September 30, 2020

How quickly the end of September arrived -- month seven of the pandemic. And although the fires and the earthquake are “behind us,” these rattling events also served as a preparedness wake-up call.


Louie and I took a drive to the city boundary next to Arcadia to witness the eeriness of the scorched mountainside left by the Bobcat Fire.



At our home, we saw some fallout from the earthquake. The epicenter was in South El Monte, only 15 minutes from our town. Louie had noticed that our house shifted slightly. The closet door to the indoor water heater no longer closes shut; ditto for some of the kitchen cupboard doors.



So, this week we had our gas lines checked for possible leaks. At the same time, we had our local plumber install on our gas meter a “Little Firefighter” earthquake gas shut-off valve. When the next quake hits, we will feel more secure knowing that the gas line will automatically shut off when shaking reaches a dangerous level.


And with the return of clear skies, and no more smokey air, it’s nice to hear the birds singing outside again. Sadly, wildlife, not just human life, has suffered this year.


Who knew during this time of coronavirus that anyone would be paying attention to the singing habits of birds? Researchers in San Francisco did. The shutdown between April and May reduced pre-pandemic Bay Area traffic to what it used to be in the 1950s, “a proverbial silent spring,” they called it.


Urban congestion -- including noise pollution -- on the Golden Gate Bridge had forced birds to sing louder and at higher pitches. During the quiet of the shutdown, though, birds sang more softly, “…and communication distance nearly doubled, elevating species fitness and increasing mating potential.”


Short-lived, this was a temporary win for the birds.


https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/25/us/sf-birds-pandemic-singing-trnd/index.html

But soon, fall and winter will be setting in, which means we won’t be hearing the birds sing again until spring. I am grateful that -- the day after the earthquake -- I spotted happy birds sharing a group bath in my front yard. Through the louver windows in my dining room, I captured a video of them splashing in the bird bath. In the distance, I could hear other birds calling out. No need for narration. I let them do the talking.


Now, when I long to hear their uplifting chatter again, I’ll turn to this video. No matter the season.



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