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Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

SBI poster MHS 1

Classroom Poster created from a Surviving Bear Island Quote.

 

One of the unexpected treats of being an author is getting to see student art inspired by Surviving Bear Island. On a recent school visit where the entire Freshman Class had read Surviving Bear Island, I had great time in the Library telling them some of the true stories behind the stories in the book and fielding questions. Later, when I stopped by a classroom I was surprised by a Wall of Surviving Bear Island Art!

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A couple weeks later, on another school visit, I got to see book trailers that fifth graders made. Not long after that I discovered this trailer created by Carter, a fifth grader in Nebraska who had read Surviving Bear Island.

As a teacher, I’ve had my students do lots of art over the years related to books we’ve read, but I never thought about how that art could brighten an author’s day until I became an author.

So, I just want to thank all the students, teachers and parents who encourage and support art-related literary activities. Creating art is a great way to express a response to a story.

Thanks for stopping by!

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beaver chewing

The past three years I’ve been incredibly busy and this has resulted in lots of blog-neglect on my part. After sixteen years of teaching I decided to pursue my Special Education Credential, which basically entailed taking many graduate classes both at night and during the summers while also teaching. After a three year blitz, I completed the program.

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At the same time, I got my first book contract and was working on rewrites of Surviving Bear Island, which came out in March. The learning curve of having my first book out, plus being in Graduate School while also teaching squeezed out other things in my life, like blogging. I was able to keep up with my once a month posts at Project Mayhem.

The past few weeks I’ve been spending time at a local wetland and have witnessed a family of Beavers working over the area. I’ve seem them cut down trees, haul them across the water to their lodge and continually eat leaves, all the while being on the look out for predators. Yes, they are busy!!

DSCN0504If I had to do the three years over again, I’d probably do what I did even though certain stretches were brutal in terms of having a new teaching job, graduate level work due, and revisions due all at the same time.

I don’t have any words of wisdom here. I’m a person with a generally positive outlook on life so I focused on being grateful that I had all these things in my life.

I hope to post more regularly, not just updates about my book, and share what I’ve been up to now that my head is above the water enough to take a look around.

Thanks for stopping by!!

 

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On a hike in Harriman State Park in New York snakes were the farthest thing from my mind when this little garter snake crossed the path.

I did the usual thing I do when I see a snake that’s not threatening me—I moved toward it to get a closer look.

Later in the hike we were surprised by this big black snake. I’m not sure what kind it is but it was at least five feet long.

We wouldn’t have seen it if we had done the hike we’d planned on doing—a six mile loop. Somehow we missed a trail junction and ended up hiking a couple extra miles. Luckily, the only other people we saw had a map and they set us straight.

I had some expectations about this hike.

1. The trails would be crowded with people.

2. It wouldn’t require much thought or effort to navigate a marked trail system because most of the hiking I do in Alaska is in trail-less wilderness.

3. Maybe we’d see some squirrels or deer, but snakes—no way.

So, yeah, nothing I thought would happen actually happened.

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So, our garden planting got delayed by about thirty minutes today because this young bull moose parked himself in the yard and proceeded to snack on willow and birch leaves. I was standing in the bed of my pickup truck while I took photos. Mostly, I just watched him strip entire branches of their leaves.

The day before the moose came, our garden planting was delayed because of a forest fire. The fire didn’t threaten our house but we could see flames through the trees while standing on our deck. I abandoned the garden and drove up the road where I could get a better view.  This is what I saw:

700 acres burned in a few hours. Flames were shooting 100 to 200 feet into the air.

Watching a fire rage and looking at a large animal that could stomp you in an instant are both humbling experiences.

I felt sad as I watched the fire (sometimes I just had to look away) because I know people who live up in the area that burned, and I felt sure that houses were being destroyed. Miraculously, no houses were lost–I’m still amazed that the fire fighters were able to keep things under control.

And the moose, well, at one point he turned and looked at me and my heart did a little leap, like okay, get ready to jump down and scoot into the cab because it feels like that moose is going to come my way in a big way. But then he just kept tearing leaves from the trees.

So, those were my weekend highlights. What were yours?

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It’s been about 12 hours since the scorpion delivered its venom to the tip of my pinky finger.

At first I think a stray cactus spine has somehow lodged itself into the carpet by the foot of the bed where I was reaching my hand. But when the tip of my finger just keeps buzzing with pain, and then the buzz and tingling starts traveling down my finger into my hand and toward my elbow, I start considering other options.

I carefully lift the frilly decorative sheet that hangs to floor at the edge of the bed. And there, partially visible in a crevice between the mattress and box-spring, is a tan scorpion.

I’m no stranger to things that bite and sting and know that all scorpion venom is not created equal.

Am I a little freaked out? Hell yes!

I want that scorpion in a container to identify it so I’ll know if I’m just going to experience some major discomfort or something worse that requires medical attention.

I position a yogurt container where I anticipate the scorpion will fall when I harass it with the end of a broomstick. (Side note: In the midst of all this my wife and I are both googling “scorpion bite” on our laptops and finding some gruesome stuff.)

The scorpion misses the container, skitters under the bed, and I attempt to pummel it with the broomstick figuring a dead scorpion is much preferable to a live one. But even peering with a flashlight after my attack, I’m not sure if I got it.

I call the people we’re renting from. Luckily they live right next door and turn out to be scorpion experts. They come over with a black light (that’s the best way to find scorpions since they glow), and shine it under the bed, and yes, we find some scorpion parts, but we’re not sure if they’re from the scorpion.

They offer us the spare bedroom in their house but we decide to stay at our place. We strip the bed, do a thorough search and find nothing.

In the meantime, the pain and numbness has traveled up my arm to the base of my shoulder, but I’m not experiencing any of the really bad symptoms, i.e. foaming at the mouth, shortness of breath, profuse sweating, so I’m pretty sure all I’m going to have is a local reaction.

When I wake up the morning, the numbness and buzzing has retreated to my pinky finger. It’s hard to type because I can’t feel my finger when it presses on the keys, but supposedly it’ll be much better in another 24 hours. We’ll just have to wait and see.

So, if you’ve got a character in your novel that experiences a scorpion sting I’m your go-to guy for information.

This scorpion incident ranks second worse in my continuum of sting experiences. Sometime I’ll have to tell you about number one.

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Image provided by the National Park Service.

My wife and I spent six years living in a one room cabin with a sleeping loft. Total area: 600 square feet. And yes, cabin means no running water.

One Sunday in October I wasn’t feeling well. It was about 5 pm. I decided to just go to bed. I climbed the stairway to the loft, was about to lay down when I spied an animal on the road.

“Dana,” I called, my eyes glued to the window. “Come here. Now.”

She must’ve known from my tone of voice that something was up. Because believe me I don’t usually issue commands like that. I heard Dana’s footsteps on the stairs, lifted my arm and waved her over.

Together we watched this lynx walk down our dirt road and turn into our driveway. It proceeded down the driveway all the way to the cabin and turned again, like it was going to walk across our deck.

We ran down the stairs and positioned ourselves at the small window looking out onto one side of the L-shaped deck, and sure enough, this big cat was strolling down the deck like he owned it.

It stopped right at the window and turned its head our way. It was so close—just three feet away—that I could see the little tufts of fur on its ears. It didn’t seem to be looking directly at us, more like over or beyond us.

This is not my photo, but it gives you an idea of what we saw.

It kept going and turned the corner on the deck. We ran to the next window and watched the lynx move to the edge of the deck. It faced away from us and assumed a pouncing position, its muscles contracting, like it was going to spring.

I looked beyond the lynx and there, in the fireweed, was a snow shoe hare, nibbling. The lynx pounced. The hare bolted, and they both disappeared into the forest. 

Nature operates on relationships.

I don’t know the outcome of the chase, but would’ve missed the whole thing if I hadn’t decided to go to bed at 5 o’clock.

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I was walking out the door to cut a few sprigs of brocoli and a couple of kale leaves from the garden when I was stopped in my tracks by this guy. 

I was planning on having steamed veggies for lunch. Yeah, I do that about three times a week during gardening season. I already had carrots, cabbage and califlower in the steamer. I figure the earlier in the day I eat healthy food the more likely it is that I’ll actually eat it. (I planted some M-n-M seeds this year, but unfortunately they didn’t take. I guess they don’t do well in a northern climate.)

But the moose—he was pretty persistent. I stood on the deck for about thirty minutes watching him strip willow leaves from trees, and look longingly at the vegetables behind the our seven foot tall fence.

Then he did something really funny and strange, and kept doing it for five or six minutes. My camera has a video function that allows you to take 15 seconds of video at  a time. The resolution isn’t that great but what he does is.

Yeah, he really had a thing for those bamboo windchimes. After he got tired of playing with the chimes, he approached the deck to get a closer look at me.

I’m sure glad I didn’t choose the PB&J for lunch, then I would’ve missed the whole show.

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