scarp in driveway

Gravity

I once had a dream that I was floating in the air just above the ground. I could see the entire California coast. I could sail over the hills and dip down close enough to Earth that I could talk to people I saw. No tugs, no pulls, no cares, I just floated along.

But eventually I awoke and felt the force of the earth holding me down, tugging me and pulling me in various directions. I had to obey the rule of gravity.

It isn’t just humans and animals, and plants that feel the weight of the world. The very ground itself is subject to the pull of gravity. It sits firmly in place until it is moved by an earthquake or a storm. And so it is this year. The rains have come and melted the earth. Chunks of it have been pulled downward under the weight of this water. And I have witnessed it personally.

As the rains came wave after wave starting in February, the access road to our house in the mountains tried to channel the water off and send it harmlessly downhill. For the forty-six years we have lived here it has always worked this way–until this year. The incessant rain sought the lowest point in the road and worked its way into the soil eventually turning it soft and muddy.

First there was a crack in the drive. The crack widened and started to sink. It sank lower and lower and new cracks appeared. The rains continued. Part of the road broke off and sank another four feet. Some of it tumbled down a hundred feet, or so, to a road below on the hillside. That road started to crack and to slump. This scarp on our mountain is on its way downhill. Our beautiful mountain is on its epic journey to become part of the landscape below.

We are will aware of the gravity of our situation.

Going Batty

For many years I knew very little about bats. I knew they got into attics and that people had little time for them.

A few years ago, when I woke up just before dawn up here on the mountain, I sat drinking my coffee in the living room and looking out the window as parts of the mountain came alive and other parts went to sleep. Owls quit hooting and quail emerged. Suddenly lightening fast flashes streaked by outside the window. I was intrigued and sat transfixed. As dawn broke something landed on the flashing below the roof. It stayed for a moment, seemed to slip down, and then darted away. This happened repeatedly until final I could see it was a bat. What happened next was remarkable. Somehow this creature managed to hang on to the eaves and squeeze up under the flashing.

I got up early for the next few days and observed this same phenomenon repeatedly.  I had known Dave Johnston from my days of working with him at the Youth Science Institute. He had become a bat expert.  And I had come to appreciate the amazing place bats have in keeping the planet in balance. They eat up bugs at a phenomenal rate, are under appreciated and at risk. Gordon, my husband who had built much of our furniture, understood this and found plans for building a bat house. He built one which we installed under the eaves by our porch. It had a grooved backboard which gives bats a “ladder” for climbing in and a slit which they can also use to access the interior.

Since then we have regularly provided hostel space for bats. Some years we have them; some years we don’t. But this year is good. We walk by them in daylight, knowing they are securely sleeping. And at night they swoop out and diminish our bug population. They are back! How do we know? You decide.

 

 

A Moving Experience

Neighbors, up here at the end of the road, who live two houses down are moving. They need to live closer to her elderly parents. The house sold and the time had come. Yesterday morning we saw a medium-sized moving truck coming up the mountain as we were going down. It was a large truck, but not one of those gigantic moving vans. Trucks that size frequently go up and down our narrow winding road, albeit slowly.

Then last evening about 7:00 the emails started flooding in from the folks in our Bohlman Road Yahoo group.

“Keith was on his way home and saw where a big truck lost his brakes and plowed into what we think is the garage of a house below the T-junction.   Fire trucks are there. “

“Hopefully, no one has been injured.”

At 9:30 this morning the truck was indeed still there, but the garage of the house was missing with parts of it dangling down the mountain slope beyond. By noon there was another truck there unloading the contents and reloading into another truck. I stopped to take pictures.

We have sometimes seen a small child riding a tricycle with her mother alongside in the driveway. At times there has been a car parked in the drive. The garage is just uphill and attached to the house. The wheels of the runaway truck missed the left wall of the garage by about two inches. Had it hit that wall it would have toppled over directly onto the roof of the house.

Viewing this scene is one of those times when the world pauses and all motion ceases.

June 6

Tow trucks came and took the truck. What was left this morning was the heart-stopping view of the shattered tiny pink bicycle so often seen on trips down the hill with a small child learning to ride. It had been under the truck. Miraculously everyone is okay.

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Puma!

deer_at_pondFox at the pond

The evening started with a beautiful moon. And then the mountain woke up. The camera ready to roll, we had our usual lengthy visit from a fox at the pond at 11:03. No deer this night. All was quiet until 1:33.

Then it happened. A puma, or mountain lion as they are known in these parts, arrived. No mistaking it. Only twice in the past forty-two years have I had the pleasure of seeing one in the distance on the mountain. But the camera captured one right outside our back door. Exciting!

A Day of Eggsercise

Starting lineup

 

The Great Race starts in Saratoga and ends four miles later in Los Gatos. It happened today, and I did it again this year. But this year was different. I came home with almost five dozen eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken coop with chickens in the enclosureAbout three years ago someone started building a a shed and a chicken coup on a little piece of land that juts out from our mountain. It is just before the end of the road that leads to our house. This is not property that a house could occupy. But a water tank was installed. I understood from neighborhood chatter that the water was obtained through a deal with a neighbor who lives on the uphill side of the road. The mini-farmyard was the brainchild of a flat-lander who lived at the bottom of the hill in Saratoga. He wanted to have his children experience rural life–and chickens. On weekends the family could be seen there scampering up and down the hill as the place took shape. Soon the chicken coop with its fenced outdoor yard was inhabited by a cock and a number of Rhode Island Red hens.

Through a conversation with another neighbor in the locker room of the place where I work out, I learned where the owner of the “farm” lived–a location at the bottom of the mountain that I passed nearly every day. It was right across the street from the elementary school.

Two flats of eggsToday when I went down to Saratoga for the Great Race, I parked my car in the parking lot at the elementary school. As I got out, I saw a man come out the front door of the house where the “chicken people” lived. I went over and asked him if he was the chicken guy. He was. He was. We talked a bit and then he said, “Just a minute!” He left and entered the house and soon came out with two flats of eggs. “These should last you a few weeks,” he said. “Where is your car?”

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And so I did the Race with a pretty good time for me and came home with a prize of 53 very local eggs from chickens I wave to every day.

We had omelets for brunch.

Decking the Halls

A couple of weeks ago Tom, Brian, and Theresa arrived from Spokane and Portland to help build a new deck/stairway with a railing and wide steps that would help Gordon navigate from the house to the deck and points beyond. It was a stellar week for us, but a trial for Tom and Brian. It was the coldest, most miserable week of the winter. But they persevered with the help of classy rain gear Theresa found at a local Good Will. You can see the results here. Pretty classy stuff!