Best. Summer. Ever. – Episode 3: Y and Whoo

We double up this time, otherwise it will be next summer before I finish with this past one, and there are already other things I’d like to get to blogging about.

Y Be Healthy

Every year our local YMCA blocks off the street in front of itself one Saturday in Spring and holds a Healthy Kids Day, complete with face painting, crafts and coloring, a firetruck from down the street at Firehouse 17, sometimes a band, and always a ton of health-oriented giveaways, from jump ropes to bike helmets. The girls love this. They both got new helmets from volunteers who were on hand to make sure they were the right size and fit. A new thing this year, or something I hadn’t seen before at least, was a couple of big stretched canvasses where kids could add their expressions in paint to a communal art project.

Plein air painting. Chaotic, but fun.

My plein air painters consider the canvasses.

Mara holds still for facepainting.

Mara holds still for face painting.

Who Cooks for You?

Predating and foreshadowing our Daddy Daughter program was an “Owl Prowl” that Mara and I went on last Spring at Seward Park, a peninsula of old growth forest sticking out into Lake Washington from the otherwise thoroughly developed Seattle shore. Owls live here, at least one mating pair of barred owls (Strix varia) and potentially great horned owls and some others. After sunset, Mara and I hit the trail with a dozen other people — mostly adults except for two obnoxious preteen boys who brought flashlights and waved them in everyone’s eyes even after being asked not to by the guide and, wanly, their father. We hiked along under the forest’s gloaming boughs, pausing periodically while the guide described — and then played loudly on his smartphone — the calls of various owls. When he played the barred owl’s call, which has a distinctive rhythm that sounds like “who cooks for YOU?”, a for-real barred owl came cautiously into the high fir branches near us and then quite suddenly swooped low right over our heads, then flew off to sit for a while in another tall tree, then moved on again. We learned lots about these and other owls, and Mara got to stay up way past her bedtime.

Not an owl. I think Mara took this lovely photo of this gander warning us away from his mate.

Not an owl. I think Mara took this lovely photo of this gander warning us away from his mate.

On the trail of the barred owl, .

Mara and company on the prowl for owls.

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2 Responses to “Best. Summer. Ever. – Episode 3: Y and Whoo”


  1. 1 Spencer November 10, 2014 at 00:12

    I didn’t know that Seward Park was considered Old Growth. I thought you had to go out to Federation Forest for that. Have you done the hobbit trail at Federation? It’s a good hike with a fun little hobbit town halfway along–and also one of Christine & my first dates (great story there).

    • 2 Matt November 10, 2014 at 07:25

      Hi Spencer. Wow, Federation Forest looks cool! I’ve never even heard of it. We’re definitely putting that on the list of activities. The girls will love that place.

      The guide for our prowl said that Seward Park was old growth, and it makes sense if it was never logged and never developed, which I believe is the case. I happened to fly into town last week and snapped this ugly shot of the Seward Park peninsula from my 737 window. I was hoping it would look obviously “old-growthy” but you can’t really tell. Still, it’s a good reference for out-of-towners reading this post.

      Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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