Practicing some “Friluftsliv”

From the Mother Nature Network: “Friluftsliv” translates directly from Norwegian as “free air life,” which doesn’t quite do it justice. Coined relatively recently, in 1859, it is the concept that being outside is good for human beings’ mind and spirit. “It is a term in Norway that is used often to describe a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature,” Anna Stoltenberg, culture coordinator for Sons of Norway, a U.S.-based Norwegian heritage group said. Other than that, it’s not a strict definition: it can include sleeping outside, hiking, taking photographs or meditating, playing or dancing outside, for adults or kids. It doesn’t require any special equipment, includes all four seasons, and needn’t cost much money. Practicing friluftsliv could be as simple as making a commitment to walking in a natural area five days a week, or doing a day-long hike once a month…”

I didn’t get up until about 8:15 this morning, and headed out to the William Land Park with Sergeant Margie for our walk.  I was worried that it was too cold for Sergeant Margie, but I bundled him up in one of his sweaters, and he seemed to do just fine. I really wasn’t expecting to see a lot to photograph – because of the time of year and the chill in the air, but I knew we needed the exercise – and I ended up with a few good shots anyway.

The frost over the last several morning did a number on a lot of the plants in the WPA Rock Garden.  There were whole rows of “burnt” and “weeping” plants and very few flowers (except for some patches of Narcissus and the Strawberry Tree which didn’t seem to mind the cold at all).  In the medium-sized duck pond (the park has three ponds), I was surprised to see a bonded pair of Hooded Mergansers floating around.  Tinier than the Mallards, they avoided any contact with them, but otherwise seemed to like the solitude they had… I took waaay more photos of them than I needed to.  Hah!

At the small pond I got some shots of the Mallards and a squirrel… and at the largest pond I got to see and photograph some Turkey Vultures that were hanging out in the trees, waiting for the sun to warm things up a bit more so they could ride the “thermals”.   The vultures are actually very “scared-y chicken” birds, and flit off if you get to close to their tree.  What was kind of amazing was that in the tree next to one filled with vultures were several squirrels, known of whom seemed fazed by the fact that a major predator was just a branch or two away from them.

There were also two Muskovy Ducks there that were having a knockdown-drag-out fight.  It was obviously a mating attempt, but I think they must’ve both been males.  They both wanted to be on top and kept trying to mount each other, wrestling one another to the ground, knocking each other into the water then jumping on top of one another… It was quite a ruckus!  One of them finally shoved the other under the water and got on top – but was backwards, so their stuff couldn’t meet.  D’oh!  Then the other one wriggled out and ran up onto the shore… and the fight continued.  The Mallards didn’t seem interested in the brouhaha, but all of the geese around them were honking hysterically. I’d seen “duck rape” episodes before, but not one that took this long. Usually, it’s a couple of seconds and then the parties go on their way.   Neither one of these dudes was going to give up, though; they fought for several minutes.  I saw the pair a little later just hanging out together in the shrubbery… Don’t know who, if either of them, won the fight…

I also got some photos of a Coot and a Phoebe… along with pictures of the naked trees and things reflected on the surface of the ponds.  The dog and I walked for about 2 hours and then headed back home. 

Here is some video of the Muscovy Ducks: