24 April, 2016 Unlike Bill Clinton, I DO inhale!
And you should too! At least if you’re here in central Virginia. The smells are beyond compare. The lilacs in our backyard bloom more enthusiastically every April, no doubt due to the Miracle-Gro Turner dutifully applies every morning when he sprints out to make sure they didn’t disappear during the night:
Until I began reading about trees last year, I never even knew locust flowers smelled good! How I was unaware of that is beyond me; now I stick my face in every bunch I pass. Next time you see some, by all means inhale. There were some pretty ones this morning at Pony Pasture, but I took this picture mid-week beside the CSX train tracks near Tredegar Iron Works:
Our wisteria has faded; it was the first flower I inhaled this spring. I took this picture two weeks ago in our backyard:
We’ve gotten some rain this month (April showers bring May flowers) but it’s been generally temperate. My friend Ethan and I have made many trips to Bryan Park. He took several excellent pictures of a Great Blue Heron near the creek. He took a number that were more technically perfect than this, but I’m fond of heron pictures that give a different “look.” He took this one about mid-string; I like it because it looks like the heron is laughing:
We’re having a marvelous time watching the pair of Red-tailed hawks nesting at Bryan Park. Red-tails are wily and camera shy, but they’re smart and curious and observant and this one was watching us watch her:
I’m still watching the new osprey nest near Stony Point. I’m guessing this is the female, since they sometimes have more dark speckling on their breast. They’re a bit larger than the males too, but I still have a lot to learn. Like the red-tail, they keep careful watch when they’re being watched. But they don’t hide:
This isn’t a beautiful picture, because I’m a long way away and zoomed in a lot. But it’s the talon of an osprey, and you can see the kind of hardware they’ve evolved to capture and hold squirming, live fish:
Last week I included a blurb about a trip I took to New Zealand twenty-five years ago. After two weeks in New Zealand I flew to Australia for another two weeks. I’ll continue a brief description of that trip now.
I was on the plane from New Zealand to Australia with an Australian woman who was returning home. The Australian woman told me – I’ll never forget this, or her accent – that “the problem with women from New Zealand is they all walk around like they’ve got a stick up their bums!” An observation I’d not heard before or since.
Australia – the more things change, the more things stay the same
This is a picture of me in Sydney, Australia in 1991:
This is a picture of me in the Yukon Territory, fifteen years and almost 8,000 miles later:
If you enjoy reading, a man named Bill Bryson wrote a book about Australia in 2000 called In a Sunburned Country. If interested, here is the First Chapter in the New York Times, and this is the New York Times Book Review. Here’s a line Mr. Bryson wrote about Australia: “Its creatures seemed to have evolved as if they had misread the manual.”
But. I was there around ten years before Mr. Bryson’s book was published, and this is a bit of my experience.
Hmm. Looks suspiciously like pictures I take here in Richmond. Naturally in Australia of course I took a ride on a railroad train; I took pictures of that too:
As I leaf through the pictures I took then, and read my journals from that trip, two things strike me: 1. I’m interested in the same stuff wherever I go, whenever I go there and 2. I’m much less judgmental now than I was then. Here’s a photograph of the Australian Coat of Arms. On the left is a kangaroo and on the right is an emu. I was told they are on the Coat of Arms because they are unable to take a step backwards – they symbolize forward progress. Wikipedia has a somewhat different explanation, but wikipedia wasn’t our tour guide. They are both native to Australia:
There were plenty of real kangaroos around – sort of like whitetail deer in Virginia, only more placid. I don’t recall where I took this picture, only that it was in an unremarkable spot. Equivalent to the side of the road here in the United States:
Since I’m on the subject of things I love wherever I go, I can’t leave out dogs:
The whole trip was on Qantas:
Have you ever seen the movie Rainman from 1988 with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise? “Rainman” is Dustin Hoffman’s character, and there’s a four-minute scene where he mentions the safety of flying Qantas. It was rated R and this clip has a bit of inappropriate language, so don’t watch this if that offends you: Qantas never crashed
That whole vacation lasted six weeks. The first two were in New Zealand, the second two in Australia and the final two weeks at the end of my next blog post (I didn’t need a passport for the final two weeks).
Next Sunday is May 1! I hope to see you then!