[Tweeters] Travel Thanksgiving

jeff gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Nov 30 15:36:15 PST 2013

"Travel broadens the mind", somebody once said, and it can be true, if you're paying attention to where you are, and actually want to broaden your mind.

I've only experienced Thanksgiving Day in three general locations: one was back in Connecticut in the mid 70's, and another place was Brookfield Wisconsin last year, and once several years before. All my other Thanksgivings Day's have been happening right here in Wetside Washington.

This year I was in home territory, but travels to foreign places have helped my perspective of home. Home, (maritime Washington State) is really quite a strange place, I've found, contrasting it with my other Thanksgiving locations.

Right about now, in places like Connecticut or southern Wisconsin, it ain't like around here. When they say Fall around those places, they really mean it. All the leaves fall off the trees. From the glories of fall colors, it all (mostly) changes to browns, grays, and (if it snows), white - and in a surprisingly short period of time. Looking down, out the window of some sort of Boeing product, on high, much of the American landscape, from Wisconsin to the Cascade Crest, is of similar colors in late November.

Those eastern deciduous woods aren't lacking in bird color this time of year though, a fact emphasized by the overall drabness. Last year, my first bird sighting, in a small patch of woods behind our hotel, was a Cardinal! Kinda hard to out-bright that. The patch of woods was also full of woodpeckers; Hairy, Downy, and Red-bellied, each contributing bright bits of color. Blue Jays.

To a native Puget Sounder, the eastern deciduous forest can seem superficially like a simplistic Alder and Big- Leaf Maple grove, yet the tree diversity is much greater; lots of various Oaks, Maples, Hickories, Hornbeams, Basswoods, Birch, etc., etc. One of my favorites is the Shagbark Hickory- a wonderfully named vegetable.

Coming home last year , the plane view included quite a few clouds, overall. While Wisconsin was a bit overcast, and the Rocky Mnts. were largely obscured, I got to enjoy that great sky study of clouds seen from above. Getting close to home though, the sky-scape changed dramatically.

Past the Rockies, an immense upwelling of clouds was lurking off to the West. Home! Entering the airwaves of Washington, it was like "Cloud National Park". Oh sure, those Eastern forest's got that tree diversity, but around here, we got the rest of America beat on cloud diversity! Just about every species of cloud was available for viewing. (of course no midwest, or Florida thundertowers) - layers on layers, form after form, clouds on and on.

The neighborhood here was piled with about at least 20'000 ft of clouds, but in layers. As the jet descended, new openings between the layers opened up, allowing great views of yet more cloud species. Pretty awesome.

Getting near home, we were flying pretty low, between cloud layers, and I couldn't help but notice, despite it being mid-day, how dark it was down on the ground, between gaps in the lowest ceiling of clouds. " I'm gonna live down there for another 6 months!" I thought. The darkness was a shock after coming from wintery, yet brighter, climes. I guess you just sorta get used to it, living here.

Then more shocker's. Like the tree's! I can't believe how tall they are! And look at those emerald green fields down in the valley - one, lit with a stray sunbeam, was a mind-blower of green brilliance, after flying over thousand's of miles of American drab.

Landing at Sea-tac and driving home to Everett, my wife (not a birder particularly) noted, as she looked out the car windows "You know, there are a lot more birds around here!" She was right.

Jeff Gibson
evergreen, in
Everett Wa

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