Monday, December 31, 2007

Good Bird Day

January 1 2008

Without trying today, I saw: a bald eagle, 2 red-tailed hawks, several kestrels, ravens, and magpies. The bald eagle was impressive (and not so common around here; we mostly have golden eagles), and the flashy, iridescent, long-tailed magpies are entertaining to watch - sometimes they like to play around and on the horses.

But of course it's the Raven that I'm obsessed with. Who wouldn't be, with all the history and mystery and myths of Ravens down through the ages and different cultures:

In Norse mythology, Odin, the father of the Gods, had two Raven informers, Hugin and Munin.

In Celtic mythology, Branwen, Goddess of love and beauty can take the form of a white crow.

In several Pacific Northwest Indian cultures, the Raven is revered as the creator of humans, or the one who found the first humans in a giant clam shell and let them out; the stealer of light (he stole the sun from a greedy man, and put the sun, moon, and stars in the sky for humans); a perpetual trickster, and a storyteller.

In Arabic, the Crow is "Algorab." My friend Maryanne in Egypt lives right by the partially buried ruins of an ancient sun temple, Abu Ghorab. It is rumored to be one of six sun temples, only 2 of which have been discovered so far. Abu Ghorab means "Father of Crows." In Egypt, crows are a nuisance to the farmers. Farmers try to scare them away or shoot them, so the clever crows hang out during the day at the trash dump and other places away from humans, and in the evening they fly one by one to hide behind the sun temple. There they wait until the call to evening prayer, when they fly into the orchards at the edge of the desert to roost, because they know people are at their prayers. : )

In several cultures, the Raven and crow were originally white.

In Australian Aboriginal legends, the crow turned black after he wrestled with a hawk (they fought because the crow would not share his meal, as they had agreed to do) and rolled in the black ashes of a campfire, which never washed off.

In ancient Greece, the White Raven was a sacred bird and messenger of Apollo, the God of light, sun, music, poetry, and fine arts. (In some myths, it was a crow.) But, due to some mischief the Raven got into, as Ravens are wont to do, (depending on the tale, either narking on Apollo's wife, or mistress, or it didn't fetch water quickly enough for Apollo), Apollo flew into a rage, as Greek Gods are wont to do, and turned his white Raven to black.

And I came across this nugget from this spring: a clutch of white Ravens were abandoned by their parents and rescued in a churchyard in England: .

Any Ravens I see here at home in the canyon, I think one of them must be Hoss, one of the baby ravens the neighbors Linda and Mike and Carol raised last year. Especially when even I can get fairly close to him without him being very concerned. Maybe he's a distant descendant of one of the Ravens in myth and legend, comfortable being around people and Gods.

Then there's always the Raven II, popping up at random places.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Raven Christmas

Tuesday December 25 2008

After a whirlwind summer of international travel, The Raven was happy to spend Christmas at 'home' in Seattle with me and the family...

and a pony friend.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Idaho - Owyhee Canyonlands Ride

September 25 2007

The Raven is glad to be back 'home' in Idaho - and back in the saddle!

Our friend Connie and her dog Zico came to visit, and Connie did her 1st ever 50-mile endurance rides on Jose.

Of course, the Raven is an old endurance pro, he's almost up to 3000 AERC miles.

The Raven rode Rhett, one of his favorite endurance horses ever.

The vet checks are a fun place to hang out and rest and eat with the horses and riders.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Raven in Rome

September 19 2007

On our way back to the states, we spent a day in Rome.

The Raven enjoyed the Coliseum, and Palatine Hill

and other ruins around the city

and the modern Rome

The Raven visited the Vatican and was hoping to get a ride in the Popemobile, but the Pope was not in town.

The Raven had a good time hanging out at the Spanish Steps, built in the early 1700's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Welcome To Oslo!

Tuesday August 14 2007

What's the first thing you do when you arrive in Norway? Go sailing of course!

Kjersti (my hiking partner in Nepal in 1991) and her husband Per Christian picked me up at the train station, we went straight to the marina where their 35' sailboat, Mar ("Sea" in Portuguese – they spent 2 years in Brazil), was moored. Kjersti made us dinner on the boat, then we unhitched the ropes (that is not nautical terms), motored out of the marina into the bay, raised the sails, and, the Raven II and I were sailing on Oslo Fjorden!

The Raven is a good nautical navigator and enjoyed steering the boat.

We would LOVE to come back one summer and sail the west coast of Norway, like Kjersti and Per Christian have done, twice. There's something about sailing that is addicting... perhaps a bit like endurance riding, I think.

One evening we hiked up a nearby local hill with Hans Jacob and Eli. Hans carried up a watermelon and we sat up top overlooking Oslo and the Oslofjord under gray cloudy skies and a brisk (autumn already?!) wind.

We all had cool watermelon and a toast...

or two.

We visited the the ski jump Holmenkollen - opened in 1892, and site of the 1952 Winter Olympics ski jumping -

which disappeared in the rain clouds.

The Raven made friends with the moose in the ski jump museum.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Raven in Amsterdam

Wednesday August 1 2007

The Raven wanted to go to Amsterdam...

so we hopped on the train to Amsterdam.

The Raven enjoyed the lovely city with its trademark canals.

The Raven wanted to visit a Coffeeshop, and chose the Siberie Coffeeshop

I had a couple of cappuchinos while the Raven did his thing

Afterwards, the Raven got the munchies so we had a big lunch.

The Raven then tried on some clogs

We did some window shopping, where the Raven found a friend

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Raven II Rides Belgium!

Sunday July 22 2007

Friendly people, beautiful countryside, thick green wet forests, old well-preserved houses and castles, perfect lighting, not least the mild weather... Belgium has grown on the Raven quickly.

We're staying with Leonard and Carole, who live in a little village, Gesves (say “zhev”) 70 km from Brussels, putting them in the southern region of Belgium, the Wallonian French-speaking part. Leo's lovely old house probably originally dates back to the 1800's – he's lived in it for 10 years. There's a few old stables and several paddocks rich with grass for his 4 horses. Many of the village dwellers rebuild the houses from the 1700's and 1800's in the old stone style. Many were big old farmhouses, half of which the family lived in and half which was the stables for the animals. Belgium has more castles per square mile than any country, and I saw a number of them driving to Leo's house from Brussels (“Oh, there's another castle”). Most people keep up their old places in meticulous condition, taking much pride in landscaping them. Brilliant, bright-colored flowers inhabit many brick and stone windowsills everywhere.

It's lovely and cool at night, and not-hot during the day, although if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change: sun, clouds, rain, rain and sun, wind, storm, not a breeze. It usually starts off perfectly clear every morning and starts clouding up by noon, and by evening, you can hedge your bets that it's raining somewhere in Belgium. And always, at about 8 PM for about an hour, brilliant golden evening light filters through either haze or clouds or moist air, accenting church steeples and castles, highlighting the folds of hills and the leaves on trees. Even if you're not a photographer, it makes you stare with your mouth open in amazement.

The wet forest is much like the Pacific Northwest: wet, green, thick, ferns, moss, mud, slugs.

The Raven rode in the home forest a couple of times, and once over the groomed track and trails through the forest just outside Brussels.

One day, riding along the old racecourse near Brussels, there, right in front of us on the grass... a hawk feather! (From a Common Buzzard, central Europe's most common bird of prey; it looks similar to our American Red-tailed hawks or Swainson's hawks.) The feather was a gift from the hawk to the Raven.

The Raven rode Carol's young horse Bicai, Leo's 6-year-old qualified horse Dario, and, the star of Leo's stable, 18-year-old Orfeo: a horse that's been to 2 European Championships and 4 World Championships.