Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reaching Ten, Christmas Trees, and Birding

Click on the images to enlarge

Lewis' Woodpecker (above) ................Common Mergansers........................... Red-necked Grebe

I'm reading a good book, "Dewey, The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World". It's really a Christmas present for a friend but I feel it's my duty to read every book I give friends to make sure they're suitable. Okay, so that's just an excuse.

Something hit me in that book on page 93. "...Dr. Charlene Bell says everyone has a pain thermometer that goes from zero to ten. No one will make a change until they reach ten. Nine won't do it. At nine, you are still afraid. Only ten will move you, and when you're there, you'll know." The author was leading up to her own "ten", when she finally knew it was time to leave her alcoholic husband. This was before she became a librarian and rescued Dewey from the book return slot.

I think that pain scale works for lesser pains as well... like the stack of magazines and books falling all over the place in our living room. I keep meaning to sort through the mess but never quite get around to it. (I'm not sure what I'm "afraid" of, maybe that the whole pile will overwhelm me and I'll never get done.) Yesterday, however, I reached the "ten". I wanted to research something in my favorite dressage book, Dressage in Harmony, by Walter Zettl. I knew it was somewhere near my reading chair but couldn't find it. After pawing through the mess on the floor and in the magazine rack, I finally uncovered it. But then the magazines were scattered everywhere. That was my ten. I couldn't stand it any more. I spent the entire afternoon sorting. The ones I wanted to keep went into the magazine rack. The others into a box to take to a local library.

Today I took the huge stack of magazines to the Dallas library. In the past, I've taken my horse magazines to Willamina or Sheridan libraries. But magazines are a bit like zucchini... you have to be careful not to overload one recipient. And Dallas has a lovely magazine rack just inside the door where people are encouraged to reuse and recycle by leaving their magazines there for others. I happily did so.

I also took a trunk full of empty plant pots to Daryll's nursery and some other sorted stuff to GoodWill, all in Dallas. Of course, one cannot do so many good green things without treating oneself to something... in my case an elongated route to get there through birding territory. Whatever carbon credits I gained by recycling I no doubt spent in driving, even though I drive a hybrid.

But what a fun trip! This is Christmas tree harvest season in Oregon and I came upon a helicopter loading operation right by the road. The helicopter made one quick trip after another picking up bundles of Christmas trees and dropping them in a huge pile near the large semi that would carry them to their retail destination. A tractor loader carted the bundles from the helicopter stack to the back of the long ramp out of the trailer, where the bundle was unstrapped and carried, tree by tree, into the trailer. It was fun to watch.

But there were birds awaiting and soon I found them... lovely Lewis's woodpeckers flycatching from the tops of oak trees within earshot of the helicopter operation. I'd never seen so many Lewis's woodpeckers. They are not common in this part of Oregon. From there I drove on through clouds of red-winged blackbirds, many individual Red-tail hawks, Kestrels and Harriers, past a pond full of various waterfowl and then, most exciting of all, to a Merlin sitting in the middle of a field with its crop hugely enlarged from whatever poor bird it had swallowed. Alas, it was too far away for a photo.

One of my favorite spots on the way to Dallas is in Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge at "The Narrows", a roadway that goes between two big water areas. Lots of Common Mergansers and Canada Geese, among others, were there today, plus one motley looking Grebe that I thought was a Western in a funny molt but my more-knowledgeable birder friends tell me is a Red-necked Grebe. Shows how much I know.

Having my bird fix for the day, I went on to Dallas and distributed my stuff. It was a perfect ten of a day that came about because of Dewey, a library cat, and another type of "ten".

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