Logically speaking, it’s illogical

Spock would have a fit. We humans have an amazing gift for ignoring logic.

Why, for instance, would we think putting salt on our winter roads is bad because it pollutes nearby water and wetlands, yet we’re willing to accept water laced with radioactive and chemically laced salts we would not allow on our dinner tables, declaring them “safe when used as directed.”

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The sky was falling

Vigorously. That is what we say when the clouds pour their liquid load on our house.

I have awakened the past few mornings to grayer skies lighting, dimly, my bedroom. I lay there torn between competing imperatives: I should stay in bed and read or go back to sleep, and I should be up already finding some constructive endeavor with which to occupy my attention.

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Context is everything

Submitted for your consideration: a new television offering.

“The Chair” is a dramedy – part drama, part comedy – on Netflix starring Sandra Oh as the first woman chair of the English Department at a small liberal arts college.

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Water pollution is like a virus

Wednesday, California became the first state to require all school staff to get vaccinated or agree to regular testing. President Biden has said maybe federal employees can avoid being vaccinated if they are willing to be tested regularly for Covid.

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He really wanted to know

Much of what follows was a column I wrote 20 years ago, almost to the week. My then-newly declared life partner and I had returned from a celebratory cruise around the Caribbean. We had visited the Yucatan Peninsula, Grand Cayman Island, and Jamaica, and spent a couple of days at sea, being waited on. Not a bad life – for a week.

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Masterful pranksters

A tree can take a decade to spread its arms in a morning yawn. Only rocks live longer. But trees are way more mischievous.

I stumbled recently upon a tree stump, clearly cut with human tools. The stump, however, had been split many years earlier by what must have appeared to the then-seedling, to be a huge wedge of sandstone, like a steel wedge placed by a woodsman preparing a cord of winter heat.

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What to do if you lose your compass

I sometimes go for a week or more without getting into the woods, then I go there and remember why I was feeling so badly about not.

I was able to visit my dry vernal pool Monday. Sure enough, a few of the recent rain clouds passed over and made it a pool with water in it. I shot a few minutes of underwater video and there clearly were multiple somethings, looking like translucent polliwogs, swimming around in there. Really tiny, but a few got to the correct focal distance and I could see their bulbous heads and skinny tails trailing behind like pieces of thread in need of a pair of scissors.

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Tell the tadpoles

Tuesday morning there was a serious rain event in my neighborhood, too late for the tadpoles I had been watching in a pool up in Michaux State Forest.

I started photographing them at the end of March, when they were newly hatched.

The First of June marked nine weeks I had been visiting and photographing them. It’d been about a week since I’d last seen them and they did not have legs. They should have grown legs soon, but the lack of rain has transformed the vernal pool into a vernal bed of rapidly drying leaves.

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Block hackers; Buy local

A few years ago, I visited my son and his family in Cincinnati. At the major-chain grocery near his home, I bought some “fresh” apples. At the first bite, I understood why city kids – at least the kids whose parents bought from that store – did not like fresh fruit.

I have tried to eat wooden decorative apples that were easier to chew, and with more flavor.

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Why the old man laughs

Somewhere near the head of a stream, water seeps slowly into a flaw in the granite. Winter cold freezes the mixture of oxygen and hydrogen into an expanding wedge that forces the boulder to crack in two pieces, then more. Gradually, over several winters, the stream grows larger and the boulder pieces smaller.

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Walt was (almost) correct

An ent? or a tree?“Trees are ents who moved too slowly and have taken root,” Treebeard explained in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkein. Treebeard was an ent and being long-lived, had much to say.

Research published in recent years appears to indicate that while ents may be fictional, trees do have feelings and do communicate among themselves, usually along pathways made possible by a multitude of fungi growing at the feet, er, roots of those slow-growing, long-living organisms that clean our air, filter our water and provide the raw materials that form our wooden caves.

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