Archive for nature

SCOD Flora Survey Project

Posted in Nature Studies, Organic Development, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2019 by Drogo

Volunteer efforts to make a ‘Washington DC Metropolitan Area’ survey map of identified flora species will be documented by SCOD over the course of several years, starting in a few local areas the team can access easily. Frederick and Thurmont are the first areas we are beginning with because of access and pre-existing information by naturalists.

Methodology:  Data Collection (field & archives); Digitizing Process; Database Analysis for Uses (historic land use, planning, locating existing species)

The SCOD Frederick Area Flora Species Mapping project has begun! Node 1a Block 1 of Spiral 1b is surveyed in my notebook. It will take several years to complete the region map, but more than 3 people will be working on it (Drogo, Christine, & Drumwise), and will focus on trees and shrubs estimates, but will include any info donated.

Please contact Drogo Empedocles, Chris Drumwise Ousse, or Christine Maccabee if you are interested in helping or contributing to our project. We are searching for partners to help us with GIS about trees and other plants. Find us on Facebook or leave a comment below. Thanks for your support!

References so far include: Frederick County MD Property Explorer, Arbor Pro USA, Science Direct Procedia, MD Department of Natural Resources, MD Forest Service, Garden Clubs, Nature Clubs, Park Groups, …

Arbor Pro USA – urban forest management for municipalities, universities, and you. 15 years of GPS tree inventories for risks and planning. Team members: Scot, William, Jeff, Ken

Science Direct – Procedia social and behavioral sciences: GIS for benefits and hazards of urban trees.

Tree-Keeper GIS for Frederick, MD – PDF11,158 Calculated Trees; Total Yearly Eco Benefits = $692,169

Frederick City of MD, Park Division Urban Forestry Program – Arborist

Maryland Manual On-Line: Plants & Trees

Frederick County Government, Maryland – GIS / Public Safety

Maryland I-Map – Mapping & GIS Data Portal

Frederick County, MD – Parks & Recreation Locations

Frederick County, MD – Property Explorer

 

Frederick County GIS Data [from email]:

  1.       We have Forest Polygons, they are available here:  https://www.frederickcountymd.gov/5969/Download-GIS-Data

The latest Forest Polygons are from 2017, we have and will update them about every 2-3 years, we started in 2005.

  1.       We have a Forest Canopy layer, made in 2011 by NASA and U of MD.  It is available for everywhere in the State of Maryland, https://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=f70ada30bd29428395186ce5f3a618c5 .  I have a copy of the data if someone needs a copy of the GIS files feel free to send them my way.

 The County Tree Canopy Report can be downloaded by the link below  There are others for example Frederick City and Brunswick available here: https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/urban/utc/pubs/ .  I also included in the download a map of our Green Infrastructure.  If you have further questions feel free to reply or email me. Download Link:  https://frederick.sharefile.com/d-s13e6f8f52834481a

Mary McCullough – GIS Analyst / Interagency Information Technologies

Frederick County Government Office: 301-600-2324

Website: Frederick County GIS

 *

Evan Keto  – Maryland Licensed Tree Expert #2221, ISA Certified Arborist SO-6594AM, and Owner / Fruitful Trees and Gardens, LLC  240-763-0764

The options are limitless, although resources always are. Personally, I think a handful of people in Frederick could have the greatest impact by plugging data into existing systems, like this map where you can document edible plant species: https://fallingfruit.org/

Even if you only focused on public areas where foraging would be allowed (or at least not prosecuted), documenting all the walnuts, hickories, persimmons, pawpaws, blackberries, serviceberries, etc. would still take quite a long time. But by trimming your plants list, geographical area, and eliminating the technological issues, you could just start creating a very valuable map, and perhaps get other people on social media to volunteer to add to your efforts. In the end you’d have a resource that would help increase environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Just one of many ideas.

A map of trees and shrubs in Frederick or the greater DC area would take dozens of volunteers years to complete. For example, Casey Trees has been working on a map of the trees in DC, and that has taken many volunteers many years, and as they keep it updated, it will never be finished:  https://caseytrees.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=932aa4d49bfa45b39ecf3321cbb6cdbc

Eventually, hyper-spectral satellite imaging will be able to tell us what every tree is by its unique light signature. That way, we could instantly identify each tree species for an entire region, but that’s not going to be available for a while: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40490-018-0123-9

For instance, if you wanted to ask, “What species of trees and shrubs are growing in the DC area?”, that could be more of a list than a map, and can be compiled by cross referencing multiple resources, including – The City of Trees:

https://www.amazon.com/City-Trees-Complete-Washington-Center/dp/0813926882/ref=asc_df_0813926882/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312065538926&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4121470300927145656&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9007790&hvtargid=pla-493397652405&psc=1

Maryland Champion Tree Listing

http://www.mdbigtrees.com/view_tree.aspx

C&O canal species lists: https://www.nps.gov/choh/learn/nature/plants.htm

 (Monocacy battlefield, National Capital Parks, and other NPS units would also likely have species lists)

Towson Arboretum: https://www.towson.edu/campus/landmarks/glen/trees.html

National Arboretum: https://www.usna.usda.gov/

University of Maryland campus arboretum https://arboretum.umd.edu/

In the end, I think you’ll find hundreds of different species of woody plants, as I learned 200+ and those were just on the UMD campus. If you widen your interest to all plant species, then be prepared to learn to identify thousands and thousands of potential species in this area: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderProfileResults.aspx?z=7 

Or, if you did want to create a map, you might want to focus on a particular geographic area, such as some of the local parks, and perhaps with focus on the largest and most interesting trees. It might be worth contacting the city’s Sustainability Coordinator and the County Forestry Board, who may already have some items mapped and/or resources to help:

http://www.cityoffrederick.com/891/Sustainability

https://sites.google.com/view/fcfcdb/bigtreeprogram#h.p_vluyI_xWVRDU

Also, you might be interested in seeing the USFS iTree Tools suite, which is all free:

https://www.itreetools.org/

Hope this helps,

Evan

*

Frederick County Planning Dept. – Tim Goodfellow (600-2508) spoke with me on the phone and mentioned more contacts:

DNR MD Forest Service, Local Forester at Gambril Park – Mike Kay

DNR MD Wildlife & Heritage Service

Frederick County – Office of Sustainability

Frederick County – OSER (Office of Sustainability) Shannon Moore SMoore@FrederickCountyMD.gov

Tom Rippeon – Arborist, Parks & Recreation, Frederick MD – 301.600.1233; C 240.409.4410

*

SCOD Flora Project will be updated here as more data is processed.

To be continued…

Lucky the Dove – Biography

Posted in Biographies, Individuals / Members / Monsters / Creative Writing, Nature Studies, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2019 by Drogo

Lucky the Fledgling Dove – journal notes of the biography of Lucky’s youth

Lucky 11

Close Call Adventures of Lucky

 

Lucky’s parents are ‘3 Dots’ and ‘Neuro’, friendly wild mourning doves. Lucky was the second of two eggs they laid in a nest I made in a small basket (see the story of Pot Bib),  and hung under the eve of the balcony, near the back wall. lucky hatched May 12th 2019 on Mother’s  Sunday. I checked on the babies every other day and petted them. When they were just eggs the parent flew away immediately when I  approached. after the eggs hatched the parent stayed on the nest and would let me pet the parent with some Wing slaps. I wanted to get the babies familiar with me so I moved the nest to the floor of the balcony For a few minutes before putting it back,  and only then would the parent Fly Away.

 

Lucky was 5 days old,  friday May 17th

sibling got taken by a crow. Lucky brought inside for the night, attempted feeding, partially successful, Lucky swallowed some of the last attempts. 

Lucky remained safe in the nest now relocated hidden under the bench, parents resumed feeding.

Lucky 6

randomly a red-shouldered Hawk was chased by a Crow, both landed on adjacent roof looking in at balcony, i scared them off.

 

Lucky was 9 days old

I attempted to put an ID band on Lucky’s leg, but we didnt have anything that would work as well as professionals use. I tried using a white twist-tie and rubber band, but getting the correct tightness was much harder than i thought it would be, so i gave up. 

At dusk, at edge of balcony Lucky jumped fledging for food.

looked on ground and in tree but could not see. missing all night 

 

Lucky was 10 days old

morning mowers Machines of death,  looked all around, upon feeding branch baby was found. i climbed the fledging tree four times during this period. I had checked on Lucky and was content it would be fine on the feeding branch. However when i returned a few hours later, it had been knocked out of tree (i assume by Crow), and went under car. I chased Lucky around the car, and caught it, and put it in nesting box to bring back inside.

  Bath time. Practiced wing flapping.

At night back inside  in cage, and in our hands attempted feeding. Lucky Dovey was calm except for when we played a video of adult doves. Lucky responded to the video by peeping vocally and lunging towards the screen. Lucky touched the screen with its beak and could not get to them, and after being amused for a minute or so, we turned it off so that it could calm down. Dovey and me fell asleep on couch, Lucky was on my belly, in a bundle lap pillow with tissues.

Luck 10

Lucky was 11 days old

I took lucky outside in the morning and we waited for its parents to come to the tree.  I sat in a chair reading a book while babysitting, lucky sat on my arm. people looked at me strangely, but I am not afraid to explain when I am trying to help an animal.  when the mother came it walked around lucky at the base of the tree, but would not feed lucky. the parents flew up into the tree, and lucky followed.  amazingly lucky was able to fly 5 ft up to the nearest branch, and climb and hop and fly up to the feeding branch. Hawk came in trees while feeding at feeding branch in morning.  Crow landed between balconies, while being attacked by Mockingbird, and looked into the balconies to find food. I moved lucky back to balcony. I got lucky onto a stick, and then my arm. Lucky hung to my back while i jumped down from tree, safely.

In cage on balcony, Lucky and Daddy ‘3 Dots’ could not solve the puzzle for feeding through a partially Open Door.  lucky did make it out of the partially open door once for one of three feedings that day. Three dots spent one hour going to the sides of the cage and cooing while both were peeping. lucky gets into a Feeding Frenzy most X it is called to by parents,  except for the time lucky spent in the nest again rest in 4 hours. during this time it ignored it’s parents and stayed in the nest like it did when it was a younger baby. I let Lucky out of the cage when I knew the parent was nearby and thought it might feed it.  three dots watched for a long time while babysat and both called when lucky was in the center of the balcony. lucky was able to push open the door once but seems to forget how it got in perhaps because Dove minds are not as sharp as crows who can use tools and unlock door mechanisms.  the large black birds soaring in the sky or probably turkey vultures because they did not flap as often as crows do, but ominously watched from the stadium lights which are taller than all the trees. Bath time. Practiced wing flapping and hunting for seeds with Noel.

 

At sunset I wanted to be generous and allow the parent a final chance to come on the balcony and feed the baby,  but like last time the parent was more interested in calling the baby to come to them. so I told the baby to call to the parents and get them to come to it.  as usual I allowed lucky a way to get out of the cage for feeding and fly away if it could. as dark approached and the father cooed , Lucky woke up into another Feeding Frenzy,  which surprised me because it had been so sleepy on the Nest earlier, and even when we were playing with it. eventually lucky looked straight at me through the open cage door, and burst through.  lucky sat on the bench cushion for a few seconds, and I sat there looking back at lucky, knowing lucky might chase after the cooes and leave the balcony. lucky gave me one last look, and leapt off of the cushion and over the railing,  flying all the way to the top of the nearby tree. when I went out to look and climbed for a fourth time, I think I scared the parents and lucky off to another tree, because even with the flashlight I could not find lucky, so I gave up for the night.  lucky continues to amaze me by how well it can fly when it wants to, even without adult feathers. Lucky’s juvenile feathers work amazingly well and may allow lucky to follow its parents around.

Lucky is 12 days old today,  and hopefully getting more feedings to grow faster if it is able to be with the parents more often. this morning the sweet air was fresh, the green of the tree leaves bright, and the branches moved in the breeze. I have seen Lucky’s parents, but no sign of Lucky. I hope Lucky survives and learns enough to live a long happy life, even if i never see Lucky again.

Lucky is 13 days old on Saturday, May 25

I walked around the block 3x today and did not see Lucky. It was not until dusk, after a rain shower, when i was going out to the store, that I spotted Lucky on the bedroom gable peak. Its parents were on the ground, cooing to Lucky to get down because it was too vulnerable up there in clear view. However Lucky learned from me how to dry off in the sun, and has a mind of its own. I recognized Lucky because it does not have mature feathers on its neck yet, so in silhouette has a very thin neck. We confirmed with binoculars for about 20 minutes. Two crows passed directly over Lucky, but Lucky did not flinch and they were not interested. I am so proud of Lucky, i think it will be ok. Then Lucky flew into the fledging tree, near the top, presumably for the night. As darkness fell, i spotted the mother in the center of the tree.

It seems Lucky may have spent yesterday high up in the fledging tree, where i could not see or get to it easily. It is also possible Lucky went to a few other trees and bushes, and I may have seen Lucky in a bush, but it could have been a robin fledgling since i saw 2 or 3 of them. I also saw a catbird and robin on a nest in bushes. The mulberry tree in back has many ground level berries, they are good. I am satisfied knowing that Lucky is doing well, and is not lost.

Lucky is 14 days old

Possible Lucky sighting in chickweed pot, but bird was gone before confirmed.

 

Lucky is 20 days old, June 1

Lucky sighted on roof of adjacent condo in the morning. Then before dusk sighted up close within 3 feet, and close enough to almost touch, in the juniper bush on the retaining wall of the parking lot. It is a great defensive bush, because it is prickly, with room in the branches for a small bird to walk around, with a fence in the middle for it to go in and out of to avoid larger animals who get in one side of the bush. When i returned, Lucky was sitting just outside the bush, and then flew up to the nearby redbud tree when approached. Catbirds, Mockingbirds, and Robins help the dove parents to guard the area.

 

Lucky might be 26, June 7

I found clumps of feathers that might belong to a baby or juvenile bird (dove, robin, mocking, or catbird) in a 3′ diameter in the lawn area near the tot-lot and 3 pines and yard bushes. No body, or body parts, or blood were found, and it was mainly small fluff, to a few medium feathers (grey with white tip). Lucky may have been attacked by a hawk or something, but no conclusive proof just evidence and speculation. It may have happened earlier this day, or a day or two before. I got a video of one of the doves on the Grey Pot. Towards dusk (8pm) two doves came to the balcony and got water as usual, but this time sat on the grey pot together and shook their wings like babies begging with wing-flaps, rather than mating (because they both did it and faced opposite directions at one point). Was one of them Lucky? Perhaps they were apologizing for failing as parents, if it was Lucky that was attacked and killed, they might regret not keeping Lucky closer to me like i wanted for better protection. I have to face the fact that Lucky could die any day at any moment that i am not near Lucky, whether it already happened or may happen later, until they are adults (1-15 years) young doves are more likely to die. The parents go under the bench near the nest basket and eat the corn we left there. If Lucky is missing, perhaps the parents think i will give them back Lucky like we did in the past when we were able to take Lucky inside for protection? Now the parent doves are perched under the railing at the edge of the balcony. Either they are telling Lucky it is ok to come visit now and drink water and eat as an adult; or they are saying good-bye to Lucky’s spirit, if Lucky has died or has gone off on adventures with a flock of other juveniles. I do not know where Lucky is (until I can identify their dot patterns better) in any case. 

 

Days 27-30+, June 8-11

There have been a few sightings and much speculation about whether Lucky has stayed here locally or is gone far away. I have either seen Lucky come with a parent, or maybe it was a different dove couple visiting. A few times a third adult-looking dove has tried to come with Lucky’s parents to the balcony area, but each time the third dove was chased off (probably by 3 dots). The third dove was either another child of theirs returning, a rival mate, or Lucky.

 

Lucky is over 50 days,  

I am 50% sure that the dove coming with 3-dots is either Lucky or its Mom. If it is Lucky where is the Mom, on a nest? If it is the Mom why is she slightly scaled (slightly mottled) and not as sleek and elegant? Either way 3-dots is comfortable with them, as they sometimes come together without incident and with some affection (subtle wing wiggle and close proximity). Nothing can be confirmed, as comparisons would best be made if the parents came together with Lucky (all 3 would be present to differentiate).

 

Lucky is over 60 days

I am 70% sure that Lucky Dove has been visiting its birth balcony for weeks now. Confusion over identification has been due to post-30 day juvenile-adult behavior, plumage, and social changes. Lucky now acts and looks like a molting adult (barely mottled), and while timid with short visits resembling the appearance and behavior of its mother or other doves, Lucky does display unique traits of familiarity that would not be present in any other dove in this combination.

If this disheveled light tan colored multi-dot dove is Lucky, the puffing and preening on adjacent Thomas’ Gable might be Lucky a bit uncomfortable with its new adult feathers which are still scaled (slightly mottled). Communication was made with Lucky for several minutes, while preening on Thomas’s Gable, which helped increase the identity percentage. Lucky’s mother would have flown away at that distance (15 feet from Gable to balcony edge), and there is no other dove besides 3-dots that would have tolerated being called to and observed in that spot, at that distance, for so long. In fact I got tired of talking to Lucky and using the binoculars, so i sat down on the bench in hopes Lucky would come visit with me there because i was calmly still; however Lucky flew across to the Trash Condo balconies eventually.

When Lucky comes and drinks and bathes in the water, I am trying to play my recordings of Lucky begging with its Dad, to see if Lucky responds to those sounds with behavior indicating affectionate memory. Other experiments maybe attempted, despite lacking a DNA tester or id tag or bands. I have now examined the dots of all 3 doves with zoom lens magnification, and have drawn diagrams to distinguish them. I am over 90% Lucky is alive and has been one of the doves visiting. Lucky’s left side has two dots touching (one over the other) at the back of the wing, which is a signature matching her baby photos. Lucky has the most dots of the 3.

Possible reasons for Lucky missing from the balcony area for about 20 days – Lucky might have been scared away by the parents during the juvenile period that parental feeding was ending; if Lucky was following them and begging, they might have been trying to get it to stop. Lucky might have been scared away by the parents after they were done feeding it, not only to get it to stop but also to get it to move to another area. Lucky may have had to hang out by itself or with other juveniles, until it learned not to beg from adults. Now that Lucky does not beg for food and is able to find food on its own, the parents may tolerate or enjoy its presence again. 3-dots seems to actually enjoy being with Lucky when they come, drink, look for food a bit or bathe, and leave together.

July 30, 2019 – Lucky has been coming with it’s Mom in recent days.  This has allowed me to compare the two doves together. Lucky looks very similar it’s Mom with multiple dots, however there are 3 main differences. (1) Lucky is lighter in feather color (tan) and the Mom is darker (grey); although some warm days doves look more brown-tan than grey. Lucky’s feet are smooth bright pink-red, but the parents have ‘aged’ rough red feet, (2) Lucky has a slimmer neck with less feathers, and puffy cheeks by the black mark. Lucky has less iridescence on the neck too. (3) Lucky is still slightly smaller, although it must have gotten its adult feathers soon after 30 days. Lucky’s mottled feather scaling is now gone.

*

January 2020 – Lucky still visits with or without parents most weeks. Lucky was missing during the first part of the Winter, but came back to the balcony for the first snow. Seeing the landscape covered in white must have been confusing, and harder to locate food. It is amazing birds survive winters, but they learn how to dig and peck around in snow and ice. The three doves and Pot Bib the sparrow are semi-tame or semi-wild, because they know to some extent they are safe on the balcony, and they keep returning. Some days they are braver than others, like when they sit for hours, or insist on returning while we are out on the balcony, or choose to lay eggs and nest (silly doves). We still have not been able to touch Lucky since she got her adult flight feathers; but maybe someday a wild semi-tame dove will remember as an adult, what it learned as a chick, it is safe to be held by some humans sometimes.

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Akasha and the Elements of Nature

Posted in Nature Studies, Pagan, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2018 by Drogo

Akasha – the Assemblage of the Elements of Nature

Akasha is a Hindu word meaning space, aether, or heavenly sky in traditional Indian cosmology. Metaphysically Akasha is a primal aether fluid that allowed physical existence by universally containing and being a part of the building blocks of the 4 elements of the material plane. Akasha can be considered the fifth element within Nature that also super-naturally transcends it. Akasha binds the 4 other elements spiritually to our souls, the Material Universe, and the Spirit Universe. The four Elements are aspects of Nature, but also a connection to the spirit world through Akasha aether. The 4 elements widely accepted by Celtic Wiccan and other polytheist Pagan spiritual paths are: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. These four elements are represented by an equal cross (Celtic Cross) often in conjunction with the cardinal directions, with the Akasha circle border around the cross being the 5th all encompassing element that binds them all together, and from which they come (according to Hindu). In ancient Native American culture this was the Earth-Sun Cross (Medieval Mississippian).

The fifth element is shown in diagram when using a pentagram, to include Spirit as the directional point. Fire’s place on the pentagram is often the lower right point (Tao upper right). Chinese Taoism believes the 5 elements to be Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water; having Metal instead of Akasha Spirit, and Wood instead of Air. Taoists also apply their Yin-Yang dualist theory of opposites to the elements, like polarities of particles. Fire is considered the most Yang (active) energy, and Water the most Yin (passive). Too much fire element in a dwelling can stimulate Chi (Chinese word for Spirit ‘Life Force’) aggressively; resulting in anger, impatience, impulsiveness, ambition and burnout. Chi should be used sparingly in the bedroom, since the main use is resting. Feng Shui (Wind-Water) is about balancing physical, mental, and spiritual levels to attempt harmony. It takes a great deal of Feng Shui study to determine how to design Akasha spaces, and where best to apply the elements in physical symbols and shapes.

The alchemy of elements using Akasha chi or spirit as a catalyst, allows transformation such as Fire changing Water to Air. Akasha is present in elements at their crossing, as well as around them. Akasha can also be intention of our spirit or mental will, as the 5th point on the pentagram. Akasha allows us to transcend our physical existence, and experience the Sublime daily, not just when our spirit separates from our mortal bodies.

 

Elemental Alchemical Effects

(Stop/Start or Hinder/Promote)

Air Stops Earth – Flying above the surface winds & precipitation blow.

Air Starts Fire – Oxygen allows Fire to consume other fuel (wood)

Fire Stops Water – Heat melts ice into Water and aids its evaporation.

Fire Starts Air – Fires cause smell & smoke H2O heated evaporates to Air

Water Stops Fire – H2O quenches (extinguishes) Fire.

Water Starts Earth – Rain nourishes trees, plants, and animals of the Earth.

Earth Stops Water – Dams of Earth and Trees block or slow Water Flow.

Earth Starts Air – Vegetation Flora creates Oxygen and many Scents.

——————————————————————————————

Spirit Makes Metal – Air, Fire, Water, Iron, & Fuel of Earth by Humans

Refines Metals allowing purification & combination alloys

Spirit (Metal) To Earth – Water & Air oxidize & rust Metal back to Earth.

**

pentagram 5

 

Sensible Sensuality, Rather Than Asceticism

Posted in Health & Fitness, Pagan, Philosophy, Religions, Spiritual, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2017 by Drogo

Sensuality vs Asceticism, a Subjective Dichotomy

Sensualists, or heathen hedonists as some prefer, believe that it is natural and good to satisfy ourselves. Sensuality in moderation means being in harmony with compassion and passion; but in the extreme a voracious hedonist will pay for their excess if their addictive craving hurts others and toxins result in abundance. Sensuality simply means receiving pleasure from our senses, as a natural and healthy practice for happiness.

Ascetics are religiously dogmatic abstinence purists, that view all indulgences as wrong. How one defines indulgences as abuse rather than satisfying means to temporal ends, determines how extreme their discipline. For example, if a person is hungry should they eat until they are full, or always eat the smallest possible amount? In Christianity the concept of Sin is used, to incite guilt and punishment for breaking the ascetic rules. In Buddhism, monastic obedience to the rules often uses similar corporal punishment, without having their own word for what essentially amounts to the same thing as “sin”. In monasteries asceticism goes beyond self-discipline, as hierarchy must maintain ordered control, for the rules to mean anything.

There are spiritual arguments for both Life paths, however some of us are biologically inclined and nurtured towards one way more than another. Some of us see nothing wrong with basing our lives around caring for sexual beings and accepting that sexuality is not only a biological instinct but also when respectful and compassionate is one of the highest pleasures. Others reject mammalian nature due to abuse, manipulation, and suffering caused by desire and attachment. To mentally abstain from sexuality can be easy for those with strong reptile instincts, but as might be the case for most who repress feelings, our neocortex uses a function Freud called the super-ego to deny our more id and ego impulses. In a similar way, some people believe we should express ourselves to be healthy, while others have believed we should suppress ourselves to be healthy. Most reasonable people use moderation rather than extremes, which ever label they use to describe themselves. Sensualists can have a pleasurable happy sufficient life, without being ruined by hedonistic uncontrollable urges; just as Ascetics can participate in common life, without starving or forcing others to starve by abstaining from compassion. Sensible satisfaction is a key to common happiness.

“Fill your belly.

Day and night make merry.

Let days be full of joy.”

– Siduri to Gilgamesh

*

[note: will add hunter-prey, abuser-victim dichotomy complexity later, this essay assumes healthy sexuality, not abuse which can make asceticism much more appealing as defense for victims that view anyone who enjoys sex, like Dr. Ruth, as a predator or sick pervert, only one step removed from a molester. Connect to Epicurus.]

John Muir, Nature’s Visionary

Posted in Book Reports, Nature Studies, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2016 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for SEPT. 2016 by Christine Schoene Maccabee

 

Choked in the sediments of society, so tired of the world, here will your hard doubts disappear…and your soul breathe deep and free in God’s shoreless atmosphere of beauty and love.”

– John Muir, 1903

The above quote was part of John Muir’s impassioned invitation to President Roosevelt and Vice President Howard Taft to join him in Yosemite and camp out under the stars. Together they talked about protecting the giant redwoods from timbering, as well as preserving the ecological wonders only Muir, and the natives who had lived there, knew intimately. Upon returning East the Roosevelt Administration created 5 national parks, 23 national monuments, and added more than 148 million acres of woodland to the national forest system. Muir was also founder of the Sierra Club of which most of us are aware and some of us members.

In my 20’s I knew next to nothing about the person of John Muir until I read a book, Baptized into Wilderness, which is filled with many inspiring writings from his years spent as caretaker in Yosemite. How he managed to brilliantly overcome the trauma of living with his tyrannical father, a Scottish Calvinist Minister of the worst sort who beat him daily, is nothing short of a miracle. As Muir wrote in his autobiography,“by the time I was 11 years of age I had about three-fourths of the Old Testament and all of the New by heart and by sore flesh.”

Fortunate to be nurtured by the love of his mother and sisters, and due to his fascination with nature and inventing, he grew into a strong young man, fully determined to make his own way in life once the family moved from Scotland to Wisconsin. Helping to clear land and create their homestead was no easy life, but in his free time, Muir invented all sorts of crazy things made from scraps of iron and wood. At age 22 he decided to show his inventions at the state fair in Madison and was a smash hit with his “early rising machine” which tipped a person out of bed at an appointed hour. His father accused him of the sin of vanity.

He avoided the Civil War on the grounds of passivism while attending the University of Wisconsin, which he dropped out of after his sophomore year, little knowing that 34 years later he would receive an honorary degree, Dr. of Laws, from that same college. With a beard as bushy and long as any had seen, he headed to Canada on foot, “botanizing” along the way. The things of nature were always his first love.

After loosing his eyesight due to a freak accident at a machinery factory, Muir gasped, “My right eye is gone! Closed forever on all God’s beauty.” His left eye also failed, leaving him blind. However, after endless nightmares and despair while convalescing in a darkened room, his vision slowly returned. Muir proclaimed “Now I have risen from the grave” and he forever shunned the work of factories. Instead, he took to further journeys by foot, with his plant press on his back, heading south to “anywhere in the wilderness” which took him through the Appalachian Mountains and swamps of Georgia . He sketched and journaled and pressed plants along the way.

That first long walk of 1,000 miles took him to Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. However, his longest journey by foot, which he called “my grand sabbath day three years long” drew him West, climbing Mt.Ranier, exploring glaciers in Alaska, and ultimately settling in the California Sierras. It was there that he wrote his most inspiring words describing the beauty and wonder of the plant life, animals, boulders, sequoias, and experiencing ecstatic moments at the top of a tree during a hurricane. Muir proclaimed his reverence for all life forms, becoming a “voice for the voiceless”as he worked to convince others as to the need to preserve as much of the untouched purity of the natural world as possible.

Muir’s invitation to go out and become “steeped in the wonder of creation” was not only for people back then. It is still an invitation to us all today. My own life has been shaped by Muir and many other voices for the voiceless ; that is how I have come to write of my own passion to preserve and enhance wild places, allowing even more habitat on our properties and in our backyards .

Fortunately for us there is a monthly meeting of the Sierra Club at our library in Thurmont ! This month we will meet on Saturday, September 3 from 10-12. Do come join us as we work on a variety of projects to help preserve the goodness of our planet for generations to come.

With John Muir’s Vision as our inspiration we can make progress in spite of adversities. If he did it, so can we !

* * * * * *

Christine is a member of Thurmont’s Green Team and a Master Habitat Naturalist. She would be happy to help you with habitat, particularly plant ID, on your own property and can be reached at songbirdschant@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

GOT THE BLUES ? (butterflies)

Posted in Nature Studies, Poems, Rhymes, Riddles, Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 16, 2016 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for July 2016 by Christine Schoene Maccabee

GOT THE BLUES ?

Blues are little sparkling gems of the butterfly world, belonging to the

family of gossamer wings (Lycaenidae), whose local populations

periodically go extinct.” Butterfly Book by

Donald & Lillian Stokes

When I first saw an eastern tailed blue butterfly I was startled. I stood stock still as it opened and closed its small wings, brown when closed, and when opened, well, words cannot describe the beauty of the blue color flashing before my eyes. It sat on a flower for only a few moments, opening and closing its wings in the sunlight as I stood there in awe. I treasure those few moments as some of the most rewarding in my efforts to create habitat for rare and endangered species, and I hope to see more breathtaking blues this summer.

Many years ago I learned of the problems the blues are having with habitat loss ; the Karner blue in New York and the Xerxes blues in California are both victims of urbanization. So when I moved out here on my 11 acres I was determined to plant as much lupine as I could. The entire life cycle of blue butterflies depends on ample lupine, clover, even vetch and alfalfa, all of which are in the legume family. For awhile, I had an entire bank filled with lovely blue lupine which I grew from seed. However, after several years certain other native plants crowded it out and now I must protect the areas for lupine from them, which can be rather intensive work. The flowers and leaves of lupines are beautiful, so it is well worth the effort !

The good news is, blues can also carry out their entire life cycles on clovers,

even white yard clovers, and clovers grow easily on their own. So now, on my property, in small islands throughout the lawn, I am allowing clovers to grow. They must not be disturbed, as possibly eggs are being laid on them, and larva are feeding on them. As well, tiny ants are protecting them. ANTS ? ! you ask. Yes, ants are critical for their survival. This is another one of those little known essential symbiotic relationships most people are not aware of but which is absolutely fascinating, as most things natural are. Let me explain…

Briefly, the larvae of blues secrete a sweet honeydew from their abdomens to which ants are attracted for feeding. The larvae also have glands all over their bodies which secrete amino acids, a component of protein, which the ants can get simply by stroking the body of the larva with their antennas. Due to this, ants protect this food source by repelling insect predators and parasites which would do harm to the caterpillars. In a study made of this peculiar association it was found that 4 to 10 more caterpillars survive in the presence of ants. Great odds I would say !

So, you who have a terrible aversion to ants, just know that they are one of the most important and amazing eusocial insects in the world and deserve our respect. Even though some are considered agricultural and household pests, in the right place ants “bind together many terrestrial ecosystems”, according to the esteemed Edward Wilson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book ANTS. Personally, I work around ants, and only on a rare occasion might I kill one.

Back to the blues. I do get the blues when I see all the clover mowed down in huge yards where nobody ever walks. Bees love them also for their nectar, so clovers serve multiple purposes. However, here on my property I must deal with the “mower man”, and I do. This summer I am creating “Blue butterfly zones” and am soon to laminate signs with a picture of a blue butterfly on it to be placed on a stake in the middle of its clover habitat. If you have the heart to do this as well, and a mower man who will accommodate your interest, then do it. I suggest having several patches, not just one, and encourage neighbors to do so as well. That way there is not as much habitat fragmentation and the butterflies and bees can easily fly from one patch to another.

On many occasions I have seen the tiny pygmy, or elfin blue butterfly (as I call them), so I suspect it may be fairly common. It is no more than a half inch wide and has powdery blue wings. Insects are quite clever at surviving in spite of habitat loss, and it seems the smaller they are the better. Larger ones, such as the Monarch, have a longer life cycle and since they migrate need lots of habitat. Most blues are usually about the size of a quarter, but are still in need of plenty of clover or lupine to thrive. Perhaps I will grow a patch of alfalfa next summer and see what happens.

Nothing important in life is ever accomplished if we are complacent, or indifferent. We can sit around angry, or depressed, singing the blues all our lives, or we can do our small part to help protect a fragile ecosystem right in front of our eyes. It might not happen overnight, but someday you might be lucky enough to see a gossamer blue butterfly float out of no where and land on a clover in your yard. That moment of pure beauty will confirm for you, as it did for me, the importance of doing something, and never giving up.

Christine is a Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist in the Catoctins. She welcomes feedback, so if you see a blue butterfly, or wish to speak with her about your own concerns or interests, do contact her at songbirdschant@gmail.com

Even if you look closely at your clovers, you ay not see these larvae as they are no more than a third of an inch long, but goodluck trying. Perhaps you will find a fourleaf clover.

Habitat Fragmentation and Land Ownership

Posted in Poems, Rhymes, Riddles, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2016 by Drogo

Essay for ON THE WILD SIDE January 2016

Our land is more valuable than your money. It was put here for us by the Great Spirit, so we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us. As a present to you we will give you anything we have that you can carry with you; but the land, never.”*

In this present time civilization humans are finding themselves in the midst of more than one environmental quagmire. How to get control of the plastic and junk in the ocean ? How to keep air clean enough to breath in China ? How to rid old pipes of poisonous lead and our water of pharmaceuticals waste which go into toilets ? Am I getting too personal ?

Actually, everything we do and have done in the past are exactly what professional scientists/ecologists are dealing with now. If there ever was a field in which our children will find ready employment, it will be as research problem solvers and maybe even politicians who care about cleaning up our messes. The question we all have is, however, how did we ever get to this point anyway, and what can we do about it as individual home owners, as people who care ?

To their credit, in 1621 the people native to America, the “Indians”, after prayerful consultations with their elders, dieing and weakened due to disease brought here by previous white explorers, and weary of warfare, decided it was in their best interest to make peace with the Pilgrims. In spite of the Mayflower crew robbing them of their seed corn and burial treasures, they made a pact together that would endure long enough to get squash, beans and that same stolen corn planted, harvested and then shared.**

Peace, for the natives, was the best and most productive remedy, even though strangers were encroaching on their land. Interesting…and perhaps something we can learn from during this present time of anxiety about refugees. Unfortunately, back then that fragile peace did not last very long. There will always be the good mixed with the bad, the greedy mixed with the philanthropists, and I assume this is how it will always be. Nothing seems to have changed since the beginning of time.

Of course, as years passed and more settlers arrived to colonize America, the natives were totally kicked off their land. The settlers had brought with them an entirely different ethic of land ownership from Europe, as well as military hardware far more effective than the natives hand crafted bows, arrows and spears. Over the centuries their precious land has been stolen, divided and subdivided…fragmented… sold, and some of it has sadly been misused and polluted.

I am fortunate to live in a sub-division of a beautiful old 200+ acre homestead here in the Catoctins, Due to my love of and concern for diversity in the natural world, I am allowing my 11+acres to not only feed me, but to feed all my other “relations”. The native idea of “other relations” extends far beyond human relatives and includes the wonderful diversity of flora and fauna which most of us care about…bees, butterflies, birds, wildflowers, trees. etc..These are things our children are learning to care about in school, and as wise elders, we should also.

As home owners, and landowners, we can begin to bring these various fragments of land together by allowing native plants to grown, by creating native wildflower gardens on part of our lawns, and planting native trees. That way, the habitat fragmentation which has been going on since the pilgrims settled at Plymouth Rock can be somewhat remedied. If you ever feel like giving up in despair, there is one very real thing you can do, and the opportunity is right in your own back yard, or front yard too (why not ).

The vision is to create a beautiful tapestry right here where we live of yards and properties dedicated to the health and well being of our earth. It already looks like a quilted pattern here in Thurmont, but the work is not yet finished. If anything, the work has just begun !

I belong to the Green Team here in Thurmont and am heading up a project along the rail road tracks which will not only beautify our town with wildflowers, but create habitat for wildlife. I am presently seeking volunteers to clean it up a bit in February and then spread seeds. All this must be done before March, as seeds need the time to stratify (to get the benefit of freezing weather), so as to enhance their germination.

If you are interested in helping me with this project, please do be in touch with me at songbirdschant@gmail.com. If not, then consider doing something on your own little fragment of land, no matter now small. As I always say, “Every little bit helps !”, and THANKS !

* Response of a Chief of the Blackfoot Nation when told to put his signature on a land treaty in Montana; from Touch The Earth by T.C. McLuhun

** as documented in Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

– Christine S. Maccabee

I Worship at the Altar of Creation

Posted in Poems, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 1, 2015 by Drogo

I worship at the altar of Creation.

Call me pantheist if you will

but labels cannot describe

the mystical connection I feel

while gazing upon the faces

of myriad aster flowers

or hearing the songs of birds

which live in my Sanctuary

where its altar is strewn

with diversity of flora and fauna,

on this Earth filled with infinite species

numbers still not counted

and wiser than any human

fabrication of religion

or material contraption.

I worship at the altar of Creation

not just at the all too human

cloistered inside chapel

where hymns of praise are sung

but air is filled with stagnant odors,

windows closed to the great Outdoors.

Give me more ! the outer air,

the sweet perfume of springs mimosa

the healing aroma of every flower

entwined together as if by plan

all singing in harmony

with profound profusion

in this Sanctuary where I dwell,

my Mystic Meadows.

 

  • Christine S. Maccabee 

ON THE WILD SIDE

Posted in Organic Gardens, Poems with tags , , , , on October 24, 2015 by Drogo

ON THE WILD SIDE for September, 2015

by Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Misunderstood but Beautiful (Part 2) : Tall Natives and Useful Pests

I just got in from collecting Japanese beetles from wild Evening Primrose flowers which are growing throughout my property. By 7 a.m. the bees are already busy on the yellow flowers, and the beetles are just waking up. Slowly I knock them into a container of water, careful not to interrupt the bees. Two things are accomplished by my doing this twice a day. First, I am saving the flowers from being devoured, and second, my chickens enthusiastically consume the crunchy bodies of these pests. Useful pests, I call them, providing extra protein and minerals for my birds.

The wild Evening Primrose used be seen in areas along roads which have not been mowed, in vacant fields and ditches if they are lucky, and in my gardens. Sadly I see very few of them this year, beyond my gardens, due to herbiciding and lots of mowing. I imagine most home owners would not like them since they grow much taller than the greenhouse cultivated primroses most gardeners buy. Perhaps this aversion is due to an over civilized fear of wild natives. Well, I have no fear, just curiosity. I have never seen my primroses grow as tall as they are this year which is most likely due to all the rain we had earlier this summer. My tallest plant towers above my head at a record breaking height of 9 feet. Now that’s tall !

For some reason I have a particular interest in tall, gangly, misunderstood plants. I suppose that is because I see their value for our pollinators, but mostly I believe it is because I admire them. In truth, I am blown away by the diversity of wild flora which are indigenous to this area, and have made it my mission to preserve as much as I can here on my property and elsewhere when possible, before they become extinct. I know my worry is legitimate since every year it seems many rare plants (see list at bottom of this article) have just disappeared from places I have seen them in the past. So, I am writing here to clear up misunderstandings about our interesting wild neighbors, and possibly to save them

Teasel, another plant which is normally not permitted to grow in typical gardens, can still be seen in areas along the highway and other unused places. It is not a thistle, though it looks like it. In my gardens I pamper it. It has multiple uses, primarily as a producer of beautiful lavender flowers which bees love. It is also an interesting component in dry plant arrangements which I make. Stately, but prickly, they are to be handled with care, preferably with a gloved hand. Presently I am cutting some of mine down now that they have flowered as I don’t want the seeds to scatter everywhere in my main garden where I also grow vegetables. I plan to scatter some of the seeds in the larger meadow before winter.

By far the most misunderstood wildflower of all is Golden Rod. I have learned through my reading that it is not the pollen producer that affects most people adversely. Ragweed is the culprit as it has very nondescript flowers and blooms at the same time as Golden Rod. Very sneaky of Ragweed, I would say. The pollen from Golden Rod is too heavy to be carried very far by the wind whereas ragweed pollen is very light. There are 16 species of Golden Rod throughout our country, and I happen to have about 4 or more species on my property. They are beginning to bloom, and I eagerly await the show ! All my various wild aster will bloom soon as well, so between the two of them my bees and butterflies will be well fed before the killing frost. Along with all these pollinators you can be sure I will be rejoicing as well !

The other day I nearly hit a Monarch butterfly which was caught between a road, parking lots, stores, and large grass deserts with no flowers in sight. It seemed confused and did not know where to go. This is a perfect example of a growing problem called “habitat fragmentation.”. Good-hearted people who plant flowers in their yards are doing a great service, but these same butterflies and bees we feed frequently must travel far and wide just to find other flowers to feed on or appropriate plants on which to lay their eggs. We all know the need of Monarchs for Milkweed, but there are many others, such as the larvae of the Fritillary butterfly for violets, the Checkerspot for Trutlehead flowers and the rare/endangered butterflies in the Blues Family for clovers and Lupine flowers.

Lately, and even over many years, I have been reading writings by prominent mystics and naturalists who all sing a similar theme song. This song is one of praise for creation and its awesome diversity which can aid us as humans to connect more intimately with ourselves and the Creator. This goes for everyone, even atheists and agnostics, for “things in nature are optimal teachers to help us discern how to be ourselves. We have been separated from the source of our identity and have to fall in love with it all over again “. Thus writes Belden Lane in his book Backpacking with the Saints, an amazing read full of wisdom.

And so, this Sunday morning the natural world is the temple in which I worship, today, and everyday. For me, and so many others, the amazing diversity of life forms on this planet are not only an expression of the infinite nature of their Creator, but also an expression of amazing love, without end, unless we humans choose to continue to destroy it. We always have a choice.

Some local natives which a rarely seen and loosing habitat: purple Swamp Milkweed, Goatsbeard, Moth Mullein, Bergamot, blue Lobelia, Vervain, Obedient plant, Deptford pinks, Cardinal flower, wild Columbine, Cinquefoils, St. Johnswort, Yarrow, Sweet Cicely, wild Sweet Clovers,etc..

Outdoor Festival for Nature Conservation

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2015 by Drogo

BRCES HFOF 2015

Festival of Nature Studies

This year I attended the ‘Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival’ (HFOF) at the ‘Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship’ (BRCES), as I did last year; but with some important differences. This time I camped in the woods, and observed, took notes, and recorded nature while the event was happening. Rather than actively volunteering and vending a booth in the field, this year I began passively volunteering on site in the Spring to conduct nature studies over a larger area on the hundreds of acres of the property. I began camping in the woods before and during the festival in order to be more relaxed in the shade, with less possessions to worry about; yet still able to observe natural wildlife, take notes by hand in my ‘Gremlins’ note-book from the 1980s, and enjoy the country-fair type social event.

It was a dark and rainy Thor’s-day night at Demory Field. Luckily the volunteers had finished work for the day, and safety checks performed, so all was well. Time to relax with cold beer and smokey mist, rolling along the hillside. There was no lightning, but lightning-bugs lit up the fields, as summers before. It was a full-moon, but the rain clouds covered it. As I walked the dark trail through the woods, down to my camp site by Piney Run creek, I was comforted that although all was wet, from humidity and rain; at least my assistant Nacho and I had set up the tarps earlier before dark, to the best of our ability.

Darkness reminds me what it might be like to be blind. When I walk alone in the dark, I get a visual mental picture of what is ahead, then I turn my flash-light off for a short period of time that I feel confident enough to endure without sight. Even when my eyes cannot adjust to the dark, I am able to walk a ways until I begin to doubt my steps again, and I turn the light back on to see the path. It is cheating, compared to being blind, but it simulates a bit of not being able to rely on sight.

It rained all night, and the tent and tarp combination I used barely kept me dry. The temperature dropped down from 80s to 50s, so I was glad I had 2 sleeping bags and 2 sheets. Half of my gear got wet inside the tent. The ground was good for camping when it is not raining, as the clay has a continuous bed of soft clumps of abundant grasses and common wetland plants; so it was over-all level, but with bumps that allowed small puddles of water under the tent, held between the tarp, which normally works well to keep condensation from rising up from the ground when humidity drops at night. The lightning-bugs were freaky because when you are feeling alone, they can start to look like flash-lights.

Friday morning the rain stopped. I hung up my wet clothes on cord line. I started prepping a day pack to take up to the HFOF event at Demory Field. The start of festivals is always exciting, like Smurf village hustling and bustling. Down in the ‘Clearing’ light shines through the trees, like the promised land of golden-green paradise. Golden rays of sun-light shone through the trees, hinting of blissful utopian ideals; while the sounds of nature pervade the glen. Birds chirp, tweet, and sing songs. The deer were quiet, but I could hear their steps, as they crunch sticks on the ground. Insects scurried around plants, and some of the flying bugs made noises.

BRCES Site Flora

There were many common yard birds: cardinals, blue-jays, chickadees, tit-mice, sparrows, gold-finches, grackles, starlings, crows, and tiny marsh gnat catchers. Like tiny marsh sparrows in Georgia, the gnat catchers chirped like crickets or chipping sparrows. There were at least 3 types of woodpeckers; downy, red-headed, and the red-crested piliated. Owls were hooting, wild turkeys were gobbling, and thrushes were tutting like squirrel kisses. The BRCES wetlands are thriving. There were tons of long leaf 3′ tall plants; milkweed, golden rod, curled-dock (Rumex crispus), wild spinach, wild evening primrose, wheat and barley grass, jewel weed, similar looking forest floor cover that flowers like tiny pink bubblegum, razor bean vines, garlic mustard, poison ivy, virginia creeper, creeping through the clearings and the forest floor.

Willow trees have bent to survive flooding. Some willows created arches, that had good bodies and branches to tie tarps to, for shell shaped shelters. I did get a deer tick on me, which bit my arm, but did NOT give me lymes disease. The water was muddy from all the rain. The area that must have made the dam years ago, is very intriguing. I was told it was a man-made dam (earthen?) to make a pond, during the period the land was going to be developed into tract-housing. The ruins of houses and out-buildings were fun to explore around, and some of the boards had come loose on the windows. Daffodils and day-lilies grew nearby, remnants of old gardens.

The trees (20-70 years old) form woods that follow the rolling hills. Often the woods are sparse, but thorns and shrub bushes make dense thicket patches. Spiral trunks occur on one young tree per acre (apx.). Spiral trees seem to result from the influence of parasitic vines, like honey-suckle, but some trees out-live their vines. There are more young trees than old trees on the site. Although it is difficult to tell the age of a tree from the outside size, inside trunk rings are more accurate because growth rates vary. The most common trees seemed to be box-elder, oak, maple, ash, locust, poplar, sycamore, and willow. There were a few examples of great Beech trees as well.

Ideally trees provide shelter, food (fruits and nuts), and fuel for cooking and heating our fires. In turn humans should plant, care for, cultivate, and protect trees. Failure to look after each-other results in us cutting too many trees down, using poisons that hurt every-thing, and trees falling on houses and branches and sap falling on cars. Increased awareness of our trees is phenomenological respect for life. Respecting trees has a beneficial effect on our ecology. Sages know the wisdom of tree stewardship. Some trees have been alive for thousands of years. Fire-wood should be gathered mostly from dead-fall logs, branches, and twigs. Reducing dead-fall on forest floors can reduce wild fires.

Here is a list of local plant and tree types. All the families listed here are at least currently regional, if not native. Obviously not all types of vegetation are listed here, but it is a reasonable list: maples (common, red, silver), box-elder, sycamore, oaks (English, pin, black), ailanthus, mulberry, elm, willow, catalpa, princess, walnut (black), beech, sumac; fungi & plants: mosses, mushrooms, shelf-fungi, lichen, herbs, vegetables (wild leafy-greens and planted crops), blue-berries, vines, grasses, shrubs, ferns, thorns, nettles.

*

Maple: Acer; Common (Norway), Silver, Sugar, Red; leaves deciduous broad palmate 3-5 lobes toothed; bark smooth-furrows; flowers tiny hermaphro, hetero, or bisexual; fruit paired wings (samaras); used for hard wood, sap (Sugar has most 32 gallons = 1 gallon of syrup = 4.5 pounds grain sugar).

Sycamore: Platanus; Occidentalis; leaves deciduous broad 3-9 lobes toothed; bark unique smooth but peeling brown-white patches; flowers tiny hermaphro, male stamin, female pistils; fruit 4 hairy nut-balls; used for hard wood, leaves similar to Common Maple (Plantanoides) but thicker and pointier.

Oak (Acorn): Fagus Quercus; English (Robur), Red (Rubra), Black (Veluntina), White (Prinus Rock Chestnut), Live (evergreen), Pin (Palustris); leaves deciduous alternate simple most toothed or lobed; bark rough furrows or scaly; fruit acorn nuts, white acorns and wood best; hard wood, nuts crushed and strained for Indian bread, yellow dye from bark powder, druid medicine.

Beech: Fagus Grandifolia; leaves deciduous simple single point, saw-toothed edges; bark smooth light grey; flowers – male hairball, female hairy red scales; fruit beech-nuts prickly burs; beechnuts edible, Beech is Saxon German for ‘book’; Oaks are in the same family, but far more common.

Elm: Ulmus; White (American), Hackberry (Celtis); leaves deciduous elliptical pointed saw-toothed rough (Hackberry has warts); fruit flat seed key (samara), Hackberry berries are edible and can taste sweet like dates. hard wood

Willow: Salix; Weeping (Chinese), Pussy (Discolor); leaves deciduous narrow pointed, edible; Weeping Willow have long catkins; Pussy Willows have fuzzy frons; bark rough furrows, makes an aspirin; soft wood soaks up water.

Poplar: Aspen Poplar (Salix Populus), Cottonwood (Salix Populus Aigeiros), Tulip Poplar (Lirio); Aspen and Cottonwood leaves deciduous simple broad triangular to circular or (rarely) lobed, breezes cause Aspen and Cottonwood leaves to flutter, giving the whole tree a ‘shimmering’ or ‘twinkling’ look; Tulip Poplar leaves are larger wide 6”, 4 lobes, ovate (heart-shaped); Aspen Poplar flowers are catkins; Tulip Poplar flowers are big yellow-orange with cones; Aspen Poplar fruit seeds are long hair tufts that float on wind; Tulip Poplar fruits are samara carpels; Tulip Poplar hard wood is the best Poplar wood; Aspen Poplar is soft wood; Cottonwood is so soft it does not even make good fire-wood. Tulip Poplar is not in the same DNA family as the other Poplars, and it also should not be confused with Tulip Magnolias (Magnolia Lili), whose deciduous leaves and flowers resemble evergreen Magnolias.

Walnut: Juglans; Black (American), English (Persian), White (Butternut), Hickory: (Carya), Pecan (Carya); leaves deciduous pinnate compound pointed; bark 4 types – Black has dark rough furrows, English has gray smooth with some rough furrows, Hickory has many deep furrows, Pecan flaky; flowers tiny hermaphro; fruit Nut large round green husk over brown shell; used for oil, decorative soft wood, nuts are food, ink and dye from nut husks, herbicide. Carya nuts (drupes) are food, nut husk conveniently splits, pecan nut fruit is similar to Walnut but skinnier.

Sumac: Anacardia; Rhus (Red), Toxico (White); shrub-tree; leaves deciduous pinnate compound pointed; staghorn fruit (drupe) conical clusters, Red is edible, White is poisonous with allergen urushiol; related to poison ivy and cashews. Soft short narrow wood, stems have soft pith hollow for pipes. Notes: often seen growing around rock out-croppings in fields or highway exit ramps.

Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven): Asian Altissima; leaves deciduous pinnate compound pointed; bark smooth to textured; flowers pungent odor, pollen; fruit long showy green-brown; soft wood, grows fast anywhere, toxic when burned or near water.

*

HFOF 2015: Music Festivals as Wilderness Guardians

I attended the 2015 ‘Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival’ (HFOF) at the ‘Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship’ (BRCES) because I believe in the concept of celebrating art and sport to preserve wild land and clean water. It is amazing to consider, during a recession based on commercial monopolies, that it is possible to support local talent and save our woods, forests, creeks, rivers, and the wild and free creatures whose lives depend on these environments. During an era where it is common for people to litter on their way to a job that pollutes natural ecology, events like HFOF are truly revolutionary and patriotic in Native American terms.

The BRCES land is beautiful; almost 1,000 acres of wilderness and a small organic farm run by a caring family. Years ago when I visited with my father, BRCES had just begun their mission on the land, and the old white house was over grown and in disrepair. Now the buildings and land are functional again, while being in harmony with the landscape. BRCES is truly a success story for environmentalists.

Volunteers run the show during HFOF. I was lucky enough last year to be a volunteer under the leadership of President Lisa Cullinane. Lisa is very friendly, kind, and smart; which by the way is my favorite kind of leader. We started preparing a few weeks before the event, and by the event I felt things were flowing well. Vendors are usually small businesses and non-profit organizations that rent spaces around the field, using tables and tents. I really enjoyed the variety of concessions, and the food and drink was good. There are always tensions and stress involved in any social production, but any problems that arose were resolved. Hundreds of people attended the festival both years I have been; although the first year my non-profit tent for ‘Sustainable Cooperative for Organic Development’ (SCOD), and my fine artist partners did not get visited by many people during the event, so we did not make any earnings. For me it was ok, because music is certainly a type of art; and I was happy to be there.

Camping among trees or in fields is one of the best things in Life. The first year I slept in my tent the first night, in Demory Field behind my vendor table. At night the humidity lifted, however this created a dew which saturated my books and artwork exposed to the sky; however items in the tent and oddly enough below the table-cloth were fine. The second day my art partners arrived and set up a tent to shade us a bit; which really helped survive a day of full sun in the field. I also wore sun-block, a large hat, and sunglasses so as to not be sun-burned. Some of us rented the white house for the second night, which was very nice indeed! Staying at the house was a relief from the electric generator that was kept running all night at the main field, to keep their fridge on to preserve the food. Also the best part of the field at the crest, had become over-crowded with vehicles; which in my opinion ruined the very purpose of being in Demory Field… in other words it turned the perfect camping spot into a parking lot. Despite traffic congestion, most reveled in the mirth, and many stayed up all night with enthusiasm and excitement!! So the second year, the parking situation on the hill was better. Also in 2015 I camped down at Piney Run creek for 2 nights, and put a hammock up in the woods the 3rd night. It was still good to have the house for bath-rooms, shelter from variations in weather, and back-up beds.

Bands begin playing the first evening (Friday), and folk music continues through the night, into the next day and night. The second night, Saturday, has the most people. Famous bands are fine, but when you have personal stock invested in local bands, hearing them play has more meaning. Although most of the show revolves around the main stage, my favorite part is playing with other musicians by the grand fire pit. The field has a natural amphi-theater shape around the fire pit; which was made by Boy Scouts with impressive stone work and movable wood benches, along with a cob oven. At night the fire pit area hosts musical jam sessions, which embrace the audience, allowing anyone to play with or with-out the bands; this is musical freedom and creative collaboration at its finest!!!

Lastly in this article I want to thank everyone that helped make HFOF happen. Some of my personal high-lights were being with friends, hiking the trails, and witnessing natural phenomena such as the lightning-bug show across the fields; those tiny lights were every-where even into and above the trees!! As I observed the natural light show, I meditated on how often our Nation’s founders enjoyed wonders that surpassed the magic of their technologies back then. Even today many scientists concede that our artificial efforts fail, in comparison to the energy efficiency of the natural world. Through places and gatherings like this, we can study how plant leaves photo-synthesize, and then we can learn make technology that does that for electricity. Thank you to those that stayed and picked up all the trash! I hate picking up litter, but I do it way too often and way too many people are littering. The sheer abundance of garbage is not encouraging regarding the future of humanity or civilization. At the event there are luckily enough volunteers to pick up all trash within sight, after many hours of pick-up. I like to return to the site days later, to double-check that the clean-up was effective. Any negative issues did not stop us from having fun, nor did any problems hinder the success of the event as a whole. The end of festivals is always sad, but there is a release and some contentment knowing that the quest is complete and memories are made. I also love mulberries, and the trees were in season! I definitely want to return next year to HFOF at BCRES, and be a part of music festivals (with arts and sports) that donate to wilderness stewardship, and take place within a nature preserve. Please come join us, if you are not already with us!!!!

– Rev.  ‘Drogo’

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* Drogo’s assistant Nacho, with camp site

Lyme Disease

Posted in Health & Fitness with tags , , , , on April 22, 2015 by Drogo

SCOD Member Lonna Anderson has written several papers on the subject of Lyme Disease. It is a common illness that plagues BOG Peeps everywhere. She has been living with Lyme’s since age 15.

The Lyme strategy – All for One & One for All

Beginning the Journey & Descending into Initiation

Lyme and the Emotional World

LMA 2

“The world of microorganisms reinstates an age-old truth that we may now consciously integrate back into our new-world paradigm: the concept of living according to a unified world-view. “Lyme disease bacteria are among the most advanced organisms in the world” (Rosner, 2007, p. 80).

Retrieving Joy

Posted in Nature Studies, Poems, Rhymes, Riddles with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2014 by Drogo

Retrieving Joy

Muddy waters let rest will settle.”

( old oriental axiom )

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A dear friend of mine told me recently that he felt like he was getting his Joy back after many years of difficult occurrences in his life, including deep sorrow upon the death of his child. Indeed, it takes a good while to begin to feel an ounce of joy after multiple traumas in ones life, especially if one unsettling thing after another occurs.

Today as I went out the door of my cottage, after a pretty good nights sleep, I felt something strangely like peace. As I went through the wild flower path to the house for coffee, I pondered this feeling, realizing that it came from having no extreme problems lately, imagined or real. Perhaps the muddy waters are settling, and things are clearing up a bit.

Coffee in hand, I went back through the wildflowers which I allowed to grow in profusion from the soil of the fire here over one year ago, a fire which completely obliterated my plans for joyful activity. As I sat in my chair on the cottage deck, I looked at the many wonderful colors…blues of chicory, purple of thistle and clover, white of daisy flea-bane, a tall spiky splash of burnt orange of the broad-leaf plaintain seed-stalks and all the green leaves in between. Rejoicing at the variety of pollinators going from flower to flower, I thought “such a work of art Mother Nature has provided from the burnt-out soil !”, and the burnt-out soul. This part of my gardens I allowed to go totally wild in the aftermath of the hellish fire which incinerated my yurt and years of precious writing, pictures, clothes, books, important documents, sacred items, etc.. My life was thrown off to such a degree that I had little peace and rarely joy.

Displacement and loss is a reality in many people’s lives, creating trauma and stress. No one understands except the person in the middle of the problems, and when one trauma after another after another keep socking you in the gut, you can loose your center. Extreme sadness, fatigue, compounded with multiple triggers, as well as a grandiose effort to recover, to catch-up and get your life back on track, consumes your daily life. Besides that, if the people you live with are also dealing with their own issues, they likely have little tolerance for your expressions of grief and loss of good health. It is a stew pot of unsavory flavors, so eating wholesome foods becomes essential for recovery, and recovery is slow. Some days recovery does not even seem possible.

I will not go into all the setbacks I had before the fire, as that would take a book. All I know is that today I felt a settling. Perhaps that is because I have had no huge difficulty lately. Could it be the universe is giving me a break, a much needed one ?

Perspective has never been a strength of mine, but through all the problems I always had a glimpse and infrequent moments of true joy and peace, especially through the restorative beauty of nature, as well as music. The nurture of bird songs, the feel of the breeze on a hot day, the colors of wildflowers and the taste of wild berries all are healing for me. Without the world outside my door, I would be lost indeed.

This day I sat in my chair upon awaking and watched my two resident barn swallows zooming through the air, frequently resting under the roof eave where their nest used to be. They too suffered a huge loss one month ago when their old clay nest that had been there for at least 15 years gave way to a huge wind and fell to the tin roof of my porch. It broke my heart to see this happen to my faithful little swallows, as I believe the female was ready to lay her eggs. Every year they fly up here from South or Central America and have 2 broods, only to return in August as a larger family.

Much like me, their little lives were drastically thrown off. For awhile they disappeared, likely looking for another spot to nest. I missed their cheerful chattering and the constant swooping high in the sky for winged insects, like mosquitoes and gnats. Sometimes I think they simply flew for the joy of it. In fact, I am sure they did. Just watching the swallows always brought me Joy.

As I type my thoughts, these energetic birds are still swooping and chattering excitedly. Perhaps today they will begin to rebuild where the old nest had been, much as I did after my fire. Perhaps they looked for, but could not find, a better place. Selfishly, I hope so. Time has passed, and if for awhile there are no more storms, or fires, or falls, or traumas, perhaps we can all return to our happy little lives, chirping and singing and spreading our wings to fly, and to sing again, with JOY !

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~ Christine Schoene Maccabee

July 8, 2014

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Signs of Success

Posted in Spiritual with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2013 by Drogo

(Inspired by working with the Harpers Ferry Healing Arts Clinic in 1994)

* Successful Happiness *

Smiling, Snickering, or even Laughing.

Thinking and acting like a child, without being childish.

Reducing fear, anger, and conflict in general.

Enjoying as many moments as possible.

Appreciation for as much as possible.

Accepting rather than Judging.

Connectedness with Nature.

Contentment with People.

Sustainable feelings of Love.

Less worry.

(This is was written by Drogo Empedocles for Creative Commons)

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John Muir

Posted in Nature Studies, Recommendations & Tributes with tags , , , , , , , on February 7, 2013 by Drogo

1838-1914  Western States, USA

Naturalist author, advocate of wilderness preservation

Christian Deist yet refers to Mother Nature

*  some quotes *

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
My First Summer in the Sierra , 1911

There is a love of wild nature in everybody an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.
– From Muir’s journals

Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains. Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.
John of the Mountains

Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed — chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. … It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods — trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries … God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools — only Uncle Sam can do that.
Our National Parks 1901

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
Our National Parks , 1901
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From Sierra Club information:

When Muir Met Emerson –

Emerson, who lived in Massachusetts, came to Yosemite in 1871 when he was 68. Muir – a buoyant 33 – could barely contain his jubilation at his hero’s arrival. As Muir later recounted:

When he came into the Valley I heard the hotel people saying with solemn emphasis, “Emerson is here.” I was excited as I had never been excited before, and my heart throbbed as if an angel direct from heaven had alighted on the Sierran rocks.

Muir offered to take him camping at a grove populated with giant Sequoia trees, and promised to “build a glorious campfire.”

But Emerson and his handlers had other ideas – namely a nice, comfortable hotel, lest the old man catch cold. Muir wrote:

In vain I urged, that only in homes and hotels were colds caught, that nobody ever was known to take cold camping in these woods, that there was not a single cough or sneeze in all the Sierra. Then I pictured the big climate-changing, inspiring fire I would make, praised the beauty and fragrance of Sequoia flame, told how the great trees would stand about us transfigured in purple light, while the stars looked between the great domes; ending by urging them to come on and make an immortal Emerson night of it. But the house habit was not to be overcome, nor the strange dread of pure night air, though it is only cooled day air with a little dew in it. So the carpet dust and unknowable reeks were preferred.

Muir continued to look up to Emerson, but he never quite recovered from his disappointment that the great man preferred the “carpet dust and unknowable reeks” to a night under the stars.

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Famous Naturalists of the 1800s

Posted in Nature Studies, Recommendations & Tributes with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2013 by Drogo

These writers are famous ‘New England poets’ except for Muir, who was not from New England and was a journal writer. Frost was born in the 1800s, but lived most of his life into the 1900s. All of these naturalist writers were connected to the transcendentalist literature movement of the 1800s.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

1803-1882  New England MA, USA

Transcendental Naturalist, author, poet, philosopher

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Henry David Thoreau

1817-1862  New England MA, USA

Naturalist, author, poet, political activist: Civil Disobedience, Walden Pond

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John Muir

1838-1914  Western States, USA

Naturalist author, advocate of wilderness preservation

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John Greenleaf Whittier

1833-1863 New England MA, USA

Abolitionist, humanist, rural Quaker, and Christian naturalist

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Robert Frost

1874-1963  New England MA, USA

Naturalist and humanist poet and playwright, prize winning

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