The whiskeyjacks just make the world a bit brighter
Anyway, it’s an impressive little mountain of about 5,000-plus feet and it provides a fine backdrop. It is also a major destination ski resort and general winter sports venue for the entire Pacific Northwest. It’s biggest benefit for those who choose to pay a call is that it takes a little over a half-hour’s drive on an excellent road to attain the recreation sites.
While wintertime Mt. Washington is a big draw for those who like sliding down hills, getting wet bums and fracturing assorted limbs, for me it is primarily appealing in the summertime. Fortunately, those who run the winter facilities have endeavoured to make it equally inviting in the summer.
And on a bright summer’s day it is a superlative place to be. So, since Saturday was a bright summer’s day, that’s what we did. We go up the mountain at least once every summer and we walk the trails through the Alpine Meadows and, if we’re feeling ultra-ambitious, we hike into one of the lakes. On Saturday we only felt moderately ambitious, so we stuck to the meadows.
I think my impulse tied in with my previous blog about souls and a need to take to the hills, just to change my perspective by ‘communing’. And then there were the ‘whiskeyjacks’. The whiskeyjack is more accurately known as the gray jay.
They’re wonderful and gregarious birds that watch for hikers so they can beg. Remarkably tame, for whatever reason, they take food from the hand and show absolutely no fear as they tramp around all over the feeder, always demanding more. The only wild birds I’ve ever known to come close in their lack of fear of humans are the little zebra doves of Hawaii.
Here is a bit of ornithological/etymological info which may or may not be true, according to sources, but it’s worth pondering:
In modified form, Wesakachak has been part of English for centuries. For the gray jay's most common nickname is "whiskey jack" (also spelled in several ways). Reference books agree that whiskey jack is derived from a Cree or Innu source. Some of them, however, describe the term's origin in an unlikely manner.
Labels: Of birds and words