I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Mid-November musings

Last of the leaves

As I sit here in the dark, with my laptop on my knees while sitting up in bed, a usual Sunday morning dawns. This morning, nothing pops into my head as I ponder what to write about. As anybody who follows this blog knows, sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it's a dud. I have no idea what will come out today, but this practice has been going on for more than a decade and so, here goes.

Yesterday I went on my usual Saturday morning walk with a couple of good friends, all of us wearing masks even while we are outside. On Saturday there are many more people on the trails than we encounter on Thursdays, my other usual hiking day. Because the pandemic has curtailed the groups that I used to join for those two activities, I still manage to have found some diehard friends who are willing to join me. Otherwise, I'd be going alone. I truly need the exercise during this time more than ever. Those walks, plus three Zoom yoga classes a week, help to keep me from slipping into depression.

I also join some of my old Senior Trailblazer friends for a Zoom meeting once a week, and we normally have a group of around 8 or 10 of us talk for an hour. We discuss how we are faring, who is hiking where, and discussing whatever is on our minds. It helps to see these old friends, learning about their coping mechanisms as we navigate our "new normal." The way the pandemic is going, I don't see this situation changing any time soon. Most of us are in our seventies and considered high risk, even if we are more active than many seniors. We are still old.

During a recent Zoom meeting, I learned about a new kind of fabric to keep you dry during heavy rain. Since we're getting into our usual rainy season, I was interested to hear about it. We laughed about how anybody living and hiking in the Pacific Northwest usually has more than one or two rain jackets. This new fabric is only available from Columbia at the moment, and so I went to their website to learn more about OutDry Extreme. I've never been thrilled with Gore-Tex, which is expensive and only seems to work for a short while before becoming just another jacket that leaks. Once you wash it a time or two, it loses its potency. I found an OutDry raincoat on sale for half price and ordered it. It should arrive this coming week, and since we are entering a particularly rainy patch; I'll be able to see if it works and if I like it. Otherwise, it will join the other half-dozen raincoats in my closet. 

Yesterday we walked around five miles in Arroyo Park from Fairhaven, and it was mild, cloudy, and dry, making it a very pleasant time along the wide trails. There were plenty of people out and about, and almost everyone wore a mask, even though we were outside. When we got to the bridge over Chuckanut Creek, we saw a group of five or six women staring into the water. The salmon are running at the moment, making their way up the creek to their spawning grounds. They had spied a group of fish, so we decided that we would join them. Since we are not supposed to be in such large groups, even outside, we found another place where you could see the fish struggling upstream and watched in fascination as one after another fought against the rushing water. Sometimes they would tire and slip backwards, losing their hard-fought gains.

Of course, when I got home I researched the salmon activity, wondering if they really do find their way all the way back to where they were spawned and how it occurs. How does a salmon find its way back "home"? I found this information on Wikipedia:

Most salmon mostly spend their early life in rivers or lakes, and then swim out to sea where they live their adult lives and gain most of their body mass. When they have matured, they return to the rivers to spawn. Usually they return with uncanny precision to the natal river where they were born, and even to the very spawning ground of their birth. It is thought that, when they are in the ocean, they use magnetoreception to locate the general position of their natal river, and once close to the river, that they use their sense of smell to home in on the river entrance and even their natal spawning ground.

I also learned that they stop eating when they begin this trip, and they just don't have the energy to return after spawning, so they die. Some of the salmon we saw were huge, at least to my eyes, and it made me sad to realize that they are on their final journey. Most salmon live around five to seven years, but they only make this trip once before they die. I tried to capture it but was unsuccessful. My friend Melanie got this great video, which I hope you can see. (9 seconds long)

In any event, it was definitely an amazing experience. Then we said goodbye and went to our respective homes, reflecting on the natural world and its vast variety of species. I feel very blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country, where I can walk in the forests and watch the salmon run, and even enjoy the life-giving rain. 

Today I'll join my coffee shop friends and will probably sit around outside while enjoying my coffee and their company, before making some shopping errands and then heading home. I might start watching season 4 of The Crown, which was just released today. I've enjoyed the first three seasons very much. As our days grow shorter and the nights ever longer as we make our way towards the winter solstice, I am spending more time inside, sequestered with my dear partner as we slog through our isolation during the pandemic. 

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. —Charles R. Swindoll

Well, that about wraps up this post, as I get ready to begin the rest of my Sunday. I do feel a bit better than I did before I started to write, which is why I do it. Hopefully you will find some joy and happiness in your days before we meet again next week. Until then, dear friends, be well. 


gigi-hawaii said...

That video of the salmon was interesting. I love that last quote in your post. Focus on your attitude, nothing else.

Anvilcloud said...

We will definitely watch The Crown, but we might rewatch season 3 first. I liked season 3 even more than the first two, I think because it occurred during my lifetime and I could relate to many of the events. I expect that season 4 will be quite relatable.

Elephant's Child said...

What an amazing video. And how sad that they make this arduous journey only once.
I look forward to your Sunday posts, and you never disappoint. You give me things to think about always.
I am so glad that you have found a multitude of ways to cope during the pandemic which are so very right for you.

ApacheDug said...

DJan, your Sunday columns always put me in an introspective mood. I’ve actually been reminded of you all morning, Fall finally arrived here in Pittsburgh overnight. It looks a lot like the pictures you share of your Pacific Northwest.

I enjoyed that video with the salmon too, it must be really amazing to see it in person. While most of us know of their journey home, I didn’t realize it was their final one.

Anyway, I know you’re not doing them to impress anyone, but these walks of yours... my feet started aching just reading about your 5 mile journey! Well, you’re certainly taking good advantage of your place on the map—and I hope you enjoy The Crown, I’m on my 5th episode of Queen’s Gambit. Netflix does period shows very well. Thank you for your musings, and I sure hope your week ahead is friend-filled and a happy one :-)

Far Side of Fifty said...

Have a fun day! It is always good to hear what is happening with you. I have a rain coat that I hardly ever use...and a bunch of those plastic ponchos:)

Margaret said...

Although I understand our governor's actions completely, I went into a bit of a depression over our upcoming 4 week partial lock down. Like you, I'm considered elderly so I've been working at staying safe(no restaurants, no indoor gatherings) but it's definitely done a number on my joie de vivre. Glad you got out and exercised. I need to look at that jacket since I walk/run in most any weather.

Marie Smith said...

We saw the salmon run n Newfoundland a few times. The Atlantic salmon go back out to sea after spawning in the home streams inland. They jump rapids and swim upstream which are incredible to see. Amazing fish. So tasty too.

Linda Reeder said...

I have seen the salmon running to spawn at the locks in Seattle, jumping the fish ladders, and in the Cedar River in Renton, and in Alaska. It's always fascinating.
One my Gortex loses it's rain resistance, I spray it with Scotchguard. That works for a while. It will be interesting to see if this new fabric resists rain longer. Only plastic keeps the rain out forever, but it's not breathable you I get as wet with sweat inside as the rain would make me outside.
My days of hiking five miles are over, but I can still enjoy yours.

Rian said...

The weather is beautiful today here in Texas... 67 F and sunny... kind of strange for mid November. But hey, I'll take it! And as for raincoats, I don't even own one. An umbrella on occasion will suffice.
I think we got to see the salmon run in Scotland a while back. It was interesting. And we plan to watch the new season of The Crown also.
Like your last quote also. I have always believed that it isn't what happens, but how we handle it that matters.

Arkansas Patti said...

Been interested to see if this new wonder fabric lives up to the hype. Glad you are testing it for us.
I have always found the salmon spawning to be so sad. They work so hard, fight huge obstacles only to die. However it seems to work for them.

Gigi said...

Sadly, I couldn't see the video (operator error, I'm sure!). You always bring us the most interesting facts!

Attitude is a huge factor in everything we do. I've been trying to convince my husband of this of late. He is much more of an extrovert than I and I believe the isolation is beginning to get to him. Not that he is depressed, but some days are worse than others.

Red said...

It was a bonus to see salmon spawning on your walk. we have to keep active in spite of covid. Have a great week.

Betsy said...

I watched a video of Governor Inslee's retuning us all to lockdown. Even though I completely expected it, in fact, I thought it would go further and close the schools too, it still depressed me. Will we ever get our lives back? And then I feel guilty because at least I'm still here when so many others have lost the battle with COVID, including my own brother.
I hope you have a great week and I'm so glad you have some diversions to relieve the loneliness of isolation.

Rita said...

Talk about going out at your peak! Salmon have to be in their best shape to make it there so I suppose that almost guarantees the strongest babies--LOL!

I hope your jacket works well. Have a great week! :)

Galen Pearl said...

There are salmon in the creek in front of my cabin. We are close to the ocean in terms of driving, but not so close in terms of swimming upstream to a tiny creek in the mountains! I'm always so impressed when I see them. My third grade grandson is beginning a unit on the salmon life cycle. Very interesting. I'm learning a lot myself!

I've watched the first episode of the new The Crown season. Love the series. Hope you have a good week.

Glenda Beall said...

The salmon story is sad to me. They struggle so hard to go back and then they are too weak and they die. I read that in some places human interference on the rivers has made it impossible for the fish to go back. I am glad you walk with friends and get outside. When I go to my sister's for Thanksgiving, I will get outside more and will be with people for a few days. But we are not planning a big gathering this year. I enjoyed this post, as usual,

Dee said...

Dear DJan, your musings always quiet my soul. Thank you for the tenderness that lies at the deep center of your being.

In thinking of the salmons and the Wikipedia paragraph you posted, a book came to my mind--a book I read when I was a teen-ager and have since read several times. Always, it brings me to tears as I rejoice in all of nature. The book is "The Snow Goose" by Paul Gallico. It was published, I think, in the 1940s or 1950s. A slim book that I've always thought of as an exquisite gem.

Another gem is "Platero and I" by Juan Ramon Jimenez.

I'm so glad for you that the walking/hiking has continued and that you zoom with your friends. Oneness there. Peace.