Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm listening to the wind toss the trees back and forth, and watching the orange light of evening slowly make its way across this particular corner of the world. Not that the world can have corners, it being spherical and all, but sometimes the words that fit aren't the most correct ones. Let's hear it for occasional incorrectness.

I'm taking the evening off work so J9 and I can go see Marissa Nadler and Alela Diane up in San Francisco. Looking forward to both the company and the music.

Autumn just seems to be the time when everything happens. Funny the difference a year makes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

This is the kind of sight that inspires me. The sky is a vast, ever changing canvas of light and moisture, and the interplay of the two can be awe inspiring. On days of bland blueness I find myself... maybe "depressed" is too strong a word, but at the very least, unmotivated. There's no expectant energy there when the sky is blue. On the other hand, when dark clouds come roiling in over the hills, it seems that anything is possible. It doesn't have to be clouds either. I can be a bit of perfectly placed fog, or a high, lonely contrail, or just a wisp - a promising little cowlick of vapor waiting for its big dark friends to join in the fun there at the invisible air-mass boundary.

Let it rain! Or at least let it look like it's going to rain!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yesterday, Willow and I spent a couple of hours playing at Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, which are pretty much the same park, except that you have to pay to drive into Vasona. It goes without saying that we always park at Oak Meadow, although I'll have to start paying to park there too when I renew my license (my present license has my old address, showing that I'm a park-approved Los Gatos resident).

But I digress. What I meant to write about is the incredible feeling of Autumn inspired nostalgia that hit me as we rode the small steam train, splashed in the creek, and wandered through the park(s). It had something to do with the falling leaves and the autumnal smell wafting through the air - a smell that transported me right back to a childhood spent in creeks and drainage ditches. It was just the right combination of plant smells, humidity, and mud. If I could figure it out, I could bottle childhood! It's funny how memories of scents are stored forever, with near perfect recall.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mmmmm! Blustery, power-flickery, gusty, drippy, torrential RAIN! I love it when the moan of the wind and rain is punctuated by the staccato noise of items crashing to the ground outside.

The power at work went out at about 6:30 this morning, causing the generator to kick in. The power at home flickered on and off earlier, and just to the west of me, streetlights are out.

Currently listening to the sound of the rain, which meshes perfectly with Mountains "Choral" cd.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The wind is gusting up to 36 mph outside. I know this because they finally fixed the wind gauge/weather station affixed to the wall of the building I'm sitting inside. I also know this because I can hear things being blown about camp, and the wind is howling. There isn't a lot of rain yet. Hopefully that will come soon.

Also, hopefully nobody else will throw up tonight. Rain is good. Vomit is not.

My counterpart at our other site saw a Mountain Lion tonight. Some people have all the luck. All I saw was a pair of frogs. Still, frogs are cool too.

The sky is gray and still, with rain perhaps a few hours away. Tomorrow, it's supposed to storm on us, with much anticipated wind and rain finally giving the parched hillsides a chance to swell with moisture. I am more than looking forward to it - I'm fairly singing with anticipation.

This weekend, I went on another long hike up at Almaden Quicksilver park, visiting Hidalgo cemetery, an abandoned rotary furnace, and finding yet another old car in a ravine. The cemetery was perhaps the most interesting, despite the fact that all of the grave markers have succumbed to time and vanished. Wooden markers tend to do that, I guess. The white picket fence, also made of wood, that surrounds the cemetery, will no doubt also vanish in time. That will probably be replaced. It's interesting that nobody thought to do that with the original grave markers though. Did all of those families cease to exist?

I also found a squished tarantula, which made me sad. The poor little guy was struck down while in the process of looking for a mate, so that one death also cut short a whole line of descendants. I just hope that he wasn't killed on purpose. people need to deal with their fears in a more constructive fashion.

Before the hike, I watched Willow's soccer team wipe the field with their opponents. Willow is so fun to watch - she literally dances with excitement sometimes out there on the field. Sophie spent the whole game braiding my hair, which was funny. I'm not sure when she learned to braid. I feel like I'm missing out on her life these days, but on the bright side, it makes the time I do have with her (and her brothers) all the more precious.

Friday night, I went on a very nice date up to San Francisco to experience some music. I'm very happy about the way things are progressing on this front.

I also got a rare chance to lead a field class last week, which in some ways explains why I haven't updated this blog in a while. I've gotten used to having my days free, so when they're suddenly filled, I don't blog as much.

The week was great though. The kids were from four different private schools - all catholic schools, I think. This means that, for the most part, they were well behaved. The cabin leader who hiked with me had been up the week before, so he was more experienced than some, which is always good.

This was the first time I'd led a whole field class for a week since I started working nights a couple of years ago, so of course it was also the first time I've led a field class as a newly credentialed teacher. I did consider creating lesson plans for everything, but ended up not doing it in the end. I've taught all of these lessons many times before, so I just went with what I've always done, with a few little tweaks and variations thrown in. I perhaps spent a little more time focusing on the journal writing aspect of things, and I paid a little more attention to the skill levels of individual students than I used to. They were all pretty evenly matched though, with maybe one or two exceptions. Still, I felt there was a freshness to the week because it's no longer part of my weekly routine. The classroom teachers even commented on my obvious excitement. Of course, we had to visit the Rattlesnake family up in the chaparral. I recently read an article on Rattlesnake parental care brought to my attention by one of my Flickr friends. Apparently the babies usually stay with the mom until the first shed. Of course, the babies I showed my field class are still with their mom, even though they've already shed. I took one of the shed skins and laminated it with a photo of the snakes, making some pretty cool prize bookmarks to give away during the end-of-the-week review on Friday. We also found a ton of small Bullfrogs (as well as a couple of toads) up at Lake Ranch Reservoir. The kids were extremely excited by this. Just imagine 19 sixth graders all screaming and laughing as frogs go leaping everywhere. The cool thing was that they were under rocks near the shore, so we could easily catch them. Some rocks had nearly a dozen frogs hiding underneath. Talk about hands-on outdoor education! It was the first time that a lot of the kids had ever gotten to do something like that. I think that they'll remember it fondly. They didn't even complain about the nearly 5 mile round trip it took to get to where the frogs were.

That said, one of my favorite moments of the whole week was when we came upon a Youth Science Institute group on the trail, and I quickly realized that it was Sophie's class. I hadn't even realized that she had a field trip on that day. The odds against me running into her on the trail are pretty big. First, there are a lot of trails, and second, I'm not usually hiking them these days. We were very happy to see each other.

This week, I'm back in the camp office at night, just in time for the torrential rains to hit.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Things have cooled off a bit, and there's a nice breeze. This makes it much more bearable when I'm sitting out on a sunny field watching Willow play soccer. It also prevents Willow from turning an alarming shade of pink from exerting herself in the heat.

Today, after soccer (damn, I feel like such a soccer dad all of a sudden - I'm still not a fan of organized sports, but the exercise and teamwork is good for Willow, so I'm a fan of that aspect of it at least) we went to the Children's Discovery Museum, a place which is singularly important in that Willow owes her very existence to it. It's where I met her mom, back when I was an employee there.

Nowadays, they still let me in for free, and it's nice to see those among my old coworkers who are still there. One such old coworker was leading a "make a play" workshop, during which participants got to alter an existing story ("The Three Little Pigs", in this case) and act it out. Willow played the brick seller. The three little pigs became two little dragons, and the big bad wolf became the big bad princess. Fun was had.

This coming week, I get a rare chance to be back in the field at work. I traded schedules with a coworker, so he (the appropriately named Bat) will work the nights, and I get to lead a field class. I've got to dig out all of my naturalist teaching supplies, but I'm looking forward to mixing things up a little.