Sunday, June 26, 2011

New York City

Whatever does New York City have to do with Hyampom? Ummm, a noisy concrete and steel cavernous jungle is the complete opposite. I am here visiting a friend. Riding the subways to get everywhere. Taking in the little bits of nature in Central Park, and an area called The Tangle is as close to Hyampom as this world offers and it is a dim comparison. I now understand why so much of the world has no idea what wilderness really is. Or why it is important. I am able to dive in and navigate this urban wilderness though I was timid at first. I thought of it all as if it were the river on a hot summer day. Jumping in is the way to get wet, cooled off and swim in the river. New York does not offer the same refreshment as the river, but diving in does produce results. Learning how to correct mistakes when I get off the subway at the wrong stop for random reasons like the stop I am looking for starts with an F and so does the one the train pulls up to. Maybe like following a deer path in a different direction than I thought? I felt willing to get lost today. I did a bit but once I remembered the use of maps and asking for help often i was OK.

Life here is not so much about thinking and contemplation as it is about sensory stimulus. Why else would I join hundreds of other people to stand in line at the Metropolitan Museum for a half an hour to witness a surreal exhibition of Alexander McQueen fashions? Gorging visually on man made creation allows me to challenge myself to follow the creative impulse. It seems the more outrageous the better. I overheard one of the officials from the museum saying this was the third most attended show ever. It kind of made me sad though. The fashion designer took his own life this last February. I could feel his emotional struggle in many of the garments. He did not try to hide it and it even seems to be a big part of the draw around his work.  There was counterpoint to his evident depressive angry states with some sumptuous florals and fluffy white creations. His wild creativity is magnificent. But I would like to know why is creative genius so often associated with insanity?

Maybe if Alexander McQueen had the opportunity to truly rest his physical being in stillness he could have found rest for his emotions, his soul. Maybe not. SOme people have come to the wilderness silence and left within a short period of time because they suffered from stimulus withdrawl. I was asked recently why I like to live in the wilderness. The instant answer? I find the deepest create comes from the silence. For those who wish to uncover, discover, recover their own voice the vastness of wilderness and the beauty and silence offer opportunity to listen once again to your own still small voice.  Some may not want to hear it but it is well known that the sages of the ages (ha ha) have sought wilderness in order to hear.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Phalarope correctly identified

Yes, this is a female Red-necked Phalarope. These are "sandpipers," but they have curious fringed lobes on their toes so that they can swim (lobes spread on the attack, swept back on recovery...whatever...Michael Phelps I'm not). The great bulk of the population gets from southerly oceanic wintering "grounds" n. to breeding areas in the Arctic by flying over-ocean, with many seen from shore in May. Much smaller numbers take an overland route, and if a small flock had been over Hyampom at first light---well, it's Any Port In A Storm. Similarly, they are sometimes seen on sewage and stock ponds, golf course water hazards, vernal pools, etc. In autumn they are more commonly seen inland.

Phalaropes are quite specialized, with the females wearing the bright spring colors and the males responsible for incubation and chick-rearing, such as it is. They spend much of their time bobbing high on the water, spinning half-circles and dabbing nervously at the surface to obtain tiny animals and other edible matter. There are only three species: Red-necked and Red, both found across the rooftop of the world in summer and wintering widely southward, and Wilson's, which is found only in North America and winters, I believe, largely in the Andean region.

Red-necked Phalaropes undoubtedly overfly Trinity County often in migration, but, as they are capable of long flights to and from especially favored areas, it is likely that the scattered water bodies of Trinity County, combined with comparatively few birders, allows most to go undetected.

It was a real treat to meet so many of the good people in Hyampom last weekend. I felt as if I had suddenly been beamed to the Best of the West.

David Fix