northern california

:Tag: northern california

Bird Verse: Eastern Gods

They are eastern gods -- they meditate. (Yes they are.) "The Owls" by Charles Baudelaire (translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay) The owls that roost in the black yew Along one limb in solemn state, And with a red eye look you through, Are eastern gods; they meditate. No feather stirs on them, not one, Until that melancholy hour When night, supplanting the weak sun, Resumes her interrupted power. Their attitude instructs the wise To [...]

2012-12-13T21:10:57+00:00December 13th, 2012|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Texturizing a Storm

Memory is quite central for me. Part of it is that I like the actual texture of writing through memory. ~ Kazuo Ishiguro I saw a crow yesterday, seized in midair by a gale. Just five feet from her tree, she paddled against the swell like a swimmer in an Endless Pool. I may not remember her well, except as form and contrast against the texture of turbulence . . . or later, as a [...]

2010-11-18T00:36:16+00:00November 18th, 2010|Uncategorized|2 Comments

So Long, Lake Merritt

Lake Merritt was the first place I touched soil -- or rather, marine sediment --after returning to the Bay Area from Los Angeles. We were perched above Oakland in a hotel room with just a sliver of a view, looking at the lake through what amounted to a castle loophole.

2010-08-07T23:45:37+00:00August 7th, 2010|Birds, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Dragonfly or Damselfly? A Few Clues

Re-posted from last year -- in tribute to burgeoning life on the springtime pond. In this melee of global strife and catastrophe, there's at least one thing you can know for sure: dragonfly or damselfly. I blame the awesome macro of my telephoto lens for this post. I went to UC Berkeley Botanical Garden for a walk and some flower macro practice. I was barely 100 yards inside the gate when I noticed the thinnest [...]

2010-05-25T00:05:31+00:00May 25th, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Ravens of Ocean Beach

With onshore winds, Ocean Beach is my favorite place to photograph ravens. Along the Great Highway, these feathered balls of onyx launch into the wind like superheroes, hovering over the beach below with tails trailing like capes. I had some time to kill after an appointment in the Sunset. I grabbed my camera and headed to a drizzly beach -- uncommonly drizzly and cold in May, even for San Francisco. I saw just [...]

2010-05-22T02:35:17+00:00May 22nd, 2010|Uncategorized|2 Comments

The Saucy Sailor Boy

I have a weakness for bad lyrics, and 18th century sea chanties like The Saucy Sailor Boy probably take the prize. If you live here in San Francisco, you can take the kids (or just your own self) to Hyde Pier for monthly (and free) Sea Chanty Sing-a-Longs. You'll get hot cider if you bring your mug. I can't say if the sailor boys (and girls) aboard these container ships are saucy. But you can [...]

2010-05-19T02:21:38+00:00May 19th, 2010|Uncategorized|1 Comment


I'm keen to see eyes peering out of mudflats . . . the creatures from the bog, the foraging carp, the bullfrog in camo, a Pacific chorus frog in a dewdrop. I shot this photo at Blake Garden, just north of Berkeley in the Kensington Hills. My vision is tuned to anomalies and, sure enough, there was one: a frog basking unnoticed, up to his eyeballs (literally) in spring mud. Blake Garden -- [...]

2010-03-21T11:02:57+00:00March 21st, 2010|Uncategorized|1 Comment

The Great Newt Commute

The Great Newt Commute is what happens on the way to the Great Newt Party. From the first winter rains through early spring, California Newts migrate from their summer homes to their winter breeding grounds -- to ponds and streams where they mate and lay eggs before trundling back up the hills and into burrows for the dry season. It is a genuine trundle for the little newt. I snapped this photo on a trail [...]

2010-02-08T14:13:33+00:00February 8th, 2010|Uncategorized|6 Comments

A [Still] Golden Autumn

I realize it's still autumn. But does this look like December 5? Our trees are still crimson, gold and amber -- attributed to minimal rain and a mild autumn. We're bracing for a storm next week which might send these leaves tumbling. But for now, fall lingers just outside my door. These photos were taken on a walk between our place and the UC Berkeley campus. The fruit is pomegranate, but didn't seem to have [...]

2009-12-05T23:51:43+00:00December 5th, 2009|Flora, Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Ghostliness of Black Diamond Mines

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve isn't haunted, but it's a park grown upon the ghosts of California's history. The spirits of the Ohlone and Miwok people still permeate the land. When I stand on wild hilltops, I look to the expanse of tract development over what, by all accounts, was once a natural paradise in every sense. The ugly paradox is that were it not for the rapacious behavior of the early settlers, most of [...]

2009-10-17T19:51:44+00:00October 17th, 2009|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Black and White

I almost expected Man-Thing to come crawling out of the mud this morning. The humidity evoked spirits of the bayou: moss, mosquitos, mint juleps. The only time California resembles a swamp is in the wake of a tropical storm, the same wake which pummeled us with record rains a few days ago. We did about four-miles on the Marsh Loop at Palo Alto Baylands, starting at Charleston Slough -- which, at low tide, [...]

2009-10-15T19:04:10+00:00October 15th, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Where Old Docks Go to Die

Old docks smell, this much I can tell you. You'll catch a whiff of decomposing mussels and sea greens long before you ever see the old boards stacked, as these particular boards were, in the parking lot of the Berkeley Marina. The Marina is renovating -- replacing the old A-B-C docks with improved versions. And in the process -- much to the chagrin of many locals -- they've ripped out the landscaping and [...]

2009-10-11T17:35:04+00:00October 11th, 2009|Uncategorized, Urban|0 Comments

Seeing the Sora

You'll hear Soras more often than you'll see them. But once in a while you'll be lucky enough to experience both -- when the characteristic Sora call precedes a visual of the Sora wading through the shallows. Soras are in the rail family, not rare, even if they are elusive. They share a lineage with the endangered California Clapper Rail (among other birds in the family Rallidae). Coyote Hills, with its drought-driven mud cracks and [...]

2009-09-28T23:12:32+00:00September 28th, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Things to Know (and Love) About a Japanese Quail

He was misidentified but not forgotten -- this lone Japanese Quail who fluttered his way into a wildlife hospital and then, into our hands and hearts. We gave him an appropriately Japanese name: "Mikiko" which, loosely translated, means "child of the tree." A fellow volunteer pointed out that he is not, in fact, a child of the tree -- "he's a quail, Ingrid." I know. But I couldn't find a name meaning "child of the [...]

2009-08-06T17:18:34+00:00August 6th, 2009|Domestic Animals, Uncategorized, Wildlife Rescue|5 Comments