Thursday, August 31, 2017

Egrets and Herons at Newport Back Bay

One of my favorite spots to go in the LA area is the bay behind Newport Beach.  There's a paved road along the bay but it's one way and slow speed for cars and mostly for bikes and runners.  The tides affect what kinds of birds you can see there, but usually there are snowy egrets like this one, with golden feet.  They often hang out along the edge of the water, shuffling their feet to stir up small invertebrates to eat.  A snowy egret being still is an unusual sight.  This one was crossing the road at a time of low traffic.  My husband Mike and I discovered that across the road was a small trail through the rushes and tall grasses that from time to time shows glimpses of an egret rookery back in the hidden area.  It's fun to go in there with a spotting scope and see how the young egrets are doing.

Great egrets are a lot bigger and very stately compared to snowy egrets.  They stand and wait for a small fish or large invertebrate or frog to pass in the shallow water, then spear it up with their beaks in a flashing strike.  That behavior is much like the Great Blue Herons from Newport Back Bay.  They stand, often near but not too near other GBHs, and wait for a meal to swim past, then strike.  Both the Great egrets and the GBHs can swallow whole fish of an amazingly large size considering the size of their tiny elongated necks.  The necks bulge as the food travels down them.  Often the birds seem to be shaking their heads and necks or swallowing convulsively to get the too-large food down. 

Here are phcots of a lone great egret and a group of great blue herons at Newport.  Watching these birds changes my sense of time.  They never seem to be stressed, and after I watch them for a hour or two, I am not stressed either.  I breathe in sagebrush, hear red-winged blackbirds, and watch the water ripple, and I gaze at an egret or heron for a long time, imagining how life would feel if I were one of them.  Today's human problems fade away from my consciousness.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Welcome to the new series on my literary blog.  I’ve struggled with the format of a different web page design software for several years, but now happily return to Blogger with the help of my new web design specialist, Maddee James of  I’m excited to re-start the conversations I’ve had with you and others interested in literature, writing, and nature.

In 1725, Antonio Vivaldi published his most famous work, Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons).  The first section was entitled Spring, the second Summer, the third Autumn, and the fourth Winter.  That cycle of seasons, in that order, might be the list most people would give if asked to list the seasons of a year.

After a career in academia, I would begin at a different place, with my favorite season, fall.  To me, fall is a time of beginnings, expectations, visions of the future.

Winter is a season of amplification, opening of the boxes of secrets, working to absorb the new ideas popping out of those boxes.  Spring is when cross connections and deeper insights can begin, the bud begins to open.  Summer is full flowering of the ideas in those secret boxes, when the insights from them can be played with in many ways and related to other fields, to life, to other people.

Starting a new web page is like fall, starting off with a new set of secret boxes and a beautiful, stimulating new design.  It invigorated me to create this new website with the xuni designer Maddee James.  I liked the shiny DNA on my old site, but somehow the overall website design felt generic, not specific to authors’ needs, and it simply wasn’t exciting to look at.  I find the new site gives me the pleasure of looking at a beautiful collage, but also gives me the mental challenge of seeing the connections between the different parts of the picture.  I love to reflect on that idea, and to find how swamps, keys, and birds work together, how DNA and the ocean relate to one another, and more.  I hope you will enjoy seeing this stimulating new design too.

I’ve used the previous incarnation of this blog to interview authors of new books, and I invite authors to contact me about reading and reviewing their work.  I’ve also run an annual word play called alphabetaphilia, the results of which you can download and look at.  Let me know if you’d like me to re-start that word play or to keep the blog focused on thoughts on various topics.  I’ve taught writing spirituality and Writing Our Way Forward since I stopped blogging, and I’d like to hear if you want me to discuss some of the insights from these courses on the blog.  Also, if there are topics you’d like to bring out, I’m interested to hear about them.

Please join in conversations that interest you, but please no erotica or painful sarcasm.  Welcome!