Sally triumphant

As a result of the nose incident, Abby seems to have lost her wetsuit, but keeps surfing nonetheless, developing great board rash. We had another lazy day. The siren went off at midday, indicating we were allowed to have lunch, and at 5:00 p.m., indicating we were allowed to have a glass of white wine. We watched 3 movies (Mrs. Henderson Presents, Blue Crush, and Howl’s Moving Castle) and had Roquefort pasta for dinner, with another one of Amy’s delicious salads. (She made one the other night of parboiled green beans and carrots and left over corn.) We sat out on the porch and watched the light fade on the headlands, the last surfers catch their last wave in, and the pelicans making runs along the breaking waves.

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The Coastal Trail

Amy and I took a hike today, up the Matt Davis Trail, along the Coastal Trail, and down the Willow trail, which as Amy says, is a heart-breaker going up and a toe-breaker going down (go here for the natural history). The day was sunny, and Stinson beach was spread out below us, really quite a long way down.

Last night we had a conversation about The Canon, inspired by Amy’s reading of 100 years of the Atlantic Monthly, and whether there should be one in the schools, also touching on other topics, such as whether and why it was a universal human value not to kill people. This was accompanied by spaghetti and a good California Cabernet (2003 Napa Cellars).

Abby seems to have broken, or at least bent, her nose, so we are going down to the beach.

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Amy at the beach

Nell, Abby, and Emily went into San Francisco today, and Amy, Sally and I lazed around the house until the afternoon, then went down to the beach, Sally with her surfboard and wetsuit. The surfboard attacked her leg early on, so she spread out in the sun to read, exposing her already red shoulders. She is in a half-not-serious teenage grumpy stage, which shows itself particularly when her mother prognosticates about the effects of lying in the sun. Amy and I took turns to frolic in the surf, which was lovely, cold but not too much, although the waves were hard to catch. The tide is high in the afternoons.

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White fungus

Amy and I took a walk up through the forest behind Stinson beach. We saw a family of Northern Flickers in the top of a spruce tree: black breast-plates, red on the cheek (spotted only once by me). Also a Wilson’s Warbler, an Allen’s Hummingbird, some Dark-eyed Juncos on the trail, a Western Wood Pewee near the flickers, a Brown Towhee. And a huge banana slug and bright blue dragonflies. A wren-like bird was making an accelerating call from the tops of the bushes. I suppose it was a Bewicks’ Wren, although I didn’t see the eye stripe and the call was missing the initial wheeze-buzz. But I can’t identify it as anything else. Apart from the missing eye-stripe, it had the curved beak and long tail of a wren.

We started out in the fog, and were in the sun by the time we reached rock ledge near the top. The vultures were soaring, and the swallows were swooping. On the way back to the house we saw the Red-shouldered Hawk, in flap-and-glide flight, seemingly scolding a vulture.

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Rosetta and David visit us at Stinson

Rosetta and David came over, with their dog Hunter and bearing corn and delicious strawberries, childhood-memory quality. Amy cooked eggplant parmesan for the vegetarian Rosetta, which it turns out she does not like, but all was well. Nick was at a soccer camp, Anna in Washington D.C. The weather was sunny all day, the beach was packed solid, thinning out as we walked to the other end.

Nell and Emily McGregor arrived from Los Angeles around 9:00 p.m., finding the drive across the mountain hair-raising.

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Red-shouldered Hawk, Stinson Beach

We heard this hawk calling all afternoon, a high repeated kee-ah. It flew off around the hills, later coming back to a dead tree stump in the parking lot. The underside of the wings was reddish with white near the tips; from above it showed clear red shoulders and a white wing bar. The call confirmed the identification; matched the recording we have from Cornell exactly.

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Stinson Beach

We have arrived for our annual holiday in Stinson Beach. Flocks of pelicans fly by on the horizon, and vultures circle over the golden hills catching the evening sun on their broad wings. A pair of humming birds was dive bombing each other in the bush near the balcony from which this photo was taken.

Abby drove up to Far View Ranch to pick up Sally from camp today. With the help of a cell-phone and Google maps we guided her over the foggy mountain top, through Mill Valley, across the Richmond bridget to I-80, I-5, Marysville, to camp and back again, in time for the midday pickup. Which, it turns out, was supposed to be 10 a.m. As Sally said drily, “It’s o.k., I’m used to it.”

Amy and I stayed home, had grilled cheese sandwiches and Croze-Hermitages for lunch and dozed the afternoon away. (And I finished working on Ben Levitt’s thesis.) The sun came out at about 3:00 p.m.

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Wildflowers in Park City, Utah

I’ve been visiting PCMI in Park City, Utah, and took a hike with Roger Howe, Sybilla Beckman, and Susanna Epp up by Guardsman Pass. The wildflowers were lovely, these paint-brushes, some lovely blue tubular flowers, and a delicate cream-yellow poppy with dark veins. We also saw a Western Wood Pewee, a Rocky Mountain variant of a Dark-eyed Junco, with a striking brown mantle and without the usual black hood. The capper was a Mountain Bluebird that Roger saw settling on a chair lift as we returned to the car, a stunning bird, blue all over.

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Rain and Devil’s claw

The wash was wet and carven with channels from recent rains, and all the plants were responding: the brittlebush and the desert brooms were putting out fresh leaves, and the northern part of the wash was covered with these Devil’s claws. They will put out sharply curved pods, that will dry and split in two halves, giving a claw appearance.

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