Submitted by Peg Doman.
About a week ago my husband, Don found a whorl of some beautiful orange and brown feathers. They were all of one piece but not from a large bird considering the size of the feathers. There are two colorations: one is chocolate brown with wavy peach edges that come over the shaft to the edge. The second kind are striped with chocolate and warm medium brown. The shafts are vermillion, an orangey-red. They are all attached and about 4 ½ inches long. I’m not absolutely sure what bird they came from but I surmised that it may be some sort of a flicker. Why? Because last year, I heard a thump from the front of the house and went to check it out. A pretty good-sized bird had hit our glass storm porch and lay there. He was either stunned or dead. I looked at him but didn’t touch. The shafts of his feathers were pink and the new pretty feathers are striated. I looked it up in my Audubon book and that’s the closest I came to figuring out his name. I went back several times to see if he recovered. He did and flew off.
Apparently, the orange and brown bird didn’t understand that our local crows hold dominion on North Huson.
We recently went on an adventure to Palouse Falls in South Eastern Washington where I watched the crows soar and float across the skies well above the falls. I would have expected this of eagles, but seeing the crows glide across the chasm was exciting. Must have had an updraft. After we left Ellensburg, we were on secondary roads so we could appreciate the countryside. Beautiful yellow hills and valleys punctuated by the dusty sagebrush and small yellow and blue flowers. Many of the fields were irrigated so they looked deep, dark green. Everything looked peaceful and interesting.
At the Palouse Falls State Park, while we all looked down at the fascinating Palouse Falls and the rainbows in its mist, the crows soared in the sky; the marmots scavenged the picnic area; a family swam in the pool created by the falls; and we enjoyed every minute there.
Our family group enjoyed the sights of the Palouse and then we traveled north to Spokane. I visited the Audubon Exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Crafts with Don’s sister Deedee and their cousin Lindy. It was wonderful. There were some copies of his artwork for his seminal illustrated book, Birds of America, as well as some items that he had used on his trips to find birds and mammals, and helpful descriptors about his travels across the Atlantic. There were a charming little necklace and earrings that he had made for his wife out of his hair with golden beads while he was in Europe for several years. Lindy and I went to the Gift Shop and she purchased several books for her grandchildren.
On our way to Ellensburg, we saw the signs for the Washington Petroglyph State Park and decided to not be like 98% of Americans who drive only to reach a destination, but not to enjoy the trip. It’s very small but impressive. As we were leaving, we saw the “Grandfather Releases the Ponies” metal sculpture high on the hill across the river from us. None of us had ever been to see it. Even though we have to backtrack to get to the viewpoint, we decided we had to see it. The viewpoint is at the bottom of this enormous hill. We did not have the right shoes (or mindset or muscle tone) to climb the hill. We did see a young man coming back down to the parking lot. He recommended we not try the climb. As if we would even consider it! Then it was a second backtrack to get back on I90 to Ellensburg.
For the next night, we had overnight accommodations at the Ellensburg Holiday Inn Express. We went to dinner at a small café, The Porch, and had a very lovely meal then drove around town. We were surprised to find a book store, Brick Road Books, open Monday through Saturday from nine to nine. Don and I went in and met the eccentric owner, Daniel W. I asked if he had anything about Audubon; he searched the area he thought it would be in and found volume 2 of the journal about his acquisition trip for mammals on the upper Mississippi. Daniel and I got talking and I told him about my insect, bird, flower, and tree books. He then went and found an old book (copyrighted 1904) about moths that still had its printed plates, in color! Before sophisticated security systems, opportunists would go to famous libraries and secretly cut out the plates of medieval books to sell on the black market. Whenever I’m over there, I’ll go back to Brick Road Books, Daniel’s bastion, and talk about books.
On Sunday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast table looked out on a small creek, trees, and an open field. There was constant bird traffic outside the window. Robins found bugs and worms in the wet ground between the hotel and the creek. Magpies swooped in and worked their way down the creek.
We packed up and loaded the car and set off for home. Our wonderful adventure was coming to an end. We only had the drive back to Tacoma through the mountains. We could tell as soon as we crossed the summit that we were back on the damp side. Clouds of mist rose and covered the tallest peaks.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.