Tag Archives: nature

The View from Below

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I shoveled the dock steps the other day.  This was part of my latest health initiative, with the purpose of swimming in the river.

Now, most people don’t have a dock or concrete steps to a polluted river where they can swim.  Most people haven’t grown up on said river and watched it change gradually over the past 60 or so years.  It is a blessing and a curse.

While doing this mundane labor, which with clean-up took about two hours, I had time to ponder many worldwide concerns.  First, I listened to the constant buzz of helicopters at Hunter Army Airfield, only a couple of miles–as the helicopter flies–from my house.  There were also military aircraft flying overhead, as I live only 28 degrees off Hunter’s flight paths, and those planes fly low, low, low over my head. This reminded me that the US is engaged in perpetual wars, and I live in a war zone, what with the strong military presence loud, clear, and constant.

Next, I thought about the Clean Water Act of 1972, when the Army Corps of Engineers got jurisdiction over all “wetlands” including the “hydrophytic” marsh that surrounds my small spit of land.  I wondered if the AC of E would fine me for taking mud off the steps and depositing it in the center of my land, which is mine but not mine in that I pay property taxes but can’t modify it.  This spit of land has been sliding into the river for years and now becomes flooded in spring and fall tides.  The channels in the area are also filling in, because no one dredges them anymore, even though the drainage ditches are perpetually clogged and contribute to frequent, severe flooding in Savannah.

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The local movers and shakers would prefer to dump poisonous malathion by helicopter on the entire ecosystem than drain the bogs where mosquitoes breed. That the Army Corps of Engineers pays Chatham County to control mosquitoes, yet operates the largest mosquito habitat in two states does not seem important to anyone but me.  That the dredge material from current harbor deepening project will increase the mosquito habitat at this international port presents no red flags to those who are developing vaccines for mosquito-borne disease but are blithely nonchalant about the cushy habitat they are creating.

This brings me home to the polluted river, which still has fish and shrimp, but not as many as in my childhood.  I figure if fish can swim in it, so can I.  I’ve been stomping around, crabbing, shrimping, boating, water skiing, and swimming in that water since I can remember, so know it well.  While shoveling, I thought about “climate change,” and the claim that the oceans are rising.  I also remembered reading about how land is washing into the oceans and wondered if the oceanic rise is relative to the land’s sinking, in a leveling out that would lead to the oceans’ getting shallower. Shallow water heats more quickly than deep water, as any swimmer knows, and holds more heat, so this could explain some of the climatic changes.

So then I thought about President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord and wondered whether it makes any difference in the long run.  I’ve never been a fan of government solutions to government-supported problems, like the fact that deforestation is a major contributor to climate change.  I don’t believe in paying corporations not to cut trees (as in “carbon credits”) and would prefer instead to reduce demand for paper, like junk mail and single-use packaging.  International Paper, the owner of primo rain forest in South America, and a huge polluter of the Savannah River and air, does not recycle paper.

That got me to thinking about the enormous amount of methane produced by the marsh, the fact that methane and natural gas are the same thing, and that Germany is the world’s leader in recycling (70%).  In addition, Germany has to import garbage to fuel its waste-to-energy plants that provide so much of its heat and electricity. There is also new technology to capture methane produced by landfill, but the US lags behind places like China in its adoption of these promising technologies.  No wonder Angela Merkel was frustrated by Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Germany is the world leader in sustainability, and should be so acknowledged.

So, Donald Trump may believe coal gives the US a financial advantage, but this is short-sighted.  Apparently China is the largest purchaser of US coal exports, but China built 431 waste-to-energy plants in 2016, so it may not need our coal much longer.  With the reduced cost of solar, India is also going greener.  China is the biggest carbon-emission nation in the world, and the US is second.  Russia is third, and India fourth, according to Google 2011 data.  Americans probably generate the most waste, though, 4.5 pounds of garbage per person per day, and recycling has decreased, now down to about 30 percent.

So, while I solved my personal problem of how to swim without getting mud between my toes and oyster shell cuts on my feet, I also solved a lot of world problems, and I never had to leave home.

 

 

 

 

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A Little Birdie Told Me

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I rescued a bird today, a little fella that crashed into the picture window behind the bird feeders.  I saw it happen and ran outside to find him lying on his side on the deck.  He was still alive, panting.  He was identical to the bird that did the same thing yesterday, only yesterday’s bird didn’t survive the crash.  I found him later in the day, dead on the deck.

Today, though, I gathered the little bird in my hands, where he stood, apparently in shock.  He didn’t seem badly hurt.  Eyes were bright, but the left kept closing.  I checked my quickie, laminated bird identifier, then The Sibley Guide to Birds, but couldn’t identify him.  He was about five inches long, with plain greenish-brown body and a yellowish breast with brown spots.  Beak was long, like a warbler.

He sat in my hands for about 15 minutes, slowly becoming more alert, then took off and flew away.

This has happened before.  I’ve rescued other birds.  Most eventually revived, just as this one did.  Others have not been so lucky.  Today, though, I decided this hazard is too dangerous.  The window is so reflective and the feeders so popular that the juxtaposition presents a cruel trap.

So I created a bird safety net.  It consists of two panels of screen material that I made awhile back to hang from doors in warm weather, to keep insects out.  Two of three panels covering a sliding glass door got converted to a screen over the plate glass.  Hopefully it will reduce reflectivity and cushion any birds that fly into it.  It may even dilute the hot summer sun that turns the living room into an oven.

I spend most of the morning on this project, grateful for the tool room that provided the screwdriver, hooks and string necessary for this innovative bird-protective technology.

The experience made me think, once again, about how unpredictable life is.  Who could have anticipated I would have spent the morning making a safety net for birds?

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Today’s Favorite Bloggers

The Six Foot Bonsai (Stacy Gleiss) nominated my blog for a blogger’s recognition award.  I have stalled in responding, partly because I didn’t have an appropriate graphic for it, but also because the list has changed.  Some of my favorite bloggers have dropped off the radar, and new ones have surfaced.

The nomination came at a good time for me, when I wondered if anything I think or say makes a difference.  Fact is, I enjoy blogging and bloggers, whose individualized viewpoints remind me how creative each of us can be.

According to the blogger’s recognition rules, nominees are to say why they began blogging and give advice to other bloggers.

My reason for beginning is straightforward.  I’m compelled to write and journal, but I’m also an avid reader.  The blog world allows readers and writers to connect with each other without intermediaries.  I like finding new blogs and love commenting on those that capture my interest.  Since I like feedback, I give it to others, if only to show appreciation for their effort.  Sometimes it’s more fun—and definitely easier—to comment on others’ blogs than to write my own.  I advise no less to others.

Another condition of the recognition award is to list fifteen of my favorite blogs and say why I follow them, so here goes:

  1. The Six Foot Bonsai (Stacey Gleiss)—has written a book describing her experience as a young American wife of a Japanese man.  She writes passionately about how the culture alternately seduced and horrified her, through her experience with her Japanese husband.
  2. Three Worlds One Vision—Rosaliene Bacchus has lived in Brazil, Guyana, and the US, is a strong environmentalist, and supports human rights worldwide.  She frequently posts excerpts from Brazilian poets and writers, discusses Brazilian affairs with insight and dignity, and has a vision of a peaceful, earth-friendly, world.
  3. Cotton Boll Conspiracy—A fellow Southerner, Cotton Boll writes on a variety of subjects, from the abandoned farmhouses around his South Carolina community to current events.  Always interesting and informative.  Fun to read.
  4. i didn’t have my glasses on–Beth is a kindergarten teacher in Michigan. Beth’s blog is always upbeat.   She writes short blogs about the “kinders” and their refreshing perspective.  She also reports on tidbits from the news.
  5. Esoterx—Here we have an anthropologist with a dry wit and an interest in the supernatural, primarily factual recounting of presumed spirit visitations in the 18th and 19th centuries.  He provides bibliographical references to substantiate his take on the weird events.
  6. Writers Without Money—Especially Stan Rogouski, who likes to do movie reviews, but who also writes on politics and history.  He bicycles around suburban New Jersey (and other areas), photographing, and giving a little history about what he sees.
  7. Justice4Poland—HKW often writes in Polish, and as the blog name shows, has a passionate interest in defending Polish heritage.  He also has taken strong stands for alternative medicine and against corporate medical and chemical giants.  His blogs are informative and thought-provoking, a welcome balance to American bias.
  8. 90 Rolls Royces—Bindu Krishnan is an Indian woman with a liking for saris.  She also has a philosophical mindset and writes about her favorite teacher, Osha.  She describes a little of what day-to-day life is like in India.
  9. When Timber Makes Us Still–Thomas Gable, a nature photographer, is a recent find.  His photos and descriptions of the trees and wildlife around his Northwest home are stunning and informative.
  10. The Kitchen Garden–Another recent find, Cecilia is a Midwestern farmer.  She photographs and writes about her farm and animals and day-to-day farming life that seems much easier to read about than to live.  Her energy and upbeat attitude are refreshing.
  11. Mark All My Words–Another nature lover, Mark Miles lives in North Carolina.  He photographs and writes about area flora and fauna, and has a special interest in insects.  He also has a broad range of interests, from music to philosophy.
  12. Mr. Johnson’s Blog–Also nominated by The Six Foot Bonsai, Mr. Johnson lives in Canada and presents a fresh and gentle perspective on all kinds of everyday experiences.  Although his views may be controversial, he always makes me smile.
  13. 999 Roses In My Life–Trient Nugen is a Vietnamese photographer who spices up his photos with insightful quotes written in Vietnamese, with English translations.  The pictures are generally of beautiful Vietnamese women in beautiful clothes and settings.
  14. Navasolanature.wordpress.com–A UK woman who also has a home in Portugal, she has a love of nature and birds, solar energy and gardening.  She posts on all these interests.
  15. Diary of an Esthete–Another sporadic blogger, James Dee Clayton lives in the UK and travels extensively, most recently to Africa, where he takes the back roads and mingles and merges with native cultures.  His loving and joyful approach seems to win friends wherever he goes.

I can think of many others whose blogs I enjoy and hope to recognize them, too, in future posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blooming Savannah

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Georgia’s state flower, the Cherokee rose, apparently native to China.  It has thorns that could double as fishing hooks, in a pinch.

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Wisteria, one of my favorites.  A wild vine that blooms only a few minutes in the spring, but perfumes the whole area.  Its intertwining branches can be trained to  create beautiful bases.  Because it’s deciduous, I’m experimenting with training  the branches to cover high windows, to block sun in summer and allow light in winter.

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Camellia.

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Savannah is known for its azaleas, which come in colors from white to purple, to various shades of pink.

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Ode to the Trees

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February 13, 2017

Writers must write, they say, and a journal can be a writer’s best friend.  I’ve kept a journal most of my life.   Lately, I’ve been re-reading old journal entries.  The following “Ode to the Trees” was written seven years ago this month.

Friday, February 5, 2010—After a long drought, it’s finally raining.  The winds of change are blowing.  The rain symbolizes the tears of sadness shed by humanity for our misbegotten past.  Oh, woe is us.

But look, we are still alive, breathing through it all, taking heart from the invigorating negative ions misting the air.  They spread an aura of dust settling, after a long dry spell.

This is Earth renewing herself, in gentle, friendly spirit, as the trees wave hello. “We believed in you, and we salute your awakening.

“You have not killed us all, as we exhale enough oxygen to keep you alive.  Who emits the most carbon dioxide anyway, you or us?

“We are the trees.  We thrive on your exhalations.  We breathe in what you breathe out, and vice versa.  We are yin to yang and yang to yin in karmic symphony.

“We are strong but gentle, and we stand our ground, waving in the air, celebrating this triumph we call life on Earth.

“We are the giants, the gentle giants who comfort and shelter without leaning on you.

“We stand tall and proud because we reach for the sky, while sinking our roots deep into the earth that supplies the minerals, water, and all the molecules necessary to nurture us where we stand.  We reach for the sun, trees that we are, thriving in the light and heat of the greatest nuclear power plant in the solar system.

“We require nothing from you, have survived many generations of man and will survive more.  We watch cultures come and go, structures rise and fall, wars and fires sweeping the land.   We have survived floods and hurricanes and thrive on them, to keep life interesting as it comes to us.

“We have seen plagues, pestilence, and famine, and we have compassion for you.

“We offer you shade under our branches, shelter from the wind, rest for your aching back.  We offer wood for your houses and stoves, paper for your mills, and decorations for your Christmas.

“Love us as we love you,” say the trees, “and we will all breathe easier.

“We think you are cute, the way you run around, thinking you are smart because you can cut us down, grind us up, burn us and convert us to junk mail.  We’re okay with it, because we are strong and durable.  We’ve left many seeds, and we can reproduce ourselves.  Our seeds can wait hundreds or thousands of years, hidden in nooks, crannies, dusty and out-of- the-way places that even squirrels can’t reach.

“So trees know small, in our genetic memory banks, as do we all.  A lowly seed has the potential of the tree built within it, needing only the proper time and environment to thrive.

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GOD HELPS EVE BAKE APPLE PIE

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My back yard, Chatham County, Georgia.  Fig tree in winter.  Foggy day.  Live oak background.  Sago palm lower left.  Windmill palms lower center and right. Spanish moss on live oak, Georgia’s state tree. kco122716

From my journal, ten years ago today,Wednesday, December 27, 2006
(Why every would-be communicator should vent on paper)

            God:  I sure would love a piece of apple pie along about now.

            Eve:  What’s apple pie?

God:  Boy, are you dumb.  Apple pie is what you do if you want to earn your keep in the Garden of Eden.  This place requires upkeep, or haven’t you noticed?

Eve:  Okay.  I’m game.  Tell me what to do, and I’ll try to do it.

God:  Attagirl.  Now, go pick a bunch of apples.

Eve:  Oh, no you don’t.  I’m not falling for that trick again.  Picking those apples got Adam and me in a heap of trouble, remember?

God:  That was because I told you not to pick the apples.  Now, I’m telling you to pick some apples.  Times have changed.  Trust me.  I know what I’m doing.

Eve:  Well, OK, if you say so.

Eve picks some apples and follows directions for making apple pie.  First, she has to invent knives, baking pans, flour, sugar, an oven, and the other tools of apple pie construction. God looks on, giving helpful advice.  Adam has invented television and is busy watching sports.

Eve:  What spices should I use?

God cogitates.   God:  I like sage.

Eve:  OK.  Which one of these plants is sage?

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*

God:  It’s over there.  No, not there.  Over there.  Another step.  OK. Now lean over. Now touch it.  No! Not that one.  That’s the poison ivy.

Eve:  What’s poison ivy?

God:  You’ll see.  Just don’t scratch your hand.

Eve starts to itch.  She tries not to scratch.  The itch gets worse.

Eve:  Why not?

God:  Just don’t.

Eve:  I thought I was supposed to have free will.

God:  Fine.  Disobey me and see what happens.

Eve:  Got a better idea?

God:  Wash it off.

Eve:  With what?

God:  Soap.  Calamine lotion.

Eve:  What are they?

God:  You have to invent them.

Eve:  But my hand is itching now.
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*Sage, a perennial, by itself and with other herbs, here  monitored by the Squire-wire, aka S. Squire Rooster, Attorney for the Law of the Land .  Herbs pictured here, clockwise from lower left:  chives (perennial), sage, parsley (biennial), basil and purple basil (annual). Stevia, a perennial, is on edge of deck, flanked by milo plants (look like corn), grown wild from spilled chicken food.  Chickens love the green milo seeds.  Stevia, the natural sweetener now approved by the FDA for inclusion in soft drinks like Coca-cola and Pepsi, is easy easy easy to grow.  I combine stevia with chocolate mint and dry them together for great winter tea.  In the summer they make delicious iced tea, with no calories or caffeine.  kco122716

 

Bananas!

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

In a previous blog, I lamented the loss of a banana tree in the storm Hermine.  I was ready to cut the remains of the banana stalk but decided on impulse to let it remain, hoping the broken stalk would still have the uumph to ripen the bananas.

And so it has.  Bananas are ripening daily, with ten cut so far and those pictured awaiting breakfast cereal.  The chickens love them.

This experience reminds me not to give up too soon.  When all seems lost, and years of effort wasted, nature can provide some sweet surprises, generating hope for another season of fruitfulness.