Kings Bow Down to Grebes

Dear Jane,

Happy Twelfth Night. It’s January 6th, the day the three kings allegedly reached Bethlehem. I always wondered about that story. I was intrigued to read this year that this twelfth night idea dates back to pre-Christian winter festivals when the world was ruled by the Lord of Misrule, peasants became masters and masters became servants.

3 kings
Mexican statues of three kings and child

That’s probably how the three kings happened to get written into our mythology as coming to honor a poor peasant boy.  Old myths have a way of surreptitiously finding their way back into the new myths, don’t they.

Here’s hoping that there is some overturning of traditional power relationships in the coming year!! I am thinking especially of the unbalanced relationship between the human species and all non-human species on our planet.

Also, Happy Anniversary of our San Lorenzo River Mysteries blog! It was just about January 6th last year when we finally got our seemingly intractable blog up and running. It’s been a river-filled year, for sure! Here’s the photo of my Pied-billed Grebe mother on her nest between Soquel and Laurel.  This was the highlight of my river on nest clearP1020483 It’s late nest is emblematic for me of the power of life to continue.  Most probably the parent grebes had an earlier nest that failed. And they lost five of their six eggs in the second nest. But they brought one little grebe through to independence!  That’s pluck!

I wrote a letter to Good Times last week in response to the editor, Steve Palopoli, choosing the San Lorenzo River as one of the four big stories of the year 2015. I wasn’t pleased by his understanding of what the river means. I said that it means something very different to me and other lovers of wildlife than it does to those who see it as a scenic backdrop for recreational and commercial development.

Here are the last two paragraphs just in case the letter never makes it to a broader audience:

“For others in our community, the San Lorenzo River means something quite different.  It means a scenic backdrop against which the recreational and commercial dreams of a proposed ‘river town’ can play out.  It means recreational boating, disk frisbee,  fitness stations, group dog walks, and includes a current plan to build a mini mountain bike course on the Benchlands behind the County Building.  Some of these might be compatible with a wildlife habitat.  But some, like recreational boating and the pump track surely would not.

If, in envisaging a future for our river, we focus our energy primarily on recreation and economic development, on fitness and aesthetics, will wildlife protection and restoration get lost in the shuffle?  The City no longer has an environmental coordinator on its staff.  Who will be responsible for evaluating the possible negative effects of  human-serving activity on the wildlife or on the habitat that supports the wildlife? Who will prioritize the funding of projects supportive of the ecosystem as opposed to recreational and commercial projects?”

I think this is the challenge of our times, the real story of 2015 and of the years to come.”

May the River carry us along into increasing awareness of our natural world, including your gulls!

Happy New Year,






2 thoughts on “Kings Bow Down to Grebes

  1. It’s such an important issue: how to understand the language of nature & do the dance nature invites us to. We humans seem to have a hard time w/both aspects. I like your take on that & here is to learning to dance by the river….

  2. What a wonderful way to tap into your “birding and San Lorenzo river” world. I’m so moved by the pictures and so appreciative and grateful for your words. Much love, Michael

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