Posts Tagged ‘ravens’

It’s a Raven!

“I believed then – in a deep, easy way that is impossible for me as an adult – that there was more to this world than meets the eye. Trees had spirits; the wind spoke. If you followed a toad or raven deep into the heart of the forest, they were sure to lead you to something magical.” – Jennifer McMahon

            “I’m so sorry Jennifer. I’ve long been an adult – and I still believe.” – Pat Bean

Life outside my window. -- Watercolor by Pat Bean

Life outside my window. — Watercolor by Pat Bean

Or is it a Crow?

            Ravens didn’t live in Dallas, where I grew up. It was only after I moved West that I began seeing them. They looked just like crows to me. But being the curious person that I am, I soon wanted to know how to tell a raven from a crow.

Note the wedge-shaped tail on this raven Also, except for once during breeding season, I've never seen more than one or two ravens together. Crows, on the other hand, most often flock together. -- Wikimedia photo

Note the wedge-shaped tail on this raven Also, except for once during breeding season, I’ve never seen more than one or two ravens together. Crows, on the other hand, most often flock together. — Wikimedia photo

While ravens are larger, unless you see them side by side you can’t really identify them by that clue. But it’s easy to tell them apart if you see them flying. The raven’s tail is wedge-shaped, while the end of the crow’s tail is straight.

I see a pair of ravens almost daily here in Tucson, They land in the trees outside my windows and hop about on the roof opposite my back balcony – and they inspired my latest watercolor.

Bean Pat: Daily Echo http://tinyurl.com/hjeleff This blog so reminds me of the way I traveled and dawdled when I lived in my RV and was exploring North America. U think my wanderlust is getting to me. I need to take a road trip soon.

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          “The ancestor of every action is a thought.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

          “It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.” – Barbara Kingsolver

A raven in Yosemite. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A raven in Yosemite. — Photo by Pat Bean

Huginn and Muginn  

According to  legend, Odin, the Norse God of  Asgard, had two ravens. One was  named Huginn, meaning thought, and the other Muginn, meaning memory.

One of my roof-top ravens on an earlier day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One of my roof-top ravens on an earlier day. — Photo by Pat Bean

I thought about these two mythical birds this morning as I watched, from my bedroom balcony, a pair of ravens skittering about on the red tile roof of an adjacent building. I see these, or other, ravens often. Sometimes I’m amazed at how the sheen of their midnight black feathers appear almost white when the sun strikes them in a peculiar way.

There were no ravens in Texas, where I grew up. I only became familiar with these members of the corvid family when I moved West. And then when I became a passionate birder, I spent hours learning to tell them apart from their cousins, the crows.

Huginn and Muninn sit on Odin's shoulders in an illustration from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript.

Huginn and Muninn sit on Odin’s shoulders in an illustration from an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript.

It’s an easy task if you see the two species together. The raven is quite a bit larger with a thick sturdy beak. But when they’re at a distance and flying overhead, it’s not so easy, well at least until you realize the raven has a wedge-shaped tail and the outer edge of the crow’s tail is straight.

Smiling to myself, and perhaps thinking like Dr. Seuss, I wondered which of my two roof-hopping ravens was Huginn, and which was Muginn. Then I laughed at my thoughts, while memories of watching ravens in other places and other times danced through my head.

Thoughts and memories – that’s really all we are.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat:  Birding Southern Baja  http://tinyurl.com/kgud9e6  A bit of armchair birding and travel gleamed from this delightful blog.

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“Poetry is just the evidence of life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” – Leonard  Cohen

The Worst Poetry Ever, I Do Admit

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

My morning visitor. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My morning visitor. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Raven

While I welcomed the morning cheerily

While I drank my coffee dearly

While I sat upon my balcony pondering

Over my daily list, wondering

There came a cawing, cawing

Tis’ a bird, I muttered smiling

Only this and nothing more

And it is August, I said and more

And it’s sunny on the desert floor

Now who is cawing outside my window

I know for certain it’s not Lenore

Because it is black and feathery

This it is and nothing more

I went for my camera

To capture an image for ever more

But alas I failed, as I was told

This device cannot record.

Would this bird too soon fly away?

Before I could retrieve the disk

From my computer inside the door

Only this and nothing more

Quickly I ran inside

And retrieved the tiny disk

That would make the camera work.

Black feathers still perched upon the roof

Waiting and cawing, cawing

Tis a raven, I said.

And nothing more.

Bean’s Pat:  Travels and Trifles  http://tinyurl.com/lsm93un  Love the quote, and the trees

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 “I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore … I hear it in the deep heart’s core.” – William Butler Yeats.

“I’m an old-fashioned guy … I want to be an old man with a beer belly sitting on a porch, looking at a lake …” – Johnny Depp (Ditto, except instead of a beer belly it will be tits down to my waist.”

Sleeping by Water

The view out my RV window at Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees at Bernice State Park in Northeastern Oklahoma. — Photo by Pat Bean

While my route only took me through a northeastern sliver of Oklahoma, I found three state parks in which to camp. In addition to Natural Falls, where the movie, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” was filmed, there were Lake Wister and Bernice, both of which are attached to lakes: Lake Wister, a 7,300-acre reservoir created by a dam on the Poteau River, and 46,500-acre Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees formed by the Grand River at Bernice.

The peacefulness and beauty of my nights by these lakes led me to continue seeking out similar campgrounds as I continued my travels – and parking my RV as close to water as I could get .

If you like Winslow Homer’s painting of the “Fox Hunt,” you should most certainly check out today’s Bean’s Pat.

Often I would find myself falling to sleep listening to the soft murmur of water sloshing up against one bank or another. It seemed fitting that one of the many books I read on my journey was “River Horse” by William Least Heat Moon, whose “Blue Highways” was one of my traveling role models.

In this later book, Moon, made his journey across America from the Atlantic Ocean at the New York Harbor to the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon, in a boat called Nikawa, or river horse in the Osage language.

Travels With Maggie: 27,682 words. The original draft was about 60,000 words, so I’m nearing the halfway point, although I’m thinking it might be closer to 70,000 words when I finish, despite the many cuts I’m making. The task of adding my voice to this travelogue is, I think, requiring more than eliminating the redundancies and any boring parks. I might have been farther along at this point except computer woes, which still have not been totally resolved, ate up the better part of two days.

Bean’s Pat: Golden eagle attacking a fox http://tinyurl.com/c29uogk Winslow Homer painted ravens harassing a fox, and I’ve seen ravens doing just that, but this photo is way more fantastic.

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 “What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.” – Hal Boyle

A mile below me flowed the Colorado River — and in it flowed a treasure chest of my memories. — Photo by Pat Bean

Memories of the Canyon Floor

If I could see the rapid from a mile away, it had to be one of the big ones. I wondered which? — Photo by Pat Bean

While there’s no bad view of the Grand Canyon, I must admit that my heart beat a little faster whenever the viewpoint allowed me a peak at the Colorado River a mile below.

I rafted that same river twice, once in 1991 when I paddled my way through it in a small six-man raft, and once in 1999, when I was oared through it in a larger raft by someone else’s hand.

In all, I’ve spent a total of 32 days at the canyon’s bottom. The first trip ranks No. 1 of all my adventures, including an African Safari (No. 2) and jumping out of an airplane (No. 3). Yes, I know, I’m an adrenalin junkie, or at least I was.

Ravens haunted every overlook where I stopped to view the canyon this day, just as they had haunted every camp site on the river below. This bold one that didn’t move off at my approach reminded me of the one that had stolen my tube of toothpaste on one of my Colorado River rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m just as happy these days going for a quiet canoe ride on a gentle river – or doing as I was this day, stopping at every overlook along the Grand Canyon’s Desert View Drive.

Each time my stop included a view of the river, memories of the time I spent on it flooded out of my memory bank to be relived.

Once again I was holding onto the paddle boat from the water side in terror after Granite Rapid claimed me for its own. Or I was lying on my back on a beach, staring up at a slim sliver of sky watching the stars drift past.

I remembered awakening to the song of a canyon wren, and drinking in the peace of the silence that always marked the first half hour of our daily time on the river.  I emerged at the end of both 16-day trips a different person than the one who began it. More peaceful, more knowing who I was, more understanding what is important in life.

Today, that was simply spending time with the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Bean’s Pat: http://thismansjourney.net/ Rhythm of the Waves. I love Galveston, and wave watching.

 *This pat-on-the-back recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. June 7, patbean.wordpress.com

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 “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

Flagstaff, Not as I remembered

This cheerful seating area at the Flagstaff KOA reinforced my inclination to simply sit quiet for a while. — Photo by Pat Bean

Flagstaff still remembers Route 66 in all its glory. No crumbling, run-down remains in this elevated city, whose 6,920-foot elevation lets it nestle comfortably among 12,000-foot peaks. Flagstaff – which incidentally got its name from a flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston on July 4, 1876, to celebrate this country’s centennial – even holds an annual festival in September to celebrate the Mother Road.

I observed many signs and buildings as I made my way down the old highway through the town that loudly announced to travelers that Route 66 had passed this way.

Of course I never stop birdwatching. And this raven obligingly posed for a photograph. — Photo by Pat Bean

I had meant to explore some of them, to walk among Route 66 landmarks, hearing Nat King Cole in my head singing Bobby Troup’s “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.”

But I didn’t.

 Flagstaff wasn’t the quiet town I remembered from past visits. Today it seemed like people and traffic were everywhere. After my drive through the town, my canine traveling companion, Pepper, and I took Highway 89 heading north out of town and checked into the Flagstaff KOA.

And there Pepper and I stayed for the rest of the day and the next day, our sightseeing limited to what we could see in the large rustic park and on a short nature trail that we hiked several times a day.

It simply felt like the right thing to do at the time.

Bean’s Pat: http://inaroomofmyown.wordpress.com/  Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – writing! This one’s for the writers among us. 

*This recognition is merely this wandering/wondering old broad’s way of bringing attention to a blog I enjoyed – and thought perhaps my readers might, too. The Pat on the back is presented with no strings attached. June 2, patbean.wordpress.com

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A view of Antelope Island, which appears moody this day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Antelope Island is a favorite place of birders wanting to add a chukar to their life list.

 Antelope Island is a 28,000-acre bird haven in Utah’s Great Salt Lake accessed by a seven-mile toll causeway. It is home to a thriving herd of bison, playful antelope, sly coyotes and prickly porcupines.

 Migrating warblers visit, as do shorebirds and ducks that feed on the surrounding lake’s tiny brine shrimp and brine flies. California gulls nest each year on the rocky outcrops along the shoreline, bald eagles drop by in winter, and every spring hundreds of western meadowlarks, with their brilliant golden throats and song, nest on the island. The males sit on a high perch to melodiously proclaim their brooding territory while the females sit on nests hidden so well in the grasses below that you can walk within inches of them and not know they are there.

I visited this island almost every single week for two years after I caught bird-watching fever in 1999. It was my birding 101 lab. And every time I go back home to Ogden these days, I make time to once again visit this protected — the entire island is a Utah state park — wonderland.

A buffalo sculture looks out over the lake. Photo by Pat Bean


While a live version takes a sandy bath. Photo by Pat Bean

This trip, the drive across the causeway was made with more land than water to the sides of me. Once again, Great Salt Lake is nearing the 1960s record low of 4,191 feet above sea level. In the mid-80s, it was at a record high of 4,212 feet. I was present during this latter period when its high levels and wind-pushed waves tore out the causeway to the island as well as chunks of Highway 80 that stretches across Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats to Wendover, Nevada.

Now, 25 years later, I was getting to see it at its lowest. Was it Mother Nature’s drought and warm weather affecting the level, or was it the human diversion of water before it reached the lake driving the lake’s current low level? The question taunted the edges of my brain as I watched a pair of ravens circle overhead where the causeway curved. I wondered if these were the same ravens I had watched raise chicks in a huge nest several years earlier.

Antelope seen on the way to the island's historic Garr Ranch. Photo by Pat Bean

I spent four hours on the island this day. I watched with camera in hand as a buffalo took a sandy bath and kept my eyes glued to rocks for the sight of chukars surveying the landscape. Maggie and I took a hike around the point from the Bridger Bay Campground. Meadowlarks and red-winged blackbirds joined their voices to the drum beat of the lakes’s waves against the shoreline. I found the tune calming and marveled at the purepeacefulness of the day.

  While I still had questions and concerns about the lake and the island’s ever-changing future, Mother Nature’s magic was still all around me. I look forward to my next visit, and hope she can still be found.

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