First there was Blue. She came to us from the great blue, the wild blue, as blue as Lightin' Slim, singing pigeon blues, not Rooster Blues. She came on banded foot, born of two other Blues who gave our Blue her azul feathers and fuchsia feet ... in a lineage that swept back through the blueness of her grandparents and past the great grandparents before them. They all commanded the skies and taught Blue, through genes and ingenuity, to carry on forward when the color of blue left her own skies.
I spotted my first migratory ducks on the urban shores of Elliott Bay last week. The new arrivals are on edge -- wary and easy to flush. Lifting my lens is enough to send them skittering to the middle of the bay, and I can only imagine what sights and sounds have jarred them into high alert on their long journey home.
The color white represents catharsis in alchemy. It's the point at which a blackened substance, through heat and reactivity, develops a white crust and then puffs into a cloud inside the alchemist's flask. It's the stage at which future possibilities become apparent as a material is transformed from one to the other. And it's symbolized by a white swan or white eagle.
This is my annual re-post -- on the first weekend of waterfowl hunting season in both Washington (where I'm living now) and California (my home). I've been lightly tweaking the post each year, adding new information or links. My reason for re-posting this piece is to bring attention to some of the lesser discussed aspects of duck hunting. The most significant issue for me is the enormous injury rate in all wing shooting -- a facet rarely brought forth voluntarily, and one that's inadequately studied. I provide additional details on that subject in this post.
I get many emails and comments related to this post -- from people interested in micro four thirds (m43) and mirrorless cameras as a wildlife format. I've been shooting with Olympus m43 gear exclusively now for three years and plan to update my impressions before the end of the year.
Jackie was a teaching, healing spirit in the most big-hearted way, rolled up in a teddy bear body, never leaving my side through arduous times and years, through unexpected illness and loss, transformation and relocation. She helped us muddle through life’s travails, and was also the source of our biggest joys. We called her ‘velcro cat,’ because wherever we were, there she’d be, jockeying for a spot somewhere pressed up against one or both of us — touching our faces, our arms, our hearts with her plush little rabbit feet.
Smith Cove Park is populated only occasionally with dog walkers, cruise ship aficionados, marina boaters and a few transient souls who stop there by way of a nearby bike route. I went there for the waters -- and for the salt air -- without expectation of wildlife. But, that was about to change -- one late April day.
Like Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower, the gull, along with many urban birds, is overlooked and pushed aside, sometimes literally under foot on crowded sidewalks. Also like O’Keeffe’s flower, when you take the time to really look at that gull and embrace the wholeness of her — her yellow bill, her gray coverts, her ear spots or orbital rings, the white tips of her stretched wings — she becomes your world not just for the moment, but in perpetuity.
If we’re all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here’s an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy.