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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year ~ I take the plunge

Today I started my 365 Project on Flickr and was trying to come up with an idea as to where or what to do. Starting the day with a review of the newspaper I caught an article about the Kirkland Polar Bear Plunge being "cancelled". The city did not wish to sponsor the event. The woman being interviewed said she was disappointed and felt that she would carry on anyway. Strictly unofficial, don't you know. ( wink wink)

I thought I could likely get some good pictures at this event. I went over to St Edwards State Park for a walk around to kill time before the event.

St Edwards is north of Kirkland in Juanita and the site of a former seminary. It is also the location of Bayster University, a well regarded Naturopathic Medicine center. The park is typical second growth mixed woodland with plenty of trees and thick understory. High on a hill on Lake Washington there are some nice trails up top and a great loop that goes down to the lake and back up, circling the whole park. The trails are pretty fair, with some soft and mucky spots in places. The hill climb is enough to make a good workout without suffering.

Given the mixed age of the trees there are a fair number of old dead timbers. These attract woodpeckers and it is easy to see evidence of their food searches. I easily had three viewings of Piliated Woodpeckers and two encounters with Hairy Woodpeckers during the two hour walk.

Piliated Woodpeckers produce large excavations in the trees.

You will often find piles of wood chips at the base of trees. If a bird is actively foraging you might even see chips flying through the air.

Downy and Hairy woodpeckers are much smaller and produce tidy little round holes. Their nest cavities provide nesting spots for chickadees, nuthatches and wrens. Piliated holes are much larger and might be used by small owls and squirrels.

This fallen Madrone made a pretty picture down on the lake front.

Many fallen and cut logs supported turkey tail fungus. I got some lucky bugs in this picture.

During my ramble I convinced myself that I should go to the Polar Bear not just to take pictures but to take the plunge myself. I had thought about it the last two years but begged off at the last minute.

So I donned my still muddy pants from the tree planting a few weeks ago ( I figure they need a wash) , my thermal t neck , a swim halter and water shoes. At 1230 there were a few other people milling about. We wondered if it was going to be just us. At 1250 there were suddenly people coming from all over. Kids and oldsters, teens in bikinis and some get ups I cannot describe. The TV station crew was there (KIRO) and they were busy taking shots and interviewing folks

I had my camera in a double zip lock. I was hoping to get some action shots from the water. There was a countdown and a rush and we were all in. I chill of the water was not that bad, what killed me was the rocks of the lake bed. Even with my water shoes...OUCH!

I didn't expect everyone to turn and rush back to shore so by the time I fumbled my camera out, the action was pretty much over.

But I did it, dripping head to toe I felt great.

I looked around for some photo potentials and there was one little boy doubled over crying.

"I'm so cooooooollllllllldddddd." This tiny thin voice. It was tragic.

Everyone laughed and I think the TV crew caught it on film. A warm blanket was produced and the boy soon cheered up.

It made a great shot.

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