Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sentient Being of the Week -- Veiled Chameleon

She lives in a pet store in a very controlled environment, and because she is so high maintenance I don't think it feasible to take her home.  But, oh, is she not beautiful and fascinating?   She's a veiled chameleon.
Her eyes move 360 independently, so you just have to think what this one's sensorium is -- I believe you can say that what we see is actually not fully dimensional and that our vision imposes the limitation of perspective on what we see, which, when you think of it, is only a way for us to build a manageable visual reference to a field is actually much more complex. So, if we could see out of one eye looking behind, and the other, forward, what would the picture look like to us?  It would be what this beauty sees, I guess.  How marvelous.  I just can't imagine how two separate views come together in the brain -- but watching long enough to see her capture dinner on the wing tells me that she is a hunter to be reckoned with.  Slowly she moves, swaying in a sort of stop action frame by frame progress, deliberately the wide mouth opens, and, in a blur too fast to see, she nabs the hapless fly.  I could watch all day.  And, think of this, if you were able to travel back far enough in time, you could meet our common ancestor.  We are remotely related.  We both have spines.  Some of us even eat bugs, too. 


Friday, December 17, 2010

A Visit to High Camp

Scottish Lakes High Camp is a wonderful retreat at 5,000 feet just over the pass on the eastern side of Washington, deep in tall alpine fir and snow.  It's a very fine place to get away from what I call "sillyization," with a Finnish style sauna, and cozy cabins heated by wood stoves, and there's no sense in planning elaborate meals either, unless you can pull it off on two propane burners.  Strictly soup and cheese, and that's enough, with heaps of serenity all around.  There life is just so sweet with little effort, just the honest basics, all the rest provided by nature and gracious hosts, who'll keep you stocked with firewood and kindling, even a mint on your pillow.  You get there from US 2, leave your car in a gated parking lot, and Don comes roaring down the mountain in a huge ol' Chevy to ferry you up 4 miles to mid mountain, and then the adventures begin.  From mid mountain you travel by snow mobile with all your gear bungied under a tarp on a sled towed behind.  It was my first snowmobile ride, but it couldn't compare to the ride back down 2 days later, with Sarah as a pilot, who is getting more expert since her first drive about Thanksgiving time -- we are talking downhill, big bumps, bat outta hell, throttle wide open wowie rides!  When I got home from that one, I found the last boiled egg nestled in the butter tub.  That was my second snowmobile ride.  And not my last, I have to get back up there -- it is such a treat to step out the door onto perfect trackless snow without  having to hump gear up those extra 3,000 feet on foot.  All day snowshoe trips with views, yes, or a morning trip, an afternoon nap, and another trip in the late afternoon to catch the sunset and clouds.  Ahhhhhhhhhh.