summer_jackel: (Roguey snout)
These are signs of spring:

Goldfish are coming out of hibernation,
in their deep trough beside my kitchen door. And,
a tiny shrieking toddler yells past on her tricycle
on the street just up the hill.

I find one cute, the other not so much. But still

I hope the toddler and the dude
with the lawnmower-engine-powered bike,
who likes to rocket along said road in similar fashion,
do not meet.

It's good to see you, fish.
summer_jackel: (Coba profile)
o my love, if I
could bring to you a tiny shining stone
from the greenest depth, would it
reflect glinting as a trout's eye
just that degree of keenness, of intention?
summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
Kyn and I had a wonderful time at the Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park yesterday. It's really a fantastic museum and aquarium, and is always good for the cephalopods. This time, it boasted dwarf and flamboyant cuttles, chambered nautilus, a giant Pacific octopus and an absolutely adorable, very active little coconut octopus. I managed a couple of nice photos of some of these.

Photobucket

Cephalopods and friends )
summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
I was certified for scuba diving with four wonderful friends in Monterey this weekend, and it was wonderful. I have coveted the ability to dive since that I learned what it was (I remember the moment; I was pretty young, and my mother very firmly emphasized how dangerous it was). As an adult, the equipment and perceived difficulty and expense in gaining the skill intimidated me, and despite my obsession with marine life and looking for it in the wild (in tidepools, up until now), I don't know that I'd have done it if friends hadn't had the idea and poked me. How fortunate I am.

It turns out that the equipment is relatively straightforward once one understands its use, its danger is not great if one takes proper care, and that obtaining certification was quite manageable. It's hard to explain how just delighted I am to have had this experience.

On our second dive, while hanging around under about 20 feet of water, holding onto a rope anchored in the sandy bottom of Monterey Bay and taking turns doing exercises, I saw a wild octopus. It was tiny, and the color of sand. It held very still, tentacles pulled in close and curled slightly upwards. I wouldn't have seen it if one of my companions had not pointed it out, and it quickly took its chance to disappear down one of the many tiny burrows that lines the seafloor. It was enchanting and beautiful. I hardly expected to achieve one of my life ambitions in wildlife-watching on my first weekend of diving.

So yeah, I want to do that lots more.

I managed to see a lot for relatively short dives in which our time was mostly spent doing the necessary certification exercises. (I hope that my mask never again has reason to be all the way off under water; it was a very sensible thing for us to learn how to deal with, but man, I hated that). Wild otters came very close on both days, hoping that our float contained abalone. Other sealife I spotted included a beautiful fish that I am reasonably certain (after a lot of time spent with my fish book and google) a black perch, a sculpin of some kind, a couple of truly enormous giant stars and sea cucumbers. There were oodles of bat stars everywhere, and I saw one gorgeous sunflower star. I have a very healthy respect for those; I have met them in tidepools, and they are very fast and inquisitive if you offer to touch one. I will not be offering to touch one the size of my face any time soon.

There was a glorious garden of tube-dwelling anemones, some with beautiful black tentacles, and cute little strawberry anemones.

A bunch of adorable juvenile sanddabs scuttled around on the sandy bottom, and a diving cormorant, who wasn't in the least bit concerned about us and practically brushed against us as it dove past. (That photo may not be the same species of cormorant, but you get the idea).

It was amazing and I loved it.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Life continues. Today is my day off; I am pedaling my bike trainer, which is what I am usually up to when I post. I just had to have the trainer serviced because use had worn the steel tube that attaches my bike's rear wheel to the trainer mechanism so that it was no longer flush and didn't hold the bike. The mechanic filed it down and added a washer, and then asked how much I rode it. I guess he isn't called upon much to repair trainers. I told him that I rode 20-30 hours a month, which is true, if less accurate and less personal than my first answer: enough to keep me centered, happy and sufficiently sane.

Comfort the Pictus cat died last night, and I am sad about it; there was perhaps a time when I felt a bit embarrassed about grieving a fish, but that's long past. I'd had him for seven years and got him as an adult; the outer observed age of the species seems to be about eight, so I think the little guy did ok with me. I got him on the way home from a really disastrous court appearance in my first year as an attorney; I'd made a bad newbie lawyer mistake and felt awful, thus "Comfort the catfish." He was a good little fish, and his active presence added a note of cheer and beauty to my home.

I'm in a place in life where a number of the animals that I obtained in my 20s are reaching their expected lifespans and passing, others who I have thought of as the babies are in their prime, and a younger generation is beginning to establish. It's a very bittersweet feeling, like thinking of who I was when I got that fish, how confused and trapped and not who I am now I was. How much happier I am now and how much more sorrowful. How much more myself I feel, how my life with these animals now feels smooth and harmonious, as the animals I used to have and don't anymore felt utterly right and perfect and different than these when I had them.

I walked my three sheepdogs this morning and then bathed Coba; I took Nikolai for a short walk and bathed him, too. Now I'm pedaling on the deck, hour 2.30, watching Tiger stalk around while Magic, 16, lounges on a cushion in what passes for midday sun around here. For Sysiphean boulders, you have to admit that they are awfully loveable and cuddly. I couldn't be happier.


Photobucket


cats, dogs, bugs, slugs )

fish words

Apr. 25th, 2011 11:57 am
summer_jackel: (Default)
slipping sideways flashing silver
and then the other direction, for an instant
sunblind discs flashing into
that swish of narrow blade
they are from the other direction
in the water.

Shoal Soul

Apr. 6th, 2011 10:34 am
summer_jackel: (Default)
Ok, so this is actually yesterday's poem---written at about 10 last night when I remembered NaPoWriMo only when I was almost asleep. A close save, but I made it---wouldn't do to lose it on the fifth day, after all.

Shoal Soul

What’s a soul? It’s academic, but for such a useful metaphor
the stories don’t give us much to visualize.
One day, after walking in the woods I saw
my essence as a school of tiny golden-silver fish,
their sides streaked all crimson and purple,
gleaming and shy, fast-moving.

Would you like me closer?
You could offer small temptations,
brush carefully through the water, sharing
still cover, a place to rest and congregate.
I would gather ‘round you, nibble lightly
flashing gold and purple as I moved.
summer_jackel: (Default)
I love them. I just adore their slimy little icky wonderful selves so very very much.



In my fantasy world where I have many aquaria full of interesting things in my living room, there is a hagfish tank. (My dream also living room includes trout, arowana, Pacific Intertidal, leaping blenny, moray and of course cuttle and octopus tanks, if you're interested). In reality they'd probably be a pain to care for. That slime and all. But feeding them would be SO FUN.

I love hagfish and I want the world to know. That's all.

September

Sep. 15th, 2008 09:33 am
summer_jackel: (Default)
Autumn's come. I may or may not finish writing the series of little word strings I've been messing with on this subject, but it has, and I'm happy. There's a certain quiet contemplation, a subdued sorrow with threads of joy, that comes of watching the world around me die back and come alive, awaiting moisture in the growing cold.

Fenris' absence remains painful, shocking me from time to time, and there are moments when I feel it keenly. I'm adjusting to the loss, but it will be awhile before this few dogs (only three, hah) feels normal.

The kitten is adorable, and growing swiftly, which they do. Tiger continues to parent her lovingly, which I still find completely amazing and one of the cutest things ever. Of course I can't have a kitten without photographing the process, and denying those photos would really be holding out unfairly, so here you are.

Itty bitty kitty Nocturne, among other creatures )
summer_jackel: (coyote face)
I went to the river on a sacred day
Seated myself on
green grass
Looked down into the still, brown-green water.
I saw one, at first:
Small, fleet
Spotted fish
Salmon smolt
Moving in the light.
And then more
and then they unfolded
subtle as the patterns in a tapestry
revealing themselves,
living, moving, whole
to a still and seeing
receptive eye
as blessings. As benedictions.

---For Alyx and Leo, (friends since high school) married 8.15.08
summer_jackel: (orange okkie)
It's been a hard couple of weeks for the Jackel, over here. I really, truly think that a fish pedicure would be just the thing to relax me. This would almost be worth a trip to the D.C. area...but come on, I live in *California* for goodness' sake. There has to be a fishy spa opening here soon. I will be patient. Maybe I will email this link to the local spas or something.

Because, c'mon, being nibbled upon by small fish is like the most wonderful sensation ever, or at least up there in my top 20. Usually, procuring this experience involves holding very still in cold rivers and waiting for the trout to arrive. While the wilderness approach can never be replaced, I believe that there could be much to say in favor of a nice warm footbath, with fishies. Hedonism takes many strange forms, after all.

Also, there is the phrase: "full-body fish treatment". Mrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I like the sound of that.

Who's with me, here?

Fish Dance

Jun. 18th, 2008 02:09 pm
summer_jackel: (Default)
This morning, as I was sitting on the couch in front of the tank, fishgazing, I noticed a wonderful thing. My four Amazonian Silver Dollar fish appear to be spawning, or doing some sort of related behavior. These are vegetarian cousins to the piranha, bright silver, circular, flattish fish, the largest of whom is a little smaller than my palm. They are swift, alert and graceful. In the five or so years I have kept them, one has consistently been somewhat smaller, with more distinct dappling above the lateral line. I've often wondered if this was a gender or subspecific difference; some net sources claim that there are at least 5 subspecies of these guys, which vary in terms of size (some wild ones get to be the size of muscular dinner plates and are an important regional human food source) and amount of dappling. I haven't yet found any clear description of the science around it.

At any rate, the little dappled guy is more colorful this morning. It’s subtle, but the kind of thing you notice when you know a fish. His fins are rimmed in fine black, his spots are bolder, his gill slits a deeper red. All four of them are glowing bright silver with health. As, keeping still, I watched them, they began to swim in quick patterns around the tank with deliberate formation and exquisite speed, the dapple's head just below the biggest silver's, almost but not quite touching. In their ritual, they switch partners amongst themselves effortlessly, chasing one another in a fashion that seems in no way violent. They're shy fish. When I move even a little, they all stop and face me, eight wide black eyes trained unerringly in my direction. A few seconds more of my stillness relaxes them, and they return to their dance.

Even when I try to be objective, I can't help but see joy in their movements. They are, of course, beautiful; that's mostly why I keep them, after all. But this is a lovely and unexpected reminder that these wild animals, whose ancestors were removed from their native river in a bizarre symbiosis in which they are protected from predators and humans gain a little glimpse of alien beauty, aren't just objects d'art in my living room. They are living, autonomous beings, little ambassadors from another world living their quiet, fishy lives according to their fancy and genetic dictates, whether or not I pay attention.

I can't say what a fish feels, but evolution graced my species with emotions, which motivate me to keep on living. It seems at least reasonable that they know something comparable. Those fish in there are experiencing something, which urges them to movement and presence with one another. Observing them, I feel my own, and hope that I may empathize with an alien kind of joy.

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