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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year Folks! I decided to continue the calendars as they were fun to do and I liked the monthly check in. Here’s a quick post of the January 2014 desktop image – free to use as a desktop all you’d like. I think I may try to add in non-distracting calendar “elements” at some point but January is so mixed up I’m not sure a calendar with days and things like holidays would help. Here’s the image for download.
I’ll be kicking off this December with a double-decker banana Sunday type blog post thingy… The December desktop calendar – celebrating family and the outdoors AND a formal announcement for a SF photography workshop for 5 people who want to learn how to get really great photos out of their DSLR.
November is such a transitional month in California. I personally feel that this month truly and confidently brings in the winds of fall and winter, as steam rises perceptibly from clenched coffee mugs while waiting for a chilly engine to warm or a bus to come pick you up. This is a month of dramatic change.
With that I’m writing a short post wherein my calendar for the month is a) in black and white and b) opens up the question of the footprint of green technologies on our landscape. Winds of change… hmm. I have a special treat in store as I’m excited to be meeting The Great Texas Wind Rush author Kate Galbraith this weekend to discuss her new book. I guess Texas blows – she’ll be talking about that. Now I’d better get back to that book I should be reading!
A coworker and friend, Jimmy Quenelle, recording wind speeds at Land’s End.
With bittersweet timing, the government has closed its doors on Yosemite’s “birthday” as a national park (which should rightfully be called Ahwahneechee National Park had a historian been involved in determining the proper name of the local native peoples who lived here). This is a place very dear to my heart. A place where we as a family can experience excitement, being humble, and being alive.
The act of designating national parks and protected areas is arguably one of the greatest accomplishments of the US government. That said, these areas do need regular funding to maintain safe access, steward important resources, and provide user experiences that will increase ones interest in the park, its resources, and history. Staff and volunteers are an essential element of any park – whether you see them or not. Continue reading →
This seasons Rim Fire of the Sierra Nevada has been an extremely destructive wildfire. Now determined to be California’s 3rd largest fire in history, the burn envelop now extends some 237,000 acres (as of Sept 6) which equates to roughly 370 square miles. To put this into perspective – this would have burned more than 7 San Franciscos. Notwithstanding the extent, Cal Fire and other crews have done a phenomenal job protecting life and property. Somehow, only 11 homes have burned and there are no reported fatalities. We owe the men and women on the front line a huge thanks and maybe a hug wouldn’t hurt either.
Barely one of every 20 rivers found in the Northeast run to the ocean without an artificial dam altering flow patterns. Damming rivers was historically a profitable venture that allowed for control of nature and power generation. Now, many of these structures stand like tombstones. They represent a time when wild rivers were plenty and people were few. We are beyond that point and a greater economic and environmental good is actually derived from liberating these rivers.