The August Letter from Birch Bay

Friends,                                                                                               August 10, 2108


Red Flag Warning!  Fire Danger.  That’s the message we’ve gotten on our computers the last few weeks.  We’ve had the hottest July on record, and most of the state is in drought conditions.  Smoke is in the air now from fires down south and on the eastern side of the state.  We’re really safe as raspberry and blueberry fields surround Birch Bay and the forest patches in between are green and healthy.  Folks who live up in the foothills closer to the fires that have popped up are suddenly aware of cougars in their front yards as all the wildlife runs from the flames, including bears.  Again, we’re safe from these invaders.  The only really carnivorous worry is the Venus Fly Trap plant that a neighbor gave us.

And if you understand the mindset of Cancer females, you won’t be surprised to hear that Leslie harvests sugar ants from the kitchen sink to feed Venus.  Then she shakes the pot, and I swear I heard one burp. The warm temps and sunshine fuel lots of growth in the garden as Leslie has harvested green beans, zucchinis and parsley – the tomatoes are just getting there and carefully watched over as she is out every morning checking on the crop, throwing some love on it all.  On the backroads there are lots of small farm stands filled with flowers and vegetables – take what you want and leave the money in the jar.

Best of all we get fresh eggs from the local dairy store and the farmers who raise chickens.  And I tried something new last week.  Leslie’s son, Pete, has a buddy at work, Texas Tony, who has a little ranchette and raises chickens and ducks.  We bought some chicken and duck eggs from him, and I had duck eggs for the first time – sunny side up.  They taste like chicken eggs, but the yoke is bigger and richer.  You might not be able to tell the difference from regular eggs if you scrambled them.  Leslie turned her nose up and wouldn’t taste them (remember, Cancer rules chickens, plus she’s a big baby).

The Canadian geese are back, too.  They fly over us in the Winter with loud honks but disappear in the Summer when they raise their young.  That’s to keep the bald eagles from snatching the young ones.  Now they are back with the teenagers teaching them how to fly in formation.  For some reason, crab season has been put off until Aug 16.  Likely it’s to let them fatten up as was the case last year.  But that means I still haven’t had my crab dinner, and I have a cold bottle of French wine waiting in the box for the moment. The big environmental story here is the momma orca still carrying her dead calf in the waters off the San Juan islands.  She’s getting weak after swimming more than two weeks keeping the calf afloat.  So, the Lummi Indians are planning to put Chinook salmon, her fav, loaded with medicine in her path hoping to feed her and save her life.

Meanwhile, the Governor has created a task force to study how to help save the dwindling orca population that return each year to our waters.  Scientists and wildlife folks watch the herd very carefully and report that there are only 75 adults in the pod now when there were 100 members 30 years ago.  Lack of Chinook salmon is the main reason for the decline, mostly caused by the dams on the Snake River preventing the fish from swimming upstream and spawning.  Of course, there’s a big resistance to destroy the dams and their ability to create electricity.  Polluted water and lots of boat traffic also are part of the reason for the decline, they say.  It’s been three years since a calf survived birth to become an adult and that’s part of the reason the state needs to take action now.

Tahlequah is the name of the mother orca – put her in your prayers.  And hang on, there’s a big kiss up ahead at the end of Mercury Retrograde, as times change.

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