Posted by: atowhee | May 18, 2018


“We end, I think, at what might be called the standard paradox of the twentieth century: our tools are better than we are. And grow better faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides.  But they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”                                       –Aldo Leopold

“Like winds and sunset, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them.  Now we face the question of whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its costs in things natural wild, and free.”                                 –Leopold

“Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit—in a world that is limited.  Ruin is the destruction toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons.”      –Garret Hardin

I am still disgusted with so much commercial human activity.  For two days I watched airplanes spraying poison over the rice paddies of central California.  Here in the Willamette Valley we see masked workers with heavy spray cannisters on their backs, walking the fields.  It is no wonder I rarely see a butterfly or dragonfly and bees are a source of marvel.

Birds are feeding young now, plants are reaching for the sky.  Growth is all around us, like the earth has bought into market capitalism. But in nature all this is seasonal.  The earth and its non-humans know there are limits.

Cow parsnip and poison hemlock plants now reach over six feet.  Blackberry canes now arch over twelve feet high. Manroot pushes its macho way into paths and trails and its tendrils even climb tree trunks. Hawthorn and chokecherry are in bloom.  The hawthorn bears white blooms along entire drooping limbs.  The conical cluster of chokecherry’s white petals decorate the end of most thin, new twigs.  Thimbleberries and blackberries are blooming as well.  That’s promising a good late summer for our berry-eating birds.  BTW, I saw my first Cedar Waxwings of the year in Oregon on our Linfield campus walk on Wednesday.

CCH BLOOMSCOWPADEEP GRASSHAWTIMG_8261IMG_8266Images above: chokecherry; cow parsnip; deep grass; hawthorn; camas lilies putting on seed pods; manroots now ten foot up a tree.

We heard swifts in our chimney this week.  They would not have babies yet, perhaps just a real estate appraisal or maybe working on a nest. Many resident species do have babies. Our Bewick;s Wrens fledge dover week ago.  There are young starlings all around now.  At Yamhill Sewer Ponds I saw three Canada Goose families.  Two had six gawky teenagers each.  The third pair had only three—tiny fuzzballs newly out of the egg.

At No Name Pond the coots will have chicks soon.  They will come out of the egg ready to swim and bearing that orange fuzz on their heads.  The male coot does much of the night-time incubation, his mate takes the day shift.  Both parents help feed and guard the young after they hatch, unlike all those male Mallards and Wood Ducks I saw loafing at Yamhill Sewer Ponds.  These male ducks have nothing to do with eggs or young.  That’s one reason why Canada Geese are such successful parents, both birds are in attendance all through the mating and family-rearing process and both are very aggressively protective.  Given a vote I’m sure parental Canada Geese would ban guns from all their ponds and precincts.GOOS FAMGoose family above, goose flight below.GOOSELINESSUREBURDSYamhill Sewer Ponds. Above: two Brewer’s Blackbirds and Spotted Sandpiper, shorebirds all.  Tree Swallow:TS SOUKNDS4DUKSDicks from left: Woodie male, two Gadwalls, Mallard fermale.  Below: distant grosbeak.BHG AFARMale coot at No Name Pond:COOT MALE

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