Sunday, June 26, 2011

Earth Science Institute

Not at Frogpond this week, but off in a teacher training at the junior college about 20 miles up the road. I'm in the second year of a grant program for teaching us how to teach science better. This year we're in the earth science strand. Lots of geology up here in the Sierras, so we're in the right place.

Using an iPad to type with is slooooow work.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The First Fire of Summer

Yesterday, on my way down Hwy 4 to run errands in the Valley, I was thinking about summer wildfires and how we hadn't had any...yet. Minutes later, at the crest of Vista Point, I had a really excellent view of that first fire of summer. A massive plume of smoke was billowing up from the area around Woodward Reservoir, about 15 miles away. I could actually see the tiny licks of flame. Hard not to start worrying. But, as I continued down the hill, I had to pull over several times for the fire trucks racing past me and then the CDF helicopters clattered overhead. So it was being taken care of -- and I'll admit that I was relieved that this fire was far enough from our house not to pose a threat.

On my way home about an hour later, I saw that the smoke from the Woodward fire was a lot less dense. The firefighters had obviously gotten it under control and I had several minutes to feel happy about this. Then, up the road in the distance, a delicate smudge of smoke wafted through the trees and I realized that I was looking at the second fire of summer. Bruce was home, so (hardly hysterical at all) I called him on the cell phone and told him that a fire was very, very close and I'd be home in a few minutes. Yes, I used the phone while driving -- the smoke was blooming larger with every second and I wasn't about to stop. Just below Vista Point the flames were racing across the grass and oaks towards the right shoulder of the highway. No fire trucks yet. No law enforcement of any kind. Just a few motorists parked on the opposite side of the highway from the fire, watching the show like they were looking at the monkey exhibit at the zoo. Really! My little orange car and I scooted on by the audience, even as the fire raced across the grass towards the road and a few blowing embers pinged against the door. Then I was past the fire. Right after that the first fire truck roared past me, hopefully to save the day.

And save the day they did -- the fire was contained by late afternoon. It was a smallish sort of fire, but it was less than two miles from our house. So it was plenty big enough. Here's a link to some pix of the three fires in our area that day (the third fire was the farthest away from us and somehow I missed it).


This evening we heard that there was a fourth fire over by the reservoir again. Could someone be setting these intentionally? A troubling thought...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One nice thing about working in the orchard garden is that it borders the long drive to the house, so I can see the road and anyone coming up the driveway. Out here in the sticks this doesn't happen too often, so when a white car slowed I stopped my digging. And when it actually turned up the drive and I saw two friendly looking women in the front seats, I hurried, all curious, over to the fence to see what they wanted and wondering if I knew them even though they looked unfamiliar.
"Can I help you?" I asked.
The older of the two women smiled and said, "Hi, we're with the Evangelical Church..." She may not have started exactly like this and she definitely said more, but, once it was spoken, my brain never made it past the word "Evangelical." I slipped instantly into my smiling no thank yous. No, please don't leave me with any literature either. Thank you. Good bye.
They had to drive up and around the circular drive to leave, and on the way out they slowed again and complimented my garden. More smiles. Thank you. And off they went.
As I went back to planting tomatoes, I was amused by how let-down I felt when I learned my visitors' identities. And I would have loved to have chatted -- only the topics couldn't have been God, heaven or salvation. I just wanted to talk about gardens, and planting stuff and what a pretty June day it was. I suppose that this is as close as I really need to get to God, heaven, or salvation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today is my first day of blogging. The weather at Frogpond is hot, hot, hot (the thermometer says 102 for the high). Welcome summer. Out on the pond Mama Muscovy and her 8 remaining ducklings cruise the shallows. She brought the tiny things down from the barn on only their second day after hatching. We managed to get her and the tiny fluffs of ducklings back up to their stall on the first night -- it was a struggle, as she wanted to roost right out in the open on the edge of the pond. We ended up grabbing her (Muscovies have claws and can scratch like a cat) and brought the babies up in a bucket. By the second night, she was wise to us and both she and her brood were hidden away when we looked for them. Nothing to do but hope for the best and leave them down at the pond. In the morning two of the ducklings were gone. Sigh... Most likely taken by raccoons. However, Mama Duck seems to have become a lot warier and we've lost no more babies. This, in a nutshell, is life at Frogpond. I love this place, but there's nothing benign about this place -- there is as much survival of the fittest going on here as on the African plains.