Floating Alongside a Feeding Western Grebe in the Blue Glassy Water

Late yesterday afternoon I went for a paddle. It was glassy, no surf, like Lake Tahoe. I headed out towards the reef, paddling directly into sun low on horizon. You never know with the ocean. It can be gnarly and unfriendly, or lovely and perfect. Which it was yesterday. No surfers at all.

   My paddleboard (Joe Bark 12′ Surftek) just flew on the smooth water, it felt like the sun was pulling me, I had a wake. Ready to head for Hawaii. Well, not.


I got some seaweed at the reef, started paddling back. Up in front of me was a Western Grebe, floating. Elegant black and white head and neck. He didn’t seem concerned as I got closer. Then he dove, just under the surface, completely submerged, spun around, then came up and gulped down the little fish he’d snagged.

   I got closer and closer and this dude was not concerned. I passed within a few feet of him and he just kept up swimming, diving, eating. I hung out with him for maybe 5 minutes. What a great end to the day.

   Occasionally an animal (or bird) lets me into their world. Field mice around my feet when I was 12, conversations with owls (several times), a loon that rocketed underneath my paddleboard one day, an elegant grey fox that used to show up when we barbecued, coyotes more than once with their penetrating savvy out in the hills…

   Dried out seaweed on woodstove last night, this morning turned it to rough powder in the blender, now putting on eggs, meat, potatoes. Salt + ocean flavors.

Photo: Wikipedia (no indication of photographer)

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

5 Responses to Floating Alongside a Feeding Western Grebe in the Blue Glassy Water

  1. Lloyd;

    Vacationing here near Lincoln City, OR for a few days. Friday, Nov 23, the sea was dead-flat. No wind, no swell, no waves. You could have put in with a canoe and had a smooth voyage. The Great Pacific is being very peaceful, like it's name implies. A wonderful end to the year. Tomorrow, it's back south to the Coast Range hills.

  2. Hey Lloyd,
    Went over the west coast of Vancouver Island for some surfing last week and found the same conditions…sunny but dead, dead, dead flat calm. We had the beaches to ourselves though and you can't beat absorbing the sun and nature around you at this time of the year. Big fan of your blog!

  3. Beautiful . Natural world is heaven. Everthing for us.I love the way you respect nature. You use the gifts that are here for us like seaweed.Seaweed is one of the most healing foods.
    Rich in iodine, vitamine k, a, b, d, e iron, .Removes heavy metals.Promotes adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid health.And it tastes great.

  4. Hi Lloyd, I saw you had a Joe Bark board in your paddle article. I went to cub scouts at the Barks house, with Andy , Joes little brother. They were a very outdoorsy (and nice) family.

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