Audrey and the Invisible – a very short story

I just came across this in an old file folder.   Hand-written many years ago – probably sometime when I was in my 20s or 30s.

Climbing Gear

Somewhere out and about halfway past the security bolt, amidst the swirling storm, Audrey snuffed it out.  Brand new EBs and all. She lost it. She popped her pieces under a ragged roof and zippered the overhang.

 As I look back now, I can remember the kaleidoscope of thoughts that rushed through me then:  “Anchor’s good.  It should hold. But she’s way above it and it won’t make any difference.  Ever the risk-taker.  My belay is useless.”

 Cold snows and ancient spirits flew at me from different corners of the rock – opposite and distant.  I can remember shivering uncontrollably.  I couldn’t believe what had happened.

 Kennedy, King and Khrushchev were still alive, when we first met years ago.   We finally hooked up and spent our time in the mountains.  We loved to read books and cook food and go climbing together.  And coming home late at night we’d walk down the old path toward the cabin, chocks rhythmically chiming, and watch silently, like monks, our Vibrams in the dust.  “Does anyone know the Truth about anything?” we’d ask ourselves.  We never owned a television set.

 There was a large pine tree that was over 200 years-old outside the kitchen window.  “I wonder if it remembers the passenger pigeons,” she had whispered early one morning.




Note for those readers who don’t know what EBs are: 

EB stands for Edouard Bourdonneau , the french master boot maker , who , together with Pierre Allain , manufactured the first climbing shoe in 1947 .
During the fifties , he created the brand EB which became the “gold standards” of climbing rock shoes in the sixties and seventies .
The brand died in 1986 after the arrival of the spanish made”Firé ” and its sticky rubber which rendered the “old” EB obsolete .
But , in 1992 , with a new owner , EB started again to manufacture climbing shoes ( although very different from its ancestors…)up to this day …

   by Xavier Legendre, Sports Climber, Marseille – quoted from the internet


Sunday Morning

I spent Sunday morning with some new friends searching for American Dippers along the rushing snow-melted torrents of the upper Animas above Silverton.  We were doing research for the American Dipper Project locating nests and bird activity to help document healthy sections of the beleaguered river.  It was a good place to be following the news of the tragedy in Orlando.

American Dipper 2573W1WM
American Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus, Animas River, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

John Muir wrote of the American Dipper that they “seem so completely part and parcel of the streams they inhabit, they scarce suggest any other origin than the streams themselves; and one might almost be pardoned in fancying they come direct from the living waters, like flowers from the ground.”

American Dipper 2566W1WM
American Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus, Animas River, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

I have no answers for days like this when evil seems to overshadow kindness and innocent lives are violently killed by hatred and ignorance. I have no answers, but it seemed a good place to be Sunday morning in the mountains among friends and raging rivers and the diminutive dippers.

Dipper 2373W1WM
American Dipper, Cinclus mexicanus, Animas River, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

Wendell Berry once wrote,

“I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of …water.  And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

American Dipper 8115W8WM



Strikingly Colorful Avian Neighbors Have been Very Active This Past Week

Black-headed Grosbeak and Western Tanager7978bW1WM
Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, Male, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeder, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

This Spring there have been a number of strikingly colorful visitors to the suet feeders hanging outside the kitchen window.

Female Black-headed Grosbeak and 3 Male Western Tanagers 7852W1WM
Male Western Tanagers, Piranga ludoviciana, Female, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeders, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

The regulars include over a dozen Western Tanagers,

Western Tanager 8018W1WM
Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

several pairs of Black-headed Grosbeaks

Black-headed Grosbeak 7914W1WM
Male, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeder, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

and one first-year Bullock’s Oriole.

Bullock's Oriole7810W1WM
Bullock’s oriole, Icterus bullockii, First Year Male, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

When the Tanagers are grouped around the feeders they remind me of a flock of exotic parrots from some tropical forest.

Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeak 7958W1WM
Western Tanager, Piranga ludoviciana, Male, Black-headed Grosbeak, Pheucticus melanocephalus, Suet Feeders, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

All photos were taken through a closed double-pane window.

Six Western Tanagers 8001W1WM
Six Western Tanagesr, Piranga ludoviciana, at Suet Feeders, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America

New Trees Planted at the White-headed Langur Protection Organization

April 22nd is Earth Day.  Some folks like to plant a tree for Earth Day.  Recently, two trees were planted in the White-headed Langur Protection Organization in Guangxi Province, China.

Robert Winslow tree bW8

One with my name on it (in recognition of a financial contribution that I made) and the other planted in the memory of my mother, Florence Winslow.  You can read all about this project that was established by my friend Dr. Katherine Feng in my April, 2015 blog posts.

Robert Winslow tree aW8

According to Wikipedia, White-headed Langurs are a critically endangered species and are among the rarest primates in the World.  They are possibly the rarest primate in Asia with a population estimated at less than 70 individuals.

Langurs in Red Cotton TreeW8


The trees that were planted were Red Cotton Trees which are famous in Guangxi Province. They are beautiful trees with large red flowers that appear before the leaves. The Langurs like to eat the petals of the flowers in the Spring and the leaves in the Summer.

Florence Winslow Tree b W8


It is interesting to note that my mother’s tree was planted during the Qingming Holiday. Qingming translates into the Tomb Sweeping Day and is a day that the people visit their ancestor’s/parents tomb to honor them and to clean their graves.  I believe that my mother would be very pleased and honored to have a tree planted during this holiday period.  She would also be very pleased to know that the flowers and leaves of her tree will help nourish a critically endangered species.

Florence Winslow Tree a W8

My wife, Marilyn Leftwich and my sisters Phyllis Winslow and Barbara Griffith have also helped to contribute money toward the planting of these trees.



Florence F. (Hennig) Winslow

Florence F. Winslow, 95, of Tucson, AZ passed away peacefully on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.

Florence Winslow
Florence Winslow

While growing up on Long Island in New York, she worked at a local library and graduated from  Adelphi College along with her sister, Gladys in 1941. This is a credit to her parents, Florence G. Hennig and William C. Hennig who made great financial sacrifices to send their two daughters to college during the Great Depression.

In September of 1941, she married Roger C. Winslow.  After dedicating many years to raising their three children, Florence went back to school and earned a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University.

As the librarian for the Connecticut Institute for the Blind, Florence Winslow set up and organized a special school library for blind and otherwise handicapped children.  She also created a special multi-ply library for workers in the field.

In retirement Florence and Roger sponsored a family from Laos and assisted in bringing them to this country.  They helped the family find jobs and housing and to integrate into every aspect of life in the United States. At the same time, she was very involved with the Avon, Connecticut town Historical Society and was one of three women who organized from scratch a town museum in a renovated schoolhouse.

During retirement, she and her husband traveled the world after first checking out all corners of the United States and Canada. They then focused on enjoying much of the year in the Adirondack Mountains of New York –hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, canoeing, and swimming. Prior to retirement, the Winslow Family spent nearly every summer vacation on a lake outside of Tupper Lake, NY.

Florence also liked to garden wherever she lived – planting flowers and raising vegetables for eating.

Music also played an important role. For most of her life she loved singing in church choirs and choral societies.

She is survived by her three children, Phyllis, Tucson, AZ ; Robert, Durango, CO and Barbara, granddaughter, Amanda, and great-grandson, Evan Dias all living in Sand Springs, OK.

Florence Winslow was listed in Who’s Who in Connecticut and Who’s Who of American Women for 1974 -75.

A Very Rare Bird- at least in this area

There’s been a bit of excitement in the local birding community this past week. An Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) was spotted at Pastorius Lake. There has been only one other reported sighting of the bird in this area in 2007. The image of the range map from my Sibley Birds app shows how rare it is to be seen in SW Colorado (white area).

Eurasian Wigeon Range 7381


On Friday, a request went out to the local birding community for photos to better document the bird. Apparently a rather large portion of birds present in the US hybridize with American Wigeons and photographic evidence was needed to help document that it was a pure Eurasian Wigeon and not a hybirid.

Eurasian Wigeon, Anas penelope, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America


My photos are the best ones taken so far of the bird and will be used to help confirm the sighting to the Colorado Bird Records Committee.

Eurasian Wigeon, Anas penelope, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America


Equipment used: Canon EOS 70D camera (1.6x crop factor), Canon 500mm/f-4 lens, Canon 1.4x III extender, Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, Arca Swiss ball head, 4th Generation gimbal mount.

Eurasian Wigeon, Anas penelope, La Plata County, Colorado, USA, North America


A Trip to Silverton, Colorado to photograph Rosy Finches

On Monday, 22 February 2016, Dwight Frankfather and I traveled to Silverton, Colorado (elevation 9,318 feet, 2,836 m) to look for and photograph the three species of Rosy Finches that inhabit North America. Below are my photographs of all three species including two subspecies of the Gray-crowned Rosy Finch.

The Following information is taken from these websites: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds,, Nature’s Blog – Rosy Finches of Colorado and Wikipedia.

Rosy Finches are songbirds of extreme environments. Due to their remote and rocky habitat above tree-line rosy finches are rarely seen during the summer. Rosy Finches nest at higher elevations than all other birds in North America. During winter and early spring, all three species form large, mixed flocks and often appear in mountain towns and at ski resorts.

Like the other rosy-finches, the Brown-capped Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte australis) is a bird of the high mountains, breeding above timberline. It has the smallest range of the three American species, being found primarily in Colorado.

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch 7961W!WM


Brown-capped Rosy-Finch7991W!WM

Black forehead blends into dark brownish crown. Gray head patch usually absent, but some show a light area on the sides of crown that does not extend to the back of head. Males usually have noticeably brighter underparts than Gray-crowned.

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch 7909W!WM

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Interior race, Leucosticte tephrocotis tephrocotis) There is a sharp demarcation between the black forehead and the light gray crown which does not extend very far down the back of head. While plumage is usually a rich cinnamon-brown, some are darker and may be confused with Black Rosy-Finches. Considerably less pink on belly, wings and rump. The Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is the species most likely to be confused with other rosy-finches. Black Rosy-Finch lacks brown back and breast. Brown-capped lacks gray on head. The amount of gray on the head is variable. Young birds may be especially difficult to separate from Brown-capped in the field.

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 7882W1WM


Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 7986W!WM


Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 7883W!WM


Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Coastal or Hepburns race, Leucosticte tephrocotis littoralis) Differs from the Interior race in having more extensive gray areas on the crown and cheeks. Note contrast between the black chin and light cheeks. Some individuals, possibly first winter birds, may be quite dark on upper back. Like Interior race, the pink on belly, wings and rump is quite subdued.

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 7931W!WM


Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 7976W!WM

Perhaps because of its remote breeding sites, which allow little contact with humans, the Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch seems almost fearless. On its breeding grounds, foraging birds can be approached to within 1-2 meters (3-6 feet).

Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 7928W!WM

The Black Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte atrata) is a bird of the high Rocky Mountains. It nests above treeline, among alpine rocks and cliffs and is often the bird that nests at the highest elevation on a particular mountain. Because of this it is one of the least studied birds in North America.

Black Rosy-Finch, Leucosticte atrata, Silverton, Colorado, USA, North America


Black Rosy-Finch, Leucosticte atrata, Silverton, Colorado, USA, North America

Black forehead strongly contrasts with light gray on crown, which extends to back of head. Black back, throat and upper breast contrast with extensive pink on belly, rump and edges of wing and tail feathers. Pink under-tail coverts. Generally has little brown in plumage.

Black Rosy-Finch, Leucosticte atrata, Silverton, Colorado, USA, North America


We also saw flocks of House Sparrows (Passer domesticus)

House Sparrows,  Passer domesticus, Silverton, Colorado, USA, North America


And a trio of fur balls that were interested in anything Avian.

Three Cats in a Window in Silverton; Colorado; USA; North America


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