Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Forest At The Cascade

There are still a few salmon in the pools below Salmon Cascades on the Sol Duc River, really really big ones. But between storms nobody was jumping. Even at midday the sun is very low in the sky. It makes the forest luminous.

Driving west means traversing the south shore of Lake Crescent twice every time, out and back. It's beautiful: glacially carved, steepsided and deep; a sort of fjord, except it doesn't open to the sea. And since I have to drive more slowly than I used to, I savor it. Haven't gotten a decent photograph yet. The Park Service has a webcam there. It can give you a sense of it...

Friday, October 26, 2007

So Very Happy

It's a little scary, how happy it makes me to just BE by the ocean. I arrive in the parking lot, and hear the surf, and barely take time to scramble my things together before running up the path. Rialto Beach. 9.3' tide.

That was yesterday morning. Later the same day M. got what she wanted: we drove up to Hurricane Ridge and took small hikes in a freezing wind to keep warm while we waited for the sun to set over the shining Olympic Mountains, and the full full moon to rise.

It's so right that it's ok to have to leave. All that thunder and beauty; inside I'm peaceful, and it lasts for a long time.

From the Poets' Techie

Bringing another piece of my identity to where I am now: Issue #54 of the Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, Ever/ Glade, made it to the web last weekend, three months overdue but finally finished. It was pleasing that the artist is one of my colleagues at my Former Place of Work and a former Floridian, that her linocuts fit so well with M.S.'s Everglades poems.

It could be symmetrical to let the Broadside end here, with this chapbook of the poet/editor's own work. But no. Last summer I asked N. if we could have a collection of the poems he mentioned that are orphaned, that simply didn't fit into each of his published books as he assembled them; that were left behind, over and over. He said yes, so if he hasn't changed his mind, we can see ahead to #55 — and may be safely past the possibility that having the techie/editor geographically elsewhere might kill our little webzine. It might last to its 10th anniversary after all...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

There Is No Shelf

Michael Wesch and his students at Kansas State, who last year brought us The Machine is Us/ing Us, have a a new video, Information R/evolution. Ooooh they are slick. Made me laugh out loud. This one did too: A Vision of Students Today. Michael Wesch and Digital Ethnography students, you rock.

No wonder I'm not ready to give up my profession. Too many things to think about.

Living My Life ; Moving Every Book ; Stalking Tides

Something personal:

We moved every book in the small tribal library where I've been volunteering, to incorporate what will be four new bookcases. They're creating a library in their computer lab/education director's office/traditional language classroom/afterschool program building. They got an IMLS grant and will be interviewing for a part-time one-year consultant to really help them create a library and train them to keep it going on their own. It's not what I imagined I wanted, but after saying I'd just help out until they got their real librarian, I decided to apply for the position. Don't know if I will get it since it's a plum opportunity and I am a newcomer to town. I try not to count on it. If this does not happen, I'll have to think about what else to do both about a partial income and about my apparent continuing need to recognize myself by my identity as a librarian.

Meanwhile, I turn up over there a few mornings a week, and am helping them build their database, rearrange all the bookcases (pointing and waving, taping markers on the floor, moving to and fro with armloads of books, having trainwrecks)(think small: maybe about 2000 volumes at the moment), make a shopping list for supplies, fantasize about the web page we should have though it's only 'we' if it becomes an actual Job, etc. My mom asks regularly in a chirpy expectant tone, "What's happening?" She means, have you made an army of new friends, and do you have a job yet. No and no. "Ma," I say to the telephone, "I'm living my life."

Went out to Neah Bay two days ago (after an epic morning of bookcase moving...) to get a recreation permit from the Makah tribe for the much anticipated day hike to Shi Shi Beach with M. a couple of weekends from now; and to go to the Makah Museum, an impulse left over from before I stopped reading Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula : Who We Are because it was just too sad. So I moved on to equally dismal reading about global warming (the really sloppy Under a Green Sky) and overlogging... Neah Bay is a very long way from anywhere, a two hour drive. The Makah Museum is stunning, and the Makah reservation on its remote cape is the true northwest corner of the country.

Today, back to Rialto Beach for the 9.3 foot high tide at noon. There will be no heavy surf, but still interested to see how much higher it is than last week's ecstatic 7.3 foot storm tide.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SpaceWeather Says...

"Space Weather News for Oct. 23, 2007

"BIG FULL MOON: This week's full Moon (Oct. 25-26) is the biggest full Moon of 2007. It's no illusion. Some full Moons are genuinely larger than others and Thursday night's will be as much as 14% wider and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we've seen earlier this year. Check for the reasons why."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Begin Civil Twilight

Short days. Already the days are 28 minutes shorter here than they are in Santa Fe. The U.S. Naval Observatory time server says
Sun and Moon Data for One Day
The following information is provided for Port Angeles, Clallam County, Washington (longitude W123.4, latitude N48.1):
21 October 2007 Pacific Daylight Time
Begin civil twilight 7:10 a.m.
Sunrise 7:42 a.m.

Wednesday I went to Rialto Beach (a different day)(map), to watch the tide come in. There was a storm coming, the waves seemed to be big. Was I really seeing swells running ahead of the storm, or just a normal 8 foot tide? Maybe I'll know after many more visits. Rain showers passed. Then it cleared just there, and the sun shone overhead, clouds all around. You couldn't go down on the beach because the water was just heaping in, so I stood at the crest of the logjam which backs the beach and watched it come in and come in, and wash around the logs on the outer edge, and shift and move the logs. People would arrive at the end of the path, and hop around on the logs, and have to dodge back as a wave foamed over, and stare and stare.

Finally the tide turned, and the waves didn't come as high any more. It was perfect, being there, and hard to leave. But I haven't made up my mind yet to drive back though the Park in the dark. That will come, as the days get shorter.

And then: it was perfect. Why write about it?

My friend M. is a tidepooler, she keeps track of when the minus tides are, so she can go look at the critters. Scarcely wants to plan a hike unless it will be low tide when we get there. Me, I like the high tides. It's the ocean, not the shore, that speaks to me. That's why I moved 1400 miles.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Humpback Whale Song in Blackfish Sound

Sometimes there's good news.

Orcalab posted a 30-minute recording of a humpback whale singing in Blackfish Sound, recorded on the Flower Island hydrophone (see map) at a time when there was no boat noise whatever coming into the hydrophone network. There's a nice essay about how the humpbacks were all killed (every one) in the area in 1967, began returning 15 years later, and now are apparently once again 'at home' enough to sing.

It works best to download the entire file and then play it. While you're waiting you might want to read up on humpback song, and look at the photos, so you can visualize them hanging still in the water, head down, as they sing. There's a good humpback migration map at National Geographic. You can see why, until the individuals are identified on the breeding grounds, we can't be sure whether these particular humpies go to Hawaii or to Mexico.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

60% Sitka Spruce, 40% Western Hemlock

I forgot to bring the tree-identification handout the national forest ranger gave me in Quilcene, so when I got to the Hoh Rainforest visitor station I asked the Park ranger if he had one. This one was a one-page summary; he pencilled in the proportions on the sheet. 60% sitka spruce, 40% western hemlock.

I took the handout and a library book (Stephen Arno, Northwest Trees), and shambled along the Hoh River Trail, looking closely at all the conifers. If it's only going to be two kinds, surely eventually they will come into focus and I'll see that this is not that. Spruces are not hemlocks. Apples are not oranges. Oughta be obvious after a while, don't you think?

Yeah, right.

Some of the time I thought the big ones were all spruces, and the smaller trees in the understory were all hemlocks. Most of the time I knew I hadn't a clue what anything was unless it happened to be a bigleaf maple or a fern. Those I could recognize. But I had a nice walk in the forest, about an hour in along the trail, and then back again.

Spruces or hemlocks

Mosses hanging from Bigleaf Maple

PS First I went up the Sol Duc. Lots of fish hanging out in the pools below the Cascade, probably a couple hundred of them. But not on the move, just hanging out. No leaping.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Watch the Vashon stage of the Cordillieran ice sheet engulfs Puget Sound, deepening the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and wrapping around the Olympic Mountains. So in fact the salmon have to have reestablished their relationship to the rivers of the Olympic Mountains sometime after about 13,000 or so years ago. How long did it take them to find their way back? A lot of time on our scale, but not a lot of time on the earth's scale.

I particularly like the time when the mountain glaciers have melted back creating lakes still dammed up by the big ice sheet, which hasn't retreated yet.

This graphic comes, with explanation, from the Olympic National Park website. The U. S. Geological Survey has a Geology of Olympic National Park website, which updates R. W. Tabor's book, Geology of Olympic National Park. University of Washington has a nice page of studies about the present-day Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Leaping Leaping

I've been back and back (three more times) to Salmon Cascades on the Sol Duc River to watch the salmon jumping. And I've been making appointments and arrangements about volunteering at two different local libraries as I try to construct a new life here. AND by combining the two activities—keeping appointments and squeezing in trips to the Sol Duc—I have gotten two (oh, how awful, TWO) speeding tickets this week. Monday and this afternoon.


Now I have to pay a lot of money, and absolutely obey the speed limit for the next year at least, alas. Ah, but in the back of my mind all the time the salmon are leaping leaping...

Doris Lessing, Nobel Laureate


Later: great photo of her at the age she is, in the Time story.

Composition Note

Well yes, I do crib these posts from outgoing email on occasion. Excited letters have been my native compositional form for my whole life, and I left a lot of friends behind three months ago. So I write the letters, then maybe move them—in part—to the blog.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lending Lift To The Fishes

Salmon Cascades on the Sol Duc River, on a rainy rainy day. They actually do jump, fly through the air; as well as swim-like-mad-up-hills-of-downpouring-water. I was out there for a couple of hours in the morning, then I went to the ocean but actually I wanted to watch the salmon some more so I went back to the Cascade. By the time I got back the river was much higher, and it went on rising all afternoon. Amazing huge vast amounts of water, all foamy. And the salmon did their thing, and the people watching went 'ooh', and 'wow', and shouted 'go-go-go' and 'that one made it!!!'. People would rise up on their toes, or flap their arms, trying to lend lift to the fishes. When one of them made it particularly quickly up the side from pool to pool, I waved and called out 'goodbye'. The man standing near me called out, 'Have lots of babies'.

I might go back today, to try to see some fish in the pool below the cascade. Apparently since they are in their spawning colors they should also have proper hooked mouths, but you couldn't tell while they were leaping.

I didn't even try to get a picture of fish in flight. There was a nice one in the Peninsula Daily News last week.

Vine maples

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Back from Tucson

Fast trip home. And it felt like travelling home. Driving up Peabody Street, smiling smiling.

Monday, October 01, 2007

PS. A Dusting of Fresh Snow...

... on Klahhane Ridge.

The Language of Salmon

On Saturday, D. and his wife scouted some of their familiar spots along the lower Elwha for chinook (king salmon) redds, and places where there were a few dozen at least of salmon digging and fighting and doing salmon behaviors. But Sunday, when they took us out to look, the river was at least three feet higher and as D. put it, 'had color'—it was slightly murky and you couldn't see into it. Polarized sunglasses helped at some angles, and we handed the glasses back and forth.

We couldn't see far enough into the river to see the redds, but we saw a few summer chinook (and at one spot, a sockeye, the shadow of a red torpedo disappearing-over-there). A spawned out female, her tail all beaten to shreds ('broomed out') from her digging effort held a position close to the bank, out of the current, occasionally sticking her nose up out of the water as if trying to get extra air. She was going to die soon, said D., and clearly the eagles in the trees were expecting carcasses. A couple of males cruised by, further out and barely visible through the slightly murky water. The salmon don't feed once they return from the sea; for however long they are in the rivers, they live on their body fat; they spawn; they die; they contribute their bodies as nutrients to the ecosystem. We walked, D. pointing out salmon I couldn't see out there somewhere, and beaver trails and eagles and particular trees, and talking all the time about salmon and rivers and his seventy or more years of knowledge of this place. When he stopped talking, we asked questions to get him going again.

But whether we could see them or not, there is not a good return of wild fish this year. D. does not agree with the ranger at the entrance station on the Sol Duc River that the absence of coho returning there has anything to do with low water; he says the wild stocks have returned exactly on schedule for tens of thousands of years, enough water or not, and that the fall coho are just not there in numbers this year, and not going to suddenly flow up the river if they haven't come already.

Rainshadow note: the weather forecast has been for a heavy storm and flooding. And yes it must have rained quite thoroughly up on top of the Olympics, and who knows what happened out on the rainforest coast, to have brought the Elwha up three feet overnight. But here, well, it sprinkled and drizzled and/or light-rained-steadily yesterday while we traipsed around, and through the night. But nothing to indicate a flood could be raised. Barely enough to move locals to put on a rain jacket.