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September 30, 2011

A certain state of Nature

Lorry on lower Landa Street in Echo Park.


This truck has been on what looks like a private property for at least one year -- probably much more. The hillside grasses have been mowed. There are piles of rotting clothing. Also a huge mass of broken cement farther downhill; possibly the remains of a driveway or home foundation.

Of course, I had to look up Luke 10: 30-35. And 35 says, "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness." It's an easy irony, on lower Landa, but intriguing and sad, too.

September 26, 2011

Dove tail


Karma? I took note of the wedding/funeral doves over the 2 on Friday, and Saturday there's a wounded turtle dove standing in front of me on Echo Park Avenue, unable to fly or even walk very fast. I'll call "her" a she -- mainly because of the cumbersome -- some could call intrusive -- way our language deals with gender. If you don't choose him or her you're stuck with it. So, she had almost all of her tail feathers ripped out, probably by a cat. Pet on pet violence.

We got a cardboard box from Fix Cafe and carried the little dove home. Then I spent a lot of time on the phone with wildlife organizations, who confirmed that the dove is a turtle dove and probably a pet. Care was discussed. But the agencies declined to look at our little dove -- one of them because she is not an aquatic bird and not covered in oil, the other because she is not a wild bird, and if she is wild, they implied, she shouldn't be because the eurasian banded turtle doves are mating with the native mourning doves and that's not a good thing.

My daughter named her Lovey Dovey. And what a magical little creature she is. If she lives we'll be looking to find her a new indoors home. And in the meantime, we're not stuck with her. We're just glad she's mending.

September 23, 2011

Morning doves

dove.jpgI see them in the morning sometimes, maybe once every couple of months. A flock of wedding/funeral doves who seem to have survived their release into the wilds of urban L.A. Big white pigeons. They swoop in formation over the Glendale Freeway near the Verdugo exit in Eagle Rock/Glassell Park.

According to a commercial dove-release company's website, these tame birds "are a symbol of love forever, good luck, and a path to heaven." For humans. The birds themselves are rarely so lucky.

A few years ago, I saw a large number of white doves "released" at the dedication of Leo Politi Square in Echo Park. A large number of them were afraid to leave their cages. And after they were forced out they didn't fly away -- they simply flew to the nearest place above human reach, and most of them stayed put, bewildered. For weeks after, an ever dwindling number of these abandoned domestic birds could be approached at Echo Park Lake. They lacked the street smarts of successful urban wildlife. The lake birds were tame and vulnerable. It's been a very long time since I've seen any at EP Lake.

But who knows? Maybe the most able of the Politi doves got together and went to the freeway overpass near Verdugo, where they swooped and gathered this morning. They're always a treat for the eye. And nice to know they're alive and keeping company.

Here's what a PETA blogger has to say about the release of doves for ceremonial purposes:

White doves, for example, are specifically bred for release and used by thoughtless event planners. Because doves are flock animals, they have very little chance of surviving on their own when they are released at events. Sending white doves into the air after having kept them confined for their entire lives is tantamount to abandoning a household companion animal in the woods 10 miles from home and should be as illegal. The initial release confuses doves, especially if it's done at night (when many celebrations take place). Doves are diurnal, so being exposed at night already puts them at a disadvantage. In the confusion of the moment, the birds dissipate and flounder into the night. Come morning, these doves are on their own. Unless they are lucky enough to find a flock of pigeons or other doves to join up with, they won't survive. However, even if they do find other birds to hang out with, the disoriented doves will remain an easy target for hawks and other predators.

Not so pretty. But the hawks aren't complaining.

September 22, 2011

Found this dude...


...on one of my tomato plants about an hour ago. I was looking for him/her, having found a smaller one earlier. It's a tomato hornworm, intending to become a hummingbird moth, and if you're thinking it could be three inches long you're right. Word on the internet says it could stretch to five whopping inches before shrinking back down for chrysalis.

The first one I found I fed to my chickens. It was eating leaves off my tomato plant at an astonishing rate. I watched it munch-munch-munch-down half a leaf in about two minutes. But now I regret turning it over to the chickens, who enjoy delectable little treats all day and could have survived without this one. The tomato plant the hornworm was eating is huge -- over six feet and sprawling in all directions. And had the caterpillar lived it would have become a pretty nectar-sipping moth that acts like a hummingbird. So this big dude, who is too big to feed to the hens anyway, we'll release later this evening after my daughter gets a chance to see it.moth.jpg

Here's what a blogger named Kate Brandes wrote about this caterpillar:

They [tomato hornworms] are a danger to garden plants because they can quickly defoliate parts of tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers. They like to spend their time on the underside of leaves in the daylight, so gardeners often see the leaf damage before the hornworm itself.
And yet, when we find one of these caterpillars in our garden, we take pains to relocate it rather than harm it. That's because it is the caterpillar stage of one of the most spectacular moths in our area, called the hawk, sphinx or hummingbird moth.

Now the question is what to name him/her. Fifi? Jaws? She/he seems to be demanding a name, even as she's actively chowing tomato leaves in her glass jar.

Moth photo: Via Kate Brandes.

September 19, 2011

Moon Festival

Saturday evening, near Chung King Way. The lion sees you. Don't stand on her/his back!



The Moon Festival/Mid-Autumn Festival dates 3,000+ years. Which explains the hip-hop dance event in the midst of festivities, which my daughter and her friends loved. You don't last 3,000 by ignoring hip hop. Unless you're the moon.

The lion drama was part of the evening's "cultural performances" set to dance/film score music. There were also cooking demonstration (moon pies), astronomy (moon viewing, through a special telescope), and a ping pong tournament (moon bashing?). Lots of fun. The cooking demo MC made a point of mentioning Echo Park's Phoenix Bakery vis-a-vis the moon pie.

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