Toad in the Hole

August 01, 2006

Family Values

When we got to Yuba Pass, we grabbed the first campsite that had shade. That was probably a mistake, because it was next to the meadow there. The wet meadow.

Wet mountain meadows are really productive: lots of flowers, lots of birds, lots of bugs which is why there are lots of birds. There's the rub, though. Rather a lot of those bugs are mosquitoes. This spot is 6700-some feet up, and it gathers snowmelt from still higher. There's a changing flower show all summer, and there are boggy patches along the edge even now, with elephants' heads and corn lilies and such. Willows. Little aspens.

So we set up and commenced to spend three days slapping and scratching. Not all day; this spot is mostly a base for excursions into Sierra Valley and the Lakes Basin. We're still scratching now and then, but things are much better. (And Sara, I'll remember that cinnamon oil thing next time I get to Lhasa Karnak.)

The big gain, though, was that we happened to camp just at the base of a lodgepole pine riddled with fresh sapsucker holes. In fact, it was riddled with sapsuckers -- three youngsters like the one here:

Juvie sapsucker

And a parent, of whose sex I still am not certain; Joe thinks it's Mom:

Adult sapsucker

While we were there, the parent drilled and enlarged holes constantly, and the youngsters sidles around eating from them, jostling each other, emitting soft musical yelps and coos, sometimed rather ineptly drilling at some twig or other, flying back and forth to the other side of the meadow or into the woods.

I was afraid we'd put them off, especially when we blew up the bed
(Stop that. inflated the bed)
a double-plus big fat air mattress, with a rechargeable pump that sounds like a hairdryer on steroids. Nope. They never paused, never paid us the slightest attention. We sat and slapped and scratched and grinned at them with great pleasure, on balance. And that's a lot of itching to balance.

Posted at August 1, 2006 05:00 AM


I have a question (lost your email at home). I was just in the backyard because I heard this NOISE and I saw a big bird fly out of my redwood tree attacking another bird or something. Could it have been the owl?

Posted by: Janis at August 1, 2006 05:29 AM

Awww, the birdies are wonderful! Thank you.

Yes, Ron, Lhasa Karnak has two kinds of cinnamon bark essential oil and one cinnamon leaf essential oil, and their prices are good. I usually pay around $5 after employee discount for 15 ml of Aura Cacia brand, 'cause that's what's available to me; one bottle usually lasts about three years, too, BTW, at least here, where the biting season is only five months long or shorter.) I haven't tried bark oil, only leaf oil, so I don't know if the bark oil will work. Maybe I'll order some on Pay Day (which deserves to be capitalized, always) and perform a not-very-scientific experiment.

Posted by: Sara at August 1, 2006 02:41 PM