Snow in November Snow in March

Home in Rocky Point Oregon: current temperature 36 Degrees F  high 43 low 25 partly sunny

snow flurries on Klamath Lake Winter is long in this part of Oregon.  The snows start in earnest in November, with a few skiffs sometimes showing up in October.  The snow can be deep, and while we can get down to zero F for a week or so, the winters aren’t nearly as bad as places like Minnesota or the Dakotas.  Still, they are long. I love winter at Christmas time.  I love winter in January when I can enjoy it and then take off for California.  I love winter in February least of all, and ever since I moved from California to snow country in Northern Idaho back in the early 70’s I have done everything possible to get out of winter in February. 

But winter in March is different.  Even though it is cold and the snow is really tiresome by now, it feels different.  The days are getting longer, just a bit, but it isn’t dark any more at 4:30 in the afternoon.  When it snows, it is usually a bit wetter, and there are patches of blue amid the fluff of snowy clouds. The air feels different.  And the birds are back.  snowgees

Early in the morning I can hear them down by the lake, but they are out on the water in places we can’t get to yet with the snow and ice all around.  Still, we walked down there this morning to get the mail.  Gingerly picking our way through the re-frozen slush in the driveway and hoping our boots didn’t crash through the crusty snow banks down by the water.  When I went in to town yesterday, in the midst of a blustery snow storm, I saw open water along the edges of the lake, and saw that the swans had returned.  I only had the iPad with me, and there was traffic and snow, so it was a quick photo, but it still made me really feel the difference between the deepening winter feeling of December and the promise of winter eventually ending.  Maybe not in March, but still eventually it will end.

There is an aerial survey of the birds in Klamath Basin that is updated regularly, and even back on January 30, we had almost 44,000 tundra swans in the refuge complex.  I love the swans especially, and the snow geese, they look like flapping sheets in the wind when they fly in unison and rise and fall over the landscape.

Horse Fever horses in Ocala will always bring back great memories of sharing this with BelI  am still having a bit of trouble writing about Florida.  My friend Bel, in my life for 19 years, passed away while I was there.  I was with her when she passed, probably the hardest thing I have ever done, and yet a gift I will always be grateful for. If you read my blog in the past, you know about Bel and my visits to her, my worries over her access to health care, some of her life difficulties.  This is our happy fun travel blog, how in the world do I talk about this here?  I guess I just can’t.  Up close family, up close friends, real words coming out of real mouths with sound, seem to be the only appropriate way for the moment.  I didn’t plan to say anything at all when I started this blog, and yet some of you are those real friends with real words who were there for me on the phone and on Facebook, of all places, as I was going through it.  So I needed to acknowledge that somehow after all and thank you.  Enough for now.

visiting Deb in San Antonio (15)On the way home from Florida I was so happy to have almost three full days in San Antonio with my daughter Deborah.  She took off work on Thursday and Friday and we spent our time together driving around to places she loved in her new home, seeing where she worked, eating great Texas food that her sweetie prepared for us.  I ate ribs and cole slaw and Texas beans and cheese bread and brisket and omigosh…the heartburn!  I am not used to eating like that, but it sure was fun to let go for a few days in spite of the heartburn.

IMG_3481 We checked out some quilt shops and picked out fabrics for the quilt I will make for her someday, we wandered off to Palmetto State Park and Lyndon B Johnson State Park, and spent a night in lovely Fredericksburg.  It was cool and breezy while I was there, but the sun was brilliant and gorgeous.  South Texas is a great place this time of year, even though the blue bonnets have yet to burst.  The grasses are greening up, and did I mention that sunshine?  Ahhhh.  It was so healing to be with Deborah, who knew and loved Bel, to have her to talk with about it.  I was blessed by two daughters on this trip actually, with Deanna re-routing a Tampa load to go through Ocala, where she met me for a long breakfast full of big hugs. Daughter Melody stayed with me on the phone a lot and son John called a few times as well, and of course Mo and Maryruth and my long time friend Laura from Coeur d Alene, a respiratory RN.  It was wonderful to have so much support and understanding.

It was good to get back home.  I did a deep clean on the house before I left, and Mo was away at her brother’s while I was gone, so we came home to a cozy, clean, wonderful home.  Mo beat me home by a day, so when I returned the house was still sparkly but was WARM with a nice big fire going.  Snow still on the ground, but sunshine and blue skies were wonderful.  And silence.  The nights are so dark and starry under the hot tub and the silence is just so SILENT!  No street lights, no traffic, no trains, all the stuff of towns and cities are absent here in the forest. 

We are settling in, enjoying home a bit before we decide just when to wander off to the cottage in Grants Pass and maybe get some beach time. Here at home I have a big quilt to finish binding, and fabric to play with, soil survey work waiting and all sorts of “retirement” projects that I still have yet to get to after three years as a retiree.  I am never, never bored.  Ever.

St Paddy's around home-002

The Delights of Traveling Close

Melody in the Wocus Cut Something wonderful happens when summer finally arrives.  The family is nearby, the porch is inviting, the kayaks are waiting, the flowers are blooming.  Ahhh.  It takes a long time for summer to actually show up in this part of Oregon, but when it does, it is worth the wait.  While most of the country swelters and much of the west in on fire, here the mornings are still cool, the nights chilly enough for a comforter, and the daytime temperatures are in the mid 70’s.  That is a Rocky Point summer.

how are you supposed to get your mouth around this? My daughter was blessed with a three day weekend and if you remember how life is when you are all working full time, it takes a couple of days to catch up on chores at home.  The three day weekend gave her a chance to play, and this time their version of play was a night at the Casa del Sol (our little cabin by the house), with burgers on the grill, marshmallows in the wood stove, and a morning on the water with mom. Somehow busy-ness gets in the way of recreation, and I have only had my grandkids out in the kayaks a few times.  I love seeing the look on Hillary’s (who is changing her name to Axel but I still am not “there” yet) face when she gets on the water.  She loves it.  Melody kept exclaiming, “This is amazing, Mom, this is amazing!”.  Grandson Elric chose to hang out at home in the cabin with dad and when Melody, Hillary, and I returned we were treated to a great late brunch cooked up by the son-in-law and grandson.

Axel on Cyrstal CreekGood things do come to an end, and the kids headed back to town.  Of course, for Mo and I it didn’t matter that it was Sunday night.  Mo wandered off to a place we have wanted to camp for a few years and never remember.  She called me and said, “Why don’t you meet me and Abby out here at Eagle Ridge, and maybe bring some supper?”  Great plan again!

evening kayak on Shoalwater Bay The last time we were at Eagle Ridge we still had the sailboat, and the winds were challenging as usual on these mountain lakes.  Once again I remembered why we decided kayaking was easier than sailing!  It is a lot easier to launch a kayak than a sailboat and even with all the paddling, it is a lot less work. Eagle Ridge is a Klamath county campground about half way between town and Rocky Point, maybe ten miles from home for us.  There are a few primitive sites, no charge, no dump, no amenities except a great view of Shoalwater Bay, a launching dock, and sites right on the water.

  The road to the park is about 4 miles of rough gravel and dirt, with not a few bumps, but the MoHo handled it just fine.  No one else on the road to kick up gravel to worry about.  Except for a couple of fishermen in the early evening, we had the place to ourselves. 

Eagle Ridge and Shoalwater Bay Shoalwater Bay is on Klamath Lake proper, and the native algae that our lake has made famous was in evidence.  Great kayaking, but probably not something to swim in.  It is perfectly safe, but green.  I think there is a Blue-Green algae company that is still making a good profit from Klamath Lake.  I guess it is the reason our lake is so gorgeous and not surrounded by development.  John C Fremont, back in 1857, said this lake wasn’t fit for a horse to drink. The algae is supported by all the natural phosphorus in the lake because of all the volcanic ash from Mt Mazama (Crater Lake) deposited several thousand years ago.  The ambient phosphorus load is a big point of discussion about our lake, especially when trying to determine how much phosphorus is coming from the agricultural lands on the Sprague River which feeds the lake.

If you want to see incredibly clear blue water, just head up the hill to Crater Lake.  Merikay and Craig are hiking there this week and have some really gorgeous photos of all that blue clarity.  Notice, however, that all that clarity doesn’t do much for the water birds.  On the other hand, here on Klamath Lake, water birds are everywhere.  My favorite, and in my opinion the greatest of all, are the American white pelicans.  They winter in Mexico and South America, but every year in March they return to Klamath Lake and the first pelican is the sign that spring is coming, much like the first crocus. They have a 9 foot wing span, and fly in formation much like fighter jets.  I suppose it is my favorite part of kayaking around here, coming upon a raft of pelicans and watching them fly.  I especially love the black wing tips that don’t show until they are airborne. I don’t often put in a slide show, but I do think this one is worth the band width.  Check out the pelicans that we found on our paddle.

https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

sunset over Shoalwater Bay from Eagle Ridge Park campfire at Eagle Ridge Park, all to ourselves We watched the sunset over the bay, and found enough old driftwood to built a nice campfire on the beach in front of the MoHo. I heard recently that Oregon is the only state in the west that doesn’t currently have any large active forest fires.  Notice all that green grass and moist vegetation.  Of course, it won’t be like that later in the summer, but for now having a campfire was delightful.

The night was silent except for the lake breezes and dark until the moon rose.  Not a soul around, and just four miles from the highway.  Nice.

the morning pelican paradeMorning came slowly with Eagle Ridge directly east of us, and the dew was thick on the windows.  We even had to turn on the furnace for a few minutes with morning tea as we watched the day lighten.  Deciding that breakfast back home would be nice, we drove the few miles back to Rocky Point and cooked up a nice Sunday breakfast (even though it was Monday) watched the news, and got ready for our day, much refreshed and renewed by our little side trip.

The flowers are starting to bloom more and more, and I am enjoying the gardens now that the heavy labor of May cleanup has dissipated a bit.  We had another load of juniper delivered, and it is piled high in the MoHo shed, so the big job of splitting and stacking has begun. July is about good weather and having fun, but it is also about getting in the firewood, spraying the deer repellant, and mowing the lawns. 

DSC_0026We keep driving to Grants Pass, thinking that someday when we are “old”, we will settle over there out of the snow into a better growing season.  I looked around last week at this beautiful place and said, “No”.  Let’s just stay here till we have to go into a home somewhere.  Worst case scenario, we have to pay someone to help now and then with the hard stuff.  But every time I drive to town, or over the mountain to the “other side”, and then return I feel my breath quicken at the sight of that murky lake below in the sunlight.  I am thrilled by the birds, the silence, the clear sunny skies, the forest.  It is home.  I guess that is why we have a motorhome after all, we can leave in the winter, we can travel if we want to, but we have home right here.  I don’t want to give it up, even for a growing season that would let me have more flowers.

A parting thought here, one that came to me last week as we were traveling home from Oroville:

picnic at Eagle Ridge July 11 2004sailing at Eagle Ridge, July 11 2004 Sometimes, when riding in the MoHo, memories wash over me in waves.  Maybe it is the vibration, maybe the changing scenery flying by.  Somehow the complexity of my life flows by me like the trees rushing past, ephemeral, hard to catch, hard to track.  I was once known for my phenomenal memory, spitting out dates like “Oh that was on a Tuesday in 1987”.  Memories used to be like individual stories, with a beginning and an end, solid and real and separate.  Lately, as life gets more and more full, and the memories begin to stack up, they are becoming more fluid, overlapping each other and flowing by in complex scenes, just as rich, but somehow with more flow. I wonder if that is what the old folks in the rocking chair on the porch are experiencing, that magical, colorful flow. I like it. 

 sailing at Eagle Ridge in July of 2004

June 1 Back on the water at Rocky Point

It takes about 5 minutes to get down to the boat launch from home.  On a warm, sunny, gorgeous day, we looked at each other and said, “Gardening? Housework? Time to get the boats on the lake!”  And that is exactly what we did.Harriman Butte from Pelican Bay with wocus

Who has time to write anything when waters like this are waiting just around the corner?out into Pelican Bay from the Harriman Springs run

I will write something soon, of course.  Don’t want to forget what we have been doing lately! Till then…..

reflections of Harriman Mountain from Pelican Bay