Humans and Canada Geese – WTH (What the Honk?)

Each Autumn, the changing weather ruffles a few feathers, in both species.

Slip, slide, swoosh, SMACK! Every November, it’s the same thing. As soon as those little white crystals start falling out of the clouds, humans go completely stupid. Winter piloting skills, often accumulated during years of driving in icy conditions, are curiously jettisoned. People go too fast, or too slow. Merging becomes a lost art. Signals lose all validity. The myth of 4X4 invincibility shatters, often ending with the ass end of an SUV protruding from the ditch. Every year, humans have to re-learn how to navigate in Winter.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And so do geese.

In this case, I’m speaking specifically about Canada geese – seasonal residents of a drainage field or fairway near you. Other migrating birds encounter similar challenges, but I’m most familiar with these large, chin-strapped waterfowl. Around the same time that humans are busy not putting on new wiper blades and not acquiring snow tires and not allotting more time for commuting, geese are busy not flying very well.

Actually, throughout the Inland Empire, geese begin their preparations before humans. They start gathering and flying in late summer. Scan the eastern dawn as August rolls into September, and you’ll see groups of the large birds flying, not in the iconic V formation most of us imagine, but rather, in something resembling a smeared Q from a HP 7210 running out of ink. And then there are the stragglers, laggards that roam the sky alone, constantly honking to locate their gaggle. Yes, odd as it might seem, these animals, that will soon fly in efficient flocks, over thousands of miles, must re-acquire the ability to do so. And they do. By November, the sloppy Q’s have been snapped into sharp V’s, the lead slot being exchanged with smooth precision. It truly is a wonderful transition to witness.

So, the next time you are caught behind a Volvo going three mph through a half-inch of snow, or are forced to pull over to avoid the speeding F-250/Transformer mutation flying up on your rear, take the opportunity to contemplate the Canada goose. Even these intrepid birds have to relearn their winter travel skills.

If you liked this post or are interested in migratory birds and their sanctuaries, you might also want to read this.

First Snow

A brief entry to welcome our first snow of the season.

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The Great Blizzard of 2012

The snow in Washington has forgotten where to fall.

 

In an unlikely scenario, the western side of the state is already under six to ten inches of snow, while those of us residing on the eastern side of Washington have only seen a mere dusting.

Last year.

 

This will most certainly change overnight as the storm moves east, but for now, seeing Seattle on the national news for the white stuff instead of the wet stuff is more than a bit ironic, considering the lack of snow we have here, east of the Cascades.

As the storm continues to dump on Seattle, we will no doubt see images of their challenges, making some in the Inland Northwest feel greatly superior. But before you revel in the possibility of a Gortex-wrapped Starbucks junkie  tumbling down the sidewalk or sliding into the ditch like an Emerald City elf in a Rudolph-esque blizzard, I must remind you, our first big snow of the year renders just as much havoc. It seems each summer, a certain percentage of people fail to retain the ability to navigate in the snow, regardless of their level of experience. 

No matter what the outcome of this storm, the weather people will surely make it sound like the end of the world … until the next great catastrophe.  We’ll keep you posted on the “real” results.

Nanowrimo- Not Just Another Pretty Phrase

Pardon the extended absence, I’ve been knee deep in fiction creation all November, indulging in the whirlwind of mass prose known as Nanowrimo. As any of  you involved in the Nano know, it’s a lonely business. Aside from write-ins and forum procrastination, there is no human interaction.

After battling around countless distractions and an enjoyable autumn jaunt to Seattle, I was able to get back on task and finish, yesterday, with a full day to spare. Now it’s time for the much less frenetic re-write … and re-write … and re-write. Getting 50,000 words of raw first draft down is akin to a gardener tilling spring soil. It fosters nearly endless possibilities.

If I were the Nanowrimo czar, I would pick a different month. To get my daily 1667 words written during November, I had to feign indifference toward EWU football, the Maui Invitational, our first snow, my short fiction addiction, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and mid-term politics.

Tell me, fellow wrimos, will you do it again? I know I will. Those of you still straddling the fence, check out www.nanowrimo.org  You only have eleven months left before Nanowrimo 2011.