hard and laughing-at-you ride, a day that is daring you to just "hang on."  You suddenly race down the rails and there does not seem to be an "up" ahead as the scenery sweeps sickeningly by.  I had one of those emotional roller coaster afternoons a few days ago.  I was sinking into one of those smokey funks that increases your shallow breathing and narrows your view of the world to a small dark place.  Hubby was in a flighty and restless mood, thank goodness(!), and lobbied for a quick canoe trip before dinner.  Canoe trips...they need to bottle this stuff as it is much more effective than Valium or Vicodin or whatever V chemical is the rage these days.

This is the time of year when only piercing calls of blue-jays or woodpeckers cut the still air, or perhaps, the distant scree of a hawk free from nesting obligations and looking for dinner movement under the leaf bed on the floor of the forest.  The temperature requires a jacket, but if you are too energetic in your paddling it must come off and lay at your feet in the canoe.  The air smells musty and brown and the lighting is rusty and warm.  This week has been the most magnificent week of fall color which buoyed my spirits like a whiff of Cloud 9.

The water's surface was glass and my paddle was the first thing that disturbed its perfection before the canoe's bow itself broke below a gentle V.  With each stroke my dismay floated away behind and toward some distant shore to be broken into tiny pieces of light where the river met the land.  A few people were on their docks with determined usefulness winterizing watercraft and stowing small fun stuff up on shore under tarps or into sheds.  An eager, large brown dog, the color of the oak leaves, greeted us at the end of his dock with dynamite energy and ebullient barking cracking through the fall air.  Such energetic friendliness made me think for a moment that he might leap and join us mid-canoe since he could see what a wonderful time we were having.   He understood what a precious day this was.

Our old aluminum canoe has been with us since we lived in Texas in the early 1970's.  It has met waters in the U.S. and Canada and waited patiently for us in storage while we lived in Asia.  It has bounced across rocks in rivers and ridden over small rapids on shallows and become stuck in muddy nooks in marshes.  It is very stable unless you have no understanding of canoes, then it will fling you like a frat boy into the water.  Hubby and I have never tipped this canoe, even when riding across the careless wake of some motorboat.  Others we loaned it to were not so lucky.  It is my old friend and it reassured me that whatever was bothering me on this day will pass as surely as we pass that yellow beech.  It hummed gently as we broke the glassy surface re-painting the mirrored reflections on shore.  It was a good old friend.

A lone deer watched us from the front yard of a summer cabin that had been closed for the coming winter.   Hunting season had arrived and he/she was very alert, yet did not bound into the shade of the woods at our appearance as we made our way into a small pocket of the river.

There are those perfect days when most of the sky is covered in soft cloud and the sun is at that low angle which sets its aim like the perfect arrow as it shoots its glow into the heart of earth.  Everything gets magically lit and what I see is some painting done by an artist in love with nature because it is too beautiful to be real.  When I returned home feeling better I got a perfect email that shut that roller coaster down all the way and with a sigh I enjoyed the warm sunset's glow after dinner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The First Cold Weather

Last night the temperatures fell into the low 30sC.  Not yet a freeze but enough to shiver all night long.  This morning a light misty fog hangs over the river. I can see the far bank.  It looks as if white fairy dusty was blown across the water just tree high.  Perhaps it is the river's steamy breath because the waters are still warmer than the air at this time of the year.  Most of the fish have swum out of the finger of our creek and down south to warmer waters.  Even so, a bald eagle came by yesterday and landed in the snag that had been the perch of the osprey all summer.  He had a shad in claw and proceeded to eat a leisurely sashimi lunch.  He was fully mature with a full white head and a threatening golden beak.  Last night's sunset was a beauty with summer's blood spilled across the water.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

End of the Canoe Excursion

We paddled about three miles north with some leisure. Stopping to admire a tree or ID a raptor.  I had my telephoto only, so capturing the wide open spaces was a little hard.  

There were little treasures to swing out and away from the shore and avoid.

We disturbed this crow who was working on a mid-morning snack.  He flew just ahead along the shore and then when we were closer we guessed it was a bivalve of some kind that he was opening with his can-opener bill.  When he finished he dropped it into the water and it looked like a mussel as we coasted by.

Blurry with the waggle of the canoe.

Finally we reached the point of land that hid a cove just behind.

And just beyond a little spit of beach which was perfect for lunch.  We brought the canoe up tight and began sorting through the food, mostly snacks of one sort or another.

I was not as hungry and instead began exploring with the camera once again.

Geese, raccoons, deer and herons had all spent early or late light on this beach.  Their footprints and calling cards were everywhere.

No matter which direction you looked, it was a great view for lunch.  Finally we decided to poke into the marsh at the end of this cove as the tide was high enough.  There was a beaver living there and we wanted to see if he still was in residence.  I did not get a clear shot of his house but we did disturb two red-tailed hawks in the marsh grass.  They took to the trees at first, but because it all happened so fast and hubby stood in the canoe to see the beaver dam frightening the hawks off into the field, I only got this one quick shot below.

If you want to see a LOVELY truly expert shot of a red-tailed hawk...go here to Daniels blog.   That is what my photo was supposed to look like if I had a tripod and a husband who did not need to get a better view by standing in the canoe!

Friday, November 07, 2014

A Fall Canoe Paddle - Part 2

We paddled into the main part of the river and since there was little or no wind and very few watercraft churning along, the river's surface was calm making it perfect gliding ahead, no wakes to dodge and no swells to ride.  

Coasting past the sea wall that protected the private island home of a resident we were soon approaching the farm field that was eroding away just above our heads.  Yes, this can be a danger if you are not careful.  On the flatland above was a corn field and at the edge of the cliff was a side road that would seem dangerous to me if I was riding a tractor.  I had trespassed near there last spring and photographed the sun on the water and the weedy flowers that has been missed by the farmer.

Some buried electrical cable had already broken free and was lying against the cliff and falling to the shore into the water.  It was probably the line that had delivered electricity to the island home at one time.

The layers of soil showing the history of this earth were clearly visible and told the story if you could read the geology.  I knew that the bottom layers were many millions of years old, but could not give you a date exactly and neither could a geologist even with carbon dating.  The dark bottom layer has lots of bivalves:  clams, mussels, oysters and a few small scallop shells.   The line of earth against the water is so dark making me think it must have been a marsh or swamp rich in carbon when dinosaurs roamed. 

As always, you can click on the photos for a close-up.
The layer above the dark mud is filled with giant Pectens (scallops) and is really eye-catching because you can see the better part of the shells and their lacy fan shape is beautiful.   They are large, up to 5 inches.  There is some discussion about whether these are really fossils because they are not completely mineralized.   They are fragile and can be broken, just like Tabor who has not yet become a fossil.  Still these are at least 5 million years old and may be older which gives me hope!  The bed of the river below the water's surface is covered with those shells that have been torn from the side of the cliff and some day when it is warmer we may return and do a small collection of them.  There appear to be millions from which to choose !

If you have ever seen a live scallop you know that they dance along the floor of the ocean and into the water by clapping their shells together.  I think of little self-propelled castanets showing off with gaiety.  I looked at this wall of shells and wished I had some archaeological tools with me, project for a warm spring day.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

A Fall Canoe Paddle - Part I

  When we slid it off the dock into the water, it moved forward with such familiar grace, I got the impression it did not want to wait for us to board but wanted to glide away over the glassy surface of the water all on its own.

Our initial plans to carry the canoe on the motor boat to a distant and unexplored side of the bay were thwarted when the motor hiccuped every now and again indicating water (perhaps from ethanol) was in the tank.  We returned with resignation to the dock and unloaded all the gear from the motor boat and then lifted the green fiberglass canoe unto the dock.  A shame to waste a lovely fall day...thus we just decided to paddle up the river like we had done so many times before. 

It has been too long since I have carefully unfolded my stiff body onto the bow seat of a canoe. I threw my camera bag in under the inwale and with one hand on the dock placed a sandle-covered foot into the belly of the canoe carefully keeping my weight as low as I could.  With as much grace as I could muster  at this low tide, I lowered unto the seat with a small thud, keeping the canoe in balance; and as I pushed away from the dock with one hand, I lifted my paddle from beside me with the other.  Hubby and I have canoed so many decades we are a ballet team when it comes to heading out.

The water was glass smooth and the temperature a cool fall 60C.  The trees in the yards of my neighbors along the shorelines were at their peak of color, which was a little grayed in vibrancy as misty clouds veiled the sun for most of the day.

Geese in the dozens had gathered at the mouth of our creek and clearly felt threatened by our small green canoe as it sliced toward their group.  These feathered friends were newly arrived from Canada and other northern spots.  Perhaps they sensed it was geese hunting season in "these here parts."  Hubby judged when they would fly by the distance a shot gun could cover from the canoe.  They first squawked gently as they swam in small circles around each other peaking at us with intensity.  Then, as we got closer and closer, heads came up necks straight and they began their discussion in earnest.  Some swam to the sand spit and caucused  for a plan.  (Wobbly birds photos taken from a wobbly a bit out of focus.)

"They are coming this way!"

"No, they are going to turn at the sand spit."

"Fools, they are headed straight for us!"

"Not moving here."


" Help!  Help!  They are at my flank!"

And then at once and with tremendous cacophony, the squawking gets very loud and very much in some rhythmic unison.  Soon we see the small splashes of the surface of the water as their feet beat hard and the geese lift free from gravity and head away across the watery runway into full flight.  They are up in a flurry of wing beating and feathers flying and in a short time far above our heads and on their way to a safer side of the river calling to the others to "Keep up!  Keep up!"  Even the seagulls, that would normally ignore us, take flight.

Very suddenly it is a quiet autumn morning once again and the paddle silently cuts the water's mirrored surface and misses a scattering of duck down and feathers floating so lightly on the surface along with multicolored leaves.

Soon and with little effort we are at the mouth of the creek heading into the bigger river.  There is an oyster boat harvesting what few bivalves remain at the bed near the bridge and we can almost hear his dredge as it splashes back into the river.  There are a few motor boats on the far side of the river leaving tiny white wakes as they head out to the bigger bay.  They sound like distant annoying bees.  We turn the canoe to the right just past the slowly eroding sand spit and head up river to find a familiar gunk hole to explore.  


Monday, November 03, 2014

Chasing and Dancing

It is the season of fairy dancing.
Umbrellas are up in case of rain
and the percussion of crackling leaves
begins to set the energy
for tempestuous swirling and giggling.

Bees are drunk with nectar, weighed down
by the mess of the pollen
and refusing to leave before
the last call of a cold wind 
pushes them out the door.

Pink ladies spill dew
on butterfly wing dresses 
and blush with silly shame 
as they make their way past low sunbeams 
to the final dance
in the cooler winds of autumn wind.

No one is immune.
We all chase the glorious sun 
to the edge of the river 
for a last warm golden bath 
before we must shiver on home.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Party Hearty

Man that was one heck of a Halloween Party last night. Do I remember a fire truck?