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.
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.
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!
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.
I’m very excited to be teaching a workshop on photography that is being sponsored by the California Native Grasslands Association.
The workshop is a full 8-hour engagement with myself and photographer Jim Coleman of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. We will be catering specifically to thinking about outdoors photography with an eye on conservation and site documentation. That doesn’t mean we won’t offer some basic ideas, themes and concepts to improve anyone’s photography (and if I remembered half the things I teach, I’d be a better photographer too!). We only have a limited number of spots remaining (in keeping with our class size of less than 15)!
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.
These are resourceful, smart, gregarious, adaptable creatures… and they’re suffering in a world with a changing climate.
While waking transects and looking for rare plants in the dusty Mojave Desert of 2013, I had much time to consider vastness, appropriateness and tenacity. Notably, it was hot, dry, and teetering on spiritual (which isn’t always a good thing when rattlesnakes abound).
The desert is nothing if it is not tenacious. It is an acerbic beast even in it’s kindest moments. Blowing sand, regular temperatures in the hundreds from April through October (in the sun that is). Humbling, and even bending or distorting the idea of life just a bit, since the desert’s signature is withering brown plant skeletons, dry playas and spines. Dessication, opportunity and impermanence are its soul. It is a tribute to both eternal things and the ephemeral. Within that sea, there are pauses of vibrance and life.