Boom Then Bust

Spotted Sandpiper

When we first arrived at the cabin there was a bumper crop of sandpipers and frogs. The beach is bookended with two creeks that drain from the cedar swamp behind the cabins. The frogs inhabit these creeks. The frogs were quite plentiful through the wedding, but about the time that a kingfisher appeared on the beach, they disappeared. Likewise, the sandpipers were also quite plentiful, but their young soon fledged and flew away. I hadn’t seen either species for days, but today I saw one of each. The sandpiper flew off from the beach embankment and we found the frog surfing in the waves.

Our copy of “Perfect Match” by Jodi Picoult had showed up on the deck when we returned from our walk. Book World on Ashman is closing. Another victim of Amazon. I guess our order didn’t help. The biblioklept in the family snatched up the novel, so I guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow when she’s done. She did offer to share, with dueling bookmarks. I suggested golf etiquette, where the person furthest behind is waited for until they catch up. That didn’t happen.

[SPOILER ALERT] About halfway through the book is a page of jokes that Anne shared with me and I will share them below the photo.

Bumper Frog Crop This Year – Green Frogs

  • What is the middle of a jellyfish? A jelly button.
  • Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? It didn’t have the guts.
  • Why did the cookie go to the hospital? It felt crumby.
  • What do lizards put on their kitchen floors? Reptiles
  • What do you call a blind dinosaur? An I-don’t-think-he-saurus
  • Knock, knock. Who’s there? Sadie. Sadie who? Sadie magic word.

Big Baby Mergansers

Mergansers In Front of the Cabin

Anne and I walked the beach this afternoon. As soon as I popped out of the woods, I spied a flock of mergansers and more importantly they spotted me too. They were directly in front of the cabin and before they got too far away, I got several el primo pics of them. I liked this one the best, because it doesn’t look like they are swimming away from me and you can see them in profile. There were actually about a dozen of the babies all told, but with of the combination of their fleeing and the intervening bouncing waves, I only managed to capture half of them in this photo, six babies in the frame are better than twelve out of focus.

This morning, Anne joined Gina and Dashie for yoga. I stayed at the cabin with the Units. Doesn’t cook. Won’t bite. In-between Harry and Gene’s morning ritual I snuck into the kitchen, heated some water and toasted a bagel. The water was for a cup of Starbuck’s instant latté (Val, thanks for the steer!) and the bagel was a Thomas everything bagel, which I slathered with whipped cream cheese. I made my escape again to the sleeping porch, with no one else being the wiser.

This all reminds me of a story that I would like to relate here. Year’s ago, when I still worked for a certain defense contractor in Saint Louis, which had decided to institute random drug testing, one of my buddies at work, who had gotten on the outs with the department manager, who had the authority to order these tests. My bud was “randomly” chosen trice and passed all three times. I too had my run in with this guy and soon enough it my turn in the barrel.

I reported to the nurse and obligingly peed in a cup. A few days later, I was again summoned, “Sir, your test came back positive.” “I can explain, I had a bagel for breakfast that morning, which had poppy seeds on it.” “Sir, I’ll set that excuse aside for the time being. While, poppy seeds might explain the opioids that we found, they certainly don’t explain the crack or meth.” “But m’am, it was an everything bagel.” 😉

Birds on the Brain

In Front of Cabin Loon

Anne got me up early today and we walked the beach before breakfast. On our walk, we first heard the loon and when we went in search of it, it dove and circled around behind us. It wasn’t until we had turned and were almost back to the cabin that I spied it and then captured this distant, but still decent picture of it. It dove again and can hold its breath for a long time and was not seen again.

The loon was serendipity. They are relatively rare around here, but what are more plentiful are mergansers. The following also distant, but still decent picture shows a mother merganser, with her about half-dozen chicks on her back. She and they were in the mist of fending off a seagull attack at the time.

Mother Merganser with Chicks on Her Back

The one unique to here large bird that I have not been able to capture yet are the Sandhill Cranes. I need to begin intensifying my search for them, because soon they will begin departing. We’ve seen a few, but circumstance have just not permitted our photographing any of them yet. Anyway, we’ll keep looking.

We have a new spotter scope that we’ve bought, but its unwieldiness combined with all of the mosquitoes that are about have made it relatively useless so far. Expeditions to Seney NWR are on the agenda. We did some excellent birding there last year and I hope for a repeat this summer. 

I am always surprised that I have taken up birding as a hobby. I always thought of it as an old person’s activity, but then, I’m an old person now. So, I guess I was right. Except that this hobby makes me feel young again, plus there is a community to participate in, which only enhances the experience and the community frequently includes real young people. I love sharing the thrill of the hunt. Be it just Anne and I or a whole throng of birders.

Today, we waded the short end of the beach. We scared most of the mergansers off the rocks, at the end of the beach, but were able to come quite closely to the one that remained. Having enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, plus the cooling lake water that we were wading through, we backed off before spooking this last bird. It is better to runaway to then hunt another day.

American Dipper

American Dipper

The most unusual feature of this rather dull colored little bird is that it walks underwater, à la those old deep-sea divers with the big brass helmets, canvas body suit, weighted belt and lead shoes. It does have strange feet, so it might be able to grip the bottom, but I suspect that it has a way to regulate its buoyancy, so that it sinks to the bottom, but still has enough oxygen to hold its breath.

We (being Dave, Anne and I) drove to Ann Arbor. Dan, since he had been in Saint Louis little over 24 hours, wanted to stay a little longer and catch up with his friends. He’ll join us at the cabin later. It is hot here too and there is no AC at Chez Harry’s, but for a night we can make do. I have a fan, Dave has the basement and Anne is home. It’s all good. Harry and Jane fixed dinner and we all dined on the back deck. It was a lovely evening for dining out, sort of speak.

We listened to “Big Sky” by A. B. Guthrie Jr. The third in our trifecta of audio books with a Montana theme. This one is set in the 1830s and follows two boys who journey west from Kentucky. They both want to be mountain men and halfway through, both have managed to keep their hair. One disturbing aspect of the novel is its pervasive use of the N-word. Now, there is not an African-American character in the whole book (another disturbing feature), but I still wonder at the use of this now hateful word. The book was written fifty years ago and employs plenty of other colloquial words and phraseology, but I still stutter at each utterance of this word, even when it is spoken by a white speaker about themselves. Still, it is an interesting story that most closely traces our travels than any of the other audio books that we have listened to.

PS – It is now already much cooler than before.