Following my very casual plan to visit more state parks, I rolled out to the Ridge and Valley Province for a pleasant visit to Shenandoah River State Park. It’s a relatively new park (1999), and indeed there is a dramatic overlook of the South Fork.
The park is oriented to recreational activities: there’s a canoe launch; all of the hiking trails are open to bikes; picnic shelters and parking spaces are numerous. But, fortunately for this loner, attendance was relatively sparse on this overcast November day.
I picked the moderate-rated Allen’s Mountain Trail for a walk. Trails and junctions are clearly marked, once you find the trailhead. Walking is easy, with switchbacks around some steep ravines, rather than up-and-downs.
I was looking for overwintering plants, but found only a scattering of Chimaphila maculata. In the understory, evergreen Kalmia latifolia was in evidence. Overstory trees were a typical mix of oaks, pines, a little hickory and beech. The land certainly shows the marks of human occupation; this White Oak was cut, then resprouted two stems.
115 meters of elevation change, 3+ miles of distance, 2:30 for the round trip.
And my mystery berry-ish observation turned out to be Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), a plant that I’ve seen before but totally stumped me in the field today. It’s just ones and twos in the park, nothing like the profusion that Mark Garland showed us in the Pine Barrens.
In my junior year I presented a skit at the Press Club Vod based on the idea of how closely allied jazz dancing was to the jungle.
—Agnes de Mille, Dance to the Piper, chap. 11, “Decision,” pp. 93-94
What the heck is vod in this context? de Mille is writing of a time ca. 1925.
It is my sincere wish that this be my last post about 45: “Why it has to be Biden.”
In 2016 American voters did not know whom they were getting. Now they do. They would be voting for division and lying. They would be endorsing the trampling of norms and the shrinking of national institutions into personal fiefs. They would be ushering in climate change that threatens not only distant lands but Florida, California and America’s heartlands. They would be signalling that the champion of freedom and democracy for all should be just another big country throwing its weight around. Re-election would put a democratic seal on all the harm Mr Trump has done.
h/t: Barry Blitt
Still on the trail of the meaning of Hollanderize: Consider this exchange between MSgts. Pendleton and Bilko from s1e23, “Army Memoirs,” of The Phil Silvers Show (air date 21 February 1956). Pendleton, at the moment (five minutes before he was in a different frame of mind), is buttering up Bilko, offering him alterations on a newly-arrived flight jacket with white mouton (sheepskin) collar. Pendleton asks, “Do you want the collar Hollanderized?” to which Bilko replies (approximately, he’s talking over a laugh and about to do a take from Capt. Barker’s entrance), “No, keep it fluffy.”
So, Pendleton is not offering cleaning of a new garment, and cutting it down doesn’t make sense. Perhaps he is indeed offering a dye job, which Bilko rejects because it will mat the pelt.
You can’t say it any plainer: The Case Against Donald Trump.
Under his leadership, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stopped trying to protect consumers and the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped trying to protect the environment.
In June, his administration tear-gassed and cleared peaceful protesters from a street in front of the White House so Mr. Trump could pose with a book he does not read in front of a church he does not attend.
Ben Brantley puts aside his notebook, but not his love for theater.
I can honestly say I’ve never been bored at the theater during the past several decades. That’s because I’ve learned that nothing is boring if you really focus on it.
Mikaela Lefrak of WAMU is releasing a six-part podcast on the fight for Washington, D.C. residents to be fully enfranchised and empowered to run their own government. It’s a hip, powerful piece of reporting. The first three episodes have taken us through Alexander Hamilton’s compromise, retrocession, the 23rd Amendment, and the winning of home rule.
Coffee-leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix , la roya) hasn’t gone away, and threatens to clobber coffee plantations.
… and beak. Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus), it turns out, can be fierce fighters when defending a granary tree.
Each combat site lured up to 50 helper females representing a dozen or more competing coalitions. The birds spread their wings to put on a show of superiority and strength and engaged in incessant bickering; at times the war got bloody. “We’ve seen birds with eyes gouged out, wings broken, bloody feathers, and birds that fell to the ground fighting each other,” Dr. [Sahas] Barve said. “It’s the real stuff.”
While I was away, something was updated: westbound signage now designates the Phase 2 terminus at Ashburn. Station maps still show Phase 2 as under construction, with no station names.
The Vermont collective brings a touring version of its low-tech didactic theater to the Washington Monument grounds. It’s a collection of satiric sketches (with some utterly corny gags), provocations, and tableaux—with, shall we say, some stately transitions between—perfectly matched to the outdoor scene of kids running around, cyclists and scooters passing in front of the stage on the paved walkway, and the occasional bark of critique from a dog over my right shoulder. The vibe is a little Woodstock ’69, a little Medieval mystery play. Equally strong and effective are a lament in song for the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide and an enormous five-person puppet that suggests the world tree Yggdrasil, the branches of its crown brushing the proscenium arch. The loose structure of the work admits of breaking-news topicality: a brief memorial dance for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a silly re-enactment of the recently observed collision of two black holes. If the puppeteer-actors paint with an overly broad brush, at least their earnestness is restorative.
Oh, no, I only came in second.
Through the transom today (blocked, actually, by my ISP’s glitchy spam filters):
FACEBOOK ONLINE INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY
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Oops, sorry about not keeping “this notification strictly from public notice…”
I love how the winning ticket number in the header doesn’t match the one in the body.
Does this mean that I have to sign up for Facebook now?
Look what popped up in a bare patch in my weedy back yard: two sprigs of Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata).
Richard Sullivan checks in at Freshkills Park, formerly the site of New York’s Fresh Kills landfill.
While the following graf is somewhat alarming,
Freshkills is possibly the least likely poster child for urban ecological restoration in the world, and it is radical not just for the way it works — by encouraging flora and fauna do as they please — but for its sheer size. It is almost unbelievable that New York City would set aside a parcel of land as big as Lower Manhattan south of 23rd Street — and just let it go to seed.
Sullivan reports that biodiversity is making progress:
Back in 2015, I was teaching a science seminar at CUNY’s Macaulay College when I visited Freshkills along with hundreds of sophomores, all of us part of a bioblitz, an invasion of citizen scientists who in this case documented Freshkills’ growing list of flora and fauna: bats skittering past the methane recovery stations, herons wading in the murky trash-bottomed tidal streams. My first trip in 2001 was marked by sightings of mostly gulls; that weekend, our group reported 314 species in North Park’s 233 acres. Our bioblitz team was said to be the first to spot a blackjack oak tree on Staten Island, formerly a resident exclusively of the south, now showing up in New York as New York warms.
* * *
Meanwhile, newly planted grasses in Freshkills have attracted a steady population of birds, including the largest colony of grasshopper sparrows in New York State.
Nevertheless, when Freshkills opens to the public,
I’ll also think of the new Amazon fulfillment center nearby that’s standing on what could have been restored wetlands, another sad trade-off.
Something promising: A wind farm in Smøla, Norway painted one blade black on each of four turbines, and measurably reduced bird kills. Of course, this change only protects daytime fliers: nighttime migrants and bats wouldn’t benefit.