August Jottings

Some off hand notes from a journal of thoughts and days.

August 2: Already I feel the end of summer heading toward us. There’s a fleetingness to the warm days now, an inevitability to the cold that comes in the evenings and is slower to go again in mornings.

I miss the merlins. Every morning since we arrived the first thing I heard in the morning was five or six merlin chicks shrieking and playing in the pines around our campsite. Today I heard nothing. They’ve gone. Or they all died. Either way the bird life here as changed. The small birds are back. Nuthatches and chickadees are the morning sounds now, with occasional crows and blue jays.

The pileated woodpeckers were through again this morning, you can never fail to notice that flaming-red crest streaking through the trees. It sounds like a jackhammer when they beat on the bark. Such a massive bird for something that spends most of its time clinging to the side of a tree. This morning there were three. One stayed on the ground, which I had never seen a pileated do before. At first I thought it might be injured, but eventually it took off to join its fellows in the trees.

August 6: Strange mayfly hatch this morning. The bathroom building is completely covered in mayflies. Thousands of them, inside and out. Camp host tried blowing them with a leaf blower but it didn’t work, they hung on. Reminded me of the night in New Orleans when the termites hatched, (which I didn’t actually write about in that post, not everything makes it out of the journal). Fortunately we were far enough away this time that nothing ended up swarming in the bus.

August 8: The kids started sailing camp this morning. I picked them up at lunch time and managed to see the girls sailing, Elliott was already in. Their first day on the water and it was probably the windiest we’ve had in quite a while. Can’t reef an Optimist. I guess you just go fast. They spent most of the day practicing knots and righting flipped boats so they knew what to do, but according to them no one flipped in the stiff breezes.

I’ve been challenged to many a knot tying contest this afternoon. I have lost almost all of them. I used to be able to tie a bowline one-handed without thinking about it. Now I have to sit there and tell myself the rabbit story to get it right.

August 12: Final day of sailing camp featured a sail-by for the parents followed by a potluck lunch. Unfortunately there was very little wind so it was more a drift, crank-the-tiller-back-and-forth by. Still, it was good to see them out on the water, having fun and making new friends.

August 13: Heading to the county fair later today. We’re suckers for a local fair, but we’re used to fairs in October. Yet another reminder that cold comes early up here.

Years ago at the Elberton Fair Elliott was too short to ride some of the rides with his sisters. This year Olivia was too tall to ride some of the rides with her siblings. We can’t seem to completely win. At least there was a lumberjack show, complete with crosscut saws and log rolling exhibitions.

August 18: Cooler this morning. 54 on the gauge. Blue-gray fog bank on the far shore enshrouds the hills. The crows are unhappy about something this morning. Red-breasted nuthatches seem unconcerned.

Signs of winter are increasing. The weather has shifted, more birds are passing through. Cape May warblers are already headed south from wherever they’ve been north of here. On the way to the store today I saw the city had pulled out its snow plows and was giving them a wash. Seasons remain a strange thing to this Los Angeles native. I like the idea of them, I like the transitions between them, but we are not sticking around to live with winter. Two weeks more, maybe three.


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