…High and Dry

Double click to see a larger version of the picture.
Double click to see a larger version of the picture.

My wife has become an avid birder.  Have any of you seen the movie, The Big Year?  It’s about “friendly” competition among birders (bird watchers) to identify the most species over a period of 12 months.  It features Jack Black, Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and John Cleese.  The movie was released in 2011 and my wife bought a copy.  It’s a fairly entertaining movie, actually, certainly better than Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice!!!!

Anyway, my wife now has about 8 bird feeders of various sorts and shapes, loaded up with different types of seeds, worms and nuts.  It doesn’t matter what side of the dwelling you look out of, you can see the bird feeders.  She loves to watch them and it gives her such joy.

I must admit that I’ve learned some things about kinds of birds and can now tell the difference between a chipping sparrow and an ostrich.  I’m making progress!

Today’s photo was taken at Natural Bridges Park in Santa Cruz, California.  It was a windy, blustery day, overcast for the most part, and there were dozens and dozens of pelicans perched atop some rocks that were just off the shore.  I put on my telephoto and got numerous good pictures of these critters.  I think my wife was proud of me…I knew they weren’t chipping sparrows OR ostriches!  Oh, and those other birds in the picture?  They are sea gulls!  Or are they bald eagles?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1888, the so-called “Schoolchildren’s Blizzard” killed 235 people, many of whom were just kids on their way home from school, across the Northwest Plains region of the United States. The storm came without warning, and some accounts say that the temperature fell nearly 100 degrees in just 24 hours.

It was a Thursday afternoon and there had been unseasonably warm weather the previous day from Montana east to the Dakotas and south to Texas. Suddenly, within a matter of hours, Arctic air from Canada rapidly pushed south. Temperatures plunged to 40 below zero in much of North Dakota. Along with the cool air, the storm brought high winds and heavy snows. The combination created blinding conditions.

Most victims of the blizzard were either children going home from school in rural areas or adults working on large farms. Both had difficulty reaching their destinations in the awful conditions. In some places, though, caution prevailed. Schoolteacher Seymour Dopp in Pawnee City, Nebraska, kept his 17 students at school when the storm began at 2 p.m. They stayed overnight, burning stockpiled wood to keep warm. The next day, parents made their way over five-foot snow drifts to rescue their children. In Great Plains, South Dakota, two men rescued the children in a schoolhouse by tying a rope from the school to the nearest shelter to lead them to safety. Minnie Freeman, a teacher in Nebraska, successfully led her children to shelter after the storm tore the roof off of her one-room schoolhouse. In other cases, though, people were less lucky. Teacher Loie Royce tried to lead three children to the safety of her home, less than 90 yards from their school in Plainfield, Nebraska. They became lost, and the children died of hypothermia. Royce lost her feet to frostbite.

In total, an estimated 235 people across the plains died on January 12. The storm is still considered one of the worst blizzards in the history of the area.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  A 2000 study reported that walking regularly (three times or more a week for half an hour or more) saves $330 a year in health care costs.

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