These are a few of my favorite things 

6 October, 2019            These are a few of my favorite things 

Dogs and hiking at Pony Pasture on the James River in Richmond are just two of my favorite things and I got to hike with dogs twice this week – yesterday with Lola and Luna and today with Mackey and Turner and Yuki. Here are Mackey and Turner and Yuki at the river this morning: 

Turner (left) then Yuki then Mackey, Pony Pasture this morning

Lola and Luna close to the same spot twenty-four hours earlier: 

For Luna, think “lunar colored.” Lola is on the right. Pony Pasture yesterday morning

Of course I love flying but it’s a bit pricier than hiking at the river with dogs. I had a fun flight Tuesday though (who am I kidding; they’re all fun flights). Joel (my flight instructor) and I flew to Gordonsville Municipal Airport (KGVE). Gordonsville made me think of Tastee Freez from a long  time ago and I told Joel a quick Tastee-Freez snapshot from my youth. I’ll include it (hastily) at the bottom. Here was the plane we flew, same one as last week, an extremely cheerful Tecnam P92 Eaglet: 

Tecnam P92 Eaglet at Hanover Airport pre-preflight Tuesday afternoon:

I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask Joel to “take the plane” while we were flying over Gordonsville, but I asked him on our way home a short while later. We’re flying roughly east here since we’re on our way home, and I’m on the left side of the plane so I’m looking mostly north. Lake Anna is in that general direction. We’re at 3,500’ here: 

Flying east, looking north, 3,500′ up, near Bumpass, VA Tuesday:

And what’s a week on this blog without the blog-bligatory Red-taied hawk. This little male was barely half a mile from our house. I suspect he’s young. He never really looks like he knows what he’s doing. Very adolescent: 

New kid on the block I believe. Not a confident bird (yet):

Sometimes there’s a male Red-tail at Westhampton Cemetery but I see the female more often. She is far from adolescent. She always looks around like she owns the place, a sense that (IMO) is shared by all raptors. They’re all at the top of whatever food chain they’re in. The only way anything kills a Red-tail is when it gets the eggs on the nest or unattended young. This is not a high quality closeup, but it is more than sufficient to show what fearsome weapons those talons are: 

Highly efficient for snatching up rodents. Fearsome too.

Here’s an odd raptor fact. The reason raptors often appear “stern” or at least unsmiling is they appear to glare, constantly. But some evolutionary adaptation has given all raptors what’s called a “supraorbital ridge,” a raised line of bone above their eye. Look at that guy two pictures up – you can see his. It’s difficult (again, IMO) to imagine a raptor smiling or laughing or chuckling. Unlike say a chickadee, who appear to always be thinking about something funny. But those are opinions. Supraorbital ridges on raptors, that’s a fact. 

Even in the first week of October Evelyn has lush flowers blooming. I photographed this hibiscus at 11:00 this morning when the dogs and I got home from the river. There’s a patch of bright red pineapple sage gleaming behind it but I haven’t yet figured out how to photograph it to its best advantage. Maybe I’ll work on that this week. Hibiscus this October morning: 

Hibiscus. If this was a person, it would not be shy. Not coincidentally my mom’s favorite color.

I’m writing a brief story – after a fashion – at the bottom of this post. About crows we saw. After we spooked them I never got another good look. But this is one that landed in the creek bottom for a short rest. Check out the story at the end (the second story): 

Crow in the creek bottom yesterday. You should have heard those wingbeats. In those silent woods.

I think I’m going to “put this one to bed” as the saying goes. I did take a couple minutes to jot down these two brief blurbs. 

Have a great week, come back next Sunday, all best, 



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Butterscotch flashback

I should have photographed the traffic circle in Gordonsville. Next time we fly over, I will. When we were young and driving to the cabin, we’d pass through Gainesville, VA which at that time had a traffic circle and a Tastee Freez. It was a lot like Gordonsville is today. When Joel and I flew over the traffic circle there Tuesday I said to Joel “My dad used to love to stop at Tastee Freez and get a butterscotch milkshake.” In a tone that suggested I might have interrupted this precise thought, Joel said “Man, I could go for a butterscotch milkshake right now.” See what’s fun about flying? You guessed it – everything


Crows in the creek

Speaking of flying, only opening with that sentence just occurred as I closed the last section (about flying). Speaking of flying, I was hiking along the edge of the creek in Pony Pasture Saturday morning with Lola and Luna. It’s really, really dry and cool, and Lola and Luna weren’t even panting. They paced along in absolute silence. We came around a bend and there were five crows sipping from little puddles remaining the creek bottom. It was so silent. And they looked up and saw us and they took off all at once and I could perfectly hear their wings whooshing as they climbed straight up to get on safe branches above the creek bed. They did not make a single caw or other noise, and there was not another sound in the woods, but the noise of their wings whacking the air was loud. I always feel like it’s a privilege to experience something like that. It’s so unanticipated and lively and engrossing. You could never plan for that to happen. It’s just a treat to be there when it does. I’m always so grateful. 

I’m adding this – even though this was “finished.” I really can’t describe how moving it was for me to hear those wings pushing the air. It was like there was no wind, then these crows made the wind blow. I recalled a line from an old JD Salinger story called For Esme with Love and Squalor. The narrator described his experience of hearing a children’s choir singing and it sounded as if it moved him the way those wingbeats moved me. He wrote that it was “almost to the point where a somewhat more denominational man than myself might, without straining, have experienced levitation.” 

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About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Endurance, Flowers, Fun, James River, kofp, love, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Tecnam and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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