October 5th, 2014

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

High Tech Vulture Roosts


turkey-vultures-tower10-04-14-024

Although not all the cellphone towers around here have a steady population of vultures--and I can't quite figure out why--some are often crowded with them in early morning and late afternoon/evening.   Sometimes only one species inhabits a given tower (this tower "favors" turkey vultures; another about 5-6 miles south-east has a large population of black vultures.)    Occasionally a hawk will rest on a tower during the day.   Cellphone towers give vultures a "lift" on  by giving them clear height to take off from, plenty of room to build up airspeed.
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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Adventures With Ultraviolet Rays

I grew up in South Texas, and moved back to Texas after a few years in Virginia in the military.  Texas had powerful sun when I was a kid, and the ozone hole made its sun even more likely to burn than tan.  Though I wasn't one to lie out in the sun trying to get brown, I've always spent time outdoors: riding a bike, hiking, riding horses, just walking around, etc.  I tanned well, never burned (well, I wasn't spending hours in the sun trying to tan.   Back then, we considered suntan lotion to be what you used in order to tan or keep skin from drying out--not protection from sunburn.   I hated the greasy, gummy feel and the cloying smell, so used it only rarely, when I knew I'd be outside a long time.   I wasn't getting sunburned, so why bother?   So...despite using more care (once I knew to, which was sometime after 25)  I was browner than my natural skin tone on face, arms, lower legs for much of my life.   Less, as I got older, because of the aforementioned caution, but also because I was raising a kid and writing books.

You probably see where this is going.

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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Anniversaries

Life provides us with the opportunity to mark time by personal events--birthdays, graduations, marriages, and deaths.   Every October 5 since 1990 has been an anniversary for me--my mother died on October 5, 1990.   Over the years since, the stark memories of her final decline, and the first months of grieving, have softened, overlain by other events, other anniversaries--births, graduations, marriages, and deaths.  But the day itself still hits like a baseball bat.  My mind refuses to ignore it, to treat it as an ordinary day.   It is split, constantly comparing, hour to hour, that day and this day--the October 5 in which I'm living.  The memory of that day--from waking up, from walking across the yard to her house, not knowing if she'd lived through the night, of finding her alive--awake--clearly waiting for me, the last word she said clearly, "Finally!"  through the next two hours before her last breath, as I sat with her, sang to her, fought my EMT/Paramedic urge to intervene, to try to bring life back to someone whose body was worn out, unable to sustain life, to allow her the peaceful, natural death she wanted--that memory is still vivid, still sharp enough to cut.  Every year it reminds me of her talents, her vivid wide-ranging intelligence, her humor, her kindness and service to others.   Reminds me that I saw there beside her, hand in hand, aware of the questions I hadn't asked, the complements I hadn't given.
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