I am alternating bits of blogging and correspondence with bursts of work on a big project today, so there are lots of photos going up in the usual places: my Flickr page, the Tumblr blog, all my virtual real estate. Some will come from yesterday’s dawn walk in Stanley Park.
I was at the park by 6:30 a.m., having walked Kelly to the bus so she could catch a plane to her aunt’s funeral. When I got to Lost Lagoon, it was me and about a dozen joggers, some with dogs. Later, when I picked up the lake trail, I had the entire place to myself… I saw maybe three other urban hikers in ninety minutes.
All but one of the swans seems to be off their nests but I’ve seen no cynets; in terms of photo ops, the best subjects were turtles, who were very happy indeed with the sunshine.
I don’t know Stanley Park all that well, despite having lived in Vancouver for twenty years. Now that I have a reason to be in Coal Harbor more regularly, I’m getting to know the place. I printed off a map and yesterday’s goal was to find Beaver Lake, which turned out to be gorgeous and smelly and apparently home to newts.
After three hours in the park (the herons sound like they’ve hatched, but are apparently too small to poke their baby dinosaur heads up yet) I came home and tackled the work pile in fits and starts, with naps and errands in between. It didn’t go all that well: my mind was too much on Auntie Joan, and the family, and when I embarked on a long errand I strained an already-tired muscle in my foot. But things got done; the day passed. At eight I knocked off and rewatched the first Sherlock, rang my wife, and dragged my butt off to bed.
I swore I would make it out there with the big zoom, and now I have. In fact, I meant today to head straight for the Stanley Park Heronry, as it’s called, but the allure of a spin around the reservoir caught me. This means that at some point in the not too distant I’ll be uploading more swans, scaups, and gulls. But I made it in the end, and it was wondrous. Here’s my first sighting.
Each clump is a nest…
Each nest has two birds… and probably four photographers.
Oh, there were some big-ass lenses and mighty tripods there, and a heck of a lot of people, all crammed into the four square feet with the best light and the least evidence, on the ground, of bird droppings. (Since I was willing to get slimed and not wed to a forty pound tripod, I circled a bit.)
I observed that some of my feathered friends have strong feelings, possibly about our upcoming national and provincial elections. If you’re local, I recommend going to hear what they have to say. Herons are usually so quiet and dignified!
Others, however, clearly have already decided how they’re voting and have turned off the TV until both elections and @$@###%! hockey season are over.
My mission: get back when the chicks are hatched.
And the writing point about this is: are your characters at least as different as my two cats?
1. Minnow drools like a running firehose when she’s being petted. Bites, too, and seems entirely unaware that she’s doing it.
2. She can’t move her eyes very well–it’s like they’re too big for her skull–and so turns her whole head to look at things.
3. She really likes to chew on plastic, and has that fiendish cat way of finding it wherever it is hidden.
4. She sings, operatically, late at night to the one toy that came to our house from her first home. The aria-yodels to Turtlebaby are heartfelt and loud, and if they happen to wake one out of a sound sleep, they can convince you that she’s regurgitating her own pancreas.
5. Minnow is the first cat we’ve ever had who wasn’t either black and white or gray and white.
6. She is a creature of passions. She loooooooves Turtlebaby. She loooooves the rubber zoom groom brush that keeps her overcoat glistening and soft. When she wants love she scampers around looking bug-eyed and beseeching.
7. She gives every appearance of enjoying it when I photograph her.
8. Somehow this matches up with the big bulgy eyes–her skin feels drum-tight. It’s not the loose rolling cat flesh one usually encounters, and when she purrs it’s a thrum, an intense hum bound in a high-pressure sheath.
9. She prefers cheap, grocery-grade treats to the healthy vet-bought ones. Baby loves her junk food.
10. Another passion: she lives to eat grassy things, especially chives, and loves to nom them back like an antelope cropping the savannah before coming indoors to spew green-laced biocontent all over our floor.
Yesterday we went out to Steveston at nine–early, but not exactly crack of dawn–and caught a Vancouver Whale Watch tour along the 7km jetty to see the young male sea lions, both Steller and California varieties, who hang out there at this time of year. According to our guide, these handsome young bachelors come to the Fraser River Estuary to bulk up on salmon, hoping to bulk up so they can eventually challenge some big daddy lion for a harem.
This is the sort of thing that may conjure up an image of seals pumping iron, no? But of course the reality looks a lot more relaxing:
It was a ninety minute boat ride, in a covered boat, and there had to be about fifty bald eagles on the route. Most of them were immature–it takes five years for an eagle to grow into that snow-white head! I rather adored that the sea lions were hanging out peaceably with double-breasted cormorants and the occasional gull.
Afterward, we walked along the wharf, checking out fish for sale out of the backs of boats… including sea urchins!
And then we went to the Tapenade Grill for lunch.
There is (barely) a writing-related point to this post, which is as follows: It’s Friday morning: do you know where your characters are? Do you know as much about your protagonist as I know about my cat?
1. Rumble is willing to pretend to follow a small but fixed number of rules. Since we have been strictly enforcing the ‘no jumping on Minnow’ rule, he has decided he is no longer banned from the kitchen.
2. The one commercially available toy that Rumble will always play with is the Silly Kitty hemp mouse, which, according to Sophie’s Pet Palace, is about to be unavailable forever.
3. Rumble was named for the very loud kitten purr that we almost never hear anymore; as an adult, his purr is very grunty.
4. But once, late at night a couple years ago, I woke and he was doing it, purring like a motorboat between our sleeping heads.
5. When we got back from Alberta after the worst of the family funerals, he slept, for one night, with his cheek on mine.
6. There are three identical hairbrushes in my house. Two are mine and one is Rum’s. If he sees me brushing my hair, he looks beseechingly at me and meows and meows and meows.
7. If Kelly is braiding my hair, he’ll sit up on a stool in front of me so I can simo-brush him. He will get up on the stool if he sees us fetching hair elastics. He will come running if I bang the hairbrush on the stool.
8. Rumble will often come if we call Minnow’s name. Because why should she get any love? (I think you can guess what happens if we call his name.)
9. Sometimes if we’ve both been gone awhile and have come home, he’ll forget we’re back, and go to the door and cry for us.
10. He loves David Attenborough’s The Life of Birds and will always come check out what’s on the toob when he hears Sir David’s voice.
11. He can’t count to ten and probably doesn’t want to know ten things about your pet, but I might.
12. Even when he is hogging my office chair, he is pretty photogenic.