Popular Posts

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Entry 204: 1996 Seal Island

          Larry and I spent a day, just the two of us, in Santa Cruz.  After lunch on the wharf we walked out to the very end.  We saw something I’d never seen before and I probably will never see again.  There was a group of seals resting just a small distance from the pier, maybe thirty yards, so close we could see their whiskers!  There were hundreds of seals, maybe even a thousand!  When I commented to a local fisherman I’d never seen this many seals before he told me it was only the second time in his life he’d seen this and this was the first time he’d seen it at Santa Cruz.  

This picture is not of the seals we saw.  We could actually not see much blue between the ones we saw as they were packed so tightly together.  The fisherman said they were migrating.  He said they’d stop here to rest before continuing their journey.  They were huddled closely together, actually overlapping. He said they were a “traveling rookery” or group that stays together.  There were lots of babies included in the group.  The bigger seals were around the outer edge and mixed in the middle of the circle, while the inner circle had a large number of babies.  The babies were snuggled up against and on top of bigger seals.  Some were nursing while others slept.  It was easy to tell which seals were napping and which were on lookout by the way some of the seals didn’t move and some were keeping vigilant watch for predators. 
Occasionally one of the larger seals on the outer edge would give out a distinct bark and quietly disappear into the water only to reappear close the center of the group for a turn to rest.  It was as if the bark signaled the next seal to keep alert and take over guard duty.
The fisherman said we were watching something rarely seen in this area.  He called it a “seal island.”  The name surely fit.  It was a floating mass of seals.  I noticed the seals under the pier were barking in their usually loud fashion but there was a softer, almost soothing, constant hum of chatter from the “island.”
I think it was mostly females and babies in the island but there were a few huge seals that surely must have been males.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Entry 203: 1995 Yosemite Bus Stop Drama

We were on one of our many trips to Yosemite.  Charlie and I were waiting for the bus at the Happy Isles bus stop.  We were tossing peanuts to a couple of little squirrels playing close to our seat.  We watched them beg for more by standing up on their hind legs and waiting for us to toss more.  Charlie got down on his knees to hold his hand out to the squirrels.  They came and took the peanuts right out of his hand.  When he turned around to look at me his eyes were wide with excitement that he was feeding these tiny creatures.  We continued watching while the squirrels played and fought over the nuts like a couple kids would fight over a toy.  They were chattering and flipping their tails up and down.

Charlie drew attention to how they’d play for a few seconds, stop stone still for a few seconds, then play again.  The squirrels were stuffing the nuts into their cheek pockets when all of the sudden we heard the flutter of wings.  We both looked upward just a bit and saw a red-tailed hawk swoop down and grab at one of the squirrels we had been watching.  The squirrel rolled and the hawk jumped forward keeping his talons gripped tightly.  After a good roll I think the squirrel played dead but instead of leaving it the hawk repositioned himself and took flight with the squirrel tucked tightly against his body. 
          The play had stopped.  The chattering had stopped.  Everyone at the bus stop was shocked and quiet.  All we could hear now was a horrible screeching, growing fainter, as the hawk carried away the squirrel.
Everyone waiting for the bus looked on in disbelief.  Charlie and I looked at one another in disbelief!  The remaining squirrel had run into a burrow just a few feet away.  He poked his head out and seemed to be looking for his buddy.  When he looked in our direction it felt like he was looking right at us.  The poor little fellow couldn’t believe what had happened.  Neither could Charlie.  Neither could I!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Entry 202: 1994 Charlie and the Gate

          We had a huge rolling gate behind the shop.  We were all outside.  The bigger kids were four-wheeling through the fields.  Charlie was out playing and investigating as usual.  He had opened the gate and as he rolled it open it became dislodged.  It fell onto him.  He says he stood there for what seemed like hours, I think it was probably more like five minutes, holding the gate vertical while screaming for help. 
          No one heard him.  The engines of the four-wheelers were loud and everyone was screaming as they played.  Finally Adam and I heard Charlie and went to see what the screaming was about. 
          The gate had barbed wire across the top and Charlie had been afraid to drop it fearing it would have cut him.  To this day Charlie insists he was trapped a lot longer than the five minutes.  Because he was always wandering off to explore or sitting with the barnyard animals for hours at a time I really don't know how long he was missing.  That was not the only time Adam came to his rescue. 
          Charlie and Adam had an ongoing game of when one got the better of the other he would put his thumb under his chin and nod at the other.  That nod meant victor to the nodder.  When Charlie was safe and dusted off Adam grinned at him, looking all proud of himself placed his thumb under his chin and gave Charlie the dreaded nod, saying, "Looks like I saved your life again Charlie."
          Within two minutes Adam was racing Heidi up the hill again on his four wheeler and Charlie had snuggled into a cozy hay pile watching his goats play contemplating, I'm sure, his near death experience.