Forbidden Love and the U.S. Interior Dept.

Spencer Creek Middle Branch

Late the other night or really early the other morning, a cold, damp pre-dawn, stars appearing between tattered clouds, we heard a pair of owls calling. We hear them most in spring and fall. Most likely a mated pair, they called out to each other as they cruised through tunnels of air space between the trees hanging over Spencer Creek. One was farther up, one farther down. They stayed in almost constant communication for hours. Their voices fluctuated with distance and tones. But they sounded like the spotted owls of years past, or their cousins, the barred or maybe the new hybrids, the unwanted mixed offspring. Their calls are very similar. So are their genes. Only the humans seem to have a problem with the barred or hybrids. . . . → Read More

Obituary for a Collie

Jade Beauty, a doomed rescue

Many of you know this editor as one of those crazy dog-rescue people. A bitter-sweet anniversary is coming. I had to put down a dog I loved for severe behavior problems beyond our ability to cope. I could not just pass on the problem. I only hope her time here gave her joy and comfort after years of neglect. For a while it seemed that the anti-depressants were doing the trick but that last week or so made it clear she had adjusted through them and her basic personality problems came back. Say a little prayer for her and for us. . . . → Read More


The ice and snow that has persisted all week here in the hills is thawing at last. The air is still. The profound quiet tells me that the easterly air flow has weakened. When the wind is in the east, we hear the hum of the distant freeway and the pleasanter sounds of train whistles. Perhaps it will rain in a day or two. I’ll miss the pretty patterns of thin ice stretched across puddles, the ice sculptures and tiny castles rising out of the mud, and the glistening frosty mushrooms which I know will dissolve into black slime once they thaw. But rain will be welcome. Even though the soil is saturated and the creeks and rivers are running full, our land wants more. West of the Cascades the Pacific Northwest is a water world. . . . → Read More

Cedars, and Patches

Two sweet, short offerings to our loyal readers for St. Valentines Day:

Old Cedar, New Cedar

We have a big cedar stump in our dooryard from a tree that went down in a storm several years ago. It is 6 feet high and more than two feet across at the top. A baby cedar which is now several feet higher than the stump has sprung up from the root on the north side .

Yesterday the sun shining there enticed Patches to climb up to sun himself. Sasha joined him for a bit, but became aware of the big patch of snowdrops at her feet where many honey bees eagerly sucked up nectar from the flowers. She was uneasy so close to so many bees and reluctant to get down even closer. Eventually she managed to work herself down, using the new cedar on the north side for handholds and steps, and came to relate her worries to Mom and me.

I rejoice in the patch of snowdrops flaunting their presence in late January, a sign that spring is on its way.. I remember the blueberries and grapevine to be pruned. February will offer days when outside work such as pruning will be comfortably mild. How delightful it is to anticipate these yearly chores awaiting my attention in my 90th . . . → Read More