Living in Your Own Private Cryosphere

Tubular

Albedo is the reflectivity of the earth’s surface. Ice, white and bright, has a high albedo, reflecting back the sun on itself, whereas water draws the solar radiation deep into its hues. Water is always in flux, mutable — liquid, vaporous, frozen — evaporating, condensing and expanding. This fluidity of form and purpose fuels life […]

On Little Cat Feet in Seattle

Tacoma Ferry in Fog

Carl Sandburg’s metaphor of fog creeping in “on little cat feet” over the harbor and sky is 21 words of descriptive perfection. But, it wasn’t this gentle, pitter-patter idea of fog that formed me. It was a more treacherous fog, the fog of the mire, the one shrouding fantastical and coal-black specters: The cloud was […]

A Makeshift Hummingbird Feeder Heater

Anna's Hummingbird on Feeder

Heating hummingbird feeders was a new thing for me after moving to Seattle. Here, Anna’s Hummingbirds stay through the winter, and although the cold months are relatively temperate, there are enough freezing mornings when nectar turns into slush or ice. My first go-round with enabling the local hummingbirds came our first winter with Mr. Hummingway. […]

It’s the Time of the Season … for Bird Noir

Crow on fence in black and white

Without even a wisp of autumn air, Seattle dipped from summer to storm, from a prolonged swelter to a premature December gray, leaving me damp and unrequited. In eighty days without droplets and dew, the Emerald city turned topaz and so dry that even the pigeons, normally preening under nimbostratus showers, looked haggard for the […]

No Frozen Hummingbirds, Please

Heated Hummingbird Feeder

In the winter of 2011, my hummingbird nectar froze into a giant lifesaver of an ice cube. I’m a Californian which means I’m used to nectar that ferments into birdie moonshine after a few days in the sun. But last year we migrated north to Seattle … at the same time Anna’s Hummingbirds decide not […]

Crow in Snow

Crow in Flight in Snow

The above American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) was standing behind a short wall with snow on top — and he had a backdrop of snow which created the effect of this portrait. Crow flying against a background of snow-covered trees — and kicking snow off her feet as she takes off. This pair of crows was […]

A Bird Called Hummingway

Male Anna's Hummingbird

He was christened Mr. Hummingway by a dear friend who likes birds but is ambivalent about interaction with birds. She had formative experiences that made her view birds as flapping missiles who get tangled in your hair, dive bomb you, or suddenly ditch into the open window of your moving car on a freeway. Those […]

Freezing to the Tune of Willie Nelson

icebergs

We went shooting ice pics today . . . on the tundra of frozen Seattle. On the way, I got hooked on this Willie Nelson cover, thanks to a new mix from my favorite pop musicologist, colloquially known as Dodels. First, Willie. Then, ice. I will always think of my frosted, immovable fingers when I […]

Ice Ducks

Male Mallard walking on ice

Here’s my segue from Winter Water . . . to the semi-graceful form of winter ducks. The snow is gone, but I still froze my fingers into Rocket Pops, snapping pics of these ducks navigating their own version of tundra. Unlike me, the ducks kept their digits warm, thanks to the ingenious countercurrent circulation system […]

The Waxwings Are Back

Cedar Waxwing in pyracantha tree

I don’t know exactly how long they’ve been back, the Cedar Waxwings. Serious birders** know from the hour. I only know by the near-silent whistles that suddenly populate our trees. And I know because we got our first injured Cedar Waxwings at the hospital in the past two weeks — immobilized by window strikes. Today, […]