Sit down. Shut up. Pay attention. Repeat, hundreds of times over.

I found that trees are full of sound. Wind reveals the architecture of branches and leaves, and every tree has its own wind sound, emerging from the particularities of its physiology. For example, the Ponderosa pine trees in Colorado sound different from the same species in California. Each has needles adapted to the local environment, so each sounds different when the wind blows. Broad-leaves trees are likewise diverse in their voices. City trees have rumbles of buses and trains running through them, changing the form of their wood. Birds sing from branches and insects gnaw on inner wood. Then there are tree sounds that are too high for our ears, but by listening with sensitive microphones I heard water pulsing through branches and ultrasonic clicks of distress in drought-stricken twigs. These sounds combined with the voices of market vendors working in the trees’ shade, birds singing amid traffic noise, and surf sucking at palm roots on an eroding beach. Sound is a great way into tree lives: it passes around and through solid barriers, revealing what our eyes cannot see.

~ David George Haskell, in an interview by Caspar Henderson titled: David George Haskell recommends the best books on Trees (fivebooks.com, July 13, 2017)


Notes:

  • Other notable statements in this interview by David George Haskell: “Smelling the soil, talking to other people, holding an acorn in your hand, coming to know the sounds of birds and trees: these have great power once we wake to them, partly because they are such multi-sensory activities, engaging mind and emotion… (Yet) Our modern dependence on trees is mostly hidden from our senses. We don’t hear the rain passing through forest canopies on its way to the reservoir. We don’t smell the wood pellets and coal chunks that power our computers and homes. The wood that frames our houses, holds up our furniture, and gives us paper arrives with signs of its ecological history purged. So we imagine that we’ve transcended our ancestors’ close relationship with trees. But this is illusion. There is no good future for Homo sapiens without forests. Yet forests are in crisis. We live in an age of great diminishment. In just the first dozen years of this millennium, 2.3 million square kilometres of forest were lost – cut, burned, drowned, desertified – yet only 0.8 million regrew or were replanted.
  • Photo: François Vigneron with Four in a Square (via Newthom)

 

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week!


Photo: Daniel Cummins with Perched Pongo at Rio Grande Zoo, in Albuquerque, New Mexico (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Drip. Drip. Drip.

airconditioning

“There you are, turning the ignition of your car,” he writes. “And it creeps up on you.” Every time you fire up your engine you don’t mean to harm the Earth, “let alone cause the Sixth Mass Extinction Event in the four-and-a-half billion-year history of life on this planet”. But “harm to Earth is precisely what is happening”. Part of what’s so uncomfortable about this is that our individual acts may be statistically and morally insignificant, but when you multiply them millions and billions of times – as they are performed by an entire species – they are a collective act of ecological destruction. Coral bleaching isn’t just occurring over yonder, on the Great Barrier Reef; it’s happening wherever you switch on the air conditioning. In short, Morton says, “everything is interconnected”.

~ Alex Blasdel, ’A reckoning for our species’: (Timothy Morton) the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene (The Guardian, June 17, 2017)


Photograph: Residential house in Shinagawa, Tokyo by Jan Vranovský, 2016 @ Parallel World. Jan Vranovský (*1986, Prague) is a Czech born architect, graphic designer and photographer, currently living in Tokyo.

Angels in our Midst

No wild animal lives so freely and in such variety and numbers among humans as do birds. For that reason alone, our relationship to them is unlike our connection to any other wild creature. But there are other reasons, too. The intellect of birds is arguably the closest in the animal world to our own. Birds charm us with their ethereal songs, which are profoundly different from the sound of any other animal; in fact, some of the natural world’s most beautiful sounds emerge from the tiniest of birds. They are found virtually everywhere, from the Arctic and Antarctic to the tropics and deserts to the concrete labyrinths at the heart of the world’s cities and the green patches of grass in front of our homes, and they are nature’s exclamation point, adding an unequaled burst of vibrancy to our lives. Birds came to the earth, an Australian legend has it, when a rainbow shattered and its shards of color turned into birds as they fell: the glowing, jewel-like reds, greens, and blues of the hummingbirds; the bold red, white, and black of the woodpeckers; the deep blue of bluebirds and indigo buntings; the slash of red on the shoulders of red-winged blackbirds and the full suit of red worn by cardinals…

One of the most important things birds do is remind us of our deep and abiding emotional connection to nature…What is going on in our hearts and brains when we observe these creatures? What moves people to spend hundreds of dollars a year feeding birds in their backyard, or thousands to travel the world to watch them? Throughout history, birds have been strongly allied with mystical properties. Might birds, then, also have things to tell us that science has yet to consider?…

In the end we will only conserve what we love, we will love what we understand, and we will understand what we are taught,” wrote Baba Dioum, a Senegalese forester. This book is my humble attempt to write about how a wide range of people interpret birds and to offer a few interpretations of my own, to teach something about this marvelous planet we call home and the fellow travelers with whom we share it, creatures who are able to fly halfway across the globe nonstop, dive ten times deeper into the ocean than a human, or fly backward and upside down and do many other things we cannot begin to comprehend…

I am in awe of birds.

~ Jim Robbins, The Wonder of Birds: What They Tell Us About Ourselves, the World, and a Better Future,  Spiegel & Grau (May 30, 2017)


Notes:

  • Post inspired by book review in wsj.com titled Angels in our Midst: “For mankind, birds are mediators between heaven and earth; they make our spirits soar. Bernd Heinrich reviews ‘The Wonder of Birds’ by Jim Robbins.”

    …In 19 chapters, some focused on individual species, others more general, Jim Robbins flits about the avian world, exploring the marvels of birds’ biology, the insights they offer into our own species and the history of their interactions with humans. His goal is “to help change the way we perceive birds, to move them from the background of our lives to the foreground, from the quotidian to the miraculous.” He shares his own “soul-stirring wonder” at birds’ “miraculous nature,” hoping to reshape our relationship with them and thus with the earth. The book is a must-read, conveying much necessary information in easily accessible form and awakening one’s consciousness to what might otherwise be taken for granted. Mr. Robbins, a reporter for the New York Times, says that he became a bird lover in 1980 while interviewing a falconer in Idaho. Together they watched as a falcon “dove, soared and wheeled. . . . I, too, felt I had, for a brief time, soared with the peregrine.” “The Wonder of Birds” reads like the story of a kid let loose in a candy store and given free rein to sample. That is one of its strengths: the convert’s view gives wide appeal to those who might never have known birds well. Most of us have lost the everyday connection that all humans once had with birds. We now have it mainly with the chicken in our McNuggets.”

  • Photo: wsj.com – A man feeds birds on the banks of the Yamuna River in New Delhi. (Prakash Singh/Agence France-Presse, Feb 3, 2017)

Walking Cross-Town. Just make it stop.

Commotion.

Upstairs.

Comey. Russia. Fake News. Senate investigations. ObamaCare. Republicans, Democrats (Rodney: Can’t we just get along?) Hearings. More Hearings. More hearings. Trump. Leaks. Lies. Spin. Frenzy. Russians. Spies. Kushner. Back channels. Flynn. Covfefe. NATO. Kabul suicide blast, 90 dead, 400 wounded, Afghan capital mourns, anger swirls. Hate. Portland Train stabbings. Climate change. North Korea. Saber rattling. Cruise Missiles.  Guns. Missouri man kills 8, suicide by cop was his intention. Manchester. Hillary, blame. Tiger Woods DUI. Kathy Griffin fake Trump severed head (Funny, really?).  Extra policing in Chicago on Memorial Day, violence down, 6 killed, 44 wounded. Ohio sues Opioid drugmakers for unleashing drug epidemic. Yellowstone, rare white female wolf shot illegally. Ivory, elephant poachers run rampant. (Will Man purge them all?)

Is there no place, where I can sit undisturbed?


Photo: via zsazsabellagio.com. Related Posts: Commuting

(Relief from) waking each day in disbelief at the news feeds on my phone

Rob Cowen, excerpts from Where Nature Gets to Run Amok:

A few mornings back, after another week of waking each day in disbelief at the news feeds on my phone, I rose early, pulled on my clothes and headed out into the darkness. There’s a place I always go when I feel like this. Crossing over the highway, weaving through the masses of housing and the still-sleeping suburbs, I sensed it rising behind the low walls and privet hedges on the outskirts of town like a great wave — that strange space beyond the streetlights; the tangled, messy border where human and nature collide and collude. Edgeland.

By the time I reached it, the sun was rising to the east, coaxed into the sky by the chorus of blackbirds and robins. It had been clear and cold overnight, and a thin mist hovered over the shabby fields, like a breath exhaled. Rounding the corner of an old lane, I’d seen them — a pair of roe deer feeding close to a hawthorn hedge, their great hare-like ears twitching and flicking as they ranged for sounds. The wind was with me, the noise of my approach was masked by the first washes of traffic spilling onto the main roads, so I was able to watch them for a while before I was detected. Then one shot up its head and fixed me in its otherworldly vision, and some silent signal was exchanged. Both vanished noiselessly over the field in great leaping bounds, like fairground horses on a carousel. The whole encounter lasted five, maybe seven minutes. There, then gone. A brief portal into another realm and other vivid lives lived in parallel to our own, but more than enough to get me through the day ahead. [Read more…]

Reunited (There’s no greater privilege)


Thank you Christie

Riding Metro North. With SkinnyPop.

train-car-jpg

Michael posted it. I chew on it.

“The older I grow, the more I listen to people who don’t talk much.”  Germain G. Glidden.

Like a needle stuck in a rut, it churns.

The older I grow…The older I grow…The older I grow.

It’s Monday, an unexpected break, with two cancellations. I mosey cross-town to catch an early afternoon train.

The hallways in Grand Central, teeming in rush hour, stand empty, resting.  The board flashes Track 106, departing in 30 minutes.  30 minutes. 30 minutes. 30 minutes.

The stomach growls. I circle the snack bar. Once. And then twice. And then back again. Snickers Bars. Doritos. Mixed Nuts. M&Ms. Papers. Magazines. Sodas chilling. An oversize bag of Jalapeno SkinnyPop. Bingo. I grab the bag and a Kit-Kat Bar.  The tattooed counter man lifts his head from the NY Post, “Bag for this?

I step into the last car, it’s dimly lit. [Read more…]

Miracle. All of It.

elephant-city

If you were an elephant living wild in a western city…

  • You’d have one two-fingered hand swinging from your face – a hand as sensitive as tumescent genitals, but which could smash a wall or pick a cherry. With that hand you’d explore your best friends’ mouths, just for the sake of friendship.
  • you’d smell water two miles away and the flowers at your feet
  • Grumbles from trucks and cabs would shudder through the toxic ground, tickle the lamellar corpuscles in your feet and ricochet up your bones…You’d hear with your feet, and your femurs would be microphones
  • As you walked 10 miles for your breakfast you’d chatter with your friends in 10 octaves
  • You’d have the happiest kind of political system, run by wise old women, appointed for their knowledge of the world and their judgment, uninterested in hierarchy for hierarchy’s sake, and seeking the greatest good for the greatest number.
  • Elephants know, from distances well beyond the reach of ordinary senses, that other elephants were on the way…from 50 miles away
  • Why do elephants seek out other elephants?…because they like other elephants.
  • When a bereaved elephant mother carries her dead baby round on her tusks, or trails miserably behind the herd for weeks, her head hanging down, she’s grieving. When other elephants sit for hours around the body of a dead elephant, they’re mourning. When they cover an elephant corpse with soil or vegetation, or move elephant bones, they’re being reverential. When they cover a dead human, or build a protective wall of sticks around a wounded human, they’re showing an empathic acknowledgment of our shared destiny that we’d do well to learn.
  • You’re a city elephant. You’ll inhabit the city much more intensely and satisfactorily than most of its human denizens. All your senses will be turned fully on. You won’t, like most woefully unsensual humans, using only your eyes.
  • If they’re people, they’re embarrassingly better people than we are. They build better communities; they live at peace with themselves and aren’t, unlike us, actively psychopathic towards other species.
  • Be careful, though. You’re likely to end up dead because someone wants a couple of your teeth.

~ Charles Foster, excerpts from “If You Were An Elephant” in The Guardian (Jan 19, 2017)


Notes:

  • Digital Art Image Credit: Larger than Life by H3NDRIX121
  • Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

T.G.I.F.: Snow Day!

Do NOT quit before the finish…


Thank you Susan

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