Tag: Nature

Yes, Lockdowns Were a Waste (And a Volcano Erupts)

 

A friend of mine is retired from the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA. He is still the world’s expert in predicting volcanic eruptions. His seminal work was published in Nature in 1996. He now says that he’s disappointed that Nature publishes so much that is not real science. As a result, I’m a bit reticent posting this. However, it seems to me very solid.

Lockdowns accomplished nothing in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

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The vile, electrical current that is engulfing our beloved country, with its short-circuiting sparks of pandemics, riots, political turmoil and people-bashing on social media, as well as city streets, I find myself longing to pull the plug for some semblance of peace; the kind found in simple pursuits, minus electronic devices. The fishing theme makes […]

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The Nesting Instinct

 

I love it down here on the farm. Some days, not so much, it’s true. Mostly, those are the days when I start out with a handful of prophylactic Advil or Aleve, and then hie myself down to the barn for a day of shoveling, or perhaps sheep-shearing, or down the field with my little chainsaw to cut up the tree that fell on the fence, or some other messy, back-breaking, usually quite organic endeavor that I used to think of as (what the Brits like to call) a “doddle,” but which, now I’m old and–family word–“becrepid”, somehow isn’t quite so easy anymore.

Early this week, it was reorganizing the hay bales in the barn into a FIFO arrangement so that the ones that were “First In”–those leftover from the winter–will be accessible to go “First Out” in November or December of this year. We had a mild winter, so quite a bit of hay left over. Got it done. (Yay! I can, still, just about, get the bales stacked five high–they’re about 50lbs each.) And yesterday, Clayton brought us 200 new bales, so the barn is full of hay. Cross that off the list.

Weekend upcoming is the sheep shearing. Really late this year, because of life, and rain. I’ve had them in the barn for a week and managed to get one done last Sunday. But something’s wrong with my shears, and by the end of it they were so hot I thought that either they’d seize up, or I’d end up with third-degree burns. They’re 30+ years old, so they don’t owe me anything. Found a new pair online. Ordered them up, second-day delivery. Yay! Again. They’ll be here Tuesday. Tuesday came, and so did my package.

A Delightful Apocalypse

 

Squirrels, for all their zany antics, are too polite to sneeze on you. Roaming around city streets might be an invitation to disaster right now. But there remains plenty of parkland and wilderness to wander free of worry. Just try to avoid sciurologists, which I assume are as erratic and unpredictable as their subjects. 

Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?

 

“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.

Central Parks

 

Autumn hit like a hammer this year. In little more than a week, coastal Texas dropped from blistering 100-degree days to chilly 50-degree nights. In the middle there, if only for a day or two, is perfection.

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Summer is trying to turn to Fall here in Northwest Florida without much luck. It’s Hot, Dry – no rain for 35 days. I watch the birds, bees, and butterflies take turns sipping from the bird bath and fluttering through the cold water spray from natural springs below ground when I turn on the sprinkler.  […]

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February 15, 2019 is the first day of the twenty-second annual world-wide Audubon Backyard Bird Count, an annual weekend event that draws in over 150,000 volunteer “counters” in over 100 countries, and which last year reported counts on approximately 6,500 different species of our avian friends. If you’re an amateur birdwatcher, at whatever experience level, and […]

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I Am a Toad and I Live in a Swamp

 

Toad Hall is situated on a hill overlooking the beautiful Swartekill, or Black Creek, Swamp. Usually around Memorial Day, we have an influx of snapping turtles, and occasionally other types of turtles like painted turtles, coming up out of the swamp to lay their eggs in our warm flower beds and compost piles. Turtles, being reptiles, lay eggs that must be kept warm to incubate and hatch. My fluffy, sunny flower beds are apparently irresistible.

Yesterday, we saw several turtles in the yard. One mama got out on top of an old stone barn foundation, about ten feet high, and then fell. Fortunately she is a sturdy reptile and she landed in a flower bed, so she was fine. Here is a picture of her at the bottom of the wall. Her shell was probably about 15-18 inches or so:

Judaism – The Unnatural Faith

 

From the artificial seven-day week, to its refusal to recognize any deity within the forces of nature, the Torah pioneered the idea that G-d is not found within nature. G-d is not in the ocean or the sun, or any physical force. When Adam was created, he was not described as being an animal (though physiologically we are, indeed, animals) — but was instead described as being made of dust, and also ensouled by the divine breath. G-d in this world is only found inside each person.

As Rabbi Sacks points out in a brilliant piece, the descendants of Avraham who were rejected from the covenant that became Judaism were similarly described as being like animals, great men of nature. In any other culture, being a passionate man who was a great archer would make one a hero – think of Davy Crockett and many other classic and folk heroes. But not in Judaism. The archer, Ishmael, was likened to a wild donkey, while the great hunter in the forest, Esau, was described as having “game in his mouth,” evocative of a cat with a bird in its teeth. Both were rejected, replaced by Isaac and Jacob, respectively.

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Think about the ancient Planet Earth.  Billions of years ago, shortly after the new planet had cooled down enough, and had developed an atmosphere, and liquid water.  Before there was any life on Earth, there was water.  In fact, it is postulated that the first life on Earth developed in the water.  Before cells, before […]

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We have now seen several forms having different requirements. Rather than learning something totally new today, we will look at a form that developed out of the tanka. Brief History: The haiku is a Japanese form. It started out as the first three lines of the tanka, which would be used in an extemporaneous chain […]

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“Here’s a riddle for you: when is it impossible to choose the lesser of two weevils?” I asked my husband as he walked through the door last night. “Lesser of two evils?” he asked, saying what many of us were undoubtedly thinking. “No, lesser of two weevils,” I repeated. “Oh, what’s a weevil?” “I don’t […]

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Yesterday was the anniversary of Robert Frost’s birthday lo these many years ago in 1874. I wrote about The pasture, the opening poem of his first famous book. For those who care enough about this matter to wish for more thoughts, I would like to explain a few things I think I have learned about […]

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The girls and I were finally in Montana after all that build-up. It’s significant that my first Montana post didn’t appear until September 3, 2006–a month after we’d arrived. I think I must have been a little occupied those four weeks. Anyway, I didn’t have time to dwell on the city and people I’d left behind. […]

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When Rivkah (Rebecca) introduces herself to Avraham’s servant, the text contains a very strange artifact, which I highlight. And she said unto him: ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore unto Nahor.’ And she said unto him: ‘We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.’ […]

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