Posts Tagged With: Birds

A Smidge of Fall. Maybe.


Fall in California is a precarious thing, because it’s never quite right.  I have a giant deciduous tree in my yard, and I planted the Roger’s Reds specifically because they observe the seasons.  You would think that would give me enough Fall to go on with.  Well, we’re well into October and the grape vine is still mostly green, with about 2 leaves starting to go red around the edges.  The tree is still verdant.  The purple and red sages on the walking trail Brian and I traverse every morning are blooming bright like it’s still full summer.

But if you pay close attention, we’re getting a little bit of Fall after all.  Brian and I have turned off the AC and have opened the windows, blowing the cold in with a box fan.  There aren’t any screens on the bedroom window, and that means that the kitten likes to hang half of her body out the second story if I’m not careful about closing it during the day.  Otherwise, she’s sitting in front of the screen door downstairs and chittering at the moths as they dance around the porch light.  The other two cats don’t care; they’d rather snuggle on the couch.  I have put up all the Halloween stuff, and the living room and dining room are awash in black and orange.  Just the way I like it.

Brian rolled over on Sunday morning and realized I was awake.  “If we get up now, we can probably catch the sunrise at Caroline Park,” he said.

Caroline Park is a tract of land that was left to the city in the 1930s.  It features about a mile worth of trails in a recreated sage brush environment, with a huge grass meadow on the Eastern side that isn’t connected to the other, natural park.  Brown bunnies hop through the bushes, and thousands of birds trill in the trees.  In the distance is a stunning view of the Redlands valley with mountains and sky as a frame.  It’s surrounded by a neighborhood, but it’s still exceedingly quiet.

So I threw on workout clothes, and we arrived at the little park just in time to watch the clouds over the trees turn from deep pink to bright yellow.

As we walked the trails in the new morning, I realized that it was officially Fall here, if nowhere else.  The California Buckwheat had turned black and willowy, with the auburn buds of dead flowers blooming on the entwined branches.  Some of the trees had already dropped their leaves, with only drooping yellow figs still clinging to the white bark.  We sat on a park bench, and the tree above us fluttered a speckled leaf of red and black onto my lap.

We sat there for a while, listening to the birds shout at each other in the morning, and watching the bunnies hop around, their little white tails disappearing into the bushes at the sides of the trails.  And then I went home to my green, green house.

It’s supposed to be 95 again by Friday.  One of these days I’ll get to turn on the fireplace, I hope.  I just know it isn’t going to be anytime soon.

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Office Quirks


There are always office quirks, I suppose.  I’m getting to learn the ones here.  My last office was in a monument to the 1960’s brutalism movement on the 3rd floor.  None of the doors fit properly, which led to horror movie style wuthering when it got blustery out.  In addition, the building design made it so that it was a black hole for birds who would fly in the open balcony railings and then beat their heads against the glass terrarium-like windows to try and get out again.  We rescued most, with a net on a stick and plenty of squealing and flapping, but dead bodies were a common occurrence.

My new office is in the old Citrus Grower’s house, in what I think must have been the old sleeping porch.  There are windows on 2 sides, I am already referring to it as the tower, and it has an amazing view of freeway, mountain, and sky.  When the wind blows here, it whips the trees into a whispered frenzy.  And strange things drop from the sky with a thud.

It turns out that there is a palm tree in front of me.  It’s too close to the house for me to see the fronds, and the trunk is mostly blocked by the thick frame of one of the windows.  The alarming things raining down are the palm seeds, striking the roof of the kitchen-wing I overlook.  I thought it might be the apocalypse for a minute, there.  Now if I can just avoid the rattlesnakes in the “native area” out front next summer, I should be good to go…

I wish I was kidding, but I’m not.  That view really makes up for a lot, though.

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Of Birds and Steele


My new office is a strange place to work. It isn’t the people I work with, (they are all very nice, and so far pretty normal) but the building itself that is odd. Scripps College is known for its gorgeous architecture. White stucco buildings are decorated by columns and vast windows and topped by red clay roof tiles. The campus is mostly rolling green broken by leafy trees and flowers. Orange trees and Elms are everywhere, and the main campus smells like the sweet and tangy odor of citrus.

My building is not on that side of campus. My building is on the new side of campus, in a building that is the pinnacle of the Brutalism movement. They have tried to disguise the tall walls of thick concrete with a collection of eucalyptus trees and ivy, but it hasn’t worked. It’s named after the Steele family, but Steele is so apt a name for the place that I often forget it was named for anyone at all.

Inside, it is far from brutal. The office was remodeled last summer. It’s filled with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors. Those who are lucky enough to have an office with a window can pretend they’re working in a tree house. Outside the office is a small balcony with a wrought-iron patio table, partially windowed and partially not. This scene is the view from my reception desk. Our glass doors must remain unlocked during business hours, which with the mechanism on the door, also means unlatched. This creates some interesting phenomenon.

It sounds like a horror movie at my desk.

The wind wuthers around the concrete corners, through the cracks in the door, and down the hallway. Some days it’s only a soft whistle. But when the wind picks up it can become this sustained and wavering sound like something from the soundtrack of Amityville Horror; in the middle of a cheerful blue hallway of brightly lit fluorescents and generic paintings. If the wind gets very gusty, the door will open by itself. I feel like I ought to keep garlic at my desk or something.

The other problem with the building design is the birds. I am going on my third week here, and we have already had one die over the weekend on the patio. They fly in through the slim railings where there isn’t any glass and then get caught by the windows on the other side. There is a blue net by my counterpart’s desk that we use to coax them out again. The dead bird, crumpled in a heap in the corner, was a hummingbird. We called facilities to take it out. We had a wren today, and sometimes we get these little black birds with crested heads.

Between the wind and the dead birds, I’m not really sure what kind of a building I’m working in. At least I have nice people to man the fort with me if the avian zombie apocalypse starts in Claremont. Cross your fingers for me, okay?

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Of Vacations

In the last two weeks I finished two jobs, went on vacation, helped engineer a wedding, and then started a new job.  Which is basically to say that this is a cheater post.  Please enjoy these photos of Monterey until I can get it together and return you to regular programming.

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