Critter Column: Relaxation Techniques

by Jack Perkins

The Silicon Valley needs a name change: Stress Valley is more like it.

The stress of raising young kids, of our jobs, and of financial pressure, all strains our ability to stay in control.

Getting away to relax, really relax, means driving long distances. But then, after relaxing, we must drive long distances home (which isn’t very relaxing).   It’s even stressful worrying about not having enough time to get away to relax. Nature is always there to help humans relax, but having enough time to go to Yosemite, skiing, Ocean Beach, or Carmel is often difficult.

If you yearn for nature and can’t get away, you can always take a short walk downtown and grab a big coffee. Try not to sit at Starbucks, or Redrock, or Dana Street Roasting, but rather head to Pioneer Park instead.  Grab a bench, and start bird watching. It’s spring so you’ll hear them calling for mates, which will help you locate them.  What kind of bird is it?  A Junco, Oak Titmouse, Chickadee, Bewick’s Wren, Black Phoebe, Nuttal’s Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Towhee, American Gold Finch, Bullock’s oriole… they’re all there. Try identifying them by their calls.  Your mind will disconnect from the modern world.

Try having lunch or an early dinner at Cascal, and sit outside. The local Ravens  nest in the 40 foot tree right in front of you.  The waiters will point out their nests.

Have some sangria! Have more sangria. What are the Ravens doing?

If you’re not too sluggish you can walk along the Steven’s Creek Trail from Landel’s to Central Ave. You’ll identify every bird along the way because of all that time in Pioneer Park. You may see a Merganser because you’ll be in a Riparian Woodland.

If you have post-stroller kids, take the oldest fishing. Steven’s Creek Reservoir is a 12 minute drive from OMVN.  The DFG starts planting trout the week of March 9th , and they stop in May.  Your expedition may turn into tossing rocks in the water and catching a crawdad, but that’s fun too. Keep your eye out for Ospreys; they nest there, and sometimes you can see them plucking fish off the surface of the water.

Little kid fishing tip: Use pliers to crimp down the barbs (not the points) of the hooks. Your kid will probably hook you.  That’s pretty good for getting your mind off things too.

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