Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Desecration in the Air

If you've been reading my blog these past many months, you will know the high value I place on public land.  Without a doubt, I consider these words of Wallace Stegner, 1983, to be absolutely true.
"National parks are the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst."
Just look at a few of the treasures we love right here in Western Washington.  Can you imagine any one of them spoiled with mining or oil drilling; the wildlife hunted to extinction; used for private enterprises such as casinos, golf courses, theme parks; or covered with private homes, with all the roads and power lines and clearing of the land that entails?

North Cascade National Park

Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve

Rainier National Park

Snoqualmie National Forest

Olympic National Park

How would it feel if you suddenly came across this sign on your favorite hike in a national forest?

So imagine my shock when I find myself needing to defend our public lands, lands I hold sacrosanct.  To hear utterings from certain powers to "sell the land" or, horrifyingly, "turn them over to private enterprise".  I cringe.

Remember Reagan saying, "If you've seen one redwood tree, you've seen them all"?  We all laughed, calling him a fool and disrespectful of the most beautiful forest imaginable.

Redwood National Forest

Yet, I just read the 2016 Republican Party's platform which includes language threatening our public lands.
"Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states."

The provision calls for the immediate disposal of unspecified public lands leaving national forests, wilderness areas, national parks and wildlife refuges ripe for privatization, development or transfer of ownership.  But it doesn't stop there.  The Antiquities Act of 1906, protecting national monuments, is not safe either.  Repealing or gutting this act would put  such things as the Grand Canyon, Natural Bridges, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Statue of Liberty at risk.  As I continue to read, letting the words sink in, I feel alarm -- hard and bleak.  The Republican Party platform proposal is for desecration of our treasured public lands.

This is not how Republicans have always seen conservation.  In fact, how disappointed Teddy Roosevelt would be with his party's intended gutting of his greatest legacies.  During his administration he  was responsible for protecting  230 million acres -- 150 national forests, 51 federal bird preserves, 4 federal wildlife preserves, 18 national monuments, and 5 national parks.  Included in his mission to protect our lands from exploitation were the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Devil's Tower in Wyoming, Gila Cliff Dwelling in New Mexico and Muir Woods in California.   

To my mind, when we have park lands  and  historic treasures we protect and care for them, as was intended when they were set aside.       These natural wonders are our heritage.   Our sense of ourselves, our pride in our country, and our  spiritual wonder are all wrapped up in our nation's most beautiful, dramatic and historic places. 

I find it mind-boggling that there are anti-park folks or anti-government extremists who are unwilling to be good stewards of our nation's most special places.    As Terry Tempest Williams says, "If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go." 


"Wilderness is an anchor to windward.  Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should -- not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water."

~  Clinton P. Anderson
    Senator, New Mexico

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Spring Profusion

When we were traveling Brad and Yessi sent us a few photographs of our home's spring garden.  After considerable work last winter -- pruning, new gravel on pathways, rock edging, and mulch on the beds -- it looked quite spiffy when we departed and even better, fully leafed out and in bloom, when these photographs were taken.   

But then, alarmingly, the spring garden continued to spin onward and upward with sun, rain, sun, rain.  Growth was pushed like I've never seen before.  None of that cold drizzle, overcast stuff this year.  Nope!  By the time we got home, spiffy was no longer the operative word.   Think chaos, which reminds me of my favorite gardening book, A Gentle Plea for Chaos by Mirabel Osler.  There is a stylistic message here, don't you think?  

So, if for a moment you were wondering what I do when not traveling, this third of an acre garden keeps me wholly engaged.   Our in-town very overgrown woodland path is in the photograph below.   I've been working from west to east on cleanup and these Vine Maples (Acer circinatum) are on the eastern fence line so they still need attention.  I like trees open -- so a bird can fly through -- but that's not what we have right now.   Slowly and steadily I've been moving through the garden -- weeding, pruning, staking, deadheading, watering -- hoping before we depart for a fall trip I will have brought order to this madness.

The piles I've generated have been Herculean in size, leaving Ed-the-donkey to load and haul them off to Langley's green waste site.  Our three large compost bins were overwhelmed within minutes of arriving home.  

The gardened garden is still over-the-top-lush, but at least somewhat contained.  

Then, once I get to the east fence, it will be time to start all over again.  Like this Eucryphia, now in full bloom, pruned but not finished because before I completed the task I found a sweet bird's nest -- Bushtit, I think.  As I head back around in a month or so, this tree will be in my sights once more.  And the baby birds will be fledged

Bushtit - Google Image

Although you can't see the size of this hardy fuchsia, it is well over my head attracting the attention of humans as well as delighting the hummingbirds.  I also have a cape fuchsia (Phygetius capensis) that is even bigger.  They are usually in deer range providing a tasty treat but this year they are in giraffe range.

Does this sound like garden work grousing?  No, no, no, I love it.


"There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling."

~ Mirabel Osler

Saturday, July 9, 2016

"Whatcha think Ed?"

May was our return home month, having spent much of the winter traveling in the SW.   Yet, here I am, after only two months at home, feeling my feet itch.  What is it about being on the road that is so captivating? And conversely what is it that turns me into a homing pigeon when I’ve been gone for a few months?  Back and forth goes my head and heart.  I want to be home; I want to be on the road; I want to be home; I want to be on the road, and on and on.  One might suggest the word malcontent as fitting.   I prefer, however, to think of myself as a homebody with a wandering gene.  Or am I a wanderer with a homebody gene?  Doesn’t matter.  I love both conditions and yearn for one and then the other.

Right now I might be particularly susceptible to wanting to be on the road because Brad and Ed and Benton are out and about in Thistle, as Brad hikes for GreenTrail Maps in the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon.  Both Yessi and I are home working to fulfill prior commitments.   For me this week it’s Airbnb and jury duty.  Next week's the same. Yessi is honoring  her obligations to bookkeeping and gardening jobs.   So here we are missing our guys and wishing we were traveling too.

When my feet itch I turn to my favorite travel blogs.   Just yesterday I saw this posting about a woman traveling by horseback.  She began in 2005 and has traveled 28,000 miles crisscrossing the U.S. and Canada, with no intention of stopping.  What is it about these wild schemes that captures my imagination?  “Whatcha think Ed?   We could sell Thistle and buy two horses?”   


Or there’s the biking thing too.  Not like we do it now, with our bikes being carried on Thistle for riding from time-to-time.  No.  I'm talking world-wide self-supported touring.  This couple has biked Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire into Nova Scotia and the Canadian Rockies putting 18,000 miles on their bikes.  They have also toured Italy, plus both the north and south islands of New Zealand.   Sixty miles a day is their commitment.  

Do I dare say it?   “Whatcha think Ed?”


Or backpacking way into the wilderness…with goats?  I can’t hike any more, but if I could, goats look like fun and useful companions.  

When we were on the Oregon coast this past winter we met a woman who was RVing with two goats and a dog.  She was traveling in an old and shabby vintage RV. The goats, with very long horns, had a stable in the back separated from her living quarters with a picket fence.  They had no back exit.  It was definitely a live together setup.  When she gave me a tour the odor was ripe.   Her plan was to move from one animal rescue spot to another, volunteering along the way.    I'm still kicking myself for not getting a photo and her contact information.

The Goat Blog  

Of course, you know how I love donkeys.  We could pack and ride into wonderfully marvelous places with donkeys.     Hum?   That would show that nasty ankle of mine!

Actually we have deep affection for Thistle, and it is challenging enough at times, but I do wish we’d begun adventuring at a younger age so we could be adding adventure-after-adventure to our Thistle Adventure.    I guess we all collect something.  I’ve been able to simplify our lives of stuff, weeding out continuously.  But my imagination, nope, not so much.  My head is jammed with a myriad of ways to experience the world.   

And this is why I love blogs!  I travel along with Leslie and Al in their Travels with HaRVy.  I follow the roadlesstraveled, Bumfuzzle, The Goat and Hiking Frogs. Other blogs come and go.  Spudnik Goes was one that ended as did the 180 Day Road Trip, but while they were active I enjoyed many an hour of armchair travel, dreaming dreams of adventure. 

Then there's boating!   

"Whatcha think Ed?"


"I bellieve that curiosity, wonder and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great
teachers; that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering
instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do."

~ Kay Redfield Jamison