Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Birthday Weekend

It was fun turning 63 this weekend. There seems to have been a shift in my thinking about birthdays. Getting older still has a fairly significant number of aspects I could do without, but being around for another year to enjoy all the things that make life good is not a guarantee, whatever the age. I appreciate still being here, and having friends and family to share in my little celebration of continued life. Here are a few of the highlights of my birthday weekend:

As Black Jack and I left for a walk at Jericho on Saturday morning, we saw this squirrel. I love their athleticism, and I enjoy Black Jack's response to them. Seeing her with every fibre of her being engaged is always a thrill. I know her alertness is motivated by the "hunt" mode, but since she can have the excitement without the catch, it works well for both of us.

There was sun on Saturday, and the light over the pond was magnificent.

A Red-winged Blackbird sang a beautiful song, and the red-yellow of its wings swelled in harmony.

The comical Mallards came to meet me as soon as they heard the rustle of seeds in my plastic bag. This one really made me laugh, as it stretched up over the others, saying, "Look at me!"

The green of this American Wigeon caught the sunlight.

This Blue Heron was standing in what is becoming a familiar spot, on top of the birdhouse. It flexed gracefully as it preened, and the way it blended into the background reminded me of Jean's post about watercolours.

A Golden-crowned Sparrow was nibbling goodies in the rabbit patch. I was happy that I now recognize many more bird species than I did a year ago, thanks partly to photographers like Shiprock who have encouraged me to observe my world a bit more thoroughly.

On the way home, Black Jack and this dog, Indy, insisted on a little meeting. Black Jack adds so much to my life, and Indy and his humans were great fun to meet.

Indy is a mix of Deerhound and Greyhound. Check out those ears,

that long face,

and those expressive eyes. What a beauty!

The crocuses were coming up, and Saturday sang the "Spring" song at top volume.

Home for a short time, and then off to North Vancouver with Bill. As we walked out the door, this robin sat almost at the front door. It waited patiently while I got my camera out.

Bill took me to an old haunt from a couple of years ago. That is where I first met a pair of Bald Eagles, and some friendly people who told me about them. Before we got as far as the trail, I took a moment to check out the water view, and the tugs.

It was a special treat to bump into one of those friendly people, and their dear dog, Sophie, who did me the honour of remembering me.

These beautiful ferns - at least that is what I will call them - rose magnificently into the sunlight.

Dear Bill! Have I mentioned how grateful I am to have him in my life. He danced with Black Jack along the trail.

And, there was the eagles' nest!

Bill and Black Jack ran up the trail ahead of me. When Black Jack became absolutely beside herself with curiosity and excitement, Bill picked her up for a few "calming" seconds.

My friend, Dianne, had passed on a message from her very good friend, Doran, that the eagle was in the area, and that message had inspired our visit, but I was still thrilled beyond measure when I looked to the right of the nest, and saw this beauty. I am 99% certain it was one of the pair I watched raise a chick two (or was it three?) years ago.

There was even a very brief visit from this hawk (Red-tailed, thinks Doran). How often in life does one get to see a hawk and an eagle sitting side by side on the same branch?

A cropped version of the hawk, to give a bit more detail.

Okay, I admit it. I felt sorry for the fish. (Does anyone know what kind it is?) I always feel sorry for the prey, but am slowly coming to terms with the facts of nature. The eagle must eat, if it (no clues as to gender) is to successfully parent a chick or two, as I hope it will.

Magnificent wings, with just a touch of sunlight, and absolute enthusiasm over the meal.

The eagle looked up at the nest, as the mate flew in. I couldn't get that flying shot, but it was beautiful to watch.

Thinking of Shiprock's advice, I kept trying to find the correct camera settings to get a bit of detail in the black, and not wash out the whites in the head. Here, a couple of my attempts.

Part of the fish broke away just after this shot, and fell to the ground. The eagle didn't go after it as I thought it might. Shortly afterwards, both eagles flew off. Now that I think of it, perhaps they went to share the leftover bits on the ground.

We left, to join Dianne and Doran for a wonderful meal of vegetarian chile. Here, Dianne lovingly arranges the gift of Pussy Willows that Doran had given her. Everything in Dianne's house has her personal touch. She has an extraordinary eye and the artistic talent to bring her vision to fruition.

Dianne's grandmother lived in the house, and that lamp was hers. Doran brought home the driftwood and the glass balls from beaches he has travelled. The house is full of artifacts. He is an outdoorsman, originally from Newfoundland, and his adventure stories were spellbinding.

Just a few of the photos I took. Everywhere I looked was evidence of Dianne and Doran's love of nature.

Dianne hand-painted this clock. Just beautiful!

Black Jack has no sense of personal space. She was meeting Doran for the first time, and she clearly..
found him fascinating.

On Sunday, the phone rang early. My wonderful friend, Kitty, was calling with a birthday song and good wishes from Saskatoon. My heart is with Kitty right now, as she spends time with her dear parents. After that, Black Jack and I again walked at Jericho. A Blue Heron was sitting on a small tree by the pond. I have "enhanced" this picture, so it is not absolutely true, but there is once more a "watercolour" feel to it that I like.

I spent a few moments sitting on a bench, with Black Jack on my knee, as the ducks ate their seeds.

Some flowers on the way home..

a wonderful meal at the Naam with Bill, and with Jock, who is batching it for a few weeks until Kitty returns, and a phone call from my sister when I arrived home, topped off an idyllic weekend. Jock gave me this beautiful little book of photographs. Not having posted much about bikes lately, this picture from the book of a penny farthing bicycle in Tatton Park seems the perfect one to conclude the post. The write-up explained it was "a swift and independent means of exploring the British countryside."
Thank you to everyone who made my birthday a great one, and to you, for taking time to read about it.


  1. As usual many wonderful photos and I really enjoy your sharing of personal thoughts and feelings. I totally relate to the watercolour picture and will be off with Haley to spy on our eagle friend. It's interesting to see some of my treasures through a friends eyes and sure had fun on Sat.
    You bog makes my day.

  2. Thanks, Dianne! It was great fun to spend time with you and Doran, and I confess I finished off that wonderful Vegetarian Chile by lunchtime the next day. I'm so happy that your computer now lets you make comments!

  3. Happy Birthday, Carol! There are so many interesting sights and happenings on your blog, especially this birthday weekend. Another year has gone by and your wonderment is still strong. You find meaning and beauty in the life that surrounds you, adding sparkle to every event and sighting. Thank you for sharing the journeys you take with Bill and Black Jack. Oh … and that Vegetarian Chile sounds yummy!

  4. What a great series of eagle shots. So sorry for the fish but it gave its life for the pending eagle chicks.

    Have you thought of climbing that tree and installing a web-cam by the eagle nest? It would be called the Carol-Cam.

    The mention of vegetarian chile made my mouth water. Do the people in Chile like chili? Google just taught me that the food dish can be spelled both ways :)

  5. Happy Birthday, Carol!!
    What a lovely weekend you had, with BJ, Bill, and so many other friends of all kinds!
    Here's to another year of beautiful observations and their photographic evidences.

  6. Happy birthday Carol!

    Even though u were talking about your birthday and there wasn't a single picture of birthday cakes or sparkling confetti, yet everything is still colorfully radiant with such life and such brilliant point of view you have there. That was simply beautiful!
    May you have another happy year and may your bliss is always as full as ever!

    Lots of love!

  7. Thanks, Penelope, Diem and EvenSong:) Your thoughts and good wishes are so appreciated.

    Funny, Fred the Dog, that the "chile" spelling looked just a tad strange to me, but I didn't question it. Thanks for the memorable tidbit of information! And, a Carol-Cam? Mm.. I think not. That tree looked pretty tall, and I'm just a tad accident prone:)

  8. Happy Birthday Carol! Sounds like you had a marvelous weekend! And many, many lovely photos too!

    Here I was just wondering if Spring had come to Canada yet and there it was! A picture of a lovely Rhodie! So, that answered my question!

  9. Happy Birthday! I really enjoyed the eagle pictures in your post. I don't see eagles here very often. Last time I was in Prince Rupert, I especially enjoyed the eagles ... there was regularly one perching nearby the place where I stayed, and every time I made tea, it "answered" the whistling tea kettle! I wondered what it would have thought had it realized the kettle wasn't another bird.

  10. Thanks, oregonsunshine:)

    Lola-Dawn, thanks for that story. Very interesting, and it brings back a memory of my own. Once, when I was working on a music assignment (Catalogue d'Oiseaux by Messaien), listening over and over to a recording, some Montreal birds came to my window ledge. Some just sat, while others tweeted away in what I think must have been a response.