On deck: 20

Bookshelf December 2020 1/2Bookshelf December 2020 2/2Diminished by a year of no book exchanges, no visits to the ARC shelf at work, no used book sales, and judicious avoidance of booksellers; augmented by a couple of thoughtful holiday gifts from friends—I’ve reduced the three boxes plus shelf to one box plus shelf.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m not reading that much more these days. I have set aside what was my morning commute time for reading. But evening commute time has evaporated into reading the news and wondering what to stream for the evening. Reading at home, as opposed to reading on the train, is more conducive to material like Chris Ware and books that require flipping back to a reference book. I have picked up a collection of French short stories with English parallel texts that had languished for a while.

Memory work

Casting calls can be miserable. But, in the 17th century, Nathaniel Giles pushed into really bad behavior: he and Henry Evans, exercising a royal warrant, illicitly kidnapped children to perform at Evans’ Blackfriars Theater. They snatched thirteen-year-old Thomas Clifton off the street,

… handed the boy a script and threatened him with a beating if he didn’t learn his lines.

Lost Mountain loop

Another trip to Sky Meadows State Park, but this time to east side of U.S. 17, the Lost Mountain side. I set out from the Turner Pond parking area—I was one car too late to park in the nearer parking area.

The Rolling Meadows Trail is just what it says: some gentle ups and downs around grasslands. One field was being grazed. Once you clear the first ridge, traffic noise from the highway is somewhat muffled. And indeed I was listening more than looking today.

Best bird of the walk was a Brown Creeper (Certhia americana). If he was talking, I didn’t hear those top notes. I did see and hear a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).

I saw as many mounted travelers as walkers. Equally friendly.

aren't we a pair?There is an unnamed tributary of Gap Run that you have to ford going and coming on the Rolling Meadows Trail. The Washington’s Ridge Trail is scored ◆ Difficult by the park’s trail guide, but it’s barely a ■ Moderate.

About 3 miles, 40 meters elevation change, 2:30, via Corporal Morgan, Rolling Meadows, and Washington’s Ridge Trails.

I found a smidgen of Ebony Spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron). And I made the acquaintance of Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), which was running all over the place. The Flora of Virginia gives it a *?.

A mystery: 23

It was recently discovered, for example, that good tobacco crops depend, for some unknown reason, on the preconditioning of the soil by wild ragweed.

—Aldo Leopold, “Wilderness,” collected in A Sand County Almanac (1949)

That discovery does not appear to have left any traces online.

Shenandoah River State Park

viewpointFollowing 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.

markerI 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.

left behindtwo-stemmedI 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.

A mystery: 22

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.

Teddy Loser-velt

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

A mystery: 21

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.

Dump the Trump

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.