Category Archives: Nature

Close to Nature

I started swimming a couple of months ago. I have always been a person who could get around in the water, but I had never learned any proper swimming strokes. I was inefficient.

I had tried to take classes but without much success. I don’t really enjoy group activities, and adult swim classes tend to be pitched wrong for me. I am a pretty good athlete in general, and comfortable in the water.

I finally signed up for a series of one-on-one sessions with a coach, and it’s something I should have done years ago. Within a week or so, I was swimming regularly at Aquatic Park, an outdoor swim area with an almost 300-meter buoy line. I go a few times a week now, and I always have a good time.

Mostly. Lately the park has attracted a couple of sea lions. For several weeks, it seemed like this was limited to somewhat shy visits from a younger male, who mostly hung around just outside the swimming area. He seemed hesitant, maybe even safe.

But people have been bitten at this beach before, although rarely. The consensus on the “rogue sea lion” in 2006 was that he was somehow ill.

Well, OK, this isn't what happened, but this is about how I felt about it.

That doesn’t make me feel any better about the large, adult male sea lion that visited Aquatic Park yesterday. I saw him as I sat on the beach, about to get out of water, and I wonder how long he’d been gliding around as I was doing my 7 laps. He certainly seemed right at home, swimming well within the swimmers area, past little groups of swimmers that were still in the water, eyeing us all casually.

Here’s hoping he’s healthy and has satisfied his curiosity, and won’t be back.

When the ergot hits the rye

At some point in my adolescence, I was brought along to some kind of poetry group and someone read a poem with on the theme of ergot poisoning from grain. I have no other memories of the group at all, but I was reminded of it by this photo:

So, there it is. That’s what it looks like.

That, and, maybe, the Salem witch trials.

Produce MRIs

MRI machines have to be tested and calibrated, and Andy Ellison puts produce into the machine he works with to use in those tests. The results are amazing and wonderful, especially when they make you realize how little you’ve thought about familiar foods. It’s a no-brainer that onion and artichoke will be lovely and smooth and somewhat predictable, but what about watermelon [3MB image]?

Many more at Inside insides.

One More Valentine Post: New Love for Pale Male!

After Lola disappeared in December, a fairly dark female appeared on the scene. After a few weeks, this relationship didn’t work out and she left the park.

Pale Male now has a second “girlfriend”. They seem to be much more of a couple and I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes the permanent mate.

More pictures—and video!—at Urban Hawks

Suicidal Seagull

Dear Diary:

On a balmy fall night, my wife and I saw a seagull strutting up Fifth Avenue.

Suddenly, the bird darted across the street into the rush-hour traffic. I cringed as it avoided the first car, then got clobbered by the second one. Like a punch-drunk fighter, the gull got up and limped toward the fine shops on Madison Avenue.

Unable to watch a drama that was destined to end badly, I raced toward the kamikaze bird. Shaken, it tried to fly away, but a broken wing kept it earthbound. As I picked it up, it stared defiantly and bit me.

Read the rest at the New York Times feature, “Metropolitan Diary”