Snow Prints and Raven Warnings

Photo by Mimmo Lusito on Pexels.com

Hello Nature-Led Friends, Thank you for being here! I’m still chewing over my thoughts for the post about Deep Adaptation. I’ve started three versions, but none of them feel quite right.

Last week I was visited by what I like to call an “Uncommon” Raven or Great Mountain Raven, but modern Ornithology doesn’t make this distinction among Ravens. It came down from the mountains to perch at my window. We looked at each other and it made sounds like an animated child. “Hello, old friend.” I said. “Are you the Raven I met before? We watched the sunset from the top of Mount Si and then I walked back down in the dark.”

Here at the lower elevations the Common Ravens are as small as the American Crows. One often needs to look at the tail feathers and beak to tell the difference. Ravens have triangular tail feathers and a thick broad beak (as shown), while Crows have square tail feathers and skinny beaks. To see a Raven such as this is an honor and a blessing. The Raven is an important figure in the stories of the Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest tribes. My favorite is the Tlingit tribe’s story How Raven Stole the Sun.

Cold Temperatures and Snow were already in the forecast, so I took the visit from Raven as a sign to prepare the landscape for my wildlife friends. I piled up a few extra places with sticks and stones and raked a few leaf piles close to the bushes for extra buffers.

Native Plant Douglas Spirea (Spiraea douglasii) with a log stump border in the snow

The Douglas Spiraea (aka Hardhack) creates thick brush for rabbits and other small creatures to hide in. The stump log border around it provides extra protection from wind-driven snow drifts and creates cavities for insects, garter snakes and salamanders.


Teeny Tiny Squirrel prints
“Doug” Eighth of his/her name the Squirrel


Daisy the Dog, loves to snuffle animal tracks in the snow. These are a pair of coyote tracks.

Winter is mating season for coyotes. They hunt in packs and pairs in search of prey. By the end of January coyote pups will be born. There’s a coyote den in the wetland next to us. I’ve watched six generations of coyotes grow up here. Some people are afraid of coyotes or consider them nuisance animals, but they’ve always been here. This coyote family has lived here longer than I have. My human neighbors often refer to them as “Melanie’s coyotes.” Not because I feed them (I never feed wild animals), but because they hang out in my field so much, even while I’m work out there. These generations were born familiar to my scent. I think they and all the other wildlife around here can smell that I don’t eat meat. They also know I hold no prejudices against them. Each deer, coyote, bobcat, Cooper’s hawk, black bear, etcetera in this neighborhood is an individual to me and not just a product of their species.

“Hey Lady, Are you coming outside?” (Zoomed in so the picture is a bit grainy)

In other local news, some idiot at a tree company ruined a perfectly good Douglas Fir tree on the street behind me. I’m all for a good crown cleanup which involves bringing down large broken branches in a controlled manner and removing a few, A FEW branches for trees close to buildings. Large tree branches that have the potential to fall to the ground and kill people are known locally as “Widowmakers.” In the U.S. Navy, “Widowmakers” is the nickname for submarines. Personally, I find it unattractive when more than five branches are cut from the base to “lift” the tree crown.

My favorite Douglas Fir tree and Doug the squirrel’s home tree. I had it’s crown cleaned up about five years ago because its next to my driveway.

A Healthy Douglas Fir tree _Doug’s Tree
An over-sheared Douglas Fir one street over that now looks like a bottle brush.

I predict this over-sheared fir tree will die from stress and disease within five years. Four of its neighboring trees were removed at the time it was sheared (two weeks ago) and about 30 other trees that had created a large, beautiful stand of trees were removed earlier this year to make way for more housing. Climate Change is death by a thousand cuts to the power of 10, by individual property owners, cities, counties, corporations, states/prefectures and countries.


A Hummingbird Feeder in the winter

The only thing I feed in the winter are the Anna’s Hummingbirds who don’t migrate. I have a few plants that bloom in the winter for food, but not enough yet. I put 10-hour hand warmers held with orange knit socks (formerly my knee-high socks from a ‘Velma’ Scooby Doo costume I did a few years ago.) I bring it in at night, so it doesn’t freeze.

How does one top off a snowy winter’s night at home? With a hearty, rustic vegetable soup of course!

And finally,

Don’t Look Up – A movie on Netflix

Sometimes when we don’t know what else to do in a situation, we laugh about it. Don’t Look Up is a movie where a PhD Candidate and her Professor discover that an asteroid is headed for earth. They give the U.S. President months of warning and time to act, but when there is a potential for money to be made, the plan to blow up the asteroid is scrapped in an effort to mine as many resources as possible and then blow it up, but the plan fails.

It’s a dark comedy and not everyone likes a dark comedy with their existential crisis. I think the critics are missing the point. It’s supposed to be outrageous. It’s supposed to be over the top. Its satire based on our societies worst modern qualities. I’m glad people are talking about it, because so often when I think about the problems in the world it often comes down to greed. Greedy people who profit off the environment, who profit off of racial injustices, who profit off of social-economic unbalances. We could have a better world, but will we? I don’t know. I’m willing to fight until the clock runs out.

It can be so frustrating at times! Here’s a story from August that shows how a big environmental impact plan was effectively sabotaged due to greed and mismanagement in Dubai.

From 1 Million Trees to a Tree Graveyard: How Dubai’s conservation Plans went awry – The Guardian


Additional Links:

All About Birds Common Raven and American Crow Comparison: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Raven/species-compare/59858041

A brief collection of Raven Tales from Pacific Northwest tribes: http://native-languages.org/legends-raven.htm

Plant Profile: Douglas Spiraea: http://nativeplantspnw.com/douglas-spiraea-spiraea-douglasii/

hidden life radio.

Look friends! Beth finds us another cool music project, this time the music of trees! (Back in April she found the music of spiders.) At the time I tried the livestream only the Red oak was singing, but it was beautiful.

I didn't have my glasses on....

listen….

Silent tree activity, like photosynthesis and the absorption and evaporation of water, produces a small voltage in the leaves. In a bid to encourage people to think more carefully about their local tree canopy, sound designer and musician Skooby Laposky has found a way to convert that tree activity into music.

By connecting a solar-powered sensor to the leaves of three local trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laposky was able to measure the micro voltage of all that invisible tree activity, assign a key and note range to the changes in that electric activity, and essentially turn the tree’s everyday biological processes into an ethereal piece of ambient music.

You can check out the tree music yourself by listening to the Hidden Life Radio—Laposky’s art project—which aims to increase awareness of trees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the city’s disappearing canopy by creating a musical “voice” for the trees.

The…

View original post 215 more words

Adapting to a Hotter World

The heroes in the next chapter of human survival will come from all walks of life and all branches of disciplines. Don’t give up hope just yet, things can still change for the better. When you give up, you’ve already lost. I’ve tracking climate change for over 25 years. While it is a large and complex problem, don’t let the thought of it overwhelm you. Like any large, complex problem we need to break it down into smaller steps. My advice for anything you try to conquer in life, is to take what overwhelms you and break it down into parts you can handle. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

I want to make a bold new suggestion. What if we stop trying to fix our current societies “as is” and break the current schema? These small, fragmented patch jobs spread out across sectors and hindered by greed and red tape could quite possibly doom us all. What if we could build a new interwoven framework to create just, regenerative societies? I really love the idea of a “regenerative society.” To heal ourselves, our communities, and the landscapes in which we reside. How though?

Next time you have the opportunity to let your mind wander, I want you to think about what a regenerative society would look like in your eyes.

Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below, write your own blog post and let me know about it, or email me. Maybe you will come up with ideas that pertain to the work that you and bring fresh ideas to your business, family, and communities. I hope you get promoted for being such a forward-looking thinker. We need you for the future of humanity. If you’re retired, the good news is, you’re not dead yet and there is still so much that you can do within your community! Depression can strike any age, gender and spiritual belief. I’ve always found that being part of something greater than myself gives me peace, passion and  happiness, even as an introvert. Do what feels comfortable to you.

We’re seeing the effects of drought, heatwaves, flooding, and typhoon damage nearly daily. Trying to manage these events as they happen is nearly impossible. The best strategy is to plan for them in advance, which can be difficult when people are stuck in an “out of sight, out of mind” way of reacting to things. As a disaster preparedness geek, I’m always planning one season ahead. In the summer I prepare for Fall, in the Fall I prepare for the Winter and in the Winter I prepare for Spring. Staying one step ahead helps me save money by buying supplies “out of season” and often with more selection. This also gives me the chance to do some research to make sure that what I think I need and what I actually need are the same thing. Sometimes through my research I discover I don’t need to buy anything at all, just reorganize something I already have. I can often create what I need or find someone in my community to help or trade with.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

How can society benefit from planning ahead?

A lot of the research has already been done. Some it has been lost and needs to be rediscovered and/or embraced by a larger segment of the population. Serious mistakes have been made in the past, both on a human rights level and an environmental level. Here in the U.S. there is an urgency to help Indigenous Americans reclaim their lands and rights that were stolen during decades of genocide. The restoration of these lands and rights could help all of us benefit from nearly forgotten practices of land management that are only now being given serious consideration and rigorous academic studies that they deserve.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Looking beyond national borders also gives us ideas about what works in other areas of the world. The current trend in environmental articles last week have been two-fold. Several articles talk about how trees are important to relieving the “heat island effect” in cities. Once again we see disparities of who gets trees in their neighborhoods, which often tend to be pre-dominantly White, upper class neighborhoods. The trees themselves did not ask to be objectified as status symbols for wealth. Its class systems and social hierarchies who has decided who gets to benefit from nature. I’ll state the obvious, this practice needs to be abolished. Trees and plants for all!

The second common thread of environmental articles these last few weeks had to do with white paint. Famous pictures from Greece, especially from the Cyclades islands depict white building with blue domes. While this white paint is derived from mined gypsum, scientists are exploring other ways to benefit from the properties of the white paint for broader use without having to mine it. One study is focusing on the properties of a beetle, Lepidiota stigma. I believe if we can understand how this works at a molecular level, we can come up with eco-friendly paint formulas in various colors.

Photo by Raquel Costa on Pexels.com

This week I’m researching “Tiny Forests” for next weeks post. Stay tuned. Have a safe and comfortable rest of your week!

Tree Equity Score highlights lack of cover in low-income areas (fastcompany.com)

How cities can avoid ‘green gentrification’ and make urban forests accessible (theconversation.com)

In Cleveland, Better Housing Is Climate Justice : NPR

This whiter than white paint cools buildings (fastcompany.com)

Lighter pavement really does cool cities when it’s done right (theconversation.com)

Why shade trees are hard to find in redlined neighborhoods (nationalgeographic.com)