Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Right Place - Must Have Been the Write Time

Dragonfly and Fuschias - DGH photo collection

Serendipity = the ability of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident, good luck or good fortune

Odd Happenings = when something unusual happens that would be hard to duplicate for the same effect

This post will explore some of those moments where we feel lucky to be where we are, at the right moment to see a unique event. It is preferable that these events are non-life threatening.


The Spawning of the Grunions

(San Diego, Mission Bay area, California)

Grunions do a twisting beach dance (by the hundreds) to further their species, and it happens at night on beaches along the California coast from Monterey Bay to as far south as Baja California. The fish can remain stranded and flopping about for several minutes and there are lots of them. Spawning peaks between March and June.

We saw this phenomena on a visit to San Diego years ago, but didn’t know it was a natural cycle until we read about it. It’s a vivid image, and would have been hard to plan for. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me that night.


Sleek beauty at Air Museum - by DGH

Chased by Hurricane Ivan 2004

While visiting Atlanta on personal business, I heard storm warnings about Hurricane Ivan, on its way to Atlanta. Planes were being grounded, and flights delayed. I managed to rebook my flight time to leave before Ivan hit later in the day. Things went downhill from there, with the flight I was booked to fly out on being delayed until the winds died down enough for them to land. After the plane unloaded then reloaded, we left late with no promise of making the connection in Chicago.

Arriving in O’Hare, I ran up one terminal arm and down another to arrive at an empty loading area for the airline I was on with one attendant standing there. I went up to verify that I had indeed missed the flight. He confirmed that the flight had taken off on schedule, but (he said) they had come back and were repairing a problem in the braking system. My seat had not been filled, he asked if I wanted to get on board when it left again, expected to be within 15 minutes.

A plane with a problem, hmm, but it was also an opportunity. I boarded, dressed in my usual black travelling outfit, and faced all those rows of staring faces looking at me as if I had been the problem. Not a friendly face in the whole lot. Someone was in my seat, so I was ushered to one in the back. As I settled in to my middle seat between two strangers, the woman on my left leaned over and said in a low voice, “Well, I guess we came back for you.”

I felt a little more relaxed after that, before I saw the title of the movie they were showing -- The Day after Tomorrow (in case you haven’t seen it, it’s about extreme weather conditions causing superstorms and hurricanes all over the world).

My flight reached its destination about an hour and a half late.  The opportunity had paid off, I was home. 


A Mother Bear and Cubs at the Dump - DGH collection


Bear Scare

Beware garbage dumps in remote areas, since they represent a supermarket to the wild bears. While coming back from the recreation centre on one side of the small company townsite in north central British Columbia, I took the channel that had been cut in the 21 feet of snow in order to get back to the staff house. Unfortunately, a Grizzly bear had the same idea. I turned around going back to the rec centre, but now another bear was coming toward me from that direction. What to do? Make snowballs of course, hard ones.

“I threw the snowballs first at the bear closest to me, attempting to discourage it without actually hitting it, my main concern being to throw as many as I could while shouting to scare it. The first bear turned and ran, and I followed at a safe distance behind running towards the staff house. He ran past, I went inside. I don’t know what happened to the other bear, it wasn’t in my best interest to wait and find out.”

(Note: this incident happened to a friend who had grown up in the big city, where bears don’t roam free.)


Owl at Midnight on New Year’s Eve

Owls can be aggressive and especially if you’re near the nest. We’ve been swooped by owls before when walking through one of our natural parks in the Vancouver area. One incident occurred on New Year’s Eve exactly at midnight one year, when an owl sought respite from the noise by landing in a tall tree in our backyard. He sat staring directly at us from his perch, making us wonder what he saw. Food? Humans?

Just in case he was hungry, I hid my cat.


Rue de Rivoli, Paris - Blanche Nuit - Oct 2/10 - DGH


Everybody Turn Around

Gridlock on the highway, gas pipeline leak, police officers stop all traffic - just what you want to have happen when you’re out for a drive. Traffic behind us began to accumulate at a rapid pace as nothing moved. The gas leak had to be shut off first.

In the meantime, a few young determined males driving small cars got out of their cars and yelled at everyone to “Turn around, everybody turn around.” What?? The smaller vehicles might have a shorter turning base and be able to wiggle their way around, but no semi or big truck is going to be able to do that.

As about forty of the little cars turned and made their way over to the shoulder, heading back the wrong way, we moved to the front in the space just vacated. Just a couple of minutes after that, the officers cleared the barriers and traffic began to go again.   Bad timing on their part?


Write it down, analyze it later.  It might be the seed for a writing project.


  1. Definitely good seeds for writing projects, but also a time to just sit back and be thankful for life's experiences.

  2. You're so right, J. Sometimes we have to look back in retrospect to appreciate what experiences we've had, either to see the humour or to be glad we survived.

  3. I see you around everywhere, D.G. I can't believe I wasn't following your blog!

    Oh well, I've fixed it now.

  4. Welcome, Matt. Glad to have you reading my blog. I've seen you around too, must have been that Yoda avatar, and the on-spot comments on Bryan's (INK's) blog.

  5. I do this all the time, just write stuff down. Great idea.

    Join me at the Rule of Three Writers' Blogfest!

  6. @Damyanti - glad to hear that someone else is an observer like me. Thanks for stopping by; I will check out your link you included.

    I do this a lot when we we're on vacation, take copious notes, and then write from it later. It works great for me.

  7. Oh man. Now that I had time to read the whole post: I would have been SO embarrassed on that plane. Not the it was even your fault at all, but I'm sure everyone was blaming you.

  8. @Matt - Those people had been waiting for 30 mins or so while a brakeline problem was being fixed. Probably no ventilation and it was August. All that could make anyone feel cranky, I guess.

    Then, a lady dressed in black comes on, is taken to her seat by the steward, and within five minutes departure preparations begin.

    I just happened to be the convenient target, but I played it cool, just wished I'd been wearing a black hat too.

  9. Welcome, Adele, thanks for following I hope you enjoy your visits to this blog.

    If you're interested, please visit my other blog at: I'd be pleased to hear your comments.

  10. Hello, Alex. Thanks for dropping by, and for hosting the Pay It Forward Blogfest with Matt. It's great to know another sci-fi writer. Glad I checked out your blogspot.

  11. oh i would have had to defend myself on that plane--haha that is one of my problems---great post--thanks for sharing the link :)

    1. I might have tried if I hadn't been coming from a memorial, but after all that anxiety about missing the plane, I wasn't going to jink anything.


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