Entries in Susan Fox Rogers (77)



I’d like to think that people who eat Stone Blue chips (as I do) don’t throw the packaging overboard or out the window of a speeding car. But it seems they do. I picked up the wet and silt covered bag along with an empty Gatorade bottle, a plastic coffee container and other stuff that littered the Tivoli landing. The debris washed up on shore shook me and made it near impossible to get my boat into the water. I spent twenty minutes picking up trash before I could slide my kayak into the water on my first paddle of 2017.

In spring, snow melts and the roadsides are revealed for what they are: dumping grounds for people’s stuff. Some is overt, like the trash bag tossed that then bursts or is torn apart by a hungry raccoon. But most are items casually flung from a car window. I like to undertake a thought experiment: I picture myself sailing down the road in my Subaru and I toss a Ginger Ale can from the window. I can’t do it, even in my imagination.


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Baby Pileated WoodpeckersWhen I got the call of the baby Pileated Woodpeckers I dropped everything to drive over and see them. The Pileated Woodpecker is our largest Woodpecker (except for the Ivory-billed, which I am sure is still out there). It cackles its way through Eastern hardwood forests, and was clearly the model for the cartoon Woody Woodpecker. To see babies would be a dream.

When I arrived at Tatjana's house, perched in the woods and surrounded by newly leafed hardwood forest, she was sitting outside on a blanket, her seventeen-year-old cat, a beautiful dark calico, draped calm across her lap. The cat had had a seizure a few days before and since then had been limp, not eating and only drinking a little. Tatjana had done nothing in the intervening days but hold her cat, speak to her, comfort her. Both appeared peaceful.  

“Dying is a long process,” she said kissing the cat’s head.

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Enjoying the Spectacle

Masses of gulls at Reed's BeachI wasn’t ready for the mass of screaming gulls, or for the piles of Horseshoe Crabs along the shoreline, the males riding tight to the females, tails spiked toward the overcast sky. With each wave another batch of horseshoe crabs washed up on Reed's Beach near Cape May, NJ, and what ensued was a wave of  screams and hollers, whistles and hoots, a frenzy of the Laughing Gulls and Herring Gulls, and those remarkable little shorebirds, the Red Knots, fresh in from Tierra del Fuego.

Cape May is always good birding. On my few visits there, I’ve always left a bit dazzled by the sights. Once was a flock of hundreds of Sanderlings swooping the shore, landing, then circling out to the ocean in a choreographed movement that took my breath. Now here I had stumbled onto one of the great events of migration, witness to more feeding gulls and shorebirds than I had ever seen on one slim beach.

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Mono LakeI write this sitting in the town of Pahrump, outside of La Vegas. So this is a rich perch from which to think about gambling. I always say I’m not a gambler—I’ve bought a Lotto ticket or two but I wouldn’t know what to do in a casino. Yet the truth is, we all gamble all the time—when we decide to take this job and not that one. When we decide to go to dinner with this person we will fall in love with and not that person. If you leave money out of the definition of gambling, replace it with, for instance, birds, then it reads like this: playing games in order to find birds. I gamble in this way all the time.

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Bad Water, Beautiful Flowers

One guide for Death Valley writes that people go to National Parks to get away from the stress of the outside world. And then they come to Death Valley to get away from the crowds of the other National Parks. I’ll agree to the first statement, but not to the second. When I hiked Theodore Roosevelt Park I saw no one in five hours; at Crater Lake, I snow-shoed out alone. In Death Valley: lines of cars waited in the lot so that people could park then saunter out below sea level and experience the frying relentless sun. Caught unaware, everyone turned some shade of sweaty pink. In March. In the camp ground my little tent wedged between two RVs, the couples cheerfully grazing their way through retirement in the National Parks. “What’s not to love?” one said, sweeping a hand toward the horizon. What’s not to love? That there are no birds.

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