Friday, May 10, 2013

Notes – May 10, 2013

1.     Walking my dogs in the early morning involves all the senses!  The smell of parched dry oats is so sweet!  In the still air of morning a patch of wild elderberries, in full bloom, gives sweet fragrance as I pass.  When I enter a grove of eucalyptus trees there is that unmistakable pungent odor. My old friend the California Pepper Tree gives me a spicy bouquet when I crush a few leaves!  There is an unmistakeable musty smell when I pass the drying mud of the drying river channel  When  I pass close to a farmhouse – and some mornings I know from the smell that they are having fried bacon for breakfast...  

 Me and two of the dogs
2.     On my route there are also the sounds of morning – far off a freight train is coming through the canyon sounding its horn as it rounds the turns, distant traffic sounds, and sounds of construction. Around me I also hear the calls of mocking birds, crows, scrub jays, seagulls, grebes, sparrows, Canada geese, killdeers, mourning doves, and the quiet little clicks of the humming birds...  

Crow on a fence post!
 I recognize them  all by their calls and sometimes if no one is around I do my best to answer them. Sometimes I have quite lengthy conversations with crows...they call to me – and I call right back.  And then there are clouds of swallows who are mostly silent – but turn and dive – sweeping close to the river water – then swoop high into the sky. 

The crunch of gravel underfoot as we walk, the sounds of distant dogs barking, the commuter jet starting its descent into Oakland airport... these too add to my morning blend of sounds.

 Sea gulls
3.     Each morning walk is a social occasion for both the dogs and me.  Many people are very regular in their walking habits – Some people I have been meeting and talking to for years.  Some I stand and chat with for a few minutes, others I just nod and greet “Good morning”.  One old Sikh gentleman with a white turban I greet with  “Na Muste”.  The dogs have their own system of social greetings.  Some of their cues are indecipherable to me – why are some dogs, when met, immediate best good friends and others are a cause for alarm and severe barking.... I’ll never know...  Of course smelling each other (all over) is an important part of their greeting.

Early morning in Quarry Lakes Park

4.     I love going out early in the morning when the water of the ponds is perfectly still. The reflection of hills and trees and clouds are just as perfect as the real thing.  Some mornings it seems like I could just walk into the reflection, so real is the image.  It is like an alternate universe.  And then a mallard duck  comes flying in and makes wild noisy ripples as it lands in my quiet lake.

My friend the Scrub jay
5.     By this time of year the growing season is pretty well over – the wild oats have gone to seed, many weeds have flowered and are setting seed, California poppies and lupines are finished and now will survive until the next rainy season only through their seeds. Summer dust is forming.  It is the normal way of things – accentuated this year by the low winter rainfall. 

One of the great and wonderful mysteries of nature, for me,  is "the seed":.

Our trail
6.     This time of year our Pacific Ocean current, moving down from Alaska, is a cold 55 degrees. Enough to turn you blue if you try swimming in it without a wet suit.  Most nights an airmass from the Pacific moves over us cooling the air to low 60s and a low strata if gray clouds predominate.  By 10 AM  the sun breaks through, the clouds burn off, and it warms  to  the mid 70s. 

One of the 5 lakes in our park

7.   The end of another school year with my interns and student teachers is at hand!  I work with both Mills College student teachers, who teach one period a day and work with a Master Teacher;  and Loyola Marymount University interns who are hired to teach 5 periods a day and receive support from people like me, and their seminar leaders.  Colleges and universities end their term in the first week of  May - but the young teachers are expected to complete their school year until mid June.  My student teachers are now applying for a full placement in a school for next year... for them it is an anxious time until their placement is settled.  I value my relationships with the ST's and interns.  It is a privilege to observe their emergence from rank beginners to quite polished new teachers with a good 'bag of tricks' ready for next year.

Mills Hall - Mills College Campus