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Ballena Bay and a Broken Ankle

Six weeks ago I took one bad backward step off the side of our U-Haul moving van ramp and everything changed in an instant. I lost my balance. My left foot landed sideways before twisting causing the bones in my lower leg to snap like firecrackers. It was loud and unfathomably painful. It was terrifying. I could feel sharp bone shards unnaturally poking me. But mostly it was immediately devastating and severely disappointing. I knew right away that my plans were shattered. I knew even as I laid in the street on my back howling in agony and helplessly clutching my leg behind my knee to keep my sideways foot from touching the ground. I knew days before my doctor gave me the cold hard facts “You will need reconstructive surgery to put your bones and ligaments back in place with metal pins and plates. You are considered completely disabled and off work and school until the end of September”.

Three weeks ago I was supposed to begin graduate studies in journalism at UC Berkeley. I was looking forward to continuing the theme of documenting urban nature through formal studies in the science and environmental reporting track in the program. I was incredibly excited to start and had given up my beloved water conservation job to be able to attend. Due to the severity of the injury, my studies will need to be postponed. So here I am. I am no longer employed. I am no longer enrolled in school. I can’t walk, probably for months. And I will definitely not be going on any nature hikes to take photos.

Maybe this is good news (or at least not bad news), for the Growing Wild blog.  First, now I have extra time on my hands. As you may have noticed, I have been neglecting this blog for months, too busy with life and other things. For now, most of my previous activities are out of the question leaving me plenty of time to focus on blogging. Second, while I recover, I am fortunate enough to be staying with my family at the home I grew up in on Ballena Bay Isle in Alameda. My family is driving me around, cooking for me, and repeatedly helping me stack the elusively “just-right” pile of pillows to elevate my ankle. I can’t do much for myself at the moment but one thing I can do is haul myself (on three limbs) and my camera outside to watch the moonrise. I can sit patiently at the end of the dock and watch the shorebirds feed and the fish jump.

My backyard here is the water, and I believe there are countless possibilities for what nature might be observed from this one single location. Even though this spot is part of the city, it is on the edge of a marine wild-space. It represents the exact type of urban-nature overlap that Growing Wild was created to document in the first place. The bay is filled with fish, birds, sea lions, maybe even an occasional sting ray or shark. Migrating shorebirds birds will soon be passing through as they make their fall trip from their Arctic breeding grounds to their winter homes down south. Because I grew up here, I am intimately familiar with this place. And yet, I’ve never taken the kind of long, careful, patient look at what is here that I took this week. I don’t know what I will see in the coming days, but I am excited to find out and to share my observations with you here on the blog. The photos below represent what I’ve observed in the first week that I have been well enough to venture outside.

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Black-Crowned Night Heron fishing at dawn (left) and clouds at dusk (right)


Map of Ballena Isle  

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Waxing gibbous moon at 84% (left) and buoy with shorebirds (right)

DSC_9868Pelicans in flight

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Gull taking flight (left) and water at dusk (right)

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