Posts Tagged ‘birds’

*f/14 – exposure 1/100 – ISO 100

No matter where you live there’s always thing to do and adventures to go on if you look hard enough. Living in the Northernmost part of California(five hours further north than San Fransisco) we are blessed with an abundance of outdoor adventure locations, whether it be for a leisurely walk or a intense kayaking/rock climbing/mountain biking experience there is no limit to the beautiful places and winding trails you can find.

This last weekend we took a little trip to one of our favorite hiking locations the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge located on Highway 101 about 10 minutes South of Eureka it’s a wonderful place for walking with children and spotting lots of wildlife. The trail is about a mile long and flat the entire way which is a big bonus when we take SweetPea(19m) hiking. During migration season the refuge is full of majestic geese, swans and grebes, but during the off season you mainly just see a lot of beautiful land and some seagulls, but it was a great time none the less.

The journal/comment box at the end of the trail.

*These are great setting to start with when photographing the sun reflecting brightly off of water with a dark background.

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It all started out with a Vanilla Soft Serve and then some how manifested from there, just a lazy Sunday on O’ahu nothing to do, and no where to be. I’d heard of this place on island, this serene beautiful temple located at the base of the mountains, surrounded by lush tropical forests, and a view to die for. So while trying to stay ahead in the battle against sticky melted deliciousness I racked my brain for the name of the park where it was located, and as we sped down the H-3 it came to me, The Valley of the Temples. So we took the turn for the LikeLike and headed for the Kahekili highway.

There’s a tunnel on the H-3 that takes you right through the heart of the mountains, it’s an amazing transition especially when the weather cooperates. You can head into the tunnel on a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in sight, and when you emerge a mile later on the other side it’s like you’ve been teleported from dry grasslands to a water drenched oasis in the heart of the rain forest, and it’s absolutely stunning! As we drove thru I couldn’t help but hold my breath, a child’s superstition ingrained to deep to be forgotten by adulthood, and as the cool gray light of a tropical storm washed over us on the other side, I gasped for air, smiled and hoped my wish would come true.

When we reached Kaneohe where the park is located we saw a sign and in big gold letters were the words VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES, we turned in the narrow paved driveway and headed past the front gates, and through the miles of cemetery that precede the temple. Located at the very back of the valley is a parking lot bounded by beautiful black tomb stones etched in gold with family names and Japanese calligraphy.

We step out of the car and head for the bridge that would lead us over the gully to the Temple. We paid the nice man $3 dollars each and he hands us a small pamphlet full of facts about the Byodo-In Temple we were about to see. A Buddhist temple built in the 1960s Byodo-In is a scale replica of a 900 year old Temple in Uji, Japan. Keeping with tradition the entire building was constructed without the use of nails.

The Temple was breathtaking its eloquent construction backed by the beautiful Volcanic landscape created so many years ago by the Hawaiian Goddess Pele. Two beliefs so perfectly intertwined it was almost impossible to see where Pele ends and Buddhism begins.

As we explore my senses were overwhelmed by an almost palpable calm that the wraps around me as we began to discover the perfectly manicured ground. Ponds and streams copiously clad with koi fish fill the air with the light lullaby of babbling brooks.

On the left side of the compound is The Bell House which contains three tons of bronze and tin expertly blended and cast in Osaka, Japan to closely resemble its much older sister who regally hangs on the other side of the Pacific. After wandering about the property we finally built up the courage to ring the bell as is tradition before entering the Temple. As we pulled back on rope secured to the soft wooden log (Shu-Moku) I tensed in anticipation for a loud mood-shattering noise to crack the shell of serenity that had formed and caressed around my mind, but no such sound came… A low deep tone washed over me resonating through my bones and vibrating all the way to me heart, and as time passed and the noise began to fade, a new deeper sense of calm enveloped me as we headed for the doors of Byodo-In.

As I removed my shoes and stepped into this holy place I sent up a little thanks to whomever or whatever it is that watches over us and bequeaths such beautiful stimulants upon our souls. I’m not a Buddhist and I don’t pretend to know how to pray as one, but I do know holy places whether they be temples, churches or just miraculous locations stumbled upon in nature so I stepped up to the alter, steadied my breathing, lit a stick of incense and made my own peace standing in front of an 18’ tall wooden carving of Buddha sitting upon a lotus blossom just as I would have made my peace in my own sacred places.

On our way out of the temple we stopped to feed the fish and the birds that make Byodo-In their home. So trusting and fearless the little Zebra Doves were they’d come right up and perch on my fingers while eating from my palm, and as we made our way to leave I stopped to take one last photograph of a female peacock resting upon the ground… little did I know there was a tiny soul hidden beneath her wing, and we were just lucky enough to catch it precariously peaking from the safety of it’s mothers bosom.

All in all it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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Dew drops cling to Plumeria blossoms, lining  grasses like little bits of forgotten confetti on the 2nd of May, as the air is warmed with the sweet titillating fragrance of Plumeria. It dances across the wind like thick tendrils of smoke emanating from a burning stick of incense swept up by the currents of a room.

Spring has arrived in Hawaii! My living in a tropical climate has taught me that it takes a little better tuned senses to realize the arrival of a new season. It’s not quite as easy as it used to be back before I found myself on this heat infused island. The first day of spring was always the first day you could go outside without a sweater, the first day you could feel the sun as it warms your skin and intoxicates your very soul with each heat soaked ray. When everything begins to turn green and once again the meadows and forests were alive with the movement of all the little creatures that had been hiding from the cold icy hands of the post autumn freeze.

The first sign of Hawaiian spring was the fledglings, little half feathered baby birds on their first trips out into the world and away from the nest. We were lucky enough to be graced with two little overnight guests roosted on a rock in our back yard after being fed and tucked in for the night by their mother and father, they were left to dream little bird dreams until the morning came and they were called away to hop about the fields in search of mangoes, and early worms.

The second sign of Hawaiian Spring was the flowers. Now don’t get me wrong there are always tons of flowers all year long, but this… this is ridiculous! It’s as if every tree on island has exploded into rainbow colored fireworks covering every branch with blossoms and sprinkling the ground with little fragrant bits of shrapnel.

My time in Hawaii is winding down, less than five months until I’m given the option to choose (my) Humboldt for good. I do miss my home. The place I came from, and all the people (and animals) that make up my family, the cold Gray beaches framed by towering redwoods, the community based cultures and the flower based subcultures, sweltering dry summer days spend splashing in the cool waters of the Eel river, seeing my best friend a hand full of times in a week, the fresh mountain air, and the unforgettable undeniable sense of knowing that this is the place you belong, but all of that aside. I will miss Hawaii, if for nothing else than for the sweet smell of plumeria carried across the island on the arms of the Trade Winds.


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It’s the big goals in life that are often the easiest to focus on. We work and we strive to gain the validation of becoming new things, and obtaining new parts, and pieces of our lives, but in all of this striving and obtaining, and the occasional clawing we do to get to the top there are so many everyday things that are lost, and unless they are remembered and cherished we’ll all just pass right by them on the way to our next big things.

It has not been as easy to stop and be a part of my own life as I thought it would be. I always thought I was my own life, but recently I realized that I’ve been missing so much of what makes up my everyday. Consumed by my latest aspirations and my no so sunny optimism I found myself feeling rather dark and gloomy, and after moping about the house for longer than I would like to admit it struck me and I had to asked myself

where was the beauty in the world?

Where was the beauty in me?

and why couldn’t I see it anymore?

I was determined to turn it around to find happiness in my own world, in my own life, even if my “big goals” were taking more time than I had anticipated. So I did something I hadn’t done in a wile, I looked to the inside of my right wrist, and read the words I’d had permanently inscribed there “Be Grateful” two simple words and an entire world of meaning. I’d like to tell you that I’d forgotten they were there, that I’d become so used to seeing them everyday that I wouldn’t even notice them, my mind skimming over them like a freckle or a birthmark always there, but rarely noticed. The truth is, I stopped looking, stopped reading them when the inscription began to make me feel guilty for never being happy with what I had, and always wanting more, but this day was different, I read them over and over first taking them in with just my eyes, and then taking them back into my heart. I stared at my wrist for a long time and then touched the words with my fingers, rubbing against them and reassuring myself that they were here to stay, and finally I held them against my chest, right over my heart as if I were trying to absorb them into my very soul.

When I walked to the mail box that morning I picked out ten things along the way I was Grateful for; the warm Hawaiian rain, The feel of the earth beneath my feet, the sound of the wind in the trees, little birds hopping through the grass, my home, fresh ocean air, the sweet smell of plumeria, puddles, and packages in the mail. Every one of them simple, and every one of them something I’d experienced almost everyday, but I’d passed right over them before not even seeing that there are so many things to smile about each day.

Every day I spend some time watching the finches, and the sparrows perching on the fence in my back yard as they take turns dive bombing the bird seed scattered across the few feet of deep red volcanic soil at the end of my patio. They chirp and sing as they muscle for rank and placement on the boundaries of my yard and I smile, and take as much time as I wish to appreciate the happiness they make me feel inside, and I am grateful.

It’s a struggle to remember to take time, and to be grateful. A lesson I must reteach myself every day, but it’s worth it, it’s worth taking the time, and as time goes on I can only hope that I will become so accustomed to appreciating the world around me that it will be the first thing I do, and I wont remember how to miss it.


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