I seem to spend quite a lot of time showing photographs of Big Sur Wildlife – animal and human – to friends. Each picture tells a story. With each photo I share I fall in love with Big Sur all over again. I realize I could never take one moment of my Big Sur life for granted. I’d like to share a few of these photos with you. There will be more at another time.
I had an amazing experience one day on Pfeiffer Beach. I met this otter. I approached him very carefully. I spoke to him softly. After a while he did every otter pose I could imagine . It was as though he was giving me a personal show. Eventually he allowed me to stroke his tummy. His pelt was so soft that I felt I understod the meaning of the word ‘pelt’ for the first time. I felt a connection with this otter. It was as though we already knew each other.
You’ll probably think I’m a total nutter when I tell you about my relationship with this beautiful creature. When I was much younger I used to sing. I studied voice for a few years. I had to make a choice between two career routes. Continuing to sing opera wasn’t a path I could afford to follow. I continued to sing at home. Singing was one of the things that brought me great joy. I stopped singing when the man I lived with made it abundantly clear that he didn’t like it.
When I came to live in Big Sur I began to sing again. I sing to the ocean from Pfeiffer Beach. Early in the morning I am frequently alone on the beach so no one can hear me. Sometimes the otters who live by one of the rocks fairly close to shore come out and bob up and down in the water. It seems that they are listening to me. When I met this otter on the beach, I spoke to him softly from a distance. I moved closer to him when it seemed safe and he didn’t seem to mind. I think he let me get so close to him and stroke him because he recognised my voice from my singing. This might be utter nonsense, but it felt true at the time. After an amazing show he left me and flippered his way back into the sea. I have about 30 photos of his show. I’ll post more of them in my Facebook album so you can see them there.
Condors are protected in Big Sur. The condor reintroduction program lead by the Ventana Wildlife Society draws interest from all over the world. There is a link to the society on my home page. Condors have landed in my trees on many occasions. When Ken and I first came to Big Sur we saw a condor in the meadow close to the barn. Ken and I had never seen one. We thought it was a wild turkey until we got closer to it. The radio tag attached to him confused us. I took the photo to a friend at the Shell Station. He identified the creature as a condor. I noted the number on his tag. I was so excited about his presence in my meadow that I sent his photo the the Ventana Wilderness Society. They responded with information about this two year old condor, including how and where his egg was hatched. It is important to remember that condors are wild and should not be encouraged to depend on people to feed them. I was told to try to get them to fly away. If they won’t fly off, I was advised to get out the hose and spray them with water. So far I haven’t had to do that.
You never know what you will encounter as you drive in Big Sur. I was on my way to Los Angeles when I came across a wild boar at the bottom of my road on Sycamore Canyon. He claimed the road as his own, zigzaging along the road. I know that these animals are dangerous, but I couldn’t resist getting out of the car and taking photograps of him. I alwas have a camera in the car. After a whilewhen I had pretty close to him, this wild animal noticed me and headed toward me gaining speed. I made it safely back to my car and the boar ignored the car and continued toward the beach. I got out of the car again and got more phots when he passed by my car. Up close, his tusks seemed sharp and nasty. He was an ugly character with a filthy nose and mouth. He was matted in places.
Butterflies are in abundance here in Big Sur. One of the ones that we all love to see is the Monarch. Monarchs are very common at Esalen in spring and again around December. A few land feed off my flowers. It is difficult to photograph butterflies. It is as though they know you are about to click the camera and they tease and fly away. I’ve taken many photographs of butterflies over the years. One of them fascinates me more than others. I isn’t possible to see the detail here in the small version I’ve posted here. Enlarged, you can clearly see the butterfly’s eyeballs. I’ll try to post a bigger version on Facebook in my album – Wonders of Sur.
This is a larger photo than the others I’ve posted. I want you to see as much of the eyeballs as possible. I think this is enough for today.