Friday, May 27, 2011

Breakfast with Goslings, Dinner with Bears

No pictures today, but it has been far too long and I am tired of waiting. Computers are still out of commission. One has survived the viral issue, two are now pronounced deceased. We are living full time now up in our cabin and it is slowly starting to look a bit more like a habitable space. There is now hot water, a stove and a refrigerator. My goodness, we might soon even have a bed!

Even while roughing it, we know we have made the correct decision.

The closest town to us is White Salmon. White Salmon is so named after the mythical white salmon whose spirit presided over the giant fish which used to return every year to spawn (pre-dammed Columbia River). The Native name literally translates to "where the sun meets the rain."

Because we are nestled in a valley of the Cascade Mountains, we are literally in the middle of the rainshadow. This means far less rain, mixed ecosystems, and an abundance of varied wildlife. Couple this with the fact our lake is located in a critical habitat designation of a wilderness and you have a rather extreme version of the nature channel every day.

This level of federal, state and county designations make for a bit of an interesting living situation since very little can be done to our house. (The neighbor's hot tub permit was going to cost him 1,500 dollars, take 2 years of committee meetings, and even then might not be approved.) However, the wildlife here is definitely thriving.

Our first evening, we were serenaded by a wild turkey. They have the most infectious gobble! It is very difficult not to repeatedly chuckle as they call. The Barracuda quickly named him (or her) Steve and they "talk" frequently. Steve gobbles, The Barracuda mimics back, Steve replies. The Barracuda has decided to enter the county fair's turkey calling contest (no joke!) which is a highly prestigious event amount adult males around here.

As the sun sets, dozens of swallows begin darting over the lake with a dance-like grace. They swoop and dive, weave in and out of one another, and fly so fast you think they will have mid-air collisions any second. It is somewhere between joyful play and theatrical production.

Once night falls, the bats come out. Jules and I will sit on the dock and watch divebombing bats eat all the bugs possible. A single bat will eat 2000 insects an hour. The 50 or so we think might be out around us keep all the mosquitoes down to none.

Most all our meals are eaten out on the dock to soak up the quiet and peaceful atmosphere. This is also prime viewing time. Breakfasts are had with a parade of Canadian geese waking their goslings (who nest separately) and beginning the daily rounds of the lake. Dinners the same goslings are watched, only this time they are escorted home. The pair of eagles (who mate for life) that live across the lake from us, swoop and hunt these goslings as they parade back to their nests. The parents flap their wings, honk and holler, and threaten the predators. Ever patient, the eagles will take turns with menacing grace swooping ever lower to clutch a baby bird.

Last week, we watched a juvenile brown bear (about 300 lbs) chase a young deer into the lake looking for meal. The deer plunged into the water and began swimming with all its might. It crossed the lake as the bear lumbered along the far edge seeming to grumble to itself. This instance prompted us to bring up the 30/30 and have it posted above the door. As much as we don't need to worry about people here, the animal population is definitely in charge.

We will marvel at these animal shows for an hour or more at a time. The Barracuda can now identify half a dozen birds of prey just from their flight patterns and coloring. He is happily expanding all sorts of tracks, scat, and call identifications. I am equally delighted as we walk and new species of plants are found. Vanilla leaf (an natural bug repellent), wild strawberries, ducks feet (also known as sour apple plant) and the like all freely grow here.

We are quite joyful. Our experiences resolidify our desires to simplify. Unlike Mr. Plasma, our neighbor with a HUGE plasma screen TV, we are much happier absorbing our nature first hand rather than via the Discovery Channel.

2 thoughts:

Michelle said...

Sounds amazing!

Granola Girl said...

Michelle - It is pretty spectacular, but I must say where you all are seems down right gorgeous as well!

It reminds me very much of Little House in the Big Woods :)

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