Palo Alto falls

by

Saturday 16 November 2013

I have had a sore knee for a while, and I’m taking it a bit easy. Cycling seems to be okay, but downhill walking hurts. I spent much of the morning rearranging tree trimmings so the gardener can haul them away next week, then went out wandering Palo Alto.

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Fall in California is drab, as are most other seasons… except for the imported vegetation such as liquidambar. Beautiful. Let’s hear it for the non-natives!

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There is a demonstration garden nearby, the demonstration being how to garden without using much water. Succulents, as expected, but even at this season, some really pretty flowers.

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Not far away, the Gamble house gardens.

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We had received the subsidy tickets to buy 3 LED bulbs at reduced prices (thank you, government, for taking our money in taxes and then subsidizing us with a small fraction of it to do what the philosopher kings think we ought to be doing). Bulbs were on sale at the late afternoon Christmas tree lighting event. Loud music, so we didn’t stay long. Looped around to buy some hummus for dinner and home.

Sunday, 17 November

Happy birthday, Allison!

I thought that, if the knee wasn’t sore, I might go on a real hike today. It was only a little sore. I’m tempted to just go anyway, but I have many years of experience that pushing through sore connective tissue is not a good idea. So I went walking at the Baylands instead. 10 miles, but all of it flat.

The tide was out. The mudflats were… well, mud. Some of the mud was even dry. Went to the Palo Alto duck pond.

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I believe these ducks are called shovelnoses? They swim along with their beaks right at water level, scooping up whatever may be afloat. Migration season, many kinds of waterfowl we only see in winter.

Shotgun sounds from not far away, outside the boundaries of the parklands. I believe waterfowl hunting season runs until January, when the survivors are granted a reprieve to raise their families.

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On a dead tree above the pond, I spotted this guy, having breakfast. I couldn’t tell what it had caught, but I’m sure it was delicious. When I came back half an hour later, it was at the top of the tree, relaxing in the sunlight, thinking about lunch.

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Almost surrealistic, these birds with their heads tucked underneath their arms (oop! — wrong phrase: wings).

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At the Mountain View pond, a dozen guys getting ready to go play water basketball. I suppose the helmets and face guards are a good idea; in the heat of competition, a paddle in the face is a real possibility.

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Cormorants drying their armpits, and graciously allowing a gull to visit their exclusive club.

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Landing in the midst of his buddies.

It is alleged that I never take pictures of people. Today, I took several pictures of people. So there.

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And almost back at the parking lot, an egret silhouetted against the foam as the rising tide poured through the strait.

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I worked around to the other side. Same egret, different lighting.

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