I go down into the ravine in mid-spring for the windless cool. The thistle hasn't taken over then, the grass is still unripe, the nesting blackbirds haven't formed vigilante groups yet, although one or two hang on the rock, baleful eyes and murderous smiles. "Staying long?" they rasp. "Passing through. Passing through," I say. And they nod, disbelieving.
One of the things human beings are very bad at — a list that includes having a thought without posting it on Facebook — is transcribing bird calls. There are just certain things a particular species isn't equipped to do. You wouldn't ask a blue whale to cook an omelette. Sure, they can sift flour, but they can't crack eggs. Those great flippers don't have the dexterity. And whales are smart enough to know that — which is why, even with massive unemployment in the whale world, none of them ever apply for jobs as short-order cooks.
To the east, Goat Hill catches the brilliant light that follows a winter storm. The deep terra cotta strata of the uplift are never as clear as when they contrast with bands of snow, like the blood-red and white of Acoma pottery. Geologists know the hill as the Bellvue Dome. At first glance, it seems just a continuation of the Hogback, with the characteristic eastern slope and sheer scarp facing the setting sun. But the gentle arch of the anticline, the eroding course of the Poudre River at its base, where it winds through Pleasant Valley, set it apart.
I have wildlife, I thought; you mean I can get a certificate as well? The article itself, "Get Wild! 5 Steps..." is based on the National Wildlife Federation's program, part of which is an effort to meet the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and help expand corridors of hospitable spaces for transient bees and butterflies, which, face it, are having a rough go by any measure of environmental catastrophe.
We had a visit from a group of wild turkeys on the 27th of September. They can sometimes be seen across the ravine, moving down the hill from Frances’s place, but these crossed over, along the road, then past the sumac thicket by the driveway, heading south. Two things strike you about them. They’re big — up to thirty pounds or so, though the weight itself doesn’t do justice to their full-feathered size — and they cover ground fast.
The sun is up, low over my shoulder, just east-northeast. My shadow leaps out along the wet grass, over the lip of the rise and across the deer trail down into the ravine. And when you can see your shadow on June the 18th, long and twisted among the scrub, it means twelve more years of ecosystem collapse.
The Very, Very Few Birds of Winter
This time of year I sometimes feel like a castaway walking to the edge of the surf and looking long and hard at the horizon. Inside the house here, plants that can’t overwinter outside are struggling: some of the Calendula succumbed to aphids; the rosemary dried — it likes neither electric heat nor wet feet, …
I recently wrote a poem called “Skunk, Twilight”, which I include below. It sometimes happens, despite every good intention to walk during the week, that the time gets away, and especially in these short winter days, the sun is down before you know it. We have barely nine and a half hours between sunrise and …
A dairy road walk
The movie Gone with the Wind has an intermission. It’s almost inconceivable nowadays that a movie released by a major studio would need an intermission. While they’ve ebbed and flowed a little, most films clock in at between an hour forty minutes and two hours. Alfred Hitchcock said the length of a movie should be …
Hitting the window
In January of 2013 three conservation biologists, all with a professional interest in migratory birds, published a study in Nature Communications (https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms2380) titled “The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States”. It was picked up and widely reported in the mainstream media. What got everyone’s attention was the claim that cats …