"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens."


Carl Jung

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On The Nightstand
  • Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
    Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
  • A Wolf Called Romeo
    A Wolf Called Romeo
  • The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors
    The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors
Thursday
May142009

Close Encounters 

 

pumping tail erect

rusty cap throat of yellow

greetings palm warbler

Wednesday
May132009

This Beautiful Earth

We've spent much of the past week exploring the trails that lie due north of our home, in maltby hills. This vast forested region is part of the Huron National Forest and is both state/federally owned land.  The area is quite rustic with many diverse habitats within it's boundaries and the two-track dirt trails are pretty much inacessible by passenger vehicles.  This is the only time of year we deal with any 'traffic' to speak of, since the area is also quite well known for it's bounty of morel mushrooms.  I haven't been able to get up there since last year, but my hubby runs Phoebe in the hills often and has been describing the rampant clearcutting and logging he's been witnessing over the past few months- but absolutely nothing could prepare me for the shock of the carnage I witnessed once we got futher in to the forest. These were not small clearcuts by any means, and they stretched on for miles and miles, as far as the eye could see.  I was unable to take many photos through my tears and I felt such a deep primeval anger and sorrow that I still struggle to put into words. My senses were completely and totally assaulted.  Winds that once whispered gently through trees now blew clouds of dirt into our faces.  Large mounds of discarded tree limbs that once held uncountable nests resembled broken bones left to bleach out in the sun- skeletons that once held life-giving sap. The silence that surrounded us haunted me to my very core, as it felt so very unearthly and so very wrong.

Where we once hiked among the green hills and valleys enjoying the etheral songs of Wood and Hermit Thrush and routinely enjoyed viewing many Cerulean, Blue and Golden-winged Warblers, as well as hundreds of rare wildflowers, now resembles something out of a b movie where a nuclear bomb has been set off. The trees are gone, levelled and flattened by bulldozers that destroyed everything in their wake.  Gone are the lush carpets of trillium and trout lillies, the rare butterflies and moths, badger and bear dens, beaver ponds, vernal pools where we once did frog-counts and searched for salamanders. Northern Goshawk nests that we checked each year- winnowing American Woodcock no longer have habitat to stage their displays in. The many tracks of bobcat, coyotes, porcupines and so many other mammals are now gone.  No longer is there any deadfall that covered Red-bellied Snakes and deermice.  Dragonflies and turtles, including highly endangered box turtles. There are no houses in this area, but the forest was home to so much fauna and flora.  My mind absolutely reels with the enormity of what has been removed and destroyed.  Everything.  Gone.  All I have are memories of what once was, but they're not quite enough-- nor should they be.

I trully mourn for this beautiful earth that bears so many obvious and incidious wounds on so many levels. The web of life is so very slender and tenuous, and when it is broken, where do we go for healing and redemption? How can we protect the sacred when our voices and actions make no difference in the outcome?  My thoughts are a silent prayer for the remains-- and for ourselves.

 

Loving the earth, seeing what has been done to it,
I grow sharp, I grow cold.

Where will the trilliums go, and the coltsfoot?
Where will the pond lilies go to continue living
their simple, penniless lives, lifting
their faces of gold?

Impossible to believe we need so much
as the world wants us to buy.
I have more clothes, lamps, dishes, paper clips
than I could possibly use before I die.

Oh, I would like to live in an empty house,
with vines for walls, and a carpet of grass.
No planks, no plastic, no fiberglass.

And I suppose sometime I will.
Old and cold I will lie apart
from all this buying and selling, with only
the beautiful earth in my heart.

(Mary Oliver)

Wednesday
May062009

The Art of Nesting

I've long been fascinated by the nests of birds. Each individual nest is as unique as the bird species itself, a signature of sorts that represents the needs and habits of both the parent birds and their offspring.  One of the most easily recognizable nests that we observe on our wooded property is the woven sack-like nests of Baltimore Orioles.

The nest is typically suspended from the end of a branch near the upper reaches of a tree, with the entrance opening at the top. Females are the primary architects of the nest, incorporating into the construction the fibers of grapevine, grasses, dogbane, milkweed, and other natural materials.

One of the many rituals that I enjoy each spring is placing a few containers of woven fibers and craft feathers out for the nesters.  Long ago we discovered that Baltimore Orioles will use up a lengths of natural fiber rope hung among tree limbs in pretty short order. They also visit the containers of fibers often, much more than any other bird species here; perhaps because their nests require quite a bit more materials than smaller birds.  Although the females have yet to arrive, the males have already checked out the containers and are guarding them quite vigilantly.  To watch a mated pair of birds fashioning ther nests is just as rewarding as watching any other facet of their natural history- their creations are beautiful works of natural art and to me, a labor of love.