My annual trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival was spectacular this year.
I had worked very hard the week before, trimming all the horses' hooves, making and freezing stuffed green peppers, picking and freezing corn and broccoli, canning tomatoes, putting frost covers on tomatoes and citrus trees, writing my monthly column for United Caprine News (due the day I left)... I deserved a vacation!
|The citrus trees now look dressed for Halloween|
|The tomato plants appear to be ghosts in the garden|
|It has been a bumper year for grapes. This is a small portion of the crop. They were/are delicious.|
|The never-ending broccoli.|
|One day's harvest of acorn squash, among other things, and the weird black Russian tomatoes. Colorful and delicious... but weird.|
Ruth and Munazza and I stayed in the same wonderful Airbnb that Ruth, Toni and I had stayed in last year. Toni's knee surgery turned out to be scheduled for the day I left for Ashland so she had to bow out and Munazza took her place. We were sorry Toni could not come but glad Munazza could. The cottage is within walking distance of the theaters and we walked to and from every day, twice a day. The weather was perfect. The plays were wonderful.
We started each day with a Qi Gong session together. (Well, I confess I missed one day to get up early and go birding with a friend... more about that later.) The first day we saw Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, a play by a Chinese playwright, very popular in China but unheard of... until now... in the U.S. It was great fun... two plays trying to rehearse in the same space. After a wonderful Green Show that evening (free outdoor performance in front of the theaters), we saw Antony and Cleopatra, good but very different from the afternoon's comedy.
Mornings were free of plays so the next day we hiked at nearby Emigrant Lake. The lake is extremely low but still lovely.
I, of course, was checking out the birds as we walked and saw a distant one that I could not figure out. So I called birder Paul Sullivan back in McMinnville to see if he could tell from my description. (After I got home and saw my bird on the computer and listened to recordings on the web, I knew it was a Rock Wren.) It turned out Paul was on his way to Ashland right then for an Audubon Birding Weekend. We arranged to meet the next morning and bird with a local birder.
That afternoon Ruth, Munazza and I saw a spectacular production of Pericles. It may be my new all-time favorite play at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The evening performance of Head Over Heels, the World Premiere of a new musical, was funny, lively, and beautifully staged. All the plays we saw this year were beautifully staged.
The next morning Paul and Lee took me to Ashland Pond, a wonderful birding spot. I took lots of photos. Meanwhile, Ruth and Munazza enjoyed shopping in the fabulous downtown stores in Ashland. I am glad they like to look at elegant shoes and other stuff... and really glad they don't expect me to go, too.
I met the birders at Lithia Park where Lee led us half a block to see this Western Screech Owl roosted in a box. It is wonderful to have a local birder guide!
Our next stop, Ashland Pond, was teeming with birds. I saw a Mountain Chickadee, which I thought was my first ever until, after returning home, I checked my long-ago abandoned life list and realized I have seen at least one Mountain Chickadee before... somewhere. It didn't stick around long enough this time for a photo. The Red-shouldered Hawk did, though.
Paul called out a pair of Wrentits that sort of cooperated...
What a pretty place!
Birders who faithfully keep lists have certain ones they're looking for. Paul, working on augmenting his county lists, wanted a California Towhee. So we went to the property of a friend of Lee's... and found a pair of California Towhees. Local knowledge is wonderful! Birders are a community and love to help each other out.
While Paul and Lee looked at Western Bluebirds and others, I took photos of this beautiful butterfly. At home later I researched and discovered it was a Common Buckeye, but uncommon in Oregon.
That afternoon Ruth, Munazza and I saw Guys and Dolls which gave Pericles a run for the money for being best production of our 2015 trip. That evening was Much Ado About Nothing, another terrific production and our last play of this trip. Six great plays in three days... plus a new-to-me place to bird in the play-free mornings.
Just before evening performances each day, we went to the Green Show on the bricks. Each one was great this year... from the hip hop dancers to the ScienceWorks Museum demonstrations (Steve is going to want to try these!) to the Uganda children's singers and dancers and drummers.
Friday morning Munazza and I each headed home while Ruth stayed for one more play. First, though, I tried to take a photo of us remotely with my camera. In spite of Steve's instructions over the phone, I managed to take a movie instead of a still photo. So this tipsy photo of the three of us (it looks like they're holding me down!) is a still capture from the very short movie.
On the way home, I, of course, stopped at the Merlin rest stop where I have found Ash-throated Flycatchers in the past. They were not visible that day but the Acorn Woodpeckers were thick. This one was drinking from a tiny pool of water at the base of one of the oaks.
My last stop before home was at Ankeny Wildlife Refuge, where I counted 30 Great Egrets. Here are a few of them.
It is difficult to imagine a more perfect vacation... great weather, great friends, great plays... and great birding. Plus a great spouse willing to stay home and do chores for me.
I am already planning my 2016 trip to Ashland, Oregon, and the fabulous Oregon Shakespeare Festival.