Winter life

This camellia won the Chilly Flower award again this year.

Camelli sasanqua "Setsugekka" and Westie(That’s not white garden carpeting, no that’s Max the terrier, who accidentally helped me with the photo contrast challenges…)

The camellia is called C. sasanqua “Setsugekka” which sounds sort of Russian but is actually from the forests of Japan. It is also called the Yuletide Camellia or Christmas Camellia, which is quite jolly. The blooms are fragrant and intrepid, opening here in real winter with more buds coming. (The blooms’ arch enemy is rain and we’ve had a little break from that.)

There are other peeky plants outside.

Leucojum bulbs peeking upLeucojum bulbs, sending up periscopes just to see–I do expect them to go back down soon.

Yesterday Max and I walked the trails of a rather wild park near here. I took a couple iphone images, remarkably bad, but they show the winter look.

wilderness park trailMax loves this place. The trails are kept cut clear, but the rest of the park is allowed to be a forest of oak and maple, blackberries and ferns. Once we met a deer on the trail–we all stopped cold and stared at one another–and one autumn an official-looking sign appeared warning that there was a mountain lion in the neighborhood. (We never saw him, but I did watch, and I can tell you that is not how to enjoy a walk.)

Max walking the park trailIt was a cold sunny day for our walk this week.  When we reached the creek we stopped and I happened to notice a huge bird soaring in the sky way above us, in wide-winged circles, spiraling higher and then lower and then back up.  Sometimes the morning sun caught the snowy white of his head and the underside of his white tail feathers…

I’ve never seen an eagle so near where I live before.

Red-tailed hawks are common over my house in summer, pairs of them flying together and occasionally dropping like a rocket straight down on some clueless unlucky field mouse. And sometimes the sky will be frightening with buzzards, flying low toward a dead sheep in the neighbor’s pasture, skimming the housetop like the Nazgul in Tolkien’s books. And of course there are the glorious ribbons of singing Canada geese, so noisy that Max will run the length of our field in an effort to catch them or chase them away.

But this bird cruising the park sky was unquestionably a Bald Eagle.

I got all 21st century about it and made a little movie with my phone camera, but in the sun I couldn’t even see the bird on the screen as I filmed so I just pointed the camera toward him and tried to follow his circles. The result was a tiny black spot moving in and out of view. (There may be a blog movie here someday, but that one isn’t it.)

Soon a smaller eagle joined the large one. Its feathers had no white I could see, so it was some kind of teenager eagle. Together they glided in circles, lower and then higher again, never moving their wide wings, riding the winds above us. After a few minutes the bigger bird remembered an appointment or something, and they both flew away to the south.

But I felt privileged they had stopped to visit us.

“Eagles overhead–it might be a good omen,” I told Max. (You just never know.)


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in actual plants, Max the Westie and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Winter life

  1. ricki says:

    Running with dlephiniums…and now eagles! You led a charmed life.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Ricki

      I really like the sound of charmed life. (I hope it’s different from that ‘out of touch with reality’ idea that some of my relatives talk about.)

  2. Susan says:

    I absolulutely adore your writing. I’ve just been giggling at the orange tree saga. I was similarly obsessed with a sick peony last year. We have just moved into temporary accommodation overlooking the Salish Sea. I watched two eagles soaring over the water as I did the dishes this morning. Good omen indeed.

    • linniew says:

      Wow all I can see out the kitchen window is grape leaves falling. I hope your new house will be in the same amazing neighborhood as your temporary one –even though it clearly includes unfair numbers of accessible eagles.

  3. Katie says:

    Hi Linnie!
    I had never seen a wild Bald Eagle until this Summer. We were fishing at Ellery Lake in Yosemite, and just like yours, he did several slow circles then disappeared into the distance. We were amazed, happy, and so honored. The appearance of certain birds, especially hawks and owls, always feels like a good omen to me too. When little hummingbirds buzz down and give me a good eye-level stare down, I feel almost watched over.

    • linniew says:

      Oh yes Katie– I love owls especially. One dark night a white barn owl flew low over my car as I drove in on our gravel driveway–he was like a ghost. And hummers always make me stop and watch, they are so unreal the way they hover. Oftentimes I hear them, that hummy-purry sound, and can’t see them…

  4. Alberto says:

    Never seen any eagle in my life. It must be a joy to spot one in the sky! But I shall suggest you to keep your iPhone in the pocket next time and just enjoy the moment! It could be a very good camera but just not in your hands… 🙂
    The white sasanqua is beautiful, normally I see them pink but white is definitely its colour!
    I smiled at your leucojum!

  5. Grace says:

    Well eagle overhead beats cougar up ahead any day! I love to watch those huge birds. They own the sky and soar so effortlessly. On the way to work my daughter and I used to see herons in the fields. Then we noticed an occasional hawk perched on the horizontal rail of the telephone pole. My daughter now lives in Corvallis so I drive to work alone. A few mornings ago, as I was waiting to turn onto the highway, I noticed a hawk landing on the rail and we made a connection. Or at least I think we did. It might be that I’m just weird. But it was cool.

    I love Camellia sasanqua. Several years ago I had the red ‘Yuletide’ but it died. I think it was an inferior plant to begin with. It just wasn’t happy. I love your ‘Setsugekka.’ I kind of want me that one. 🙂

    I have to say Max’s butt is awfully cute. And your park looks so peaceful. Glad you were able to enjoy the brief rain reprieve.


    • linniew says:

      Hiya Gracie!
      Well sure you’re weird, but that’s the beauty of it –and still, I’m sure you and the hawk connected. Trust me.)

      Also, I will tell Max that thing you said. xo L

  6. kininvie says:

    It seems fairly typical that the only eagles in your life are bald. At least ours are golden (not that they appear often – well, never, actually). But we do have buzzards. You are right; they are just like nazgul. I hate them.

    • linniew says:

      Oh finally Kininvie, we agree.

      • kininvie says:

        Finally? You mean we’ve never agreed before? Not in a year-and-a-bit of swapping esoteric comments? Well, dang me (as I believe they say in your part of the world), who would have thought it?
        I think, BTW, that it’s going to have to be a scary Christmas neep, designed to terrify Santa, who has expensive habits and deserves to be warned off.

        • linniew says:

          Well Kininvie, personally I rarely say ‘dang me’ — I say other things. Sometimes. (All very polite.)

          But, what’s this about Santa and his expensive habits? Has he gotten into your champagne stash, or what? And is a Christmas neep another Scottish tradition– or a sort of carving mirage that moves ever further as one approaches it?

          • kininvie says:

            The latter.

            As for Santa, he prefers malt whisky. If he hasn’t been trapped in a net or hit on the head by a bag of wet flour, as used to be the case in times past. This year, a neep will suffice.

            • linniew says:

              So, you plan to attack Santa with a neep? (Not MY neep!) Well I just hope you enjoy that lump of coal you find in your stocking Kininvie… And don’t forget to leave out the whiskey bottle for that poor abused Santa–and maybe some very good chocolate for dessert.

  7. b-a-g says:

    I always wondered why people buy special software with filters to make photos look like paintings when they can just use their iphones.

  8. An eagle, how utterly exciting. I’m very jealous. Camellia looks crisp and clean, probably due to the periscopes checking it out. Does max enjoy winter walks or is he like peedie sulking at his brash and leaf filled undercarriage which fills with snow balls (clumps) in the snow?

    • linniew says:

      Max is fine walking in all weather so long as water is not actually falling from the sky onto his head. We rarely have much snow so the frozen tummy issue hasn’t come up. He does love cold clear weather– it makes him run in mad circles sometimes.

  9. I forget where you are located and am wondering if all those camellia buds won’t freeze. My leucojum is up even higher and shows no signs of retracting. I always wonder what triggers that. I wish plants could talk. Magical eagle siting.

    • linniew says:

      I’m on the left coast, Oregon, balmy windy rain. So far anyway. I love thinking of plants talking– like Alice in the garden, right? Keep an eye on the leucojum, they may go back down. (I used to tell the children that I had a crank that would wind the grass back into the ground, so much easier than mowing… And still, they have become semi-normal adults.) Happy winter, Carolyn!

  10. Alistair says:

    Linnie, your bald eagle may be very interesting however the thought of a walk in the countryside ending up with bumping in to a mountain lion, now that would make it well worth having your good camera with you, (i think) I am looking forward to your big movie some day, I think I can visualise some teamwork with kininvie being involved. Love your chilly bloom, think I will call it (Camellia Maximum)

    • linniew says:

      Hi Alistair
      Yes a mountain lion changes a walk somehow. I’ve read that when confronted one should NOT turn and run, but rather to try to look big and scary by waving arms and making noise, which will either scare the mountain lion away or make his lunch into an interesting story to share with other mountain lions someday… I envision tiny movies, maybe a couple of minutes as part of a post, with me as camera-woman and narrator. But I would need a better movie camera than my iphone, or a VERY good editing program, so you are safe from this idea for a while longer. “Camellia Maximum” has a nice extreme ring to it.

  11. We often have bald eagles flying over our farm, stops me in my tracks every time. Your first photo with Max had me wondering for a minute.

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