Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Explorations in Sand Canyon

A couple of weeks ago I happened to be downtown with a couple of hours to kill before piping practice. It would be such a drive, I thought, to go home. . .so instead I went for a much, much longer drive out in Sand Canyon northeast of town. Although it's near here, probably 20 minutes from work, I've been there less than half a dozen times in my whole life. The unfamiliar road gave the trip the satisfying flavor of a journey rather than the jaunt that it was.

The picture above shows the most fascinating thing I ran across in my wanderings that afternoon (unfortunately, it is also probably the worst picture I ended up with). Those little black specks are ravens, and only a small portion of the ravens that were flying around the top of the hill. When I first noticed them I made the gruesome assumption that a large animal had died and the unusually large flock was there for supper, but after I had watched them a few moments, I realized that they were not paying attention to anything on the ground. The air was where their interest lay; they were darting and wheeling about the hilltop in a manner that, the longer I watched, suggested an overflow of high spirits. I know nothing about ravens, of course; perhaps a biologist would have ascertained right away that they were engaged in their tribal mating dance or sending a gathering signal to others of their kin, but those birds really looked like they were having fun, perfectly pointless and delightful fun, swimming in pools and eddys and rivers of air.

The mountain which was inexplicably so popular with the ravens was on the northeast side of the road. When I turned the car around to come back towards the south, this was the view that I found myself driving into. . .so after a few hundred halting yards I had to get out and take another picture. (It was close to sunset and the gold tones were much more vibrant in real life.) I believe the furthest mountain is the ubiquitous Tehachapi Peak, shown from yet another angle.

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