02-17-2016 Valentine’s in the Basin

Current Location: Old Fort Road Klamath Falls at 43F with clouds and a strong breeze

Keep in mind if you want to see anything up close, click on the photo and it will take you to the SmugMug gallery for that photo.

Valentine’s Day is a misnomer for me.  It is more like Valentine’s Month.  When we returned from the sunny desert I was faced with taking down all the Christmas lights, those little brilliant sparks around the porch and fences that hold the dreariness of winter at bay. 

I solved that problem almost immediately, after all, it was at least February before I brought out the two small boxes that hold my Valentine lights and decorations.  I had to laugh because I kept a couple of old Martha Stewart magazines that looked Valentine pretty.  One was from February 2010 and one was from February 2001.  Before 9/11.

I am back to quilting in the upstairs apartment, back to trying to get in my daily 10,000 steps with Mattie.  We walk from the house here on Old Fort Road, and can manage 3 or 4 miles of roadside walking.  I am waiting for the snow to melt before we tackle the mountain trails again. 

When I don’t want to face the steep hills of my local road, I’ll drive a few minutes toward town and walk the 4 mile round trip of gentle paved bike trail that borders Foothill Blvd.  Always surprises me that the trail seems to get so little use.  A biker here and there, a runner sometimes, but I have yet to pass a dog walker. 

February may be a dreary month, at least in this part of the world, but the best part of February in Klamath Basin is the magnificent migration.  We drove to Medford the day after Valentine’s Day, winding around Lakeshore Drive on our trip to the big city, and rounding a corner along a water saturated grain field we saw a magnificent sight.  Thousands of tundra swans and white front geese were gathering in the fields along with many other unidentified geese and at least ten bald eagles and one golden eagle. 

It reminded me of what I had forgotten.  If the days seem dreary or chilly and quilting and housework and tv get tiresome, just load up the car with cameras and jackets and go find the birds. 

I had only a phone with me for the trip to Medford.  Birds were not on my mind.  We had a plan to go to the quilt stores, Mo to spend unlimited browsing time at Harbor Freight, and then to celebrate a late Valentine’s Day with fabulous halibut at McGrath’s Fish House, and to purchase two luxurious pounds of hand picked chocolate from See’s, a Valentine tradition.

I threw in a visit to the dermatologist, where she burned off a few more reminders of my southern california upbringing near the beach.  I remember Monday mornings after long beach weekends when I couldn’t go to school because I was sick and feverish and had huge blisters on my legs that were so bad I couldn’t straighten them out enough to walk.  Who knew.  I should have been dead by now.

Returning from town that evening, I put a big note on the calendar.  BIRDS!  So Tuesday morning we loaded up the truck and the dog and the cameras and headed for Lakeshore Drive.  Skies were a bit cloudy but clear until we reached the birds, where a low bank of fog protected them from view and gave both my cameras fits trying to get some good shots.  Sure do wish I had one of those big lenses like Judy. My Nikon lens has a hard time at that distance as does the longer zoom on the Lumix. 

Still, the best moments had nothing to do with the photos.  Mo managed the truck along the narrow road while I walked searching for better shots.  In the distance, something spooked the white front geese and in a moment there was a huge lifting and rushing sound of thousands of wings and calls.  I stood there transfixed, knowing that no photo, no recording, nothing could capture that feeling and that moment except my own memory.

The sounds somehow felt uplifting.  As the birds lifted and their calls reached across the fields, I felt as though maybe there was hope for the world.  The birds are still migrating, the patterns of the seasons still bring snow melt and sunshine and hope.  It was a good day.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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