So here we are, a culture – a nation of immigrants – dearly needing to settle into the holidays. And I’m not feeling so cheery. Many people are suffering, crying, feeling disgraced. I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable in my skin. It itches.
America is a killing culture. We continue to institutionally and violently kill the young black man. Why? Because we have a culturally created “bad feeling” about someone and think that’s reason enough to shoot someone. This is the most demonic and violent projection of institutional racism and it occurs every day. Over and over again. Believe me, I’m not against cops and policing of communities, I’m against all cops carrying guns. I’m against the cultural christening of the gun being a tool of peace.
Guns don’t stop crimes, they instigate them. They elevate the risks and therefore more dramatic, poorly intended decisions happen. They happen alot. Even with 12 year olds. We need peace officers to drop their guns. We need to form an armed division and a peace division of our policing departments. We need police forces to be required by law to culturally reflect the communities they protect. We need ten times the peace officers as we do armed police.
You know what else I think we need, we all need to go for a walk in the woods together. Let it filter us. Allow the forest to heal us, and it will.
Here’s the December desktop calendar, free for personal use. Full file here.
One of the greatest challenges with managing ecological systems is investing in patience. Large scale changes, both positive and negative often occur over many years, decades and even millennium. Oaks, in particular, grow very slowly, and the recovery of an oak savanna can easily take decades. This is often too long of a timescale even for long-term (5-10 year) restoration grants.
In contrast to annual financial balance sheets which expire after 365 days, nature takes too long. In some cases, quarterly reports rule, reducing time lines to about 90 days. Purely and simply, patience can be expensive especially when there are expectations of regular production.
The development of this level of non-vascular diversity can take decades.
Fall! Yes, it’s coming even though it was 100 degrees this past weekend. Orb spiders are a predictable totem of fall in our parts. They use standing vegetation that usually has some sun exposure. Then they catch flies, get fat, lay eggs and disappear into the earth. Here’s one who posed for me this weekend. She’s actually a banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata) by common name.
I brought out the big flash and my white background. Photo for the www.Meetyourneighbours.net collection. The sun was out, but everything worked out well with balancing light. The flash adds a touch of fill and bounces nicely off the white. You can see some of the web there since I didn’t move the actual spider. Continue reading →
It’s been a dry year, again. El Nino is out on vacation (not like she would necessarily bring the coastal areas relief). And it’s hot again. Resources are thin and getting thinner. Our water is literally evaporating away, like those underground rivers that we never see. The aquifers that creep quietly far from the reach of most straws are themselves creeping along ever more slowly. Well are being drilled everywhere. The graph below from the USGS tells that story.
Coastal Prairie habitat of Ring Mountain – researcher collecting paintbrush samples.
As I crank away (as an ecologist) on a project looking towards restoring and revitalizing hundreds of acres of coastal prairie grasslands, I am always amazed (read:appalled) by how much prairie we’ve lost. There’s maybe 5% of the historic, original California prairies. And that true number may be more like 2-3% when you consider what percent are ecologically intact or healthy. Even our most beautiful wildflower fields have been difficult to protect. These prairies provide critical wildflower and pollinator resources that simply can’t be replaced with simple restoration practice. We need to keep the landscape alive as we help in little, supplementary ways through protecting rare plants, corridors, native vegetation, natural disturbance regimes.
macro of Bombus vosnesenskii wing – a beautifully engineered structure of hamuli and hairs
Bumblebees on the wing bear the promise of wildflower seasons to come. Their enormous (well in a bee sense) black and gold bodies float through air with grace and fluidity. I sometimes imagine they’re underwater, steady, slow, even. They are tremendously efficient workers who regularly visit the same patches of flowers throughout a season. They have their gardens (our gardens) they steward as we’re away at work, or off playing. Continue reading →
When you step foot atop Twin Peaks in San Francisco, you imbibe sweeping views of a thriving metropolis nestled in nature. There are vast swaths of gray hugged by adjacent seas of green and blue. It’s not Brooks Range-esque wilderness, but as Bill Cronon professes, “what brought each of us to the places where such memories became possible is entirely a cultural invention.” Although I don’t always completely agree with Professor Cronon’s view of a necessarily anthropogenic wilderness – San Francisco undoubtedly stands as living proof that cultural intervention has allowed for these memories to be accessible (my interpretation) to the masses, not the few private property owners. Cultural intervention has also preserved a taste of wilderness, and the home of this unlikely resident of Twin Peaks, the Mission Blue Butterfly. MBB’s fly from about April to May, each year, a reminder of how delicate biodiversity can be, while at the same time celebrating the incredible resiliency of this tiny, ephemeral butterfly.
Two Golden Hour Restoration Institute volunteers restoring habitat for lupines, the host plant for the Mission Blue butterfly.
Drought is kind of a dirty word. It’s a dry, dusty, parched, scary, dirty word for most Californians. I feel for the farmers and ranchers and fish as we survive through epic drought conditions.
Black oaks (Quercus kelloggii) was slower to leaf out in the drier year.
Although the important discussions press onward about impacts of drought on people (which I think is an extremely important discussion), I’m taking a second to think about it from a wildflower perspective. Yes, drought means limited water, but what’s that decrease mean for one of California’s oldest residents – the flora. Continue reading →
When backpacking the John Muir trail with some great friends I remember how critical water management was for us. We were packing lightly, covering the trail with backpacks weighing in a 40 pounds or so. Included in these weigh savings was reduced water storage capacity. We moved from creek to creek, calculating what we needed to filter, drink or carry for how long. Water defined our journey in a quietly critical way.
I’m excited to be presenting some photographs at the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society’s Membership slide show. This should be a really fantastic evening of people who will share images from all around the East Bay and even greater Bay Area I bet. I know a couple of the other photographers presenting and they will have some great images. Presenters must register in advance and here are more details on the evening: http://ebcnps.org/meetings/.
I personally hope to offer a ten minute insight into the power of imagery with the goal of celebrating the value of human stewardship of our wildlands. It will be a quick taste of how I use the camera as a tool and why you (as an advocate for nature) should too. Create depth – connections – interest in your images.