Autumn again

October 12, 2021

It’s that time of year, the annual Colorado ritual of bracing for the first real freeze and battening down the hatches.

It’s the time of year to review, reassess, look at the what the year has been so far, and look at what lies ahead. Fourth quarter is upon us. I’m okay. I’m trying to take things slow and not beat myself up, but time seems to be accelerating around me, inspiring just a bit of panic.

Breathe deep. It’s gonna be okay.

What I’m doing:

My niece’s Halloween costume went into the mail today, and that’s a big accomplishment. She picked something relatively simple this year, thank goodness. Pics when I have them.

A reminder that two new Cormac and Amelia novellas, FATAL STORM and CHARMED WATERS, will be out in a couple months. Click here to find preorder links. These will also be available on Apple Books and in audiobook versions.

And I feel like it’s about time for a new short story. Is it time for a new short story? Heck yeah! This week, Beneath Ceaseless Skies is publishing my story “The Burning Girl.” For those of you who were at the Alternate History panel at MileHi Con, this is the “Norman Conquest but with superheroes” story I was talking about. It’s a little more complicated than that. But, well, you’ll just have to read it…

And that’s what’s going on in my world.

operation enjoy fall

September 13, 2021

Did something a little different this Monday morning.

This is Union Reservoir, with Longs Peak on the horizon ahead of me.

It was a little windy and wavy for comfort, but it still felt GREAT being on the water. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been scuba diving? Too long.

But this is a nice way to get some sun and water until I can pull out my wetsuit again.

almost autumn

September 10, 2021

The talk in my neck of the woods is all about how, while it’s still really hot during the day, the mornings have turned cool, and the leaves are starting to go yellow. That first taste of autumn is here. Over the last few weeks of birding, I’ve noticed that the red-wing blackbirds and grackles are gone, migrated. So are the warblers. But the mergansers and buffleheads will probably be showing up soon.

I’m not an autumn fangirl like some people, but I think I’m looking forward to it this year. This summer was frantic and fraught. All those things we said we were going to cram into this summer because we missed out on them last year… and it was okay. It was all okay.

But this year, I think I’m looking forward to that shift, that transition, that happens when the temperature drops. It’s time to catch my breath.

My next event is MileHi Con, happening a bit early this year, October 1-3. This’ll be quite a bit different than Marcon for me, because it’s local, familiar, because I know so many people. But it’s at a new hotel, in the post-pandemic world, so it will also be different. I’m expecting some pretty profound culture shock.

I’ll bring a costume or two. That’ll make me feel better.

Adventure weekend!

June 8, 2021

I had a weekend full of good hikes and visiting, staying with a friend out in Crested Butte. I’m incredibly grateful for the means and ability to just hop in my car and go on trips like this. I try not to take it for granted.

Colorado is full of spots like this and I just love it:

(If it’s not clear, the text on the sign reads “Cottonwood Pass, Elevation 12,216 Feet, Continental Divide, Atlantic Ocean, San Isabel National Forest, Pacific Ocean, Gunnison National Forest.)

Really beautiful country. Still lots snow up there.

And then I drove home in time to see a tornado touch down maybe 25 miles from my house while I was on the freeway. So that was exciting.

This pic is close to the view I got. Unmistakable. Fascinating and also a little terrifying. It was evening rush hour and I wonder what would have happened if it had crossed the freeway…

Global Big Day 2021

May 12, 2021

Once again, I participated in the Global Big Day birding marathon. I like it because it gets me out and encourages me to challenge myself. (i.e. Get out in the field before 8 am. If I were a better birder I’d be out by 6 am, but I just enjoy that extra half hour of lying in a warm bed too much, it turns out. 8 am it is.)

This year’s results? Pretty good. I got a great lifer: a marsh wren.

42 species total. I can’t seem to break 50. I probably could have if I had made one more stop at a different set of ponds, but the weather was turning horrendous, with a big thunderstorm rolling in, and I just didn’t want to stay out in it to try to land six extra ducks.

Because that was the weird thing: there’s a whole list of duck species I reliably see at the locations where I went, and I saw NONE of them this year. This seems to happen a lot: I get close to 50, but then there’s a handful of common species I just sort of miss. And it’s a different handful every year. Like, one year I missed pigeons. Pigeons, dammit.

If you listed all the species I’ve seen on all my Big Days together, I’d be up to 70 or 80 I think. But no, the little beasties just don’t cooperate.

But that marsh wren was great. So was the colony of bank swallows I discovered when I went just a bit farther down this one trail, and the last bird of the day I logged: a warbling vireo.

And, best of all, it’s spring, and the migrating birds are returning, and this is a really good chance to get out and welcome them back.

spring!

May 3, 2021

It’s t-shirt weather today, and I’m LOVING it. This is doing a lot to improve my mood. Mind you, this is Colorado and we’re due for another bout of chilly rain and weather next week. But contrast is good for the soul, I suppose.

Another thing I love about this time of year is watching bird migration. The ospreys are back, reclaiming their nests and laying eggs. All winter, the local ponds hosted big flocks of mergansers and goldeneyes. As of last week, the mergansers are gone, but western grebes and teals have arrived to replace them. The wrens and warblers and orioles should be back soon, as well.

Next week is the Global Big Day, when birders all over the world go out to ID and count birds. I’m looking forward to it, though I haven’t quite figured out my plan yet. I’m going to stay local, but at the same time try to see some old favorite spots in a new light.

…and now the snow

February 18, 2021

Remember last week when I was complaining that there was no snow?

We got about 6 inches overnight. I spent this morning shoveling. Good exercise! There’s this thing that happens around here — it gets too cold to snow. When the temperature spends days below zero? It doesn’t snow. But a couple days ago it started warming up, getting all the way to the 30’s (Fahrenheit) — I love it, 30 actually feels balmy after most of a week at zero. And it’s like the air thaws out and all the moisture in it just falls out. Fluffy, beautiful, snow…

That said: Texas friends, my heart is with you. Please be careful.

 

brrrrrrr

February 12, 2021

And now the temperature is going to be at single digits or zero for the next three days.

I woudn’t mind it as much if we had a big beautiful snow to go with it.

But it’s gray out.

Just gray.

Blah.

 

goose

December 22, 2020

Here’s a Christmas Goose for you.

Yesterday I went out to Barr Lake State Park for a Solstice walk and birding expedition, because it was a really nice day and I need to soak up all the sun I can this time of year. I had a great walk — and saw more Canada Geese than I think I ever have in one place. They just kept coming, hundreds of them, all hanging out at the edge of the water. So much noise.

A good lesson to learn in birding: always take a second look at that gigantic flock of what seems like one species. Especially waterfowl, because there might be something mixed in with all that brown.

This is a really bad phone picture. Photography is one thing that I just can’t get worked up about practicing to get good at, so you’ll have to put up with my crap images. But I still kind of love this one, because in that sea of drab brown Canada geese — a flash of white. Something odd, something different, a bird species I’d never seen at Barr Lake before. It’s a snow goose. This is only the second time I’ve seen a snow goose.

I’m not sure how this one lone snow goose ended up hanging out with a giant flock of an entirely different species, but there it is. (There were actually two, but they weren’t together, I’m sure there’s a story there.)

Always take that second look. Don’t make assumptions about what you’re looking at.

 

Mesa Verde

October 20, 2020

From a hike I did at Mesa Verde National Park: