A Hawk at the Bird Bath

Judy was working from home the other day, sitting on our back porch. At one point she looked up from her laptop and saw this right outside the window.


We’ve seen hawks in the back garden before, but never at the bird bath. This is the heated bird bath we put out during the winter. And yes, I can see it desperately needs changing. I’ve been out of town, OK?

I’m very bad at distinguishing different species of hawks. I’m guessing this is either a Red-Tailed Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk.Whoever it is, the streaks of brown on the white chest look really dashing.

Some people don’t like having raptors around their feeders, but I feel that they are just part of the package if you are attracting a lot of birds. Plus, they are beautiful and dramatic creatures.

If only hawks could be directed to eating only certain other birds. I’ve thought of putting up a sign: TWO HOUSE SPARROWS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE.

Do you see Hawks much or at all in your garden?

An Unexpected Pocket of Urban Nature

This past weekend was uncannily mild and sunny. Judy and I decided to visit the West Ridge Nature Preserve, a chunk of land recently detached from Rosehill Cemetery. We had been hearing about this place, but had never been there. dsc_0480

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The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama is a historic area on the western outskirts of Kyoto. Lots of sightseers are drawn there, in part by a forest of enormous bamboo trees.


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First Snowdrops!

I’m interrupting the posts about Japan to report some breaking news from our garden: our first Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are blooming!


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Gold Is Good, But Not Necessarily The Best Garden

Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, was first built around 1400. It predated and served as a model for the Temple of the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji), which I wrote about in my last post. (It took me a long time to remember which pavilion was silver and which was gold. Ultimately I was able to keep it straight by remembering that even though Ginkaku-ji starts with G, it is NOT the Gold Pavilion. Or you can tell yourself that gold is kinky.)


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Random Japanese Food Oddities

Let’s do one more post about Japanese food, ok?


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The Beauty of Mosses at Ginkaku-ji

Ginkaku-ji started out as a retirement villa on the outskirts of Kyoto for a 15th century feudal lord. Originally, the main building was supposed to be covered with silver. Ginkaku-ji, in fact, means Temple of the Silver Pavilion. Civil war caused the silver idea to be indefinitely postponed, yet the name stuck.


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Hida Takayama

After Tokyo we traveled to Takayama, a small city in the Japanese Alps, also called Hida Takayama after the region where it is located. In picking this place, I was motivated by the desire to spend part of the vacation where it wasn’t quite so hot. In this, I was misguided. Takayama does have cold and snowy winters, but the summers are almost as hot as those in Tokyo.



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The Joy of Japanese Trains

During out trip we traveled from Tokyo to Takayama (a small city in the Japanese Alps), to Kyoto and back to Tokyo. We did this via Japanese Railways, and the travel itself was a pleasure.


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What to Eat in Japan if You Don’t Like Sushi

Actually, in Japan I discovered that I do like sushi. Living in Chicago, a place where “fresh fish” often means “thawed fish”, I have stayed away from sushi throughout my adult life.

However, towards the end of our trip Judy’s clients took us out for a feast that included many kinds of sushi. I knew it would be rude not to dig into all the dishes on offer, and was very pleasantly surprised with the result. Up until that point, though, we avoided sushi. But we did not go hungry. Here are some of the delicious foods we found.


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