Happy 2022 to our fellow space travelers

In the past three years, maybe four, I haven’t burned a tank of snowthrower gas. One of those years I never even took the thing out.

“You should feel lucky then, haha,” my nephew wrote in a chat.

Nope. He is young enough to think clearing snow is a chore. I used to love clearing our driveway late at night, just me and the machine’s headlight and a stream of snow.

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Michaux rec site to be “improved”

For the past two years, the Watershed Alliance of Adams County, together with the county Conservation District, has arranged and participated in planting thousands of trees – trees to trap stormwater runoff (or at least slow it down), to provide shade to keep our streams cool enough for fish and other critters to live, filter dust from the air and trap and store carbon within their skeletons.

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Dinner and a show

The sky was black, as though a blanket hung over the window, through which random specks of light shone like fairies posed onstage with flashlights before the notes of the opening accompaniment. It was the first night in a while that wasn’t roofed in with thick clouds.

Three huge spotlights marked a triangle against the otherwise black surface.

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Giving thanks

As I write this, I am dreaming of turkey and preparing to enjoy sleeping off visions of Thanksgivings Past flowing through my gobbler-doped cranium.

In my youth, Mom would have spent the week baking. The knotty-pine walls of the dining room echoing timed-released aromas of turkey and pies and fresh bread.

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Between a rock and a …

My latest wandering find was last week along a creek I had to walk a bit to get to, leaving my gasoline-powered chariot just off the hard road, where ATVs, apparently driven by youthful, if not actually young, drivers, had churned the mudhole. When the place dried, the remaining ruts were too deep for the Outback’s clearance.

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Anticipation

Mary Lou, the flowering dogwood outside my window, is changing color – again. Her previously green leaves, shaped with the compound curves of Pringles chips with pointy ends, are turning bright rust-colored as she shuts down the conduits that for the past few months have transported nutrition from the earth on which she stands, to be processed in those then-green solar collectors into more branches and, now, a mass of red berries among the buds that will open next spring into a glorious bouquet of pink ad white four-petaled flowers.

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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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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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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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Waddya mean, “Water shortage”

There is plenty of water for one duck. for the rest of us, not so much.I saw a Black and White Warbler in the tree outside my window. My first ever. A tiny thing, about the size of a goldfinch, but all longitudinal patterns of black and white stripes.

What I am pretty certain was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak lit momentarily within sight, then departed before I could take the camera in hand.

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Thoughts on unfreezing

No ice, just babies for Mrs Canada.We human mammals love water. We spend nine months in a balloon full of the stuff, presumedly plotting our escape, then spend much of our air-breathing lives trying to at least live next to it.

Those of us fortunate enough to gain housing close to a stream, lake or ocean often post signs around it announcing our success to neighbors who must settle for looking out their front windows at our back doors.

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‘Tis the (vernal) season

Future Frogs of Michaux begin life hatched from egg masses in a vernal pond.Rain beats against my bedroom walls like bacon sizzling on a stove for breakfast I am too comfortable to climb out of bed to prepare or even eat once I had.

It seems only a week ago the crocuses popped out of the mulch and leftover snow to welcome spring and the Persian New Year.

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