Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not much of real adventure to report on but I like to keep somewhat current seeing as this blog is becoming more and more the record of my life at this time. I still write in my journal occasionally but only very private things for my kids.

I will start by throwing in a picture taken in 1962 at my family home in Menlo Park, California. That’s me sitting on the floor with a pipe in my mouth (I was a collegian after all but not yet radicalized) at bottom left. I am 21 and the event is my grandparents 50 wedding anniversary.

Their three daughters are seen, two on either side of my uncle Van (top, who taught me how to work with my hands and instilled the “work ethic” in me…also taught me how to ski, bless him) and my mom in red. My brother Peter is sitting next to my grandmother and seems to be in pain of some sort. Below him is my cousin Redik. Sitting behind me is my great aunt who was the “Bohemian” in the family and tried (with much love and little success) to draw me into the occult. She had been married to a White Russian Colonel during the revolution and after he was killed in battle she, by herself, found her way back to Estonia from Vladivostok. Amazing woman. I am quite sure she would be proud of my journeys in the occult after she passed on. Of course that’s my grandparents in the center, Peipa and Ami (nicknames), the people who were in charge of my well being while the rest of the family was at work. Fortunately for me they had both experienced lives of adventure and yes…. real danger, so I was given complete freedom to do and be whatever and wherever I wanted to. Perfect situation for a kid of my temperament!

Some nature notes: no great migration of the skimmers this year. I am wondering whether it has not been humid enough. We have had one small rain and though two hurricanes have been in the vicinity they left us little in the way of water.

There have been whales about. Vicente saw a Humpback about two weeks ago, Antonio saw two Fin Whales (second largest of The Great Whales) the other day and I saw a blow from my kayak about the same time; must have been The Fins. Antonio also said that some Orcas were seen a week ago but once again I am not in the right place. I am going out in my kayak tomorrow or the next day and perhaps I’ll be lucky. Here’s a picture of a Fin Whale, not my pic.

Relevant to this is the very good news that a multi-billion dollar development just north of Cabo Pulmo has been indefinitely halted due to permit irregularities. This is a direct result of local community action down here and is incredibly heartening.

Staying on the nature theme here’s another picture, once again not mine but so close to what I experienced that I am using it. This is a large school of Herring very much like the one I swam through the other day while doing laps. Just a million shimmering critters all around me…fantastic!

My reef work is coming closer to actual fieldwork. It has taken me (with the help of Amber, Jeanne, George and Cindy, Alan and Marilyn) only 6 years to get to this point…”perseverance furthers”, no?

Hurricane Frank has passed and is crossing north of us over to The Baja Peninsula as a small “tempesta”. There is a possibility of another development in the next few days from south of us. It is after all the Hurricane Season.

The most dangerous adventure of mine recently, actually occurred today. I was driving back from another gifted weekend at The Grand Mayan (thank you John & Nancy) and drove right into the middle of one of Baja’s major “off the road” races. Since much of what used to be the totally dirt road Baja 1000, 500 and then 250 is now paved with the races necessarily taking place partly on the old dirt tracks and partly on the paved highway (this is a road that is one lane on a side, about as wide as a typical residential street and with no shoulders). The cars look like this, again not my picture!

Well, around Santiago I got stopped behind a bunch of cars and could see ahead that there were people all over the road and dust and lots of highly rev’ed engines. I discovered that I had reached one of the many sections of hwy where the competitors had to use the paved road to get to the dirt tracks. I watched with fascination and some trepidation as cars such as the one above came at us at 80-90 mph to do almost a 90-degree turn into the desert and disappear in clouds of dust. I got out of my car and wondered what it would be like for just one of these cars to go out of control or lose it’s brakes right at that point. I was amazed to see people sitting, standing just 10 feet from where these cars were careening past. I asked the fellow with the flag when I could proceed and he said about 15 minutes. I thought OK the race in this part of the hwy would be over so when he flagged us ahead I was confident that the hwy was now mine and safe. No way…. I drove about ½ mile and the next groups of competitors were on the road. This time I was on the road too but going right at them. At first I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Coming at me (no one was in front of me) were a number of these cars, driven by competitors who had visions of T & A, booze and endless amphetamines…and who saw me as “in their way”. The first guy that passed me was pissed, the second gave me the finger….so I pulled off the first place I could and chilled out. Once again I proceeded but found to my consternation that every time I got back on the hwy more of these guys were coming. I got to Los Barriles alive (with many heart stopping moments) and found that that was where the race started. I bought groceries and drove to El Cardonal, my sanctuary.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Due to the lack of wind at this time of year pretty much every day is a “kayak day”. Whether I plan it or not, if I wake up in the morning and The Sea is flat, I cannot resist taking off in my kayak.

Some years ago a very dear friend, Rebecca Kress, gave me a CD called Aquaria. The leading track has a woman’s voice chanting, “I am Aquaria, I am The Sea, Come to me”. The Sea has become my “Muse” and it doesn’t surprise me at all seeing as my country of birth, Estonia (and 8000 years of genetics), is surrounded on two sides by The Baltic Sea, never mind that my mother’s people came from The Island of Saaremaa off the coast of Estonia (recorded by Tacitus, Caesar’s historian, as an island of witches and worshippers of “Nature Spirits” and best to be left alone….which he did). Therefore, it is not surprising that though I am as genetically Viking as one could be I am perfectly at home here in Baja on the edge of The Sea….an Island really (Baja California is essentially a 1000 mile long island with only a small attachment to the mainland on the Northern Border, can’t explain the heat part).

My Homeland

The great island of Baja California

Two recent kayak trips are worth mentioning. On the 8th I went out first thing in the morning, usually just about sun up, and when I reached The WZ I settled in for a quiet wait to see what might show up. After a bit I was moved to acknowledge by words and up-raised hands, Father Sky, Mother Earth, Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Ocean. I then closed my eyes and let their energy infuse my body and soul. It felt so very good and when I opened my eyes, there right next to me was a seabird I had not seen before. Here is a picture of it, not mine; I never carry my good camera in the kayak.

My first Shearwater encounter
He hung around for a while, we talked and then I heard the distinctive blow of Dolphins. Spotting them I was able to reach the “back of the pack” and just keep up with them for about ½ mile before tiring. No chance for getting in with them but always nice to be surrounded by Dolphin Energy, eh?

A couple of days later I made it out to The WZ before sunrise and was treated to a most beautiful color show. The photo below was taken of me some years ago on a similar morning so I’m throwing it in.

We had a very light rain that night and during the early morning Banditos hit some of the neighbors. They are not violent (the banditos), they strike at Gringo homes that they know are vacant (at this time of year I am pretty much the only resident Gringo in El Cardonal) and take cars, ATVs and boats. I of course have nothing to fear because my place does not look all that profitable for a rip off and my continual presence in the neighborhood makes hitting my friend’s homes nearby risky. I am also often seen walking about with my bow or a rifle looking for feral cats so there is that element, no?

I have discovered to my delight the bittersweet taste of the fruit of The Ciruelo (Wild Plum) tree. I have three natural trees in my yard and one in particular gives off some great fruit.

These are about 3/4" wide by 1" in height

I do have some competitors for the fruit however. The two critters below, plus The Cactus Wrens are feasting on the fruit too.

This is a Verdin

As is this

One scruffy Scrub Jay, but an old friend!

In the early 70’s I made my way “back to the land” via a position at the then new Mendocino College (I started as there first full time Biology/Chemistry Instructor in 1972/3). It had not really been planned to move to the country but circumstances made it imperative (or as I thought at the time). At any rate I moved into the hills outside of Potter Valley and became part of The Counter Culture of Mendocino County. In many ways it was an idyllic life. Not that we didn’t work, we all probably worked harder than we had ever known before (living “on the land” is not as easy as one may think) but we made a great many extraordinary friendships and developed a sense of community. Our children grew up in a large extended family and were nurtured by it. I mention this now because I received this photo from my daughter Kersti the other day, that’s her on the left, one of her dearest friends, Michelle, on the right.

This was taken just the other week while Michelle was visiting her mom in Healdsburg and Kersti dropped by. They have known each other for 35 years and when I saw the picture I was reminded of those incredible days in the mountains around Potter Valley (Michelle lived just over the ridge) and the summer’s delight of swimming in The Eel River every day. These two were “children” of that era and one can see in their faces the strength, intelligence and love they manifest now as women.

These last pictures I am showing you are of Kersti’s mother in the 8th grade when I fell in love with her and told her that one day she would be my wife. 8 years later that’s exactly what happened, and 5 years after that Kersti was born…a gift from The Great Mystery. The other is self explanatory.

Macy Loraine Ennis, 8th grade, 1956

Macy and our daughter Kersti, April, 1969

Friday, August 6, 2010

I find, more now than ever, that when all my friends are gone and I am pretty much the only gringo in town, that I dip deeper into Nature’s Font and am reborn once again into my pagan roots. I have a great deal of time to contemplate, meditate and cogitate on my personal existence in this endless array of Mother Earth’s blessings. I have also come to realize that what I have rediscovered here in Mexico is my 10-year-old self; vibrantly alive, untarnished, free and surrounded by the wonders of nature everywhere I turn. It was just this feeling that drove me into biology as a young boy and was quite frankly the only field of study that made any sense to me.

It is hot enough at this time of year that I limit my physical activities (running on the beach, kayaking, snorkeling, riding my bike, swimming laps, working in the yard) to the early morning and/or the early evenings. This generally gives me 2-3 hrs daily of physical exercise. The rest of my time is now spent reading more (one book every 3-4 days; I’m fortunate to have friends who are voracious readers like myself and while they are gone, they are kind enough to let me go into their houses to replenish my supplies), writing and painting. The historical novel I am working on has not been touched for quite some time but I think I will be inspired again soon. If not, well then “F**K It” as John C. Parkin (author of “f**k it: the ultimate spiritual way”) would say.

That all said here are some of the past few days events…. and some pictures.

The Land:

Flowers, is there anything that sings color more than flowers? These are some of those right in my yard (I don’t call it a garden because it really isn’t so much a garden, it’s sort of a manicured part of the desert that I happen to occupy). I swear that sometimes I just “stop short” while passing one of these and my mind sees math, physics and chemistry sung into LIFE….what a trip!!

The Red Skimmers did not carry out, or at this point haven’t, their massive migration like they did last year. There was a migration but it was comparatively small and sporadic. Next year should be interesting. I haven’t the slightest idea why there was such a difference between last year and this.

The other day as I was lounging under the palapa I noticed something hanging from the Palo Verde tree just a few feet away (about 12). Turned out to be a Paper Wasp’s nest. I didn’t have to get close to take this pic and anyway they are the least aggressive of The Wasps. They don’t bother me even when I am eating nearby so I greet them when I sit down and sometimes watch their antics with my binocs.

Here are a couple of pictures of Mr. Fox. I think it may be a different Fox (Desert Kit Fox) and not The Grey Fox I saw a few weeks back. They are not good ones (the photos), he is very cautious (unfortunately domestic dogs have run off most all the foxes and coyotes) and the minute he heard the zoom lens activate he was on his way. I went up to the bodega roof around 6:30 pm because I had just gotten back from bicycling out to collect Creosote Bush leaves for my healing tea and had seen him cross the road so I knew he was in the area. As I was sitting up there the local goat herder’s dog went by and I thought that he would surely flush the Fox and I wouldn’t get to seem him. The dog passed and I was ready to climb down when I caught some movement, and there he was, just about 20’ from where the dog had passed. Lucky for him he was down wind, the goat dog is a tough hombre. When I turned the camera on the fox and the zoom lens extended then this was all I got.

Never had so many Spiny Tailed Iguanas on the place as this year. This guy is the biggest and lives closest to the trailer so I am always talking to him. I call him “Hey Bub” but have asked one of my Quebecois (Quentin) to name him….or I’ll just keep callin’ him “Hey Bub”.

The Sea:

Before my new friends from London left they were able to get a sitter for the girls and they kayaked out to The WZ together. After some frustrated waiting J “called” for them and in they came; not very close but way cool. They decided to stay out a bit longer; J said she would like to see one more bunch and damned if they didn’t appear again, this time right up to the Kayaks.

I had my own adventure in The WZ the other day when I came across 2-3 whales going south. They were not HBs or Blues, maybe Bryde’s Whales. I tried to intercept but they were a good ¼ mile off and were moving along at a good clip so I fell behind, great exercise though. Rare to see any whales at this time of year. Just hearing a whale blow again was good enough for me, I have come to like that sound a great deal.

Not the other day but earlier this season

On the way in I swam the reef and had a bit of time with a Sea Turtle and that’s always fun.

Went out for a sunrise kayak the next day and mingled with some dolphin and tried for a Mobula swim but nobody interested in coming in close for a hello. I had been thinking of The World’s ills so perhaps my energy was not so good. There are times when I am so very, very angry at the Powers of Darkness (not in a biblical sense) that I know that my aura sucks. If I were any of the critters out there I wouldn’t be compelled to visit either.

On another day I swam from farther north of the reef, crossing it from north to south to see anything new. Best day for visibility in a long time so totally delightful but didn’t see anything new. I did however come across the largest clump of Giant Coral I have yet seen on our reef, really impressive.

Not my photo. Pavona gigantea

On yet another day last week I was doing my laps parallel to the beach and swam head on into a large school of freaked out surf fish. Figured there must be something bigger coming and I was not disappointed, 3 large (2 ½’) Almaco Jacks (or one of the other Jacks) were on their tails and swam past me real close. It was exciting to be an intimate part of a REAL moment!

So there you have it, kind of a typical week. It’s nice to be 10 again. And as a 10 year old I can once again see something like this "phenomenon" and dream of endless possibilities and realities.

And just one more flower