365 Nature – Day 60

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.

When I realized, shortly after beginning the 365 Nature project that the year I’d chosen for this quest was a leap year, I thought perhaps I’d take a day off. Deep down I knew I wouldn’t, I like sets, collections, things complete. Besides, a day when nature doesn’t happen or isn’t experienced is not a choice I’d make. Even yesterday, with the driving rain and hail I still experienced nature, albeit behind a window, safe and dry inside. In the end, I’m glad of leap day because I had the experience of hearing a Barred Owl call out “who cooks for yoooooou” twice today as I sat on a bench in the sun in my ‘office’.

On my walk this morning around the arboretum I found many green fingers pushing out of the earth and seedlings growing in vain in the bark of a Douglas Fir. I stopped to listen to a Pacific Wren singing with a pair of Spotted Towhees. The white variety of the Red-flowering Currant was in full bloom, but the morning was too cold for any pollinators to visit. Mushrooms sprouted up all over the ground where I was looking for a place to sit down and across from my chosen seat, the tips of Skunk Cabbage rose up along the creek edge. The weather, as it’s been lately, was volatile – one moment sun rays warmed me and the next angry black clouds chilled me thoroughly.

Later, while walking through some grass I was stopped by a black and orange feather at my feet. I bent down to pick it up and found many more near it. As I walked in an ever-growing arc I found more and more feathers, small and large ones, all in the same color scheme, it was a feather I’d encountered before, not far from that very spot. I suspect a Cooper’s Hawk recently dined on a Varied Thrush in the branches above the feathers. But unlike the Pine Siskin remains I found in our own yard, there was no sign of downy feathers. Whether they had drifted away or the hawk had finished plucking the thrush elsewhere, I couldn’t say.

Looking over my photos of the day I realized they really illustrate the change of the season right now – stormy clouds silhouetting bare tree branches, bright, cheery flowers blooming, mushrooms poking out of the ground, moss soaking up the rain – it’s certainly a time of transition.


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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of NATURE OBSCURA: A City’s Hidden Natural World, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.

Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.
Kelly Brenner
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