Jan 1, 2009

A Canid Droped into my Valley

The moon hangs in sky like a bone, hill sides are aglow in it's sterile light. The trees are dry in their autumn colors and a scent of fallen leaves is in the breeze. Leafs chatter, and fall, and it is quite cold. The sky is open to the heavens but the stars won't appear yet. It is late dusk. From the ridge of skull mountain she proceeds to the darkest, steepest fold. With the posture of a fugitive she drops into the familiar valley. She descends at a trot, allowing gravity to do the work. There is no bob in her back, she slides down like black silk drawn across the cold moss and shale- mute. The forest around her grows darker in the night.

A Dream: the slab

Just a vivid dream I had. Nothing of Substance in this post.

slab dream

A gray slab of rock of continental scale warms in the afternoon sun of my minds eye. 'What makes this kind of country' asks my fathers voice. 'plates come together and they crunch up or one is pushed under the other' I say.
The slab has ledges and fissures perpendicular to these ledges, giving the landscage a boxy look. The whole slab tilts toward some lower place under the horizon, and out of mind. There is a wide cut down the center of the slab. The topography within the cut is similarly ledged and cut, but less dramatically so. Water runs through here and there- mostly shallow and shimmering, little waterfalls alive with reflection and pissy noise. The rougher areas are bare rock, or green with moss. There are also small flooded groves of tress in the calmer waters. The trees strangely dry and in their autumn colors. I enter into this little paradise and float amounts the trees, the surface of the water still but carrying me steadilly up stream. I'm in an eddy, floating face down in the ether, buoyant and breathing, a foot above the water. I can see the bottom. Everything down there is fuzzed with a substantial layer of silt, clinging to the grasses and round stones as if by static force. And as if encased in gelatin or old acrylic , nothing moves.
Off my left flank are open spaces and somewhere the channel is to powerful to ford, and the waterfalls sound greater than man or mountain.

Are you an Enviornmentalis or do you Work

An instructor of mine has this bumper sticker on the back of his 82 toyota pickup.

"Are you an environmentalist, or, do you work for a living?"

It's a good bet that if you're a blue collar worker you're job antagonizes nature and thus such sentiments are born.

And it's easy to be critical of the green movement. Do these people think about what it takes to gather the ore for their titanium bicycles? Do they understand that their organic lettuce is grown in a former desert by means of intensive irrigation, petrochemical fertilizer, and mild pesticides, then trucked across the continent in a refrigerated semi?
I see "be green" everywhere. It's all over the TV, and magazines, but the content is ridiculous. It's just consumerism. Buy this, it's green. Drive this, it's good for the environment. Invest in us, we think about sustainability.

I'll tell you what. Littering, incandescent light bulbs, and renegade ATVs aren't the important environmental issue.

The food and feed industries are entirely dependent on petrochemicals. I'm saying that without synthetic fertilizer american crops would yield a tenth of what they yield now. That means a tenth the cows, pigs, chickens, ethanol, bread, candy, chips, and frozen dinners. Oil is a material that is becoming more expensive every week. Worldwide, the price of staple grains is rising 5 times faster than normal inflation, in some shitty places grain is so expensive that people are starving to death.
Here in the states the government subsidizes grain for the sake of agro business and us consumers.
Bread and Circus. Bread and Circus.
Natalie Portman is living green and loving life.

"Are you an environmentalist, or, do you work for a living?"

How to Effect Change

The examples of saving my favorite tree or my mother are a little different than saving the world. My favorite tree is nearby and thus within my sphere of influence. See, I don't believe I can effect change beyond the range of my voice and my projectile weapons. I have no persons under my control, who might effect change for me, nor do I wish to. I write my state and local representatives about issues that are important to me but I have little faith in this process.

You might argue that in this information age my sphere of influence can extend well beyond earshot and stone throw, but I don't know about that. All my bitching about a particular issue, even in the format of professional-like photo journalism, can hardly compete with mass media. All a cyber activists' cries are fruitless until enough people are driven to action in the real world.

To effect global change you need bloodshed and/or brainwashing. Bloodshed is important. Even Ghandi's movement against the empire required violence. In this case it was martyrs blood, violence against peaceful demonstrators that effected change.

"Brainwashing" is also key. It takes a great deal of money. Advertising dollars.

The End is Nigh

A crazy looking man stands on the street corner, his face blank and his shoulders bearing the weight of an awkwardly large sign reading, "THE END IS NIGH". You can picture him in the midst of the black death, and you can picture him on Times Square, that guy is always around. A great deal of fervently religious and politically radical individuals seem to be turned on by the notion that they are living on the brink, that they will experience end of the world as we know it. And you've probably noticed that most of these nuts like to assume that they alone will survive the apocalypse, and the post apocalypse will be heavenly, or at least usher in a golden era of human existence, the surplus of worthless people having died, and the survivors having learned from the mistakes of their doomed civilization.
And I'm sure that for every civilization that ever collapsed there was a guy on the street corner, smugly thinking "I told you so", as he watched the end unfold with all its drama. Yet for every correct doomsday sayer, there are generations who lived out their years with the collapse, the revolution, the cleansing, the apocalypse, the wishfull or dreaded change never coming. That's why I've had an aversion to the growing numbers of people I run into who believe the end is nigh. In my house is a serious collection of books written by counter-cultural thinkers of the 60s and 70s, whether off-the-grid homesteaders or Volkswagen LSD nomads, I think of them all as hippies. I group them together in their failure. The revolution failed, and the presumed collapse of capitalist industrialism never occurred. Every generation is choked full of people who believed civilization is on the brink of collapse, and you'll find that many 'regular' people hold this belief too, it's not a phenomenon limited to the nuts and radicals. My grandfather, as a young soldier, absolutely believed that humanity would not survive World War II. The generation Xers used the 'inevitable' nuclear holocaust as an excuse to drop out of high-school and experiment with mullets and punk music.
I'm not saying our civilization isn't fucked. I'm just saying piss off with the complex doomsday theories and embrace the uncertainty that is truth. The wisest men ever, great sages of the orient, and also the founders of western enlightenment would tell you that imagining the origin or fate of the universe is a waste of your precious time. And there is a contemporary saying that should be our mantra. "I woke up in the morning and got myself a beer. The future's uncertain and the end is always near. ALright."

Aug 3, 2008

The barrens today.

I am friends with foxes like a nome
and we make meat like philice tome

There is a spot not more than 500 yards from my house where I haven't been since I was a child. I went there today. And am glad I did. The reason I stayed away is perhaps strange. We played there when I was a kid. Mostly in a wadding pool sized pond. The water was warm and the pond life easy to capture. It was on a strange, badly eroded slope with little vegetation and pale, hardened silt for dirt. It was a landscape of shale. It was a warm and pleasant place, and it was the best place to catch snakes, and the only place you could get the neat little ringneck snakes that would coil around your fingers. I like exploring more than my playmates. One time, up by the top, I found what I thought was a badger den. Badgers don't live here.

A rich man bough that land, and at least 100 more acres of the hillside. His mile long driveway drained the little pond. He had some kid tell us that the gate to his property would call the police if we crossed through it. It was a stupid lie. I never believed it. But he didn't want us playing there, so we stopped going. The barren area was in clear view of his driveway, so sneaking in was too risky, with no place to hide. My friends were the ones who were scared to go. Reflecting, I think this may have been a conditioning point in my little brain. Today I still dislike 'trespassing'. I've met people who would walk across a neighbors yard until told not to. I guess it all depends on the neighborhood where you grew up.

Anyway, today, on my daily walk, I did the tabbo and went right down into the barrens. Within sight of the forbidden drive. The deer love it there. It is not like any place I'm familiar with. And it's less bare now. There are rose bushes and 30 foot tall pine trees and scattered patches of xxxxxxx. Some parts of it, in the summer, are hidden from the drive.

Other people have been staying out of this corner of the woods. I saw no evidence of human activity. Which is rare. On the more public faces of the hill you can't go very far at all without finding trash, cutmarks, flagging, ATV tracks, boot marks, and broken-through brush. The deer know it. That's where they run when I shoot them. The deer trails are the thickest I've seen.

I took a few pounds of oyster mushrooms from a dead tree in the damp of the spring at the top of the small run that has the oil pump push rod going up it under tripods. There is a fox den uphill from this spring and a goose berry bush down the run by the next lowest oil well, which is leaking into the water. Black berries can be had at this elevation but further west, that is out of the bowl left wise. All these things were unknown to me before yesterday's walk.

There is an open level spot, in the woods above the barrens, also a secret area. It's open aside from the rose bushes that I intend on encouraging into an impenetrable ring. I found a brick there from the hanley brickyard. Right now there is a cheikedee making the springtime noise.

Mar 31, 2008

First Day of Spring 08

Yesterday was the first day of spring according to my biological (as opposed to Julian) calender. It was the first day a flower blooms in my yard. And for the last three years the flower has been a crocus and I have captured the event on timelapse. This year's time lapse was a little lame because the battery went dead after about two hours. I wasn't there to but in a fresh battery.

I had walked up on my hill. I was well camouflaged and moving slow. There was many more birds then usual, though most of them were winter residents. There was a group of Junco's hunting in a pussy willow thicket that was awash with melt flow. And there were chickadees doing their thing all around me. After a while I came into an area where there were a bunch of those birds that go tee-de up in the trees. There must have been 5 or six of them in my immediate area, all with a distinct voice, a distinct variation on tee-de, all very loud, and for the most part singing in turn, so collectively they made a nice rhythm. It was quite musical.

I observed, not for the first time, how the large star-nosed mole will divert water from it's proper run or ditch to muck up a vast fan-shaped area of a hillside. Beavers build dams to create habitat, while the star-nose will dig canals and waterways to the same end. I've never heard mention of this in the literature on star-nose moles but I've learned some other things while reading. These creatures are truly semi aquatic and spent the winter swimming in waterways and ponds, below the ice, digging up what bugs and critters they can find. These aren't your yard-moles. They are rare in the fact that they share tunnels and habitat with other individuals of the same species, living in little communities. They have a system a foraging tunnels just bellow the surface, and then a deep system, many feet down (like 6-9 feet!) where they sleep and have their nurseries. You rarely see them, being creatures of the underworld that can sense your every step. But if you do see one it will be big, black, and moving fast, with twelve tentacles hanging off its face.

I was surprised to find a real snow line on the hill. Snow was patchy and soft bellow this line, but absolute above this elevation. It was curious that this line coincided with a certain contour of the hill. And as I walked the line I found many springs , and the heads of some minor runs that cut the hillside. I dug into one and was impressed by how quickly the murk cleared from my hole and how strong the water flowed.
Walking the line I also was aware of the activitly and sounds of spring to my left, while the uphill side to my right was still dead as winter.

I walked into the winter zone and enjoyed the big vistas that will be gone in a matter weeks with the coming of foliage. This is the best time of year, maybe the best day of the year, for finding secret spots- springs and rock gardens, hidden in the hills by snow or vegetation the rest of the year round. This sight seeing on the ridge top occupied me for quite a while, I even climbed up a half fallen black cherry for a better view.

On the north face, (the leek face), the snow was actually ice, and I felt somewhat adventuresome kicking my little footings out of the steep pit-and-mound slope, only because it brought back memories of mountaineering trip where slipping on a similar slope meant certain death. Since leeks were out of the question I sat on my leek shovel and went cruising down the hill, finishing in the softer snow and throwing up a rooster tail of snow and mud as I turned to stop.

At sunset I watched some crows taking vantage over the valley and then they flew off to cruise back and forth in front of a distant spectacle. The trees at the top of the opposite ridge were glaring, sparkling, crystal white. Something like this: but there wasn't a cloud in the sky.