Right #1: A Free Press

Tail of a black rattlesnake visible among the leavesI’ve wandered around this planet quite a bit, visited countries I’d like to visit again, and experienced cultures that had some good features and some not so much. In my line, one of the most valuable cultural traits is freedom of the press. It has been under open fire lately, partly because one of the better known candidates claims to dislike most of the press – especially outlets that do not agree with him.

The king of Thailand recently died. Citizens were prohibited, under strict penalties up to and including death, from voicing disapproval of the monarch.Read more

Changing seasons

A dozen wind turbines on a Fall colored horizon.The end is near, the calendar says, though physical evidence offers some argument. Summer inexorably withdraws southward, following the Canada geese to their winter abode, but the lawn still needs periodic cutting.

We returned from a two-week road trip to the sound of a cricket holding forth from among the stones. It was an unexpected sound for mid-October. Temperatures the past few days have been in the 80s that should be at least 20 degrees lower, breaking records for highs set in 1908. Marsh Creek is shallower than it should be this time of year. Rain near the end of September raised the creek some, but a friend reports a boulder that is usually submerged all winter is about 18 inches exposed.Read more

The edge of the sea

The Atlantic Ocean incessantly wears away the U.S. coast.There’s something really nice, almost sensual, about wading in 57-degree waves washing great masses of seaweed like mermaids’ tresses, in and out among the rocks and around my feet. I imagine the image was not lost on sailors of long past tales.

Anyway, it was not lost to me last week when I visited Rachel Carson at her Salt Pond Preserve, on the upper reach of Muscongus Sound. She spent much of her time on the Down East coast, wading in the water, searching for signs of marine life about which she wrote in “The Edge of the Sea.”Read more

Sea Change

The Atlantic Ocean incessantly wears away the U.S. coast.The sky brightens as though on a timer announcing 6 a.m. The sun isn’t really up, yet, but its warming rays are bending over the horizon, illuminating the knotty pine boards of the bedroom loft’s western wall.

The rain has finally tired, leaving only the sound of incessant wave action rubbing away at the shore with the soft-sounding, powerful strokes of a woodworker rubbing the surface of a boat’s wooden molding. The smoothness of the sound belies the power peeling layer after layer of ancient minerals and stirring them into the sea.

Somewhere to my south, a hurricane threatens to submerge Miami, Florida.Read more

Life supporting is a good thing

Mayfly larva on underside of river rockSeveral years ago, I wrote a story about an applesauce processor. My guide took me through the entire process, beginning with the orchard –  – so far, science hasn’t come up with a way to make apples without the trees. Huge bins of apples were hauled to the processing plant, where the apples were washed, sorted, cored, chopped and mashed into mush, er, sauce, and poured into jars.

My guide was especially proud of the part of the process that killed off stuff that wasn’t apple. He was proud that, in his words, his sauce “would not support life.”

Funny thing, until then, I thought the purpose of the applesauce was to support life – mine, if I was the buyer.Read more