One of the signs it’s going to rain is birds facing the same direction. It rained about 10 minutes later.
I can’t wait to be up at camp and I’m hoping my body is going to cooperate and I’m going to take some Imodium with me just in case. I’m not supposed to take it since for a person with gastroparesis, it’s kind of counterproductive and quite frankly can hurt a lot even the children’s dose but if I have to I will.
There is nothing in this world that can compare to morning at high altitude up in the forest. The air is different. It feels differently to the skin. The sounds are different. The wind in the trees sounds like nowhere else I know. The air and the earth feel more alive and that quality is evident everywhere you look. The earth smells wonderful and clean even at the end of a summer on the cusp of winter. Fall is fleeting and short in California mountains. The oaks may turn colour and aspens and alders but mostly the cedars and the pines and the evergreen oaks don’t change much but you can tell the quality of light is changing. The sun is lower in the sky.
Morning begins at the tip tops of the trees over the eastern ridges and the dawn chorus raises its voice. You pass from a moment of absolute silence to the screams of Stellar Jays and the dee dee dee of the chickadees and the tapping of the woodpeckers hiding yet another acorn to farm for the winter.
The sun creeps up and then spills over the trees into the valley and it’s magic to watch it move. All nature in the valley is part of a giant sundial charting the sun’s morning path
I always raise my face to the sun’s morning kiss in the mountains, there is nothing better in the world.
Wildlife at Singing Pines Part 1
Of all the camps I worked at Singing Pines had the biggest variety of wildlife. According to the camp legend it was because an old Indian woman protected camp. A lot of us believed in her with all our hearts. I have good reason to believe, she touched my cheek once. Scared me into screaming and I had to apologize.
That camp has never burned because of her protection the heart of camp is always safe and there is always wildlife harboured there safely. We had a three legged fox and we had bears. We had giant raccoons that weighed around 45 pounds. We had grey squirrels and ground squirrels and field mice. We had a mountain lion that passed through, we had Audubon cottontails and we had rattlesnakes and gopher snakes and we had aquatic garter snakes in the lake. We had bats and we had several kinds of lizards. And we had birds, lots and lots of birds.
I was Arts & Crafts Director there for 4 years and for a couple of years I added the title Nature Director too. I had the Long House and the Nature Nook to work out of but I spent most of my time in the Long House above the Lake. I had a refrigerator that ran on propane that only worked the first year I was there after that it was a convenient place to store food away from critters so I didn’t always have to go all the way up to the Dining Hall. It was a long walk up that hill some days.
I had a lot of time along out there because there were so many other things to do in camp like horse back riding, canoeing and swimming that seemed to come before A&C unless I was making candles and tie-dye. I had no electricity and a limited budget so there were things I couldn’t do that I had done at other camps like enameling. I did have a propane stove for melting wax and heating dye. So we did a lot of that. And one year I added screening for a select few and the staff.
Some days I felt like Snow White in her cottage because the birds went freely in and out of my huge doors. Several times I looked down and a Scarlet Tanager would be hopping in to look up at me in my director’s chair with a cocked head. He always looked like he had a lot of questions he wanted to ask. The Stellar’s Jays were the biggest thieves and loved to steal things especially if some unit had a cook out there on my concrete porch/pad. I once saw one steal a whole cube of butter of the table.
The first thing I was ever warned about was to never build a fire during the day in my fireplace because the baby bats in the chimney might fall into the fire and the mama bats would dive down to get them.
I forgot this one cold day in my third year and luckily the baby did not fall into the fire but mama did come down to get it and put the baby on her chest. She flew up and hung on the wall looking at me very upset and I hurriedly put out the fire. Baby bats and their mamas are really cute. Mama is at the most about 4 inches long so the babies are really tiny. Anything that can eat 1000 mosquitoes in an hour I like a lot.
One night at twilight I had left something in the LH and had to go get it and the bats were just coming out for a night of eating and one poor bat smacked me in the forehead. I guess I was moving too quickly in the door for his sonar to track me. He looked as confused as I did and for the record, he did not get caught in my hair. He just bounced off my head.
One night the CIT’s were camping out in the outpost for a skill session and I had gone out there for dinner and went to get my guitar from the Long House for a sing along. In the fifteen minutes I was gone a mountain lion had gone up the road and I had just missed it. I know there were no tracks when I went to the LH and when I came back there were huge cat paw prints. Much as I love kitties that was one I could do without coming face to face with. I told the CIT Directors so they could keep the kids from going to the bathroom until campfire was over because I wanted to keep everyone in the unit until some time had passed. I don’t think we ever told the CITs. Those paw prints were as big as a large size paper plate. Really big kitty.