Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Yet another reason why I don't eat my friends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tigers Dying Out

Experts: Tigers fast dying out despite campaigns
By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA Associated Press Writer - October 27, 2009
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- The world's tiger population is declining fast despite efforts to save them, and new strategies are urgently needed to keep the species from dying out, international wildlife experts said Tuesday.
"We are assembled here to save tigers that are at the verge of extinction," Nepal's secretary of forest and soil conservation, Yuvaraj Bhusal, told a conference of tiger experts from 20 countries, including the 13 where wild tigers are still found.
An estimated 3,500 to 4,000 tigers now roam the world's forests, down from the more than 100,000 estimated at the beginning of the 20th century. All the remaining tigers are in Asia.
Participants at the conference, which also includes the World Bank, the World Wildlife Fund and other groups, plan to discuss strategies for tiger conservation, as well as challenges such as poaching, the trade of tiger parts and conflicts between tigers and local populations.
In a recent case, a Sumatran tiger died after being caught in a pig snare last week in Indonesia, the country's news agency, Antara, reported Monday. The report said the tiger died as it was being prepared for surgery Monday. Only about 250 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild.
"Despite our efforts in the last three decades, tigers still face threats of survival. The primary threat is from poaching and habitat loss," Nepal's prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal told the conference.
He said extreme poverty has also challenged efforts.
"Global and regional solidarity and corrective measures are more necessary now than ever to face these challenges," the prime minister said.
Bhusal, the forest secretary, said participants hope to make high-level policy makers in their countries more aware of the animal's possible extinction.
The 13 countries where wild tigers are still found include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.
My response to this news is both a lament and a rant. I hoped I'd never live to see this day. Where is the urgency in our so-called "efforts to save these magificent creatures?" In yet another case of too little, too late, we just don't get it that we must do everything in our collective, global power, and do it NOW, to prevent this tragedy from unfolding. We are standing on the brink of a future that need not play out― a world without tigers will be just the beginning of what can only be a terrible ending. Can nothing stop the destructive hand of man?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Lies Within Us

What lies behind us and
what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to
what lies within us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cabin in the Woods

For a long time now, I've wanted a cabin in the woods. Something small and simple like the stone cabin above, though I do like the floor to ceiling woodwork in this cabin bedroom.

After watching Ken Burns' "National Parks" series, I've been captivated by John Muir. We share the same devotion to nature, though I feel like a slacker next to him. Muir covered a lot of ground and walking was a kind of meditation for him. He built a Sugar Pine cabin at the base of Yosemite Falls. His description of the cabin enchants me. If I could have one just like it....

"This cabin, I think, was the handsomest building in the Valley and the most useful and convenient for a mountaineer. From Yosemite Creek, where it first gathers its beaten waters at the foot of the falls, I dug a small ditch and brought a stream into the cabin, entering at one end and flowing out the other with just enough current to allow it to sing and warble in low, sweet tones, delightful at night while I lay in bed. The floor was made of rough slabs nicely joined and embedded in the ground. In the spring, the common pteris ferns pushed up between the joints of the slabs, two of which, growing slender like climbing ferns on account of the subdued light, I trained on threads up the sides and over my window in front of my writing desk in an ornamental arch. Dainty little tree frogs occasionally climbed the ferns and made fine music in the night, and common frogs came in with the stream and helped to sing with the Hylas and the warbling, tinkling water. My bed was suspended from the rafters and lined with libocedrus plumes, altogether forming a delightful home in the glorious valley....and I was loth to leave it.”

~John Muir

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Come to the Woods

Come to the woods, for here is rest.
There is no repose like that of the green deep woods.

~John Muir

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ardea herodias

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

It was such a gift to be able to observe this adult Great Blue Heron fishing beneath the falls at a nearby dam along the Charles River. The water was low and the exposed rocks, home to many aquatic creatures, offered excellent fishing. In this photograph the bird was moving to another vantage point where he remained for about 30 minutes.

I believe I know this particular heron. He is unusually calm around people because he became accustomed to seeing them at a young age. As an immature and inexperienced yearling he used to hang around the dam, fishing at the far end where the Girl and her flock of Canda Geese liked to rest (see postings from January 2009). I've also seen him downriver, not far from the dam. Even kayakers paddling nearby do not break his concentration; he remains transfixed on whatever fish he has in his sights and ignores the sounds of barking dogs and lawnmowers with the same nonchalance.

Fortunately, I mostly see him in quiet settings, and I always feel privileged to be able to admire his magnificent plumage and observe his studied, patient gaze as he waits for just the right moment to spear a fish swimming toward him in the shallows and then swallow it whole.

On average, Great Blue Herons live 15-17 years in the wild, but some can live into their twenties. I hope this fellow enjoys a long life.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In Old October

"All things on earth point home in old October:
sailors to sea,
travelers to walls and fences...
the lover to the love he has forsaken."

~ Thomas Wolfe

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dawn Has Come

"Death is not extinguishing the light;
it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

An Absence of Turkeys

Rock and wild turkeys in the Fall of 2008

Ever since Rachmaninoff died, with one exception (see the June 15 posting), I have noted the strange absence of wild turkeys here. Their continued absence underscores his.

For three years two hens brought their poults to raise in the peace and quiet of this protected, wooded acre. They were comfortable around Rock and he enjoyed being among them. I know he kept them safe from marauding cats.

Though I am making my way on the grief journey in the four months since his death, part of me wants only to get back to the time when Rock was still here. I never want to forget him.

After sharing nearly 20 years with such a special being, I can't expect the going to be easy, but I am consoled by the words of the Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852):

"And the tear that we shed,
though in secret it rolls,
Shall long keep his memory
green in our souls."

Friday, October 2, 2009

Viburnum dentatum

Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) berries

And the fruits will outdo what the flowers have promised.

~ Francois de Malherbe

Click on the image for details.