A Cougar, Leapus Buckus, and Lots of Gorgeous Flowers… At Home in Oregon

Leapus Buckus, so named because he jumped over the Maginot Line of our Deer Defense last year, stares up at me in defiance. If I didn’t know better, I would say he is pawing the ground like a bull ready to attack. And check out his antlers! They are in velvet now and growing, but they look like they will be humongous, dwarfing his head.

I awoke with a start as a deer leapt onto the deck next to our bedroom in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. They frequently cross the deck but rarely at night and never at full speed. It got my attention— but nothing like the loud thump that followed. I imagined something big and thought of getting up to look. But it was a moonless, pitch black night. I wouldn’t be able to see anything and the intruders would be long gone anyway, I told myself. I decided to go back to sleep. It wasn’t easy.

Our neighbor Bryan called the next night. “I’m shaking, Curt,” he told me. A hawk had taken out a chicken of his during the day and he had gone out after dark to check on the welfare of the flock. What he found was a pair of eyes staring out at him from one side of a large tree. A long tail stretched out from the other side. It was a cougar. Bryan kept his bright flashlight focused on the cougars eyes and slowly backed away. And then called me.

Suddenly, the loud thump made sense. The cougar had been in hot pursuit of a deer and jumped onto our deck in hot pursuit. Welcome to our neighborhood.

Deer are a common fact of life here. This photo features a pregnant mom and her pregnant ‘teenage’ daughter. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Leapus Buckus wasn’t responsible for both.
It seems that pregnant moms are everywhere. I’ve counted eight. It’s like we are running a maternity ward. This doe has adopted the deck next to Quivera the RV. Another deer is behind her. It isn’t unusual to find four or five deer sleeping around the van.
Given the voracious appetite of deer, drastic steps need to be taken to keep the deer out of our flower, shrub and vegetable gardens. This is our Gabion Cage Maginot Line designed to keep them away from our shrubs. There is a small fence on top of the Gabion cages and an eight foot fence on the sides and back of the garden.
Bird sculptures and lavender serve as part of the defense system. The deer don’t like lavender and the birds plus metallic flowers provide obstacles. They lust after the honeysuckle behind the birds, however, and we found them crawling under the 8-foot side fence a couple of weeks ago. The problem has been corrected. We hope. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The bird sculptures have become favorite perches for fence lizards, who use them to survey their domain.
We grow other flowers the deer don’t like outside of the protected area, such as this Iris growing in Peggy’s iris garden. I’ve included other iris below this.
We have several types of lavender planted around our house. This one is the first to bloom.
A honey bee stops by to check it out. Soon, there will be hundreds buzzing around.
Poppies are another flower that deer won’t eat. I liked the ladybug here.
Peggy planted poppies the second year we were here. It was the 7th year before they decided to grow. Now they are taking over a hill that was covered in star thistle when we arrived.
This colorful fellow was climbing up the wall of our sunroom right next to the poppies.
The deer like our pioneer rose, which surprises us given its sharp thorns. Peggy lectures them on a regular basis. The Red Buttes are in the background. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The pioneer rose is an heirloom rose originally brought across the country in wagon trains. It is also known as the Oregon Trail Rose and is found along the Oregon Trail. It’s also found in Texas. Texans are adamant that it is not the “Yellow Rose of Texas” of song fame, and they are right. But I wonder if the “Yellow Rose of Texas” wasn’t named after the yellow rose of Texas? (I expect Linda to comment on this.)
Insects such as this colorful beetle avoid the debate but they love the plant. Hundreds of various insects fly around it feasting— and mating. I kept noticing that when one bug landed, another would land on top of it. They didn’t seem to be fighting.
Just for fun. Peggy and I went out to take photos of the ‘Pink’ moon on April 26th. It wasn’t pink but we did think it was dramatic.
Another photo of the moon.
And in conclusion, Leapus Buckus says, “Y’all come by to see me. Bring apples. Lots of them.” Next Friday I will take you on a hike up the hill in the forest behind our property. I’m eager to show you a trail I just built, wildflowers, an old gold mining operation that extends onto our property, and a deer whose actions are stranger than fiction.

NEXT MONDAY’S POST: It’s back to tales of my early years in Diamond Springs, California and why the town mantra was ‘The Mekemson kids did it.’

The Fall Colors of Southern Oregon… Who Needs New England?

Having just returned from Connecticut where fall colors were yet to make an appearance in mid-October, I found this Big Leaf Maple all decked out in my back yard on the Applegate River in Southern Oregon.

 

Peggy and I have been in Connecticut for the past couple of weeks. We went back to visit with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids, but I also hoped to get in some serious leaf-peeping. New England is world-famous for its fall colors and we had once spent a month in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire during the height of the season. We wanted more!

It wasn’t to be. It had been a warm fall in Connecticut and the leaves were being stubborn. Just as we were preparing to leave, a few trees had started to turn, but it was nothing in comparison to what we had experienced. Maybe the states north of Connecticut were having better luck. We packed our bags, took Amtrak to Boston, and flew back home to Oregon.

As we dropped into Medford from Portland, I glanced down at the ground and was greeted with bursts of yellow and red. Apparently, our trees had decided to show us that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, that the trees in New England aren’t always more colorful than the trees out West.

The drive home through Jacksonville and up and over into the Applegate Valley was spectacular. I thought to myself, “Who needs New England?” And I vowed that my camera and I would be up early the next morning to capture some of the color. I started with our yard and then took the Upper Applegate River road to Highway 238 and down into Jacksonville, stopping at the McKee Covered Bridge, Valley View Winery, and a favorite hiking trail. I finished off in Jacksonville, which was simply riotous with color.

Fall morning, Applegate Valley, Oregon

I considered this sunrise on Thursday morning a good omen that I would catch lots of fall color in the Applegate River Valley and in Jacksonville, Oregon.

White oak leaf in Applegate Valley, Oregon

This white oak leaf greeted me as I walked up our road. It was past its prime and looking a bit beat up, but I promised it a place in my blog.

Big Leaf Maple in Jacksonville, Oregon

The Big Leaf Maples of Oregon never disappoint when it comes to fall. They consider it a responsibility to decorate our yard.

Big leaf maple in Southern Oregon

And a close up.

McKee Bridge on Applegate River, Southern Oregon

Hopping in our truck, I drove over to the McKee Bridge, about four miles away. Peggy and I attended the bridge’s hundredth anniversary this summer.

Applegate River in fall, Southern Oregon

I took this photo of the Applegate River from the bridge.

Fall tree near McKee Bridge on Applegate River, Oregon

And found another maple on the other side.

Valley View Winery in Applegate Valley, Oregon

Driving on, I stopped at the Valley View Winery to capture some grape leaves that were turning.

Fall colors along Jacksonville Trail in Oregon

This hiking trail is part of a system of trails around the town of Jacksonville.

Light and shadows in fall leaves, Jacksonville, Oregon

Shooting up through the leaves I caught this photo with its contrast of shadows and light.

Jacksonville Oregon Church in fall

You certainly might think this photo was taken in New England with its village church and fall look, but it was in Jacksonville.

Fall trees and Church in Jacksonville, Oregon

Another perspective.

Orange fall leaves in Jacksonville, Oregon

I’d put this tree up against any tree in the country for sheer, glowing color.

Red fall colors in Jacksonville, Oregon

Jacksonville, is filled with riotous colors. I wanted to capture them before the big storms that were coming in did.

Fall leaves on sidewalk in Jacksonville, Oregon

Leaving the beautiful leaves on the ground…

Fall leaves on grass in Jacksonville, Oregon

Or in the grass.

Black walnut tree in fall, Jacksonville, Oregon

A black walnut tree added a dash of yellow…

Fall tree in Jacksonville, Oregon

I didn’t know what this fellow with its long pods was, but I liked its exotic look.

Fall colors in Jacksonville, Oregon

Another stranger to me, but it belonged on my post.

Street lamp and fall cors in Jacksonville, Oregon

Convenient lamps always make fun props.

Halloween Bed and Breakfast in Jacksonville, Oregon

And finally, I’d be remiss not to add this reminder of the season. A Jacksonville Bed and Breakfast was having fun with the rapidly approaching Halloween.

 

NEXT POST: Our kids took us to the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, Rhode Island while we were visiting and spectacular it was with over 5.000 pumpkins ranging from traditional to art carving. Starting on Wednesday, I will do a daily countdown up until Halloween featuring some or our favorites. You will want to check this out.

 

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass… From the Sublime to the Wacky

Two bowls from the Glass Forge of Grants Pass Oregon.

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass creates a wide range of glass art ranging from the sublime to the wacky. I loved the tree like pattern in the left bowl.

Red lipped blue fish produced at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

How can you not fall for a blue fish with red lips. While the artists of the Glass Forge produce much traditional glass art, they also have a wonderful sense of humor.

It’s Friday, so this is my day to produce a photographic essay for my blog. My choice for today is the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon. Peggy and I visited the studio on one of our Wednesday Date Days in November. (We’ve been having Wednesday Date Days for 27 years!) When we arrived the staff was working on glass art for the Lodge at Yosemite.

The Glass Forge of Grants Pass, Oregon was founded by Lee Wassink, shown above creating a vase.

One of the neat things about the Glass Forge is that you are encouraged to watch the artists at work. In this photo, Lee Wassink, founder of the Glass Forge, demonstrates the creation of a vase.

Groups and individuals have an opportunity to attend a workshop and create simple glass work of their own, such as these Christmas ornament.

Groups and individuals have an opportunity to attend a workshop and create simple glass work of their own, such as these Christmas ornaments.

Vase found at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The studio provides an opportunity to peruse the wide variety of glass art available, such as this vase. As I posted this photo I notice a slight reflection of myself, a selfie.

Looking down into a vase at the Glass Forge Studio in Grants Pass Oregon.

I always like looking down into glass art for a different perspective, as in this vase…

Looking at the patterns inside a glass bowl at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And this bowl. I am amazed at the patterns, variety and beauty created.

Humorous mugs created by the artists working at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

I really like weird and wacky. These mugs certainly qualify!

Glass fish with character at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And here’s another fish.

Variety of bowls displayed at the Glass Forge in Grant's Pass, Oregon.

This collection of bowls demonstrated the variety available.

A tall, graceful vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

One of several tall, graceful vases.

Glass paperweights available for purchase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass Oregon.

Someday, I am going to return to the Glass Forge to find out how these paper weights are created.

We were able to watch a vase being made. The furnaces used to melting the glass are over 2000 degrees F (1100 degrees C).

We were able to watch a vase being made. The furnaces used to melt the glass are over 2000 degrees F (1100 degrees C).

Furnaces for heating glass at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A bubble is blown into the glass. Layers are added by returning to the furnace for more glass. The larger the piece, the more returns.

Bins that hold colored glass to add color to glass art created at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

These bins hold colored glass that will be added to the various pieces.

The following series of photos follow the artists as they work together to finish a vase:

Color has been added to a vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Check out the gorgeous color!

Top is added to vase at Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A bottom is added.

Shaping a top on a vase at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

And shaped.

A close to finished vase at the Glass Forge, Grants Pass, Oregon.

The finished product.

If you are driving up or down Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon or live in the area, I highly recommend stopping off at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass.

If you are driving up or down Interstate 5 in Southern Oregon or live in the area, I highly recommend stopping off at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass.

Glass Genie created at the Glass Forge in Grants Pass, Oregon.

I’ll conclude my Friday photographic essay today with this marvelous glass genie.

MONDAY’S BLOG: We will return to the Oregon Coast and visit the scenic Sunset Bay.

WEDNESDAY’S BLOG: Part 2 of my Sierra Trek series. I have to persuade a reluctant Board of Directors (“You want to do what?”), decide on a name, hire Steve, and determine our route.

FRIDAY’s BLOG: California mountain wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Playing in Our Back Yard: A Turkey Fan Dance… An Interlude

Wild turkeys use their tails for a fan dance in southern Oregon. (Photo by Curtis Mekemson.)

Wild turkeys use their tails to perform a fan dance in our back yard.

It’s pouring down rain as I write. Northern California is getting slammed and some of the rain is slipping across the border into Southern Oregon. The Weather Channel has named our deluge THE MONSTER STORM. Get out your hammer, Noah. I sat in our sunroom (very much a misnomer today) and watched the rain fall while Peggy listened to Christmas carols and worked on a quilt inside.

Our deck reflects the rain.

Our deck reflects the rain. The last of fall adds a touch of color along the Applegate River.

Rain splattered windows provided a view of our cedar tree out of the sunroom.

Rain splattered windows provided a view of our cedar tree from the sunroom.

I was escaping from work, playing hooky. Things have become a bit hectic around here. Christmas and a trip to Tennessee are just around the corner. So I have been shopping, writing the Christmas letter, and putting together the annual family calendar.

I am also up to my eyeballs in writing an extensive blog about the time that Peggy’s father was forced to bail out of a damaged airplane into the jungle known for headhunters when he was flying supplies into China during World War II.

And last— very far from least, the final proofs on the book about my Peace Corps experience in West Africa are supposed to come in today or tomorrow. I can’t figure out whether I am more nervous or excited. The book should be available world-wide as an E-book by Christmas. So keep your eyes open for The Bush Devil Ate Sam. Several of you helped me choose the title. I will post how to obtain copies on my blog as soon as it is available. Peggy and I are donating half of whatever profits we receive to fighting Ebola in Liberia.

A carved rendition of a Liberian Bush Devil that I purchased from a leper in Ganta, Liberia in 1965.

A carved rendition of a Liberian Bush Devil that I purchased from a leper in Ganta, Liberia in 1965.

One result of all this activity is that my blog production has slowed down. So I was delighted this afternoon when a flock of turkeys that hangs out on our property came by and put on a fan dance with their tails. It was a blog-ready show! And the rain was taking a break. I grabbed my small S-100 Canon and ran out to join them.

Wild turkeys on display in southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The turkeys line up for their dance.

Turkeys strut their stuff in southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Begin.

And strut their stuff.

And strut their stuff.

Doing the turkey trot.

Doing the turkey trot.

With tail feathers extended. Next blog: Peggy's dad crashes his air plane in a remote Burma jungle.

With tail feathers extended. Next blog: Peggy’s dad bails out into a remote Burma jungle during World War II.

A Rocky Beginning to Date Day… The Crater Rock Museum in Oregon

A thunder egg displaying Caspar the Friendly Ghost at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Imagine cutting open a thunder egg rock and finding Caspar, the Friendly Ghost, staring out at you. Caspar is one of the best known rocks at the Crater Rock Museum.

Date Day is a long-standing tradition in the Mekemson household. It began as Date Night in 1990. Peggy and I had just met and, shall we say, taken an interest in each other. But there were innumerable roadblocks to our blooming romance. Two teenagers were at the top of the list. (Tasha was dedicated to protecting her mom from the strange man. Smart girl.She made Peggy a sweatshirt that said “Don’t mess with the mama.”) But the list went on– jobs, family, friends, etc. We decided to declare Wednesday night ours, which was easier said than done. It took a lot of training. The kids and friends were actually easy. It was other family members and jobs that were resistant.

“What do you mean you can’t come to the family dinner on Wednesday night?” Peg’s sister, Jane, demanded.

“But Wednesday night is the only night I can meet,” the PTA President objected. (Peggy was principal of the school.)

In the end we prevailed. “I know, I know,” Jane would sigh dramatically, “it’s Date Night.” And the PTA Board would unanimously declare, “It’s Date Night!” as did all of the other committees and boards and family and bosses and friends. Once in a while we would make an exception, but it was rare.

Having worked so hard to train everyone, we decided to continue the tradition, even after we were married. And we still do– 24 years later. The major difference is that after we retired, we turned Date Night into Date Day. Why skimp on a good thing? Altogether, we have had over a thousand date night/days. What we do isn’t nearly as important as simply being together, but we use the day to explore new areas, peruse bookstores, go to movies, eat out, etc. Play is the operative word here.

Last Wednesday, our Date Day had a rocky start; we went to the Crater Rock Museum. It’s about 30 miles from where we live just off of Interstate 5 in Central Point, Oregon. Peggy and I had driven by the road to the museum several times and each time we would comment that we needed to visit. A new acquisition, Pterry the Pterosaur, moved Crater Rock to the top of our places-to-explore list. Pterosaurs were large flying reptiles that existed from 228-66 million years ago. Pterry now graced the ceiling of the museum.

We quickly discovered that the museum had much more than Pterry. There was Caspar, the Friendly Ghost, who resided in a thunder egg, a collection of student works of the world-famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly, Native American artifacts, and one of the finest collections of rocks and minerals in the western United States, all beautifully displayed. There was even a poignant reminder of why I exist; check out the photo on COPCO.

Pterry, a 60 million year old plus, pterosaur, swoops down from the ceiling of the Crater Rock Museum.

Pterry, a 60 million year old plus, pterosaur, swoops down from the ceiling of the Crater Rock Museum like a B-52 Bomber.

Close up of Pterry the Pterosaur at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A close up of Pterry’s rather impressive mouth full of teeth. I prefer flying creatures to be much smaller and without teeth. Think sparrow.

Polished agates at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Who doesn’t love agates that have been tumbled and polished. Rock hounds have been gathering them off of Oregon beaches for decades.

Glass sculpture created by student of Dale Chihuly on display at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I had expected to find beautiful rocks at the Crater Rock Museum; it sort of goes with the name. What I hadn’t expected were student works of the world-famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly.

Student art work of Dale Chihuly at the Crater Rock Museum. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Peggy and I are great fans of Chihuly, having first come across his works in Nashville, Tennessee.

Woven glass sculpture by student of Dale Chihuly at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A final work by one of Chihuly’s students featuring woven glass.

Dragon at Crater Rock Museum  in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Nor was I expecting to find this dragon at the museum.

Suchomimus at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This Suchomimus (meaning crocodile mimic) was keeping Pterry company. He was apparently a teenager some 100 million years ago– approximately 36 feet long and weighing upwards to 4 tons.

Dinosaur poop on display at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point. Oregon.

This might be an appropriate place to throw in this rock. Can you guess what it is? My bet is little boys are fascinated with it and little girls say, “Ooh gross!” To enquiring minds that want to know: it’s petrified dinosaur poop.

Fossil fish at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I was impressed by this fossil fish. Check out its eye. It looks like he was having a bad day. Or maybe he was just bad.

Speaking of bad, check out the canines on this Saber toothed kitty.

Speaking of bad, note out the canines on this Saber Toothed Cat. The canines could reach up to 19 inches in length. It’s beyond me to imagine how they could drop their jaws far enough to sink their teeth into anything. Maybe they just scared their prey to death. BTW: these guys are closely related to your favorite kitty.

Large geode and Peggy Mekemson at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon.

Geodes can be large, as this photo with Peggy shows.

Geode at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The difference between geodes and thunder eggs, I was to learn, is that geodes have an empty center while the core of thunder eggs is solid.

Geode rock at Crater Rock Museum. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

So this would be another geode…

Thunder egg titled the Swam Thing at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

And here we have a thunder egg. The ‘scenes’ inside of thunder eggs can be absolutely amazing, as was shown by Caspar at the beginning of the blog and in this one titled “the Swamp Thing” by the folks at Crater Rock.

I promised a brief tale about my beginnings. My dad worked for COPCO in the 30s stringing power lines across Northern California and Southern Oregon. He was on top of a 50-foot pole one morning and his ground man was teasing him about a date he had the night before. He turned to make a retort and came in contact with the 11,000 volt line. Zap, he was an Oregon fried pop. Months later he was staying at a boarding house in Medford and still recovering when he met my mother, who was also staying there. Without the accident, he wouldn't have met her and I wouldn't be here typing this blog.

A high voltage tale:  My dad worked for COPCO in the 30s. He was on top of a 50-foot pole one morning and his ground man was teasing him about a date he had the night before. He turned to make a retort and came in contact with the live 11,000 volt line. Zap. Months later he was staying in Medford and still recovering when he met my mother. Without the accident, he wouldn’t have met her and I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Scrimshaw collection at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon.

“Thar she blows.” The museum also has a significant scrimshaw collection, donated by David Holmes of Harry and David. The Harry and David plant is in Medford.

Petrified wood at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Petrified wood can vary dramatically depending on the minerals that have replaced the wood fibers.

Petrified wood found at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Here is another example of petrified wood.

Crystals at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

It seems appropriate to conclude this post with a photo of crystals, always a top draw at any rock show.

Next blog: I intend to start a three-part series on the tragedy of Liberia, West Africa, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1965-67.

Part II: A Walk on the Wild Side of Southern Oregon… from the Mail Box

Numerous ferocious animals are found along our mailbox route, including Charlie who barks more in a minute that the minute has seconds.

Ferocious animals are found along our mailbox route, including Charlie, who barks more in a minute that the minute has seconds.

I took you along for a walk to my mailbox in the last post. We hiked over Cody’s Bear Trail, went looking for a wayward skunk, and found the deer herd that believes it is the true owner of our property. Maybe it is. We then detoured through the Klamath National Forest, rejoined our neighborhood road and arrived at the mailbox.

Today we are completing the trip. We will walk along the Upper Applegate Road, check out the Applegate River, visit with one tiny and two huge dogs, and finish our hike on Ethan’s Hidden Trail. The total walk to and from the mailbox, with detours, is a mile and a half.

But first I have to report on two new developments. One, I found the skunk. He is a magnificent creature, by far the biggest skunk I have ever seen. I’d gone down after dark to collect our garbage can on the main road. And there he was, waddling. In fact he waddled right into our front road culvert. He is one culvert-loving skunk.  I am surprised he fit.

Two, I received an award from the Word Press blog Animal Couriers. I love these people. They transport people’s pets all over Europe but also throughout the world. And they do a lot with rescued animals. They’re good folks. Was the award for my great humanity, good looks, fine intelligence and quick wit? No, sigh. It was for my “off the wall” comments on their blog. So there you have it, in case you haven’t noticed before: I am an off the wall type of guy. I like it.

Upper Applegate Road, Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

On leaving the mailbox, our counterclockwise journey takes us along Upper Applegate Road. It’s my kind of highway. At night, I can drive the whole 13 miles without meeting another car. Charlie the Dog lives up the road on the right. Our river property is just above the grove of trees.

Trail on Upper Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I quickly leave the road. There is the Applegate River to explore. Besides, if I had been born to walk on roads, I would have been born with wheels.

There is this sign... but I am sure they can't mean me. Plus I haven't met the owner to ask for permission in my three years of living here.

There is this sign… but I am sure they can’t mean me. Plus I haven’t met the owner to ask for permission in my three years of living here.

River rock covered in moss on Applegate River in Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I learned a long time ago that beauty surrounds us, if we are willing to see it. This river rock covered in moss is an example.

Wood grain photo on Applegate River in Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Another example: grains in wood. I found this long-dead limb just beneath the no-trespassing sign.

Applegate river in winter. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

And here is the Applegate River. It is running low now because we haven’t had much rain but that doesn’t detract from its beauty.

Manzanita growing on Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Recognize this bush? It’s smooth skin is the primary clue. This is manzanita. In the spring it hosts small pink flowers that smell oh so sweet. In the fall it sports bright red berries.

Manzanita Flowers. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A photo of manzanita flowers I took last spring.

Oregon Red Cedar. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

We return to the road, walk past Charlie’s house, and come to this magnificent red cedar that marks our property line.

Granite rocks on Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Before we head up Ethan’s Trail back to our house, we’ll make a quick detour onto the river property we co-own with out neighbors. We have to scramble over granite rocks to get there.

Applegate River. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

But the journey is worth it.

Lichen on rock along Applegate River. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Walking back from the river I find this lichen…

Pool of frozen water on rocks next to Applegate River in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This small pool of water that was frozen over and offered a fun reflection. The pine needle on the left side provides a perspective on the size of the pool.

I also found this site of a feast. Poor birdie.

I also found this site of a feast. Poor birdie.

We have now arrived at our front road. Our sunroom is hiding behind the oak tree on the left. Ethan's Hidden trail starts in the trees on the right. I found the skunk about fifteen feet below where I took the photo.

We have now arrived at our front road. Our sunroom is hiding behind the oak tree on the left. Ethan’s Hidden Trail starts in the trees on the right. I found the skunk about fifteen feet below where I took this photo.

As I head over for Ethan's Trail more neighbor dogs come out to greet. These are A guard dogs and regard everybody but their master with suspicion. I think Griz is finally starting to like me. I've told him waht a good boy he is at least a thousand times.

As I head over for Ethan’s Trail more neighbor dogs come out to greet me. These monsters are Anatolian guard dogs and regard everybody but their master with suspicion. I think Griz is finally starting to like me. I’ve told him what a good boy he is at least a thousand times. He actually wagged his tail.

His brother Omni, on the other hand, has that look that says come across the fence so I can eat you. He lost his eye as a puppy.

Omni didn’t. He has that look that says come across the fence so I can eat you. He lost his eye as a puppy and has been irritated about it ever since.

Ethan's trail

Applegate Valley trail through ponderosa Pines and Douglas Fir. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

While Cody’s Bear Trail makes its way through White Oaks, Ethan’s Hidden Trail wanders through Madrone, Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs on the opposite side of our canyon.

Blackberry vines growing in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Blackberries fill the canyon. By August these vines are loaded with fruit that the deer help us harvest, delicately.

When we can see our pump house, we are almost home. An interesting aside... When we bought the property we noted that the ceiling of the pump house was filled with outlets. "What the heck?" we thought. And then the light dawned. We were in rural Oregon. The pump house had been used for growing pot. I tease Peggy that If our retirement funds ever run out, I am going to become a pot farmer.

When we can see our pump house, we are almost home. An interesting aside… when we bought the property we noted that the ceiling of the pump house was filled with outlets. “What the heck?” we thought. And then the light dawned. We were in rural Oregon. The pump house had been used for growing pot. I tease Peggy that if our retirement funds ever run out, I am going to become a pot farmer. She smiles indulgently.

Madrone tree in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Finally, when we arrive at the large Madrone that provides our back yard with shade on hot summer days, we are home. The smooth skinned Madrone is related to the Manzanita. Thanks for coming along on the Mailbox walk.

NEXT BLOG: I will return to our pre-Christmas visit to Puerto Vallarta where Peggy and I will visit the small town of San Sebastian located high in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

The Last Colors of Fall… At Home in Southern Oregon

View from Curtis and Peggy Mekemson's patio in southern Oregon.

A view from the patio. Our white oaks provide a dash of golden orange to set off the green forests and blue mountains.

Several years ago Peggy and I were in the middle of a year off when we were treated to most of what America has to offer in fall’s brilliant display of leaves changing color. We began our adventure in late August. Our trip had taken us into Alaska and the weather was changing. The geese were getting restless, preparing for their journey south. We decided to migrate as well. Since our next scheduled stop was in Florida for Thanksgiving, we had three months to wander.

Our route took us down through the Yukon Territory and into British Columbia’s impressive national parks of Jasper and Banff in the northern Rockies. We then made our way east through Alberta and Saskatchewan, dropped down into North Dakota, and then traveled through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. We arrived in the New England states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine at the height of leaf peeping season. We then journeyed south through the Mid-Atlantic States into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trees were spectacular the whole way. We were following fall, so to speak.

Photo by Curtis mekemson

Fall in the Rockies. I took this photo on the western side of the mountains in Colorado.

Fall photp of Blue Ridge Highway by Curtis Mekemson.

Fall along the Blue Ridge Highway.

Fall photo of Blue Ridge Mountains by Curtis Mekemson.

Fall view looking out on Blue Ridge Mountains.

Our rather mild weather in Southern Oregon doesn’t produce the magnificent colors of New England, but we get a decent showing. I kept promising myself I would get out and take photos but writing and procrastination interfered. When I finally managed to be out and about with my camera, there were more leaves on the ground than in the trees. I was left with the last colors of fall, but they were still impressive.

Southern oregon fall photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Trails snaking through our five acres are named after our grandsons. Connor’s Cutoff, hidden under leaves, does a good job of capturing fall colors.

Southern Oregon fall photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This photo follows our road down the hill and past the white oaks.

Oregon Maple photo by Curtis Mekemson.

An Oregon Maple adds a touch of yellow to our yard.

Photo of Oregon Maple by Curtis Mekemson.

A close up of the Oregon Maple. I like the contrast provided by the dark limbs.

These red berries decorated a neighbors yard. As I recall from my youth in California, we called them California Holly.

These red berries decorated a neighbor’s yard. As I recall from my youth in California, we called them California Holly.

Photo along Upper Applegate Road in Southern Oregon by Curtis Mekemson.

Our drive into the town of Jacksonville, Oregon provided more fall views.

Photo of fall view on Upper Applegate Road in Southern Oregon by Curtis Mekemson.

Another view along Upper Applegate Road on our way into Jacksonville.

Fall photo of the Applegate River by Curtis Mekemson.

Our property fronts on the beautiful Applegate River. I took this photo on one of the bridges across the river on Upper Applegate Road.

NEXT BLOG: We will visit one of America’s premier parks (where I happen to be as I type this), Pt. Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When A Deer Looks In Your Window…

Oregon Black Tail Deer

I was working on my blog when this deer appeared at my window, five feet away. 

I was working on my blog about the Archeological Museum of Naples this morning when I looked up and saw a black tail deer staring in the window. She was about five feet away. I think she wanted to know what I was doing inside on a beautiful spring day.

Fortunately I had my camera next to me so I snapped her picture. Soon after she and two of her companions had bedded down in our back yard and were sniffing the daffodils.

Deer proof daffodil

A friend had given us daffodil bulbs and promised the deer wouldn’t eat them. So far, so good.

I decided she was right. What was I doing inside on a beautiful spring day? So I shut down my MacBook, grabbed my camera and went for a walk. The Archeological Museum could wait another day. I decided to blog about our home here in Southern Oregon.

Our front yard this morning on a beautiful spring day.

Our front yard this morning on a beautiful spring day.

Our back yard this morning.

Our backyard this morning.

We live about 30 miles west of Medford and five miles north of the California border, out in the woods, so to speak.  The Red Buttes of the Siskiyou Mountain Range and the beautiful Applegate River are out front. Our property borders on close to a million acres of national forest land and wilderness in back.

Red Buttes of Siskiyou Mountains on Southern Oregon border.

The view of the Red Buttes from our patio and front room. They are still snow-covered.

Applegate River

The beautiful Applegate River flows through our front yard. This is a fall picture.

Our elevation is 2000 feet, just high enough for three or four snowstorms that always manage to melt off in a day or two. Our five acres are totally wooded and include Ponderosa Pines, White Oaks, Red Cedars, Madrone, and Douglas Fir. A small spring provides water for the wildlife in summer.

Deer, fox, skunks and a multitude of squirrels consider our property home. An occasional bear drops by and my neighbors tell me that a cougar comes down off the mountain on occasion. A couple of months ago a coyote checked us out.

Yesterday we watched a Red Tailed Hawk pick up a small ground squirrel. (Peggy squealed so loud in delight, the hawk dropped the squirrel.) Last fall I watched a Golden Eagle grab a snake in our front yard.  A pair of Bald Eagles nest near by and a large Pileated Woodpecker makes the forest ring with his pounding. Numerous species of birds either live here year around or migrate through in the spring and fall.

If I seem to be in love with the area, I am. Peggy and I moved here two years ago after wrapping up a three-year exploration of North America in a 22-foot RV. I don’t think we’ll be moving again. (grin) Here are some more photos taken at various times of the year.

A large Douglas Fir covered with a fresh coating of snow lives in our front yard.

A large Douglas Fir covered with a fresh coating of snow lives in our front yard.

Southern Oregon Forest

Another view of the Oregon forest from our bedroom.

One of the bucks that considers our property part of his territory.

One of the bucks that considers our property part of his territory. This is a fall photo.

Interesting clouds over Red Buttes

Sunset over the Red Buttes.

NEXT BLOG: Back to Naples and the Archeological Museum (Unless it is too nice outside.)

 

 

 

At Home in the Woods of Southern Oregon

 

This view from our patio features the first snow of the year. You are looking south at the Red Buttes, which are part of the Siskiyou Mountains that form the border between California and Oregon.

Two years ago Peggy and I decided to ‘settle down’ in Southern Oregon after travelling around North America for three years in our small RV. It was a good decision. We ended up purchasing five acres of property. The beautiful Applegate River flows in front of our house. Our back property line is the gateway to over a million acres of National Forest land.

The Applegate River, in front of our property, displays fall colors.

Walking out the back door and up our road leads to over a million acres of National Forest Land.

This graceful Madrone with its strange, pealing bark, provides shade for our home. It is one of numerous trees on our property. Other trees include Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, White Oak and Red Cedar.

Morning mist outlines one of the Douglas Firs.

The same Douglas Fir, this time set off by the evening sky.

Peggy loves rivers and I love wilderness. It is a perfect match. Every morning we wake up with smiles on our faces.

Deer, bear, squirrels, foxes and numerous species of birds consider our property as part of their territory or at least a convenient stop off place. Last year a bear tipped over our bar-b-que. A couple of weeks ago a skunk let go under our house. This summer Peggy waged an unceasing war against ground squirrels that discovered her garden.

It all comes with country living. Mainly, we are amused by the antics of our furred and feathered friends.

Which way is the garden?

Is it here on your back porch? ( Junior has a better idea about where to find food.)

Surely you can’t resist feeding me? “Our” deer herd has trails running all over the property. Every day we get to see bucks, does, fawns and teenagers go about their lives.

At 2000 feet, we don’t get much snow… just enough to create a beautiful white wonderland. The deer, BTW, are Black Tail Deer. (Note the far deer.)

I used a Have-a-Heart trap to catch the ground squirrels and founded a new colony down the road and across the river on BLM land. The little buggers always went for the zucchini bait. I told them Peggy would be much less merciful. She was starting to practice with her pellet pistol.

We have been enjoying a beautiful fall and feel a slight tinge of regret that we are leaving to travel. I suspect the cruise of the Mediterranean with its extensive stop offs will make up for any regrets. Peggy and I do love to wander.

Gorgeous fall colors keep me running outside with my camera. I am admiring this beautiful Oregon Maple out the window as I type this post.

Another view from my writing chair. With fall arriving and temperatures dropping to freezing, this Geranium is one of Peggy’s last flowers of the season.

I thought about blogging while in Europe but I want to spend my time exploring.

So I’ve decided to focus my blog, Wandering in Time and Place, on my experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. The stories are already written. Every other day I will post a new one chronologically in chapter format. When I get back in two months, I intend to publish the tales both digitally and in print as a book.

In the stories you will meet Boy the Bad Dog who ends up as guest of honor at a village feast, learn how to wage war against Army Ants, attend the hot machete trial of the Woman Who Wore No Underpants, and discover why the Liberian government felt the second grade reader I wrote was a dangerous revolutionary document. And that’s only the beginning…

I hope you will join me on the adventure.

The main street of Gbarnga, Liberia in West Africa where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.