Happy October

Welcome to a bright cool lovely fall day here in Takoma Park! And yes things are happening . . . Takoma Park’s annual street festival happened on Sunday, October 2, and a big thank you to the rain clouds for rolling back the deluge for a couple of days so that our folks could enjoy the local arts and crafts, and some cool temperatures to enjoy the day.

For those who stay up late into the wee hours, the festival romped on until evening, leaving no excuse to stay in bed. http://www.mainstreettakoma.org/featured-events/takoma-park-festival/

Roscoe the mascot for the town of Takoma Park is now featured on the town logo! We might wish for a little more detail and a little more color, but this is a start!!

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Gray Whales 2016

The trip to Antonio’s Whale Camp in mid March 2016: In a word, amazing!! Enjoy the photos! Front left is Moises. He took the photo of me petting the mama whale. Daniel is our guide and panga driver. I’m on the left behind Moises in the brown hat!!

6 whalewatchers in a panga

whale watchers take a moment for a photo.

San Ignacio Lagoon is a protected area. Gray whales here are treated with respect and reverence.

Here’s me reaching out to the baby gray whale, hoping she will swim over to greet me.

San Ignacio panga ride

The big mama whale rolls over on her side so I can touch her. Gray whales like having their gums rubbed! But they have to open their mouths for a human to do that!


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A Day for Poetry and Groundhogs

Groundhog Day is more than shadows, although preposterous darkness is usually back there in the cave where the fat, little creature is yanked out of by the Punxatawney mayor. Blessings on their fuzzy heads: Mayor with top hat and rodent with button nose. :)

On this bright mid-winter day, February 2, we also celebrate the Irish saint, Brigid, patroness and muse of poetry, keeper of bonfires, and protector of white, red-eared cows. Somehow Brigid magically rolls back the cold stones January holds at the nape of our necks. Blessings and thanks for her warm, kind heart. She and St. Patrick were friends.

My connection to St. Brigid is my love of poetry, the celebration of the visual return of the earth’s light on this day, and the fact that Brigid was the name of my Irish ancestor, the matriarch who set sail in April 1864 from the port of Cashel and landed two months later in America.

That’s how the Irish side of my family (the O’Briens) arrived in Providence, Rhode Island. Brigid and two of her sons — Patrick and J.J. — set their fearless feet down on the dock at Providence harbor.

I wonder what type of ocean-going vessel could possibly take two months to cross the Atlantic? Surely, the Saint herself kept watch over them.

And as I write a poem today, Brigid can watch over me too.


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Getting Ready for March 2016 at Whale Camp

Is it too early to start planning for a February or March or April visit to San Ignacio Lagoon to visit the gray whales and their new babies? Actually, this is the perfect time to choose a date for your visit!

You have many whales camps to choose from, including Antonio’s, Pachico’s EcoTours, Campo Ramon, Campo Cortez, Kuyima, and Camp Discovery. Each has links online and USA-based phone numbers to call to make your reservation and place a small (10%  or 20%) partial payment to hold your cabin, tent, or other camp accommodations.

This is the way to go!

In the next few days, I’ll post more information about my favorite camp–Antonio’s Whale Camp. Antonio’s has cabins, all meals, two rides to the Observation Area daily, and Happy Hour before dinner. Evenings are saved for presentations about the gray whales’ great migration each year to the birthing areas (whales only) in the Laguna and then back North again.

Where Are the Gray Whales Right Now?

Summertime means we can find many of our beloved gray whales feeding on ghost shrimp and krill up North in the Arctic in the Bering Sea or the Chukchi Sea. But, depending on the weather, food abundance, and their instincts, some gray whales stay in the Pacific waters off Northern California, usually close to the shore. As a matter of fact, I read that some gray whales travel no more than 600+ miles off the coast of the Baja!

More soon . . . Happy Summer!


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Winter, A Season for All Snowflakes


Ah, the light is back! Well, Winter Solstice is less than 24 hours ago, but I can feel the days growing longer. There’s some chatter on the Internet that it’s actually darker after the Winter Solstice . . . but who believes anything they read on the Internet, right?

As far as we know, everything is under scrutiny in one way or another . . . Why did Gauguin paint the sky in Tahiti pink? You can search the Internet to make sure you are pronouncing his name right. Webster’s Dictionary is correct on the Internet, but it’s better to flip through the pages of it, than fish through the Internet ads, don’t you think??



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How’s the Baja After Hurricane Odile?

Ancient whale bones. Did they make it through Hurricane Odile?

Looks like the Whale Camps around San Ignacio Lagoon will be in good shape for the upcoming arrival of the gray whale mothers and their babies in January. The hurricane battered the lovely paved road back to its previous “rough road” status.

A 4-wheel drive is this year’s preferred vehicle, I think.

Many people are working very hard to make sure it’s ready for January — April visitors . . . I’ll be there in March this year travelling with the Ocean Conservation Research folks and their fearless leader Michael Stocker.

There might be a spot open for you, so contact Michael by writing to P.O. Box 559, Langunitas, CA 94938.

On one of my first trips to whale camp, we endured the full 40 miles from San Ignacio town to La Laguna on an unpaved  washboard of a road. The good thing besides rearranging your insides was that we stopped often to enjoy the desert landscape, the mesas, dunes, plants and cacti.

At this point, I’m grateful that we will be able to get to San Ignacio and the whales at all.

The local folks who live in the villages near La Laguna are making their way into town for supplies without too much inconvenience. I talked to Jose at Baja Expeditions and he says that everybody there knows all the shortcuts and back roads all around the area.

And was there one little date palm tree that Odile spared in the town of San Ignacio? And what about the mission? I guess we’ll find out!


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Plan for Gray Whale Visit 2015

a panga load of whale watchers in March 2014

March 2015 seems like a very long time from this warm August afternoon, but believe me, it’s time to begin planning your trip to see the Gray Whales of San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California Sur! This is the primo tiempo to visit the mother whales and their babies at their most friendly and accessible.

My favorite place on the lagoon is “Antonio’s,” a Whale Camp that offers you little cabins to stay in, all your meals, and significant time on the water visiting the whales. I’ve stayed here in comfort with a camp full of good people from Europe (Italy and Holland), Australia Sydney and Brisbane, to California (San Francisco and Marin), and Maryland (me).

Ages of whale watchers range from 9 months old to 80 years old. It’s a flat walk from your cabin to the pangas that take you out to the observation area in the middle of the lagoon. You don’t have to be a super athlete to get helped into the boat.

I will say that sometimes the water’s rough and the wind is cold. But you can endure this little bit of discomfort to see a little gray whale calf glide under your hand for an encounter with mama watching nearby. My panga mates and I have done a bit of “whale sitting” for a baby (12 feet long) while the mother whale stretched out and took a nap right beside us.

Gray whale mothers and babies love human mothers and babies. Our panga had whales all around us when we had some third-graders and their moms from a school in Cabo onboard.

So, it’s time to consider your visit next March! More to come on how to make this happen!!! Donde esta las ballenas?????!!!



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background check

Just uploaded the ocean!

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Whale Camp 2014: Full Moon Magic Prevails . . .


Not Quite a Sticker

Never quite made it to the printer, but here's the sticker design

It’s a fast 40-mile drive on the newly (mostly) paved road from San Ignacio town to our cabins on the shores of Laguna de San Ignacio on the Pacific side of Baja California Sur. Has this wondrous place ever been more fantastico?

I ask myself that every year . . . But this year, with Gray Whales everywhere, especially mother-and-calf pairs gliding through the waves up to, under, and around our panga as soon as we approached the observation area, well yes, I felt like this place is exactly where I belong. For sure in February and March!

Jerry, the Camp’s coordinator this year, saved my favorite cabin for me. Numero dos, next to the lookout “tower.” And he took me over to see Paloma, my great dog companion from last season, who had recently given birth to eight puppies. Adorable. My favorite? Jose.

So this 4-day visit rocked. I have many more photos to post and some wild stories about how we all survived a wind storm that came out of nowhere, covered everything with a gritty film of sand, sent more than one hat into La Laguna, and discombobulated Edgar’s big green tent.


Paloma and her eight puppies!





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Two Poems Now Online

Thanks to Redux: A Literary Journal, the following two poems of mine live on in cyberspace. Here’s the link: http://www.reduxlitjournal.com/2013/10/101-two-poems-by-meredith-pond.html

Redux is “an invitation-only literary journal of writers’ favorite, previously published stories and poems, not found elsewhere on the web.” This journal is edited by novelist Leslie Pietrzyk. Leslie has two published novels, teaches in a low-residency MFA program, and is a hands-on visitor to writer birthplaces, such as the homes of Flannery O’Connor, Willa Cather, and Edgar Alan Poe, to name a few.

I’m lucky to have these two poems of mine “up.” Thank you, Leslie P!

“Peeling Psyche Off the Wall,” for example, is one of my own favorites — because the story lives in the world of ancient mythology. The tale of “Cupid  and Psyche” is most familiar to me in Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, one of my text books in high school. It’s online now in a longer version than the one I first read 40 years ago.

After I ordered a few extra copies of “Psyche” published in the Georgetown Review in spring 2008 (big cow on the cover), there were no more available. And the editors did not plan to post any poems online. Redux to the rescue. :)

The second poem, “The Butterfly Syndrome,” is the only poem included in my MFA thesis. My thesis advisor, Richard McCann, a poet in his own right and the author of Mother of Sorrows, recommended I include a poem in my thesis. I had studied poetry with Henry Taylor, who won a Pulitzer Prize for The Flying Change in the late 1980s, and with Jean Valentine, a visiting writer my first semester at AU.  It was Henry’s class on form, however, that somehow inspired “Butterfly.” His class and my encounter with a real butterfly a few weeks before.

That story is another poem, I think . . . 20 years later. :)

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