Monthly Archives: August 2014

What’s shakin’?

Us. I was outside putting vegetables on the grill when two Gray Jays began talking back and forth. That doesn’t happen very often in our neighborhood, so I talked back at them and enjoyed the conversation, even though I had no idea what we were talking about. I stepped back into the house to get the fish, when Rose said “Whoa!” and then I felt it — earthquake! And a good one, too.

There was a particularly vigorous shake well into it, so I suggested we step outside. We did. The two jays were still conversing, and a red squirrel was chattering noisily as well. Eventually, it all died down and Rose and I went back inside. Rose wondered if it had reached a magnitude of 6; I thought somewhere above 5. Sure enough, the Alaska Earthquake Information Center (AIEC) registered an earthquake of magnitude 5.38 at 19:06. We had a delicious dinner amid aftershocks.

While my first inspection showed everything to be alright (I particularly looked for books leaping off of shelves, which happened years ago during a big one), upon closer examination I did see a few books on the floor and some pictures hanging askew. And the AIEC has revised it down to 5.07. I am reminded of a very funny image from the 2011 earthquake in Virginia:

We WILL Rebuild.. . viii' iir EARTHQUAKE. how many times will this be retoasted? lol

Rose and I both wondered about the jays as we stood on the deck while the rest of the earthquake quaked. They had been vocalizing for a good minute or more before we felt anything. The squirrel was very late to the party. Us humans had been yapping about it for awhile before he joined the chatter. And the wildlife all shut up once it was over. Thus are legends born.

And that’s what’s shakin’.

Mystery at Bird Tree (a Tail Tale)

This morning under Bird Tree I found the remains of a grisly incident: the tail of a northern flying squirrel. There were no other clues. No tufts of fur, no blood—nothing in fact to indicate whether the whole animal met its demise or whether it only lost an appendage. Who did it? And is the victim still alive?

A northern flying squirrel tail. The evidence of the case.

A northern flying squirrel tail. The evidence of the case.

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Bird Tree

The birds are beginning to flock up. They must be finished molting and getting ready to migrate. We’ve had a cool, wet summer, but reproductive success appears to be good locally, with large numbers of young birds. Yesterday morning I happened to look out the window at a great time: a very large mixed-species flock of about 40 warblers had gotten together in the chokecherry tree and they were really active.

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