Category Archives: beach

Birds fly under the weather.

A young friend named Lilly came to visit from Idaho one evening, and a rude head cold fell on me the following morning. I managed to take her to Vespers, but on Sunday I was glad that she could go to Liturgy with Kit, because I was too sick to attend. In the evening Kit and Lilly cooked a wonderful breakfast for our dinner, trying out a new recipe from the 75th Anniversary Joy of Cooking for Lemon Pancakes, to go with bacon and eggs. Perhaps that sped my healing?

This morning I felt a little better,  and as I sat down with my tea by the sliding glass door I was surprised to see a new addition to the garden – a tall pole with a bird feeder hooked on at the top. Kit had set it up the day before, close enough that we could easily see the birds that come to it. And soon they did! Lilly and I saw a goldfinch, a jay, a towhee and a dozen juncos in the garden, many of them gathering under the feeder to peck at the seeds on the ground.

As I sat there weakly but joyfully watching, I noticed my mind fretting in the background, muttering something vague about chores to be done or books to be read. It was downright ridiculous murmuring, and I almost laughed at the idea that there could be a more sublime and worthwhile activity than watching birds outside my window, especially when I wasn’t at the time fit for anything more strenuous.

Lilly said that birds like bark such as I have in my planting bed mulch, because they like to peck around in it and find things to eat The jay was doing this, and then he hung on sideways to the feeder pole and studied the hanging ball of seeds, but didn’t manage to access it. My new garden is full of plants that are known to provide a good habitat for birds and bees, but I didn’t expect them to flock here so soon. Today they didn’t pay any attention to the fountain, but that is probably because the rain has made plenty of drinking pools all over the neighborhood.IMG_1594

Later on Lilly and I drove to the coast so she could visit the beach she hasn’t seen sinIMG_1607ce she moved from here seven years ago. It was an overcast day and the ocean was roiling like dirty dishwater, but there was no wind, and the air was as fresh as could be. Rivulets were running from the cliffs to the shore, and the beach was covered with twigs and seaweed and all kinds of storm “trash.” Gulls and sandpipers and another kind of water bird — or were they merely junior gulls? — and a crow were enjoying all the new moisture in the air and on the sand.

Some of the dull brown-gray rocks had bright orange quartz-y rocks embedded here and there, harder layers that hadn’t eroded as fast and ended up looking as though they were pasted on. At least, that’s my assessment.

I was so glad not to be slouched IMG_1606over my tea indoors all day; strolling on the beach was not too taxing, nor was driving to the coast, though it took longer than expected because of flooding and detours. I took Lilly to the Birds Café and we ate clam chowder while looking over the grayness of the wet landscape and bay.

Now I’m fading again, but so happy to have accomplished and enjoyed these simple pleasures even when under the weather, and in the weather. And with the dear birds! They certainly brighten up our world.



sandpipers and elephants

Kate visited meGL 10 IMG_0788 from Washington DC for a few days – it was a joy. When your children are spread over thirteen years, they don’t all get the same upbringing or hear the same stories. We went to the beach and sat on a log for a long time talking and catching up.

Kate was married just over a year ago near where we went to the beach, in Bodega, at what we fondly called The Birds Church. The fish-n-chips place where we ate in the nearby town of Bodega Bay is called The Birds Cafe. Alfred Hitchcock’s imagination has left an GL 10 P1020084 birds cafeongoing legacy.

Down on the shore the birds were not scary. Kate took pictures of a gull who hung around our log for quite awhile until he figured out that we didn’t have food. The sandpipers were more naturally seeking for their more natural food. It was the balmiest day I can remember on our typically frigid beaches; even the breeze was warm.


GL 10 P1020097 sandpipers

Kate helped me draft a note to leave in neighbors’ mailboxes, asking “Do you have a plum tree?” You see, I fell in love with the Elephant Heart plums that are growing at Pearl’s new house in Davis; they are the best plums I have ever eaten. Though I hadn’t given plum trees a thought before June, I’ve now got it in my head and on the landscaping plans that I will plant one of these trees in my refurbished back yard. These pictures are of fruits that I brought back from my last visit to Pearl.GL 10 P1020115 plumsThey are not self-pollinating, so I either need two of them or I need to know that there is another tree in the neighborhood that can be a pollinator. Either another Elephant Heart plum or a Santa Rosa plum will do. I’d rather not have two plum trees, as my yard isn’t that big, and I am not that ravenous for plums. So I hoped to discover another suitable tree around here.GL 10 P1020119 plums EH

I first asked the neighbors whom I already know. The ones I didn’t know, on my street and the street behind me, I asked by means of my explanatory note, a paragraph with that grabber question at the top, which I dropped off yesterday afternoon. This afternoon two people who received the notes phoned to say that they do have Santa Rosa plums! My tree will be right in the middle of those two trees, as the bee flies.

And now I have two new friends, Rich and Dale. Dale has more than 20 fruit trees in his back yard! Rich planted his Santa Rosa plum as a pollinator for a Satsuma plum that he loved. Next summer we will get together and trade plums — yum.


Sunless and Satisfying Day

The beach cottage is next to a creek that forms a lagoon at this time of the year, cut off from the frigid Northern California ocean water by sand dunes and therefore swimmably warm, if you don’t mind the algae.

The whole place is full of memories for me, going back more than 20 years to the first time I was here with our children, who with their homeschooling friends built rafts of driftwood and punted around, while their baby sister crawled through the sand.

Those are abalone shells lined up on the fence.

We’ve come many, many times to this sleepy village, and this week it was to be with our friends who lived full-time in the house for a spell but now only vacation there. Mr. Glad and I are normally just a couple these days, but they were lucky enough to have four of their five daughters with them.

No sooner had we arrived than I discovered the fuchsias and Chinese firecrackers that had enthusiastically taken over the mostly untended yard. They make you think you are in a tropical paradise, until you look up and notice the fog and the golden hills.

In the background of the third fuchsia pic, you can see the wild fennel reaching for the skies. A lot of it has already dried and is getting mildewed.

The fields of rattlesnake grass a block away also contradict the tropical theme. I picked bundles of the stuff before I came to the conclusion that it’s really past its prime and that I should just come back next June to get it when it is still green and the “rattles” are whole.

Sand Art by Mr. G

We packed up some cheese, French and Italian breads, and watermelon, and drove up the coast to another beach just for fun.

One can’t easily predict how grey and cool the days will be out there, but we expected the sun to come out by the afternoon, and we pointed out the little patches of blue we could see here and there near the horizon.

At least it wasn’t terribly cold, though I did keep my sweatshirt on all day. The fog did not lift, but the sun burned some young chests right through it. And I was so happy and busy smelling the seaweed and the beach plants that I didn’t even notice the weather change that never happened.

Some of us took a walk along the bluffs, where I found so many interesting things to see and click my camera at, including stickers and a minty purple flower that filled the low moist places.

Rattlesnake grass and cow parsnip

When we returned to the cottage it was to cook together and cozy up with a big dinner and loving camaraderie — lively talk and laughing followed by sitting on couches and in rockers. Mr. G and I couldn’t help ourselves, taking lots of pictures of the girls so clearly content and comfortable with each other, tucked in with overlapping arms and legs and smiling so much you wouldn’t believe it.

I didn’t mind the grey skies, because the flowers and friendship made the best kind of sunshine.