Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Ospreys Are Back

It's the same every spring--ski season ends, allergy season begins, and the ospreys show up along with our human snowbirds from wherever they spend their winters. Laika the space dog, my woo, and I spotted our first ones yesterday and again today. They were working the orographic lift created by the wind against the highway embankment along the Lake Pend Oreille shore at the north end of the Long Bridge. They repeatedly searched a half mile of shallow water from thirty feet altitude, their rakish wings barely working in the stiff breeze. Osprey are my favorite bird, the only honest fishermen I know. They only eat what they catch, and it's fresh, usually delivered to the nest still flopping. Eagles won't fish if they can steal; gulls won't steal if they can scavenge. Both were flying with the ospreys today, and both were disappointed--the osprey caught nothing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Schooner Flash, Captain Falwell"

When David Kokernot first moved his family to Texas from New Orleans in 1831 it was "a very pleasant trip" aboard the "Schooner Flash, Captain Falwell," he later wrote. That fact has been repeated so often that I was a little surprised to find that the Flash was not built until four years later. I wrote this off as simply another of Kokernot's many errors of fact. This one was clearly an honest mistake, not self-promoting like many of his errors. The Flash, I learned, had a busy and important fifteen month's life and David had probably spent time on its deck during the Texas Revolution. The Flash hauled Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar to Texas. It hauled the Twin Sisters canons to Houston's army. So, naturally, I had to blow off a couple of weeks writing all I could learn about the schooner. The East Texas Historical Journal published the story early this year. I've placed the first page here. Subscriptions or single copies are available from the East Texas Historical Association, or at a good university library.