Social Distancing

Who can bark the loudest? The slick blacker-looking one with it’s mouth wide open is trying to battle its way onto the dock while the fuzzy-appearing browner one in front of it is trying to defend his nap spot.

The sea lions did not get the memo.

First, I have to include some videos to provide the right soundtrack for my post.

This morning I was working at my home office when I heard the sea lions for the first time this spring. I heard them while inside my house. For real, they are that loud. So, still in my jammies, I threw on some boots and a coat and headed the five miles to the river. I enjoy the sea lions so much. Their barking and growling makes me giggle with delight.

This is right when the sea lion from the photo above, lunges onto the dock, teeth bared.
The battle was fierce, but lasted only a few minutes. The sea lion right behind the black one seems pretty zen about it.

In these days when everyone we hear from is telling us not to get close to anyone, it was especially delightful to see this community heaped upon one another and noisily napping.

Hm. I realize now that for a better photo I should have focused on the one in the back, rather than focused on the ones right in front.
Bodies seem crammed together, but from years of experience, I can tell this is only the beginning. They can get three layers deep eventually.

As usual, my delight at being at the marina, next to busy shipping lanes, across from the Port of Longview, overtook me. I couldn’t resist photos of the working machinery of my little bit of industry here on the Columbia River, the state border between Washington (across the river – currently in a state of lockdown greater than us) and Oregon (probably only a day or two behind Washington’s lockdowns).

The pulp mill sends up fearful looking plumes, but don’t worry, it’s mostly steam (and stink).
Do you mind tilting your head just a trifle, to catch the sunlight? Ahh, perfect! Thank you!
Two tugs in the foreground, shadowed in morning light. Another tugboat at work out there, pushing a barge toward the sea, and an anchored ocean vessel from Singapore.
A more common green headed Mallard paddles near shore, unlike the blue headed Mallard on the piling.
Most of these I think are Ring Necked Ducks, but there are two brown ones (one at the very front and one in the back with wings up, landing), with white breast and white cheek spot I cannot identify. Too far away to get a clear photo.
This is the whole scene of our delicious tiny Rainier Marina, on the Oregon side.

But I can only be distracted for a few minutes, because the noise is incessant. Bark! Bark! Bark! They are wonderful to watch. Huge and lumbering and fierce and threatening and passive and sleepy. I crept a few steps closer. A few more steps down the ramp (you can see it in the photo above) toward them. I stopped about 25 feet away.

What a big pink mouth!
Somebody’s coming back from fishing over at the mouth of the Cowlitz River, and looking to jump on the dock.
Two hefty trios, holding their noses high, catching the early rays of sunshine.
There we go, all three noses in the air.
Posing for me.

Ahh, what a splendid morning. My breath was frosty out there in the early spring morning, before the sun had a chance to warm anything up. In fact, in the videos you can see the breath steaming up from the closest sea lion. I’ll bet those blubbery lovelies were plenty warm. Probably full of fish and happy too. These critters aren’t worrying about viruses or a future financial crash or how to occupy the kids while working at home or whether Grandma’s lungs are strong enough to get her through. They are fighting for a good nap spot, and soaking up the first sunshine of the day. Totally in the moment.

The only building at the Rainier Marina. A glimpse of my darling little river town on the hills behind it. I know there isn’t much here, but I still think my tiny town has it’s own glow.


18 thoughts on “Social Distancing

    1. Ah, thank you Derrick. It helps to write a happy post when I’m so happy anyway. And it was a joke in my mind that they were all piled on top of one another, right when we humans are trying so hard to keep distance. It was so fun being there with them. I was all by myself (no one else was at the marina) and literally giggling every time they got really raucous. I planned to go back when the sun angle was different, but the clouds moved in and it’s been cloudy since. So no new shots yet. Usually the sea lions are around for a couple weeks. I’ll keep an eye on the weather and go again if I can.

    1. As I mentioned to Derrick, my intent was to go get some better shots later. Once I realized I couldn’t ID the ducks, I wanted to focus on better bird shots. But now the weather is not ideal. If I get another chance to photograph those ducks, I’ll post a shot. Thanks for helping! 🙂 It was a great outing and I’m glad I was inspired to jump up from my desk and head down the hill to the river.

  1. The mallards seem to have the social distancing down, Crystal, unlike the sea lions. And aren’t the sea lions a wonderfully noisy bunch. They were all over the place when I was at Crescent City in February. Thanks for the fun post. –Curt

  2. Now this made my day. I love seeing the pile of sea lions all mushed together. Heather is working from home for the next month and won’t let me go anywhere like a store. We have all our needs met here but I miss people. All the sewing groups canceled so it’s me by myself. Trying to get some work done on my own but I’m a social introvert. 😉 Crazy, I know. I don’t think I could hike 5 miles anywhere. Stay well and sane if all of this insanity.

    1. I’m glad to hear you two have each other. It is so strange having my planned events canceled on me, like your sewing group was canceled. Then my gym closed. Yes, I can do my own stretches and exercises at home, but I won’t. That’s the whole point of going somewhere else – to shake up our lives and get us out of the routine. Well, we WILL make it through. Especially when we get a chance to enjoy small wonders right outside our door, like sea lions. It’s spring now too, so you’ll have lots of new leaf babies and flowers to greet. It’s hard to stay sad in spring.

      1. I took my walk this morning but only to the mailbox and back. The air is really crappy out there so I have to wear a mask to walk and while pulling weeds for the last 1 1/2 hours out front. I’ll do more later. Yes, it’s spring. She’s here but she’s working so It’s not much different than normal. She’s available an hour earlier since there is no commute though. 😉 How are you managing alone all day?

      2. I’m usually alone all day, so there is really no change in my life. I feel very fortunate in that way. Very little change in routine, no change in income. I’ve had a chance to do some work on the property in this fabulous sunshine. I canceled my trip to Arizona. I
        had been hoping to go see Tara in Corvallis today. It’s just me alone, in a car, going to Tara’s apartment and nowhere else. Oregon gas stations still pump our gas, so I don’t need hardly to speak to anyone, much less interact. I’m sure the total lockdown is inevitable, so I wanted to deliver stuff and say hi before we aren’t allowed to see each other for a couple months.

      3. I can understand your worry! But I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen. Gov. Brown announced Friday night that they are working on a type of stay at home plan, and will probably announce Monday. If you and H need anything, get it today. Most shelter in place rules are allowing grocery stores, pharmacies, and doctors. After I found out about Gov. Brown’s decision, Tara and I decided it would be best to cancel my visit. So I did not go to Corvallis.

      4. My niece is on her way from school in CO. I hope they find places to stay. She certainly can’t find work here now. Living with her mother will lead to someone’s murder. Kate is nuttier than a pack of squirrels. We did a good shopping yesterday and I think we are doing ok. Probably things I missed but will have to do without until this is all better. Sorry you didn’t get to see Tara. ;(

  3. This is wonderful, how they called you and you responded. True, they seem without a single worry, while humanity is going berserk (I needed decades to learn to spell this word, I think its use is justified at present). You are in a great company so no worries needed. I can’t imagine three layers of them though…

    1. I have seen giant ones lying right on top of little ones, and at first I was worried, but then got a look at the ones underneath, and they are totally unconcerned, sleepily opening their eyes halfway to check who it is, then going back to sleep again. Just adorable. I like how you say that: they called and I responded. Yes! When Nature calls I want to be listening. The sea lions make it easy. I also need to be listening for sunny days and swelling leaf buds and newly arrived robins! They also need to call me outside. 🙂

    1. Hi Shell! Thanks for visiting! These are sea lions, different than seals but so similar too!! I love them as well, and think it’s great that they come up river from the sea, all the way to my town.

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